Teaching Our Teens to See the Silver Linings

The phrase “silver lining” has become the go-to cliche in the midst of difficulty. Success in finding silver linings when things go wrong means leaving shyness behind, shifting focus and learning to live what you love. It’s dwelling in the beauty vs. dwelling in the ugly. It’s leveraging every experience in a positive light.

And it’s not easy.

Many of us tend to ruminate on matters that go wrong in our lives. Looking on the bright side, showing appreciation and employing optimism is sometimes a lavish fete involving a gargantuan amount of positivity that sometimes we just. don’t. have. And we’re adults. Now imagine how difficult it can be for our teenagers to allocate bliss to an adverse situation.

The Details are in the Attitude

There is immense power in one’s attitude – something our teenagers manifest throughout their adolescence. In the words of Les Brown, “You feel the way you feel because of the thoughts you are thinking.”

Attitudes and emotions affect our health. Teenagers that focus too much on the things that go wrong in their life are susceptible to self-deprecating, depressive thinking. And depressive thinking isn’t just the occasional melancholy – it’s a serious problem that has a dangerous impact on our teen’s life if it isn’t addressed early on. Depressive thinking may lead to:

  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • self-loathing
  • pregnancy
  • violence
  • running away
  • reckless behavior
  • eating disorders

Model Behavior

As a collective, we have the tendency to look at the bright side too rarely and focus too often instead on the mishaps and disappointments in our lives. As a parent, it is important to recognize and examine our behavior as it is not uncommon for adolescents to pick up on our social habits and mimic us. If they hear us constantly complaining about our day at work or chores and household obligations, they will pick up on these cues. So be mindful about how you respond to unpleasant tasks or bad days.

A teenager’s bad attitude can show in a number of ways: talking back, not following the rules, a cynical attitude toward family time, to name just a few. Teaching our teens how counteract pessimism and dulled, depressive behavior buy becoming more optimistic and looking for the “silver linings” can help ward off depression. It also teaches them how better to cope with stressful situations.

The Bonus (aka Silver Lining)

There are several ways we can encourage our teens to have a good attitude:

Help them to identify at least five things that make their life more enjoyable – playing with friends, family-planned vacations, watching their favorite movie, treats like going out for ice cream. This activity allows them to shift into a positive state of mind. Practicing this on a daily basis works toward it becoming second nature for your teen to gravitate toward a positive state of mind on their own.

When something doesn’t go their way, or they’re feeling frustrated, irritated or upset, help them see the bright side of the situation. For instance, if they missed their bus in the morning, the bright side might be that they were able to breath in the fresh air and get a little exercise as they instead walked to school. Or maybe they were able to go back inside and finish their breakfast because they had an extra 10 minutes before the next bus came.

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Encouraging our teens to have a good attitude and not feel defeated is sometimes as easy as reminding them that tomorrow is always another day; it’s another chance to try again.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your teen’s attitude does not resolve itself over time, or if they are consistently upset or stressed or angry over difficult situations, it may be time to seek professional help.

Pacific Quest has knowledgeable and caring specialists that can answer your questions and assist you in identifying a therapy approach that can best help your teen and empower them to find the bright splashes and silver linings everywhere. Contact us today.

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