How often do you hear the groan, “I don’t want to go to school!” Do you have to poke and prod your teen to wake up and get out of the house on time? Does your teen come home grumpy and full of complaints about homework, friends, or teachers? While this is not unusual behaviour for teenagers, it doesn’t mean we should accept it. Kids who groan, complain, and generally express negativity will become adults who do the same. Parents can help teens develop a great life skill by teaching them to keep a positive attitude about school! Here are some tips to stop the negativity:
1. Role Model
Studies show that adolescents learn more by observation than any other way. Even if they act like they don’t want to be anything like you, teens have the tendency to imitate their parents. So, you need to check your own attitude. If you have a bad attitude about work, friends, or your boss, then you are teaching your teen to also have a bad attitude about school, friends, or their teacher. Do not vent or complain about your own circumstances in front of your teenager. Model a good attitude by looking for the positive in every situation. For example, you might say, “I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t chosen to serve as College Captain, but on the positive side, it would have been a lot of work and now I can spend more time with our family”. Pointing out optimistic versus pessimistic attitudes from news stories is another good way of showing your teen how to look for the positive in real life. Providing a positive environment for your teen gives them the tools they need to be positive thinkers.
2. Guide your Teen to Positive Talk
The way we talk can actually help us feel better or worse about our own situations. While it’s important to listen to your teen share about their day, you should not allow them to continuously vent about the negative. Teens who begin to develop an overly negative attitude about school may easily overlook all the good things that happen.
When your teen is frustrated or upset about something at school, validate your teen’s feelings. Do not dismiss their concerns by saying things like, “That’s not a big deal,” or “Quit being so dramatic”. Instead, listen closely to what they say, make eye contact, and ask questions to show that you’re interested in what they are saying and trying to understand their concerns. Once your teen has been fully heard, do not allow them to continue to repeat the negative.
3. Encourage Active Participation
Looking forward to after school activities can make the school day feel more enjoyable. Encourage your teen to sign up for clubs, play sports, or join band. A teen who doesn’t love academics may develop a more positive attitude if they have something to look forward to at the end of the day. They can develop new friendships with teens who have similar interests or discover a mentor in the teacher who leads the club or sport, all of which keep them more engaged in school.
4. Actively Problem-Solve Together
Problems at school can really weigh your teen down. They may feel negative because they don’t know how to handle a situation. Perhaps they are not getting along with one of their teachers, or they had a disagreement with a friend. Whatever the situation, instead of just letting your teen complain and vent their negative attitude, use it as an opportunity to teach problem-solving skills, a vital tool they will need their entire life. Read our previous blog to learn how to Teach Problem Solving Skills. Help your teen see that there are always new ideas or possible solutions to every problem.
5. Encourage your Teen to Make a Difference
Research shows that teens who choose to help others are more likely to: feel grateful, valued, and empowered; perform better in school; have higher self-esteem and aspirations for the future; and develop a strong work ethic. Even if your teen doesn’t love school, when they feel like they are serving a greater purpose, they are less likely to have a negative attitude. Discuss possible opportunities for your teen to get involved with the community, such as organising a food or coat drive, joining the Student Council, helping sick children in hospitals, organising a bake sale to raise funds for a worthy cause, sewing blankets or hats for homeless or helping young children learn to read. These types of activities can help your teen to develop a more positive attitude and to appreciate what they have and the education they are receiving.
6. Help Your Teen Establish Goals
A negative attitude can sometimes be the result of a lack of progress (feeling “stuck”) or a feeling of insignificance or worthlessness (feeling like the things they are doing are pointless). Teens with clear goals are more likely to have a positive attitude about their school experience. Teens who create and work toward short-term goals can more easily see progress and feel excited about the future.
Teens who have good critical thinking, planning, and problem-solving skills tend to think more positively than their peers. Parents and teachers can role model and teach these skills to youth. Be sure to praise any effort your teen makes at thinking more positively. Positive thinking will help them in school and well into their future. For more information about this article go to: https://middleearthnj.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/6-ways-to-help-your-teen-develop-a-positive-attitude-about-school/
The Pastoral Care Team