7 Creative Ways To Help Your Teen Through Tough Times-Part 1

911: Is Your Teen In Trouble?

As you know, your teenager is facing one the most difficult periods of his or her life. It seems like everywhere a teen turns there is a difficult challenge to face, especially these days. Sometimes parents of teens feel like they don’t have much control or influence anymore.

Do you ever wonder if your teen even listens to what you say?  Believe it or not, you might have more influence than you realize…

Are you ready for some great ideas to help your teen through tough times?

I’ve come up with 7 creative ways you can help your teen through the rough spots, and will be sharing each solution in detail over the next 7 articles…stay tuned!!

**Creative Solution #1:  Start a Positive Journal (see article below)

**Creative Solution #2:  Make the Problem a Positive Experience

**Creative Solution #3:  Create a Daily “Power Word”

**Creative Solution #4: Have a “Mission Statement” or “Mantra”

**Creative Solution #5: Teens Who Have Overcome Adversity Share Their Stories on Video     

**Creative Solution #6: Read Your Teen a Story!

**Creative Solution #7: Avoid “Unsolicited Advice”

In this post, I will be exploring the advantages and disadvantages of journaling.

What?? Disadvantages to journaling you ask?

Most people believe that journaling is always good for you. Well, in my opinion, not necessarily….

Starting a Positive Journal

Journaling has long been known to be a great way to “get your feelings out”.  People have kept diaries for many centuries, and there are advantages to journaling your feelings and keeping diaries. 

However!  The thought has crossed my mind that maybe journaling negative feelings doesn’t always produce positive results.  When you think about it, focusing on the problem seems like it would make the problem bigger and focusing on the solution would make the solution bigger.  

Focusing on the negative makes your brain think in negative ways.  This can’t be all that good for your teen.  Focusing on what went wrong that day, versus what went right, will likely lead to negative feelings, and potentially negative behaviors. 

“What you focus on, you amplify”

Simply put, journaling negative feelings or experiences can inadvertently reinforce the perception that things are bad.

Of course, we do have to think about the negatives, in order to problem solve, make decisions, etc.  But that’s not what I’m really talking about. 

I’ll bet the spiritual guru’s out there don’t focus on the negative stuff.  It’s much more likely they focus on the positive events in their lives, vs. what’s going wrong that day.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe there is a benefit to “getting it all out” sometimes.  It just feels good to release all that negative energy.  However, if all you do is journal the negative experiences you have, it seems to me that you’re only focused on the negative…and not the positive. 

So, when you think about your teen, and the many challenges teens face, you can see how easy it would be for them to focus on negative stuff.  I mean the list of stressors can be long: Drama with friends, stress around school, low self esteem, relationship breakups, following rules at home, peer pressure, divorce…the list goes on.

What happens in the brain when you focus on the negative?

Neuroscience research has discovered very strong associations between painful experiences, thoughts and feelings.  Negative or painful events get imprinted in the emotional part of our brains.  Our brains are like computers.  They download all the information that comes our way.

So, if you focus on the painful and negative experiences you have, you are likely to hardwire that into the neuropathways of your brain. Those negative thoughts can act like a virus…popping up when you least expect it. Similar to having a computer virus, the negative thinking will contaminate your ability to feel happy and optimistic, and for your brain to work smoothly and efficiently.

 Can you give me examples of positive journaling?

Keeping a positive journal is easy.  Here are some examples:

  • What are three things I did today that made me feel successful?
  • Name three things I am grateful for.
  • Name three reasons I am a good friend.
  • What was the best part of my day, and why?
  • Name three people who love and care about me.
  • What are my three best strengths?
  • Write a story about a past success, and what I learned about myself that made me stronger as a person.
  • Identify three solutions to the problem I am having.
  • How do I aspire to be when the going gets tough?

This list should help your teen get off to a good start!    

p.s.  Consider checking out Martin Seligman’s website at:  www.authentichappiness.com and have your teen take the VIA Strengths Inventory test.  It’s a wonderful test that identifies your teen’s top 20 strengths.  Just in case your teen has trouble identifying their own strengths.

More to come…

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