Teen Power of Positivity
According to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control (2012), 30% of teenagers reported feelings of hopelessness and sadness. In addition, 17% seriously contemplated suicide, 13% made a suicide plan, and 8% made a suicide attempt.
These statistic are staggering! It is time for parents, teachers, coaches and counselors to help students move beyond their negative thoughts into the power of positivity. These simple positive psychology strategies can help students move from depression to happiness.
Positive Psychology Strategies for Teens
1. Focus on the positive
Focus on the Positive by asking teens what good thing happened, even in the event of a bad circumstance. By helping teens consider the positive, they will begin to look for the positive in other situations.
2. Find gratitude and meaning
Help teens find gratitude and meaning in their lives. One way of doing this is to ask them to consider their own circumstances or situation and connect them to positive outcomes. Another strategy is to have teens take time out to write thank you notes for the positive things that happen during their day.
3. Connect and forgive
Connect and Forgive. Teens who have positive and supportive relationships with adults are more likely to consult with these adults when life gets challenging.
- One way to help teens identify their support systems is to have them create a list of the important people in their lives.
- Another activity to do with teens, especially those who express a lot of sadness or anger, is to have them identify people and/or situations they may want to forgive. Forgiveness is a difficult thing to do, but when one is able to forgive, a tremendous load of negative emotion is released.
Help teens re-frame “hopeless” situations into “optimistic” events. A good activity to promote optimism is called “Doors”. As adults, we know that when one door closes, it usually means another door is opening. Help teens understand that when life feels hopeless and depressing those feelings are temporary and change will come.
5. Futuristic Thinking
Assist teens with futuristic thinking. For teens who have minimal consistency and little stability in their lives, a future where they have some control in what happens to them seems a worthy goal and gives them optimism and enthusiasm for the future.
- A few ways to instill futuristic thinking are to:
- Have teens create vision boards,
- Draw a lifeline that goes from present moment to the end of their story, and
- To discuss short-term and long-term goals and strategies for achieving those goals.
It is unfortunate that teens often become immune to negative events and may develop an attitude of negativity about their own lives or the world in general. Adults have the ability to make a difference by helping teens consider their lives in a positive light.