Fostering Emotional Agility in Teens

How to handle the mayhem? As we begin another busy school year that is sure to be jam packed with plenty of studying, sports, music, art, and so much more here are a few thoughts to recognize while managing challenges.

Stress is a part of life for all of us, but how can we tell when too much is too much!

Here are a few simple things to remember next time things get overwhelming…

Different Types of Stress

There are different types of stress, most stress is actually good for you!

Positive: Positive stress is short-term and it teaches us how to adapt and grow.  Situations that cause positive stress can be positive or negative.  (eg. Writing an examination, giving a presentation, calling someone you don’t know, not making the school team, etc.)  This kind of stress happens daily – often multiple times a day.

Tolerable: Tolerable stress is also short-term but involves situations where there is more serious impact (eg. Someone dying, parent’s divorce).  It occurs multiple times throughout your life and as long as you have supportive relationships around, it is unlikely to have lasting negative consequences.

Toxic: toxic stress is prolonged and extreme (eg. Abuse, neglect, violence), but for most young people this is rare.

Toxic stress is the only type of stress that is bad for you. Experiencing positive or tolerable stress actually makes us stronger, healthier and more understanding human beings!




How Can I Help My Child?

Here are a few simple reminders

  • Emotions are not good or bad - they just are, emotions pass.
  • Emotions are teachers.
  • Mindfulness skills can help us manage our emotions.
  • You have the ability to practice solving your own problems.
  • We can tolerate distress. Teach kids how to think …. Instead of what to think!
  • Allow for opportunities to try (and fail) to solve problems, talk through choices and potential outcomes, offering them authentic choices and resisting the impulse to rush in and save the day
  • What are some strategies that might help you? Are you are struggling with something really big and difficult- so how do we break this down? What’s one step you can take?


It is okay to ask for help! Reach out to the school, physicians, and mental health professionals in your community.

The Kids Help Phone is a great resource for students and parents alike.