Published February 28, 2023
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How to Help Teens Be More Positive

When describing teenagers, there’s a popular image that gets used a lot. It’s that of a moody, awkward, and explosive young person. This youngster struggles with self-doubt. They think they are not good enough and that the world is against them. For that reason, they become rebellious.

This is the image most people have of teens. And isn’t it true to an extent? After all, they are going through one of the most turbulent periods in their lives.

What exactly is happening to teens at this point?

It is the opinion of some that the teen years range from ages thirteen to nineteen. During this period, young people transition from being children to adults.

Their brains are developing, but not fully yet. Their bodies produce hormones, which makes them struggle to control their emotions. And the environment they are growing up in is influencing their personalities.

With no surprise, these young ones seem to be a mess, trying yet failing to get themselves together. Some teenagers may get depressed because of this adolescent experience. They adopt a negative outlook because of the changes they are experiencing.

As shown earlier, teens may think to themselves, “I stink at this,” or “No one can ever love me.”

Research shows that our thoughts can impact our feelings, behavior, and our health. Yes, teens with a negative outlook are at risk. They risk affecting their academic and social success in a bad way. This can have an enormous impact on their self-esteem and happiness, now and in the future.

If you have a teen you care about, you may wonder, how can I help teens become more positive?

These are a few pointers that could help you achieve this:

  1. Help them celebrate their achievements instead of making social comparisons. In this age of technology, it’s easier than ever to compare yourself to others. Research shows that social media can cause anxiety, loneliness, and depression among teenagers.
  • When teens see what their peers are up to or have, they might feel they are missing out. Teens might also be self-conscious, thinking they are being watched by others.
  • Because of this, they may feel they aren’t meeting the standards set by society. This can make them have negative feelings.
  • You can aid teens to become more positive by focusing their minds on what they’ve achieved instead. These could be some good qualities they display or skills they’ve developed.
  • Commend them for good grades or efforts in school. All these may help them realize their worth and make them more positive.
  1. Help them develop self-compassion. Kristen Neff has some insights which can benefit us. What does she say? That self-compassion is a better option than the constant striving linked with self-esteem.
  • Self-compassion involves being kind, open, and accepting of yourself.
  • In her study of teenagers, she found they were happier. When what? When they had stronger self-compassion. This is because they accepted themselves for who they were.
  • Help your teen treat themselves with self-compassion. Help them accept their flaws. Remind them that everyone makes mistakes, not only them. Show them how to treat themselves with the same kindness they would give a friend. When you do, their positivity will increase.
  1. Encourage them to get some exercise. As much as teens would prefer to be in front of screens all day, encourage them to get some exercise. Teenagers are very conscious of their attractiveness and body image. Bad perception of how they look affects their outlook for the worse.
  • Exercise can leave teens feeling empowered, stronger, and healthier. This makes them more positive.
  1. Assist teens with setting goals. Teenagers may be negative if they feel they’re not making the progress they should. They may also develop a negative attitude if they feel insignificant.
  • To change this, help teens set specific goals. When teens can work and achieve their goals, it will fill them with a sense of accomplishment. The satisfaction from that accomplishment will leave them feeling good.
  • Help teens set short-term goals and help them meet them. When we do, they will become more positive.

Growing up is full of mood swings, dramatic outbursts, and embarrassing situations. Yet teenagers can later recall their adolescent years with fondness. Not only will they become more positive if they take the steps we’ve described, but they will also develop mental and physical habits that will help them achieve their goals in life.

Kristine Medyanik

Dr. Kristine Medyanik has been teaching business and psychology classes, for many years. She started Shattered Glass Leadship to offer boutique-style workshops that provide expert content to “level up” your daily leadership practice. She has an amazing husband and 3 growing boys and works hard to support local women-owned small businesses.