Parenting: 10 Tips on How to Counteract Negativity in Teenagers


negativity in teenagersAs I mentioned in an earlier post, I have teenagers. This is a new thing for me. Give me a two year old? No problem. A fifteen year old is a completely different matter. Of course teenagers can be a lot of fun and I really enjoy mine, but they do come with their set of challenges. One of the challenges we have been dealing with lately is negativity. Complaining about everything under the sun and blaming everyone but themselves for their circumstances. As an optimist, it drives me nuts. So I’ve been trying to figure out what to do and how to help them. I decided to go to Facebook and ask my more experienced friends what things they have done to counter negativity in teenagers, specifically their own. And they gave some great advice…

Tips to Counteract Negativity in Teenagers

1- Listen— One of the biggest things that people said was to listen, listen, listen. They share a fair warning: It may take hours and hours of listening. When the kids are young, their answers of what is wrong are simple and straight to the point. As teenagers, it becomes more difficult and may take a while before the real problem surfaces. Another warning: Don’t try to give a positive spin to every single negative. This will only frustrate them. Sometimes they don’t want answers, they just need to vent or want a listening ear.

2-Be Thankful— Several people said that they have their teens keep a Thankful Journal. Every night they write anywhere from 3-10 positive things that happened during the day. This helps them focus on the good things in life  instead of always seeing the negative.

3-Visual Cues— A lot of times in the workplace businesses will have posters on the wall with special sayings to motivate their employees.  This could apply to home as well. Display signs that have positive statements such as ‘confidence’, ‘work together’, or ‘think positive’. You can use some nice pictures and laminate them, make them stand out. It will serve as a visual reminder to stay positive.

4-Help Someone in Need— Teenagers can get self-absorbed, especially when they have difficult situations or problems to work through. Helping others in need takes the focus off yourself and makes you feel good inside. It can be something simple such as writing a kind note or befriending someone. There are many opportunities to volunteer in the community. It’s like a boomerang. When you lift others it returns ten-fold.

5- Find a Common Interest— Do you both like music or enjoy playing games? Do you have a favorite sport? Finding something that you can enjoy with your teen will not only strengthen your relationship but also opens the lines of communication. This makes it easier to discuss serious issues. Yes, you need to be a parent, but it’s okay to be a friend as well. Enjoy being together.

6- Be Honest— When discussing serious issues, be honest and frank. You don’t have to sugar coat everything or avoid difficult topics but if you have a strong relationship (tip 5) and have practiced listening (tip 1), you can get through the problems together.

7- Exercise— Exercise relieves stress, boosts mood and if you exercise together it gives you an opportunity to talk, especially if your teen is more withdrawn at home. Also, getting out in the sunshine can really help boost mood.

8- Find a Hobby— Help your teens develop talents and hobbies. The more they are involved, the happier they will be (as long as they are not overscheduled and stressed, but that’s a post for another day). They can use their hobbies or relaxing activities such as listening to music, drawing, taking a bath, watching a movie or reading a book to pick up their spirits. Also having adequate sleep can do wonders for your attitude.

9- Hugs— Sometimes all I can do is give my teens a hug. They might not always act like they enjoy it, but teenagers need physical contact just as much as little children. Physical contact can bring feelings of reassurance, comfort and acceptance. Teenagers tend to withdraw during these years, so it is important to find ways to have appropriate physical contact with them.

10- Give Them Some Space— Sometimes you have to give your teens their space. This will give them a chance to work out their own problems. If you’re constantly trying to change their mood or attitude for them, it makes it difficult for them to be independent. If you let them bring you down, it reinforces their negativity. Instead, be an example of positive living and let them join you when they are ready.

These tips can be helpful for adults as well as teenagers. Of course, no-one is exactly the same and not every tip will work for every person, but hopefully you can find something that might work for you. I know I did.