Emotional fluency – the new skill for today’s youth

Gen Z – under 18 year olds: digitally savvy, discerning, politically aware, environmentally conscious, socially complex, multi-taskers with quick-fire attention spans. 

According to the NZ Ministry of Health’s 2013 Children’s Health report, they are also experiencing high levels of anxiety, ADHD and depression. About 25,000 have been diagnosed with behavioural and emotional problems, with anxiety the fastest growing condition. More than 15,500 children are diagnosed with anxiety; up from 2800 children five years ago. 

Their fast-paced, complex world is taking it’s toll on them. Finding a sense of calm and quiet amidst it all is vital for their sanity and survival. Many schools today are seeking mindfulness training for their students, yet this is just one of a number of skills for developing their emotional fluency as outlined in the diagram below.

Learning how to identify and communicate their feelings and thoughts, have face-to-face conversations that take place in the ‘real-world’, adapt with change, regulate their thoughts and behaviour, be off-line for a length of time, and find mental space and quiet are vital skills for our youth to learn.

So are these skills ‘caught’ or ‘taught’? Where once they may’ve been caught more often than taught, this can no longer be left to chance. We cannot count on students necessarily learning these skills through osmosis when they may be quite foreign concepts to some of them. We need to deliberately and comprehensively teach these skills. Not only do they need to be embedded into the curriculum, they also need to be learned, taught and modelled by teachers and parents. 

Where might we start you may ask. Exploring where your students ‘are’ in terms of each of these competencies is a great starting point. From there you can identify areas of teaching and coaching that are required to raise their emotional fluency. Alongside this, reviewing your curriculum to ensure there are opportunities for the students to learn and practice development of these fluencies will ensure embedded and sustained change.

Contact Mary-Anne to find out more.



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