This Post: Powerful Tips to Raise a Resilient Teenager
Written by: Natalie Maximets, CTC
Wouldn’t it be great if you could help your teen handle life’s adversities with a certain mental toughness? Like when they failed a test they studied hard for, didn’t make the team, or got passed over for an internship they desperately wanted, they’d inherently grab hold of an inner strength to help them view those situations not as “failures,” but rather as minor setbacks in life.
Well… you can. It’s called resilience.
Being a teenager is hard. That’s why they need all the help they can get to get through this tumultuous time in their lives. The good news is, you can help your teen navigate the rough waters of adolescence by empowering them with a healthy dose of resilience. Not only will resilience help them cope with everyday stress, it will also help prepare them for life as an adult. Here are a few powerful tips to raise a resilient teenager.
Powerful Tips to Raise a Resilient Teenager
Teach Them to Bounce Back When Life Gets Hard
What Does Having Resilience Mean?
From a clinical perspective, resilience is having the ability to maintain a stable level of psychological and physical activity in stressful situations. It’s about having the capacity to recover, bounce back and draw from a certain “toughness” to endure life’s hard knocks.
In our teen’s world, it might mean brushing themselves off, trying again and having the mental strength to recover and move forward despite a huge blow like when they didn’t get the grade they hoped for, get the part in the school play, or when they get rejected by a girl or guy they asked out.
Is Resilience Something You’re Born With or Taught?
The ability to endure adversity or difficult situations and exhibit resilience depends on several factors. Experts agree that genetics, personality traits, upbringing, and social environment all come into play. However, research has shown that genetics plays a very small role. In fact, for the most part, resilience is something you have to acquire.
According to a quote by Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in the New York Times, “Think of resilience as a set of skills that can be, and often is, learned. Part of the skill-building comes from exposure to difficult (but manageable) experiences.” In other words, those tough times your teen might be experiencing are helping them build invisible armor.
What Does Resilience Look Like?
What does your teen’s resilience look like in action? If your teen is exhibiting any of these behaviors, you should be proud of them – it means they’re building resilience!
- Viewing failures not as a finality, but rather as opportunities to learn from them and, in many instances, to try again.
- Exhibiting a realistic view of the world – life isn’t always fair or perfect.
- Making the most of a difficult situation.
- Showing optimism in the face of challenges.
- Coping with and managing stress in a healthy, productive manner.
- Stomping out negative self-talk and/or feelings and replacing them with positive, uplifting thoughts.
- Adapting to changes in their life. Being flexible when life throws them curveballs.
- Showing signs of self-confidence.
- Regulating impulsive behavior.
- Having the ability to laugh at themselves and their imperfections.
- Realizing that there is no such thing as perfection.
- Developing a growth mindset (i.e. Instead of: “I can’t get this right because I’m stupid. They say: ” With enough hard work I can become better or smarter.”)
- Focusing on things they can change as opposed to dwelling on things they can’t. Problem-solving.
Why Is Resilience So Important for Teens?
We all know the road to adulthood is oftentimes bumpy. Teenagers not only go through immense physical and emotional changes, but life tosses them plenty of challenges along the way – getting through middle and high school, managing the social scene with all its ups and downs, academic pressure, big decisions about school, life and their future. It’s all very overwhelming and exhausting for teens.
To help your teen, you need to help them gain character strength and an “I can bounce back” attitude to enable them to recover when life knocks them down.
7 Powerful Tips to Raise a Resilient Teenager
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, (pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) adopted the 7 Cs of resilience that can help kids and teens build resilience. According to Ginsburg, resilience is at the very heart of our teen’s well-being.
Our teens need to feel that they have some degree of control over their decisions, environment and their lives. When they feel as though they lack control, they’re far less likely to have the stamina to bounce back.
When teens are given the freedom to explore their interests, certain strengths are ultimately revealed. They start to realize their worth, value, and competence which instills confidence and their ability to make a difference in their own life.
When they feel they’re behind the wheel of their life, they’re more likely to push back and stand strong when life becomes challenging.
Confidence, self-compassion and self-respect are crucial components of resilience. Having faith in their abilities and strengths, realizing that they’re not perfect, that their mistakes don’t define them, and forgiving themselves when they don’t get the expected results are powerful factors in building resilience.
It also means having the self-respect to walk away from people or situations that rob them of their confidence or put them at risk. This confidence and self-empowerment help them view life with greater perspective and far more resilience.
Teens need to know that they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Knowing they have the love of family, support from a friend group, and a sense of community will reinforce the idea that they’re not alone. The less alone they feel, the more secure they’ll feel and the more inner strength they’ll have to get back on their feet when adversity strikes.
Help your teen discover their own unique talents, gifts and wisdom they hold within. Then, encourage them to share those character strengths with the world. The value of knowing they can enlighten, educate or inspire others gives them a powerful sense of self-worth which can help them build resilience.
When teens realize that their contributions can make a difference in this world, it not only motivates them, it gives them a sense of purpose. It’s that empowered “sense of purpose” that gives them the strength to keep going no matter what life throws their way.
To help your child build resilience, work alongside them (they need your support and guidance) to develop practical problem-solving skills and coping mechanisms to manage stress. The more you work with your teen, the more they’ll begin to learn to deal with issues independently.
Teach problem-solving by helping your teen develop these skills:
- Define a problem.
- Come up with several solutions.
- Analyze the benefits and/or drawbacks of each option.
- Choose the best solution and act.
- Analyze the result.
- Adjust, if necessary.
The more challenges your teenager handles this way, the more confident they’ll feel in the future when facing other problems.
Another great way for your teen to develop resilience is to focus on conquering negative emotions that can sometimes get the best of them. Whether they do deep breathing exercises, write their thoughts or worries down on paper, listen to music or engage in other coping strategies that work for them, they’ll begin to realize that they hold the power to alter their mood, thought process and perspective.
Overall, kids who possess a positive mindset have fewer mental health issues because they’re more focused on overcoming challenges than succumbing to them or making excuses.
And remember that your teen will learn from your example. Your resilience will breed resilience in your teenager.
About Natalie Maximets:
Natalie is a Certified Transformational Life Coach and Content Writer for OnlineDivorce.com with expertise in self-development, family building, relationships, and psychological well-being. She is a published author focused on the most progressive solutions in the field of Psychology. Natalie is proficient in CBT, REBT, Trauma Recovery, Mindfulness Meditation, Storytelling, and Wilderness Therapy.