Encouraging healthy friendships may improve your teen's attitude.

How to Help Teens Develop a Positive Attitude

by Shelley Frost

The teen years come with stressful situations that can often cause a teen to develop a pessimistic attitude. Between her school work, extracurricular activities and social pressures, your teen might begin to feel overwhelmed and negative. Boosting her self-esteem and encouraging her to see her life in a positive light can help turn her attitude around -- and don't underestimate the power of a positive attitude. The TeensHealth website notes that an optimistic attitude can help make us happier, healthier, more successful and even protect against depression. With that in mind, you'll want to do what you can to help your teen lose her negativity.

Curb your own negativity even when your teen isn't around. Getting in the habit of looking on the positive side of life supports an optimistic outlook that might rub off on your teen. Focus on the positives that happen during your day instead of replaying the negatives.

Identify situations that cause your teen to have a negative outlook. For example, look to see if he's struggling in class or fighting with his best friend. When you can pinpoint the source of the negativity, you are better equipped to help your adolescent come up with solutions to the problems.

Brainstorm with your teen to work on specific issues in her life. If she is at risk of failing a class, discuss what is happening in the subject. Help her set up a homework schedule when you lend your support. Suggest ways for her to ask for help from her teacher, or contact the teacher yourself for insight. Offer to pay for a tutor who can help her better understand the subject. Giving her an actionable way to improve a difficult situation shows her that it isn't hopeless.

Compliment your teen with specific and honest praise. He'll know if you aren't sincere, so only say something if you mean it. You might say, "I'm so proud of you for calling me to pick you up when your friends started drinking. I know that your friends might give you a hard time about it, but your safety is the priority."

Practice positive self-talk with your teen. Help her train her brain to think positively and push out negative thoughts. For example, if she is dreading an upcoming test, discourage her from negative self-talk like, "I'm going to fail. I stink at science. There is no way I'll pass this test." Instead, have her practice saying, "I can pass this test if I put in the time to study."

Encourage your teen to find and develop her talents and interests, as this can help her build her self-esteem, notes HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Support her interests even if you might prefer her to have other interests. For example, if she chooses drama when you really want her to join the volleyball team, show up at her performance and embrace her passion. Avoid saying things that devalue what she chooses such as, "I wish you would play sports like your sister. I know you would be a good athlete."

Help your teen look at difficult situations differently and without attacking herself personally. If she says she is the worst friend in the world because she caused a fight with her best friend, remind her that all friendships have bumps. Let her know the fight doesn't have to ruin the friendship and that she can work to patch up the relationship by apologizing and rebuilding trust.

Give her a blank journal to start a gratitude log. Encourage her to write down all of the positive things that happened that day. This takes the focus away from the negative experiences she had.


  • If your teen seems depressed or is isolating himself from friends and/or family, consult a medical or mental health professional.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images