Emotional Agility: Essential for teens and expats

The Importance of Emotional Agility for Teens

I recently read this excellent article from MindShift about the importance of emotional agility for teens. The article shares some excellent insights from Susan David, a psychologist and the author of Emotional Agility. According to Dr Sarah McKay, an Oxford-educated neuroscientist, the teenage years are a critical developmental period for developing social and emotional regulation skills. This means that while you might not see evidence of consistent emotional regulation in your teenager, they are primed to develop these skills which will build emotional agility and resilience.

Key points from the article

The article shares several essential points about emotional agility from Susan David. They are explained so beautifully in the article that I recommend you look there for further details.

  1. Emotions are not good or bad; they just are

  2. Emotions are transient

  3. Emotions provide data

  4. Courage is ‘feeling fear and doing what is important anyway’

Emotional Agility for Relocation

In my opinion, while those four key points about emotional agility are undoubtedly essential for teens, proficiency in those areas also build emotional agility to cope well with the constant changes and challenges of expat life.

As anyone who has lived away from their passport country will know, change is a constant. This can be very unsettling, even for adults.

Expat life is also something of an emotional rollercoaster. There are many highs to an expat life: the travel; meeting new people and experiencing a whole range of different cultures. However, the value of emotional agility comes into its own when considering the lows. One huge negative aspect of expat life is the almost certain loss of close friends, either because they move away or you do.

Developing Emotional Literacy to help with Emotional Agility

The MindShift article highlights that teenagers need to increase their emotional literacy in order to respond with agility to challenging or novel situations. In my view, it’s not just teenagers who benefit from this. Anyone who lives in a highly mobile environment where either they or people around them move regularly would benefit from increasing their emotional literacy. It’s a vital component of emotional agility, which can ease the challenges of an expat life.

My universal and positive emotional literacy cards were developed directly from my doctoral research with 9-10 year old students. Simply completing a couple of emotional literacy activities every week led to a massive 338% increase in their emotional vocabulary over a 4-month period. If you are looking to develop your emotional agility, or that of your family, using those cards are a great starting point.