Optimism has been found to be one of our most positive tools for reducing the dangers of depression.
A recent blog written by Dr Justin Coulson outlined 7 strategies to help maintain optimism in our teens….
- Empathise – Adolescents need to know that someone is there for them who is at least trying to understand how they are feeling. These young adults need to have their feelings validated. By listening and empathising rather than brushing them off, we can be of great help.
- Emphasise “yet” – Adolescents often tell us they can’t do this, or can’t do that. If we acknowledge their feelings, then add “yet”, adolescents start to realise they will eventually be able to do the things they currently find so difficult: “I can hear it’s a struggle for you and that you can’t do it yet.”
- Steer focus to things that can be controlled – Adolescents often worry about things over which they have no control. By empathising and then asking “What options do you have?” or “What can you do right now about this?” you will help them feel more in control.
- Focus on the end – Young people need to know that things do get better. When you climb Everest, it is best not to look down but to keep your eyes on the peak – adolescents need to be helped to keep the end in sight as far as school is concerned and they need to know life after High School is great!
- Emphasise strengths – Try not to focus on weaknesses, but focus on what your adolescent is good at. They need to hear adults talking about their strengths – hearing these things spoken about when they are in earshot, but not being directly spoken to, is really helpful.
- Understand mindsets – Inspire your teens to be optimistic by talking about brain plasticity. It helps them to know their brains change and how anything is possible for them.
- Avoid the superficial – If a teenager feels miserable, being told to “buck up” is unhelpful. Listen with all your heart.
Research shows that optimistic people tend to have better moods, experience better physical health and persevere at things that are difficult. They have also been shown to have stronger relationships, stronger immune systems and live longer than those who are pessimistic. These are things we all strive for, so let’s help our teens believe that their future is bright and good things can and do happen.