Teenage EQ: The Search for Understanding

Understanding Intrapersonal Skills and Emotional Self-Awareness

Ambassador Leaders Blog_EQ

Emotional Intelligence Skills and Teenagers is not something you hear together often, but thankfully it’s happening more and more. As someone who works with leaders of all backgrounds – from business to medical field and education, I am more aware than ever that emotional intelligence skills are critical to a leader’s effectiveness, and are important to start developing early.

This will be my first post of a 5-part series, providing an overview and my thoughts regarding Emotional Intelligence and Teenagers – kicking it off with Intrapersonal Skills.

What are Intrapersonal Skills? It’s the ability to understand your own emotions and your ability to communicate those emotions to others. These are skills like Self-Regard, Emotional Self-Awareness, Emotional Expression, Assertiveness and Independence. They are all equally important, but if I had to choose one to dive into it would be Emotional Self-Awareness.

I define Emotional Self-Awareness as understanding your own emotions. When children become teenagers, there are a whole lot of physical changes happening, as well as new social dynamics that enter their world – with family friends, teachers and the opposite sex. According to brain experts, teen brains are only around 80 percent developed. The part of the teen brain not yet fully developed is the frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain that manages impulse control, judgment, insight and emotional control. Understanding your own emotions can be quite difficult at this time. But don’t worry, you’ll get there.

So what can you do? There are questions and exercises you can ask yourself to better understand how you are feeling and when you have certain emotions. This can also help you recognize when an emotion might come into play in a particular situation. Parents - use these to open communication with your children. Students - share these with your parents as they know you very well and would love to help in your learning.

Question: What things do you feel really happy about? Sad? Mad? What’s happening physically when you feel these feelings? Do you behave differently? Do you treat others differently?

Question: Are there emotions you experience that make you feel more comfortable with others? Why do you think that is?

Exercise: Identify your feelings by writing down or verbally sharing with your parents your “I feel” statements. For example:

I feel happy when __________________________________.

I feel embarrassed when ____________________________.

I feel good/don’t feel good about myself when ____________.

I feel ____________________when ____________________.


The most important thing is recognizing that you are still developing and learning. The next thing you can do is to understand why these emotions are happening. With recognition and understanding comes knowledge. Use that knowledge of your emotions to better face your teenage and life challenges that lie ahead. We are all a work in progress!

By Shawna Kovacs

Shawna is the mother of a fabulous teenage girl who is also an Ambassador Leaders alumna. Shawna is Founder and Partner of Leaders Required – a training firm focused on Leadership Development with an emphasis on Emotional Intelligence.