10 Things That Quietly Steal Joy From Your Teen’s Daily Life

Simple Secrets to Help Your Teen Smile More

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 10 Things That Quietly Steal Joy from Your Teen’s Daily Life

The life of a teenager isn’t easy. The world is telling them to care about everything when, in fact, all they really care about is being carefree.

Still, amidst all their responsibilities – school, homework, a job, chores, prep for college or life on their own – there are plenty of little ways they can sneak a little more happiness into their daily life. After all, a hefty dose of happiness in our teen’s life can help them withstand the challenges of life while protecting their emotional and mental health.

Here are 10 things that steal joy from your teen’s daily life along with a few simple secrets to help them breathe a little deeper and smile a little more.

10 Things That Quietly Steal Joy from Your Teen’s Daily Life



#1 Comparing Themselves to Others (Sometimes Complete Strangers)

Nearly every teen has their share of insecurities – it’s simply part and parcel of being a teenager. Their insecurities, (which, by the way, often turn out to be their strengths), foster a breeding ground of comparison – not only among friends and classmates but oftentimes with complete strangers. But comparing themselves to others is a game they’ll never win. Plain and simple… they are different. They don’t have the same body type, feelings, wishes, talents, likes, dislikes or dreams as anyone else. The sooner they recognize and embrace this fact, the better off they’ll be in the long run. 

#2 Hanging Around Unhappy, Negative or Toxic People

It’s been said, beware of the company you keep. Little can rob our teens of their daily happiness more than hanging around negative, toxic people who quite literally suck the life out of them. Pay attention to friends who constantly view the cup as half empty, who hate school, or who constantly complain about their family, their job or life, in general. If your teen is surrounded by people who have a depressing view of life, it’s time to make a change. Don’t walk away… run.

#3 Worrying… About Everything

It’s sad how much teenagers today worry – about school, getting good grades, getting into a good college, landing an internship, getting a spot on the team or building up their resume to impress college admissions officers. But worrying about the future or expecting the worst-case scenario certainly won’t impact the outcome.

Instead of dragging themselves down with constant worry, encourage your teen to focus on evaluating the situation to determine if it can be solved and then creating an action plan to solve it. Bottom line, worrying won’t lead to solutions – only action will.

#4 Viewing Life Through a Narrow Lens

Most teenagers live a very small life – valuable, but small. They get up and go to school, go to practice, after-school clubs or a job, hang with friends and do mounds of homework while fitting in occasional quality time with family. Living life through such a narrow lens surely allows them to focus on what’s important, but it also deters them from seeing the big picture.

The fact is, if they took the time to notice, they’d realize just how good they have it, how grateful they should be for what they have, and how precious and fleeting this time in their life really is. Encourage your teen to stop and look around, to notice and appreciate what they have and how far they’ve come. Gratefulness holds the power to alter their entire outlook.

#5 Not Expressing Themselves

Our teens will find far more happiness in their lives when they learn the art of expressing themselves – their likes and dislikes, their wants or needs, their boundaries, etc. Whether they tell their girlfriend or boyfriend they need more space in the relationship or they muster up the courage to tell their friends they’re not into drinking or smoking weed, the more they express their unique voice, the more others will learn exactly who they are, what they stand for and what their values are.

#6 Caring Too Much What Others Think

Whether they admit it or not, every teenager has a secret desire to fit in. And, there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s not a sign of weakness. That feeling of wanting to belong shows their innate desire to connect and that’s a good thing. But when they take it too far – when they care too much, change the way they dress, change how they act or compromise their values, morals or principles at the whims of others, they lose valuable pieces of who they are along the way. And, when they lose themselves, their loss of happiness ultimately follows.

#7 Falling into the “When” Trap

When I land that big internship, life will be better. When I finally finish this class, I’ll be so much less stressed. When I get that acceptance letter from college, I’ll definitely be happier. But life doesn’t work that way – there will always be that “next thing” that weighs our kids down and wears them out. Rather than constantly holding their happiness at arm’s length just waiting for the “next thing” to happen, encourage your teen to bask in the glory of their accomplishments and everything good in their life now. Teach them to not put their happiness on hold.

#8 Not Having Time to Do Things That Make Them Happy

Most teens’ schedules are maxed out. They spend the vast amount of their days doing what they have to do as opposed to what they’d love to do. Getting caught up in an endless to-do list of tasks that have to be checked off drains our teen’s energy and happiness.

But as young as our kids are, they’re certainly not too young to give serious thought to what makes them happy, content, energized or inspired. If your teen finds themselves on autopilot, drowning with little breathing room to enjoy life, encourage them to make a change. Even one small, positive change in their life can make all the difference in the world.

#9 Dating the Wrong Person

Navigating complex relationships is a skill that takes time to develop (honestly, I’m not sure any of us ever really master it). For teenagers, new love can be exhilarating and exciting, but it can also be challenging and sometimes, downright draining – especially when they’re dating someone who isn’t a good fit for them. Trying hard to make a rocky relationship work and trying hard to please their girlfriend/boyfriend (often giving up a piece of who they are in the process), can be exhausting. Help your teen understand that not every relationship is meant to last. And, sometimes, running solo for a while can be the most liberating, confidence-building thing they can do.

#10 Forgetting to Dream

Growing up in the 80s, I remember my friends and I used to sit on a rooftop on balmy summer nights sharing our dreams about the future. It was a magical time filled with hope, optimism, and expectation. Sadly, far too many teens today don’t ponder and dream with the same hopefulness as previous generations did – but they should. As parents, we need to brush aside the negativity that so often surrounds our kids and encourage them to dream – to look for and embrace the magic and positivity of a hopeful, promising future.

With a few minor tweaks in their life, your teen can squeeze far more happiness and laughter into their daily life. They just have to make up their mind to do it and place their happiness high on their priority list. 


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