Anyone with teenagers knows that teens can be an emotional rollercoaster. Teenagers feeling are intense and small issues can feel like the end of the world. I remember being grounded in middle school and having to miss a town event. This felt like I was missing the event of the century, like I was going to be left out of every event because I missed one.
Especially when life gets hard your teen may not notice any positives in their life. They may come to you with a list of stressors a mile long. As a parent, you may feel overwhelmed and not know what to do.
How Can You Help Your Teen When They Don’t Notice Positive Things
First, validate their feelings and stressors. It is normal to get overwhelmed and easy to focus on negative events.
Second, in DBT we have a skill Accumulating Positive Experiences/Emotions. When we are on auto-pilot we can get stuck in stress and don’t notice the good things. Encourage your teen to be mindful of positive things around them. take notice if it is a beautiful day, did something funny happen during the day, etc. Spend some time each night identifying something they are grateful for.
Last, help your teen identify what short-term positive experiences they can begin to add in to their life. What do they value? What do they enjoy? Maybe take some time to go hiking, walking, play music or an instrument, or other fun activities.
Adding positive experiences to our life is a great way to boost our mood long-term. Mindfulness and pleasant activities are shown to decrease depression and anxiety. Remind your teen that stress and feeling overwhelmed are normal feelings. They can feel both stressed AND have positive experiences.