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Got Teenage Attitude Problems? Seven Ways to Inspire Your Surly Teen

As the parent of a teen, you want them to live their best life, one that is meaningful and filled with purpose—especially when they venture out into the world.

That may seem like an anomaly, though, when you see your teen struggling with making life choices, incessantly angry, unhappy, withdrawn, having a poor self-image, or exemplifying destructive or concerning behaviors.

Although your teen may seem immersed in an emotive grey zone, don’t get discouraged.

Adolescence is an unstable time for most teens.

They can and will be easily discouraged or misdirected by the valleys in their daily life. Keep checking in and of course if you notice any behavior too discerning, seek the appropriate help.

In the meantime, there are strategies you can implement to help your teen live with less glumness and anxiety and more hopefulness and joy.

7 Strategies to Help Your Teen Have a More Positive Attitude

1. Check your baggage at the door.

Many of us come into relationships carrying unpleasant memories from our past. Whether it is growing up with a parent who was a substance abuser, family dysfunction or mistreatment at the hands of someone we trusted, those bad experiences affect not only our emotional health but our children’s as well. As a parent, you need to rid yourself of that burden through activities such as therapy or journaling. When you heal and strengthen your mental wellbeing, you can break a negative generational pattern even just through acknowledgment of what happened. That can help you parent your teen from a happier and less broken place.

2. Show your vulnerable side to your teen.

When you share stories about how alone you felt when you started high school, or how someone broke your heart, or how you felt when you lost someone close to you, you show a part rarely seen to your teenager. Your teen may also receive a valuable lesson from your story that no matter what challenges he is dealing with, it will eventually pass and is survivable.

3. Create a transparent climate.

It can be difficult for teenagers to be as open in front of us as they are with their peers. Sometimes through our actions, such as being too preoccupied, defending more than listening, or fear of being judged, we thwart their attempts to share their raw and honest feelings. At times, their lashing or acting out is only because they want us to stop what we are doing and listen. Create an aura in your home where your teen knows that being open is the norm.

4. Remind yourself how amazing your teen is even when it’s hard.

Offer your teen an authentic compliment once a day no matter how small. Speaking tender words towards your teen can cushion some of the inner conflicts he may have—especially those misplaced feelings towards you. Treat your teen to a movie, concert, or sports event, or dinner at a favorite restaurant, just because you’re the parent of a fantastic kid.

5. Help your teen declutter.

Just as unwanted clutter can accumulate in a room or closet, the same happens in your mind with negative self-talk or false perceptions. Ask your teen to write down negative messages that he holds on to and discuss how those messages have hindered him. Next, ask your teen to tear the paper up to symbolize getting rid of those negative messages and write on a new sheet of paper messages affirmations that inspire positivity.

6. Help your teen create a vision board.

A vision board is a creative way of writing down your hopes for the future. Buy a craft board and ask your teen to decorate it however he chooses with stickers, magazine pictures, positive quotes, etc. Don’t forget to make one for yourself that includes your own goals—and those of your teen.

7. Empower your teen to soar.

An empowered teen is one who believes in the possibilities for his life, and for the world. Link your teen up with organizations, internship programs or peer-to-peer mentoring programs. These activities can build your teen’s self-confidence, self-awareness, conflict resolution skills, and help your teen become involved in causes outside of his realm.

Jeanine DeHoney

Jeanine DeHoney has been published in Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul, Literary Mama, and Scary Mommy.com as well as in several other blogs, anthologies, and magazines.