How Can I Aid In My Teen’s Positive Mental Development?
For any teen to grow into a well-adjusted adult, it’s vital that they have positive mental attitude instilled into their psyche. Your child cannot enjoy life if his or her mind is set as a negative one but the good news is, you can help them by developing positive thinking which will aid in their future.
They’ll be better equipped in tackling difficult situations and in retaining good self-esteem and confidence. In fact, how you guide your child will help with their teenage brain development because the prefrontal cortex of a teenager’s brain is not yet fully developed.
This area (rather than other parts of the brain) is where judgment and decisions are made and the area that controls emotion.
Enforce Natural Healthy Concepts
In the world that we live in today, there are many negative influences surrounding everyone which is why it’s so important that you, as a parent, make sure your teen sees through the negativity and embraces the positivity that is around them.
So it really is very much up to you to enforce natural healthy concepts into their mind and stimulate positive brain development!
Nature Or Nurture?
All people have different approaches to situations and there is much argument as to whether this is down to nature or nurture.
Why is it that some people are just happier than others?
Why do some people see the glass as half empty etc?
Much of it is down to a person’s personal make-up but a lot of it is also down to how that person was brought up as a child and the influential adults around them, as well as cognitive development.
Do You Need To Change?
Remember, influential peers around a teen can alter the way things are perceived.
It’s paramount to teach your child to see situations and themselves too, in a positive light, rather than dwelling on negative aspects. Of course, if you yourself are a negative person, at some point this will reflect back on your teen and they become in danger of repeating your own negative behavior.
You might have to look at how you react to things too – and take responsibility for your teen’s brain development! More on this later on…
The Inner Voice
We know from research that just like adults, children have inner voices and “talk” to themselves which potentially can inhibit positive mental attitude.
Neuroscientists tell us that many of those voices are more negative than positive because children don’t understand how to deal with doubt, fear or anxiety yet (the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed).
They might wonder if another child likes them, or want to be part of a group of kids that they think are “cooler” than them. They might yearn to be on the cheerleading squad – but doubt their skills.
This is all part of adolescence and why as a parent it’s really vital that you do instil in them confidence and positive thinking.
Do You Need To Say No?
Lots of this thinking comes because children are often told “no” – in class, at home, everywhere!
According to neuroscientists, this negative expression releases stress chemicals in the brain.
When the “no” is blended with negative inner voices, there are no surprises what happens!
A teen instantly feels negative.
What you can learn from this as a parent is to say the word no less – and if you do need to say no, rather than flatly refuse, explain why and try and turn it round in a positive sense instead.
This book by Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg M.D and Prof. Mark Robert Waldman tells us that using the word “no” too often can inhibit your child’s brain development and shows how the word no and stress are related. You can pick it up on Amazon.
Move Your Teen In The Right Direction
Positive thinking helps your teen to move in the right direction and make good decisions. If your teen does seem to possess those negative thinking skills, then be aware that they are more likely to feel inadequate themselves because they will compare themselves to other people.
They might also apportion blame on others rather than seeing that their actions could be at fault and if they also have poor communication skills they won’t be able to express themselves effectively.
No doubt, as a parent you want your child to see life in a positive way, so what can you do to avoid your child fostering negative thoughts and behavior? You can arm them with the right skills to deal with what life will throw at them.
The first thing you need to do as a parent is to listen. If your child does want to talk to you, don’t be distracted by the phone, the iPad, the computer… the list of chores as long as your arm.
Actually, your child is more important than that email (which can wait half an hour) or the dinner (is it really a problem if it’s served ten minutes late?) – your child needs to be your priority and too often (and we’re all guilty) they aren’t as high up on the task list they need to be!
So, take time out to listen to your teen, talk to them about their day, their friends, get to the root of any problems and help them to tackle any negativity.
Keep The Door Open
Now, you could be sitting there thinking if only your teen would talk to you! Well, teens do tend to clam up and run to their bedrooms to sulk or hide away from the world but the important thing here is to let them know that you are there whenever they need you to be.
So that’s not to say you should nag them or force them to talk to you but do make sure your door is always open.
If you do feel your teen just won’t communicate with you and you know they need to be able to talk to someone – think about whether there’s another responsible adult who may be able to communicate with them, especially if your child is displaying negativity.
You should try your best not to judge your teen either.
Remember your mom or dad telling you that you couldn’t leave the house dressed the way you did?
It’s all too easy to fall into the same trap and while I’m not saying you let your 15-year-old girl go out with a tight mini skirt and crop top, I’m suggesting you change your approach.
Rather than shout or display exasperated behavior and judge them – explain the dangers and reason with your teen. Perhaps you could go shopping together and pick out some great clothes but be prepared to give them some leeway.
You need to allow them to express their personality too. Suppressing their personality will lead to them feeling negative about themselves so celebrate the person they’re becoming but be involved along the way.
Problem Solving Skills
You should also help them with their problem-solving skills. If they do have a problem with their friend or at school or they’re not coping well with hormonal changes then try and help them by guiding them.
So rather than telling them what you think they should do, present their problem in a different way and ask them what they think they should do. Then take their thinking skills and throw in some suggestions – the important thing here is to let them find the path to problem-solving, with you offering some ideas for them to use.
It’s great if they feel they find the solution rather than they think you’ve offered a solution for them.
Set An Example
Always set an example. Children and teenagers will mimic their elders and that includes parents. If you have a negative attitude to life, you can bet your bottom dollar your teen will adopt that same negative attitude.
If you display negative or aggressive behavior don’t be surprised to find a mini version of you displaying the same type of behavior.
Using bad language will become part and parcel of daily life for your teen. Shouting regularly if you’re frustrated at running late or because you’ve spilled your coffee will be what your teen does when he or she is frustrated.
You must temper your own behavior so your teen has a calm, reasonable attitude. If your home does not provide a good environment for your teen you could find your child is verbally and even physically aggressive. They might also be over emotional and less able to sympathize and empathize.
Environments that have emotional and physically abusive homes lead to teenagers who are highly critical in themselves and troublesome.
Remember, your teen needs a positive adult influence and if you provide your teen with a safe, happy and mellow home your child will more than likely foster positive behavior.
Try Not To Shout
If you are a “shouter” and let’s be honest, we all shout sometimes – bear this in mind. When you shout, you release harmful chemicals in your brain and your teen’s.
So if you feel your blood boiling, stop.
Leave the room, take five and breathe!
Next, try and relax before you tackle your teen. Remember to use plenty of eye contact and try and adopt a warm tone in your voice.
Choose and deliver your words carefully. The same applies when you talk to your husband/wife/partner when your teen is around you – if you shout at them or they shout at you, your teen will adopt this behavior and feel the negativity.
How you speak to your child will have an impact. Speak slowly, clearly and use positive phrases. A slower-speaking adult will create an air of calm. If you rush, speak very fast and don’t actually stop when you talk to your teen you will make them feel stressed so remember to talk… s l o w l y.
Use positive phrases – every cloud has a silver lining! The glass is half full – they may sound corny but they do resonate. Even in a desperately difficult situation you must find that silver lining and show your teen – another great phrase is where a door closes, another opens.
Even if that door is difficult to find, tell your teen that a window opens first!
Using the word yes more, does help too as it is a positive word. Try and add it to conversation more and more. You will see a change start to develop.
You need to give your child good morals. It’s important for you to show your teen how to be kind, helpful and caring. These all help him or her develop positive mental attitude right the way through their lives.
Why don’t you try to role play situations to see how they react?
Ask them how they feel about situations on the news – encourage them to help with local projects such as care homes, underprivileged children or charity work. This helps your teen to understand that other people need help and they develop sympathy and empathy.
Play To Their Positives
Do you ever notice your child comparing himself or herself to others?
We are all guilty of doing this at varying points in our lives but it’s important to discourage this and remind your teen that he or she is his own person – no two people are the same, even twins!
Encourage him or her to play to his or her positives, see strengths and beauty in themselves.
Set your teen realistic goals and praise him or her when these goals are reached. Always give praise when there is an achievement and if you need to criticize, make sure it is constructive, not just “negative press”l.
Success is important to your growing teenager and inspires them to achieve more.
There is plenty of value in healthy competition – but healthy is the operative word here. Too much competitive behavior can have a negative impact.
It’s also not a bad thing for your teen to fail once in a while because every person needs to understand disappointment but you should help your teen to recognize how to deal with it and turn it into a positive.
It is a learning curve – that’s what your teen needs to understand. Never berate them for failure, rather try and help them find a pathway to success.
List Their Positives
If your teen is very negative, why not sit them down and get them to list their positives?
Talk to them about each positive and add to the list yourself.
Remind your teen that as he or she grows into an adult there will be more and more positive things that happen around them and help your child to develop good self-esteem.
It’s important to remind them just how wonderful they are and how much you love them.
Tell them every day how important and special they are to you and if you have other siblings in the house who are cleverer, prettier, more handsome or better at sport – never compare.
Each child is a gift and comes with their own set of talents and skills. No two children are alike, so celebrate their differences and remember to shower them with praise when they do achieve something – even if it’s very small.
This is an excellent little YouTube video that really does give encouragement – play it to your teen, it could well be extremely useful with motivation.
Have A Great Day
Every day – tell your child to have a great day. When they come home, ask them to tell you three great things about their day. If they can’t, then ask them what happened that made them feel negative and go through each item on the list to talk through and find a positive or problem solve with them.
So – in summary, here are some pointers:
- Evaluate your own behavior
- Listen to your teen
- Don’t shout or be judgemental
- Speak slowly
- Count to ten before you have a difficult conversation
- Use eye contact
- Use positive sentence construction
- Keep an open door policy
- Teach empathy
- Guide with problem-solving
- Help them list their positives
- Praise your child at every opportunity
- Tell your child to have a great day!
Remember, don’t beat yourself up if you forget to follow the advice in this article, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even if you remember two or three nuggets you’re doing well to help your teen build a positive mental attitude for life!