Anyone with teenagers knows that teenagers’ feelings can be intense. Even small issues can sometimes turn their world upside down and create an outlook of doom. And when life really gets hard, some teens don’t even know where to begin to find just a sliver of silver lining. As a parent, you of course can’t help but feel overwhelmed not knowing what to do or how to help your teen process their massive list of emotional stressors.
We’ve outlined three simple ways to help your teen see the positive during life’s challenges. Whether your teen has a seemingly minor issue, to a full blown crisis, these tips will help you help them.
ONE: Validate Their Feelings And Stressors
Reassure your teen that their feelings are valid and that what they are experiencing is real, even if you don’t quite understand the extent of their concerns or from where they may be stemming. Sometimes, simply having someone acknowledge you and your feelings can go a long way in coping and healing.
TWO: Acknowledge Positive Things Around You
In DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we have a skill called Accumulating Positive Experiences/Emotions. Often times, when we are in the midst of negative emotions and feelings, we can’t readily acknowledge anything positive around us. Help your teen find their way out of this auto-pilot way of negative thinking by encouraging them to acknowledge the positive things in their life. Spend time identifying something they are grateful for, take notice of something good that happened to them that day, or remind them of something funny or exciting they did recently.
THREE: Identify New Ways To Add Positivity In Their Lives
Having something positive to look forward to can inspire hope and enthusiasm in life. Help your teen identify what short-term positive experiences they can begin to add to their routine. Does your teen have a short term goal they want to achieve? Is there a particular cause they value and would feel good contributing to? Perhaps there’s an activity your teen has always wanted to try? Whatever positive experience it is, encourage your teen to go for it while also making it your priority.
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.