If your teen seems generally fed up and focused on the negatives in life don’t despair, there are lots of things that can help.

Many of us dwell on criticism more than compliments and problems rather than successes. Not because we are gloomy but because our brains are hardwired to do this. It is down to evolution. In ancient times being aware of trouble is what helped people survive.  We have of course evolved since then, but studies have shown that brains are still more instinctively responsive to negative things than positive. In the extremely sensitive and hyper self-aware teen years this can lead to feelings of despair and overwhelm.

When thing go wrong it is natural to feel upset and it is unhealthy to deny it but over focusing and only focusing on what went wrong isn’t helpful either. It is important to encourage our teens to look at the whole picture. If one mock exam goes badly, we need to help them focus on the other 9 that went well. If they didn’t make the hockey team, we need to help them consider how many new friends they have made this school year. A balanced view stops them catastrophising and will keep their spirits and confidence up. They always need to keep an eye on what is going well.

We also need to share with them that it takes more for positive experiences to be remembered than negative ones so sharing their good news with Gran, making a scrapbook of their achievements, taking photos and journaling about happy times they experience will help give the GOOD stuff in their life the focus it deserves.

Helping teens to see what is going well will improve their self-esteem and boost their confidence and this can make all the difference to their mood, attitude and actions.

For lots more ways to boost a teens confidence take a look at my new book Be Confident Be You – a teenage guide.


This article has been written by child therapist and mental health wellbeing expert Becky Goddard-Hill, author of the Be You, 365 days of and Create Your Own series from Emotionally Healthy Kids.