How to Get Teens "Unstuck"

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It’s no secret that it’s very easy for teens to get stuck in a negative mindset. We've all been there- we're already miserable so why not stay miserable? Every suggestion that’s made continues to be met with a "that won't work for me."

The Problem

I've shared in the past about how "like attracts like" in terms of a positive mindset/outlook. Guess what- the same is true of negativity. There's a reason why the phrase "misery loves company" is so relatable!

We all have this great knowledge and wisdom that comes from having lived through and survived some of the very same challenges these teens may be experiencing. Is today's experience different than when we were in school? Of course! And at the same time we know what's helped us cope with wanting to avoid school (or work nowadays- #AmIRight!?).

Despite all of your logic and facts, your teen is still stuck in their negativity and not being receptive to positive problem-solving.

The Solution

Go with the RESISTANCE. You read that correctly. If you are continuing to suggest good idea after good idea that you know will work, and your teen just isn't having it- GO WITH IT!

Teens are always trying to gain more and more independence. Sometimes they go about this in some wonky ways- like disagreeing with something their parents say- even if they thought about it too! I know- it's not logical and is totally frustrating!!!

So sometimes, to get your kid to start acting and thinking differently, you have to also. 

How do you do this? Let's use the example that it's morning time and your daughter is saying they feel too anxious to go to school. You're crunched for time yourself and if your morning is anything like mine, they can be super hectic! It makes sense to go into problem-solving mode. Your daughter is unwilling to consider using the deep breathing, checking in the counselor, or listening to music (even though these are all her ideas) - again incredibly frustrating! It would be so easy to throw up your hands and say "I give up!" But let's be real, you're a good parent so you keep trying. I'm telling you right now if you've tried a good amount of suggestions (let's say 3-5) and your teen is still not budging on helping you problem-solve- go with it!

Tell them, "You know what- you're right none of this will work for you." Then wham them with a reality check "It just stinks because the law says you have to go to school until you're 18." Then bring it home with putting the ownership on them to come up with a solution: "What can we do to improve this situation?"

How do I know this stuff works?

I use it in my teen girl therapy groups all the time! It’s amazing how the tone and focus can change when you shake up your own response/approach.

Want even more positive influences in your teen's life? Teen Girls Therapy Group is a weekly space where your teen girl can connect with others dealing with anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. By talking and learning together, they learn to feel better about the relationships they have with themselves and others.

If you want to secure your teen's spot- complete your complimentary 15-min parent phone screening at 203-228-8971 orcompleting the contact form here.

Mallory Grimste, LCSW - Teen Therapist

Mental Health Counseling for Anxious Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults | Woodbridge, CT