How to Help Teens Develop a Positive Attitude
Adolescence is arguably one of the most challenging periods in any teen's -- and parent's -- life. Helping your teen cultivate a positive attitude can help her more efficiently and effectively navigate the tumultuous waters of adolescence -- and beyond. According to a study published in 2012 in the "Journal of Adolescent Health," teens who displayed a positive attitude had a decreased likelihood of depressive symptoms and risk-taking behaviors in early adulthood 1.
Become a Positive Role Model
If you walk around most of the time with a downtrodden attitude, frequently complain about your life or display other negative behaviors, your teen will likely have a more difficult time staying positive. According to SCAN, a Viriginia-based family support organization, setting a positive example can help you draw the best out of your teen 2. For example, demonstrate respect for yourself and others, and avoid criticizing or belittling your teen. Try to control your temper, even when your teen displays challenging behaviors.
Teach Positive Self-Talk
Actively teaching your teen ways to challenge negativity can help pave the road to a healthier and more positive attitude. Engaging in negative self-talk can lead to an increase in feelings such as depression, anxiety or frustration, states ReachOut.com, a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing mental wellness in children and teens 3. Teach your teen how to identify unrealistic, negative thoughts. You might start by asking her if there is any evidence to support her negative beliefs. For example, if she keeps saying she feels stupid yet she achieves high marks, point out that there's no evidence to support that statement. Encourage her to replace that negative thought with more realistic, positive thought patterns. Point out her accomplishments and explain that it's OK to feel proud. Tell her you believe in her. If she does have evidence for her negative beliefs, help her figure out ways to improve the situation. Help her change her negative self-talk by suggesting more positive statements such as, "I can do it" or "I'm good enough."
Boost Your Teen's Self-Esteem
A positive attitude is often linked with a higher level of self-esteem, says Teen's Health. Help your teen by providing praise and positive feedback whenever he performs well, but also when he doesn't. In an article for the American Academy of Pediatrics website HealthyChildren.org, Dr. Adele Hofman suggests acknowledging your teen's efforts even when things don't go his way. Provide constructive feedback. For example, instead of saying, "Why did you fail the test?" say, "You almost passed -- I'm sure you'll do better next time if you study a bit harder." Encourage your teen to discover and develop his unique talents and strengths by providing support for his interests and hobbies, as long as they don't interfere with academics.
Provide a Positive Environment
Teens who grow up in positive atmospheres tend to develop more positive, healthier attitudes toward life, states certified parenting educator Nina Gallegos in an article for the Center for Parenting Education. In addition to promoting a positive internal environment, ensure that your teen grows up in a positive physical environment. This includes providing proper nutrition such as offering nutritious, appealing food choices, maintaining a clean, safe and cheerful home, promoting healthy communication between family members and spending quality time with your teen.
- Journal of Adolescent Health: Positive Youth, Healthy Adults: Does Positive Well-being in Adolescence Predict Better Perceived Health and Fewer Risky Health Behaviors in Young Adulthood?
- SCAN: Parents as Role Models
- ReachOut.com: Challenging Negative Self-Talk
- Teens Health: Body Image and Self-Esteem
- HealthyChildren.org: Ways To Build Your Teenager’s Self-Esteem
- The Center for Parenting Education: Encouraging a Positive Attitude by Creating a Positive Environment
- Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images