Evidence That It Works
A study of 152 adolescents ages 12-17 (89% white, 5% African-American, 3%, Latino, and 3% from other ethnic groups), mainly from working and middle-class U.S. families, found that those who experienced greater emotional intensity and exaggerated changes in levels of anxiety and anger were more likely to experience depression. Emotionally intense and rapid changes in feeling anxiety and sadness were related to behavior challenges.
In addition, participants who used coping mechanisms such as avoidance, denial, or other types of disengagement, or who acted impulsively or ruminated on the emotions sustained higher levels of challenging emotions.
Why Does It Matter?
Students who are able to manage their emotions in a healthy way are more academically successful, potentially because the inability to regulate emotions inhibits students’ executive function skills, e.g., working memory, planning, and attention. They also experience greater mental well-being, and engage in less risky behavior. And they have stronger social skills and fewer behavior challenges, both of which lead to more positive relationships with teachers and peers.
Ultimately, healthy emotion regulation skills will serve students in the long-run. Studies have found that adults who can manage their emotions in a positive way have greater mental and physical well-being, and stronger relationships.
(Note that emotion regulation strategies and outcomes vary by culture. Click here for more information.)