A Tool for Stressed-Out Adolescents

Sistema teachers deal with adolescents who experience stress.  Here is a finding from psychologists that give us a clue for how to help them more.  It’s called Negative Emotional Differentiation (NED)—which sounds like a bad thing for adolescents to have, but it’s quite the opposite.  NED is the ability to sort out and identify various negative emotions.  In general, children have relatively high NED abilities; however, it sinks to its lowest point during adolescence before bouncing back up during adulthood.  The article from the research journal Emotion reports that “Adolescents who use more granular terms such as ‘I feel annoyed,’ or ‘I feel frustrated,’ or ‘I feel ashamed’—instead of simply saying ‘I feel bad’—are better protected against developing increased depressive symptoms after experiencing a stressful life event. People with low NED scores can only use general terms like “bad” or “upset” to sum up their feelings. This vague way of identifying negative emotions prevents a person from devising coping mechanisms to help control those feelings.”  

A note for Sistema teachers:  when your adolescent students are experiencing stress, encourage them to parse out what they are feeling, to name and recognize the particular feelings they are having.  It can alleviate the pressure in the moment, and avert depression in the longer term.  Check out this article to read more about NED and how you can help students.

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