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Pessimism in Teens

Table of Contents

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Understanding Pessimism in your Teen: The Facts

Optimism and Pessimism

  • Optimism is the tendency to see the good in situations or outcomes. 
  • Pessimism is the tendency to see negatives in situations or outcomes.
  • Research shows optimistic and pessimistic tendencies are about 50% genes and 50% environment.  

Learned Helplessness

Pessimism can be the expression Learned helplessness happens when a person is repeatedly exposed to stressors outside of their control. The person feels powerless and does not attempt to make changes to alter their environment or experience. Learned helplessness can sound like: “My day was bad as usual.” Or “What’s the use, why bother?”Characteristics of learned helplessness include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Low motivation
  • Not asking for help
  • Low expectations of success

2 Ways Parents Can Help reduce Pessimism?

Building Optimism 

  • Tiered mastery opportunities: Examples include playing an instrument, learning a language, discovering a new hobby. 
  • Relying on strengths: What does the teen do well? How can they continue to build on that talent or skill?
  • Encouragement/praise for positive outcomes: Notice when things go well and call it out 

Be A Role Model 

  • All humans learn from observing, modeling, and imitating behavior. Parents, guardians, and friends are a teen’s closest models. If you want your teen to build optimism and unlearn pessimism, you must demonstrate and practice optimism yourself. Additionally, you must immerse your teen in prosocial environments. 
  • Prosocial behavior is positive, constructive, helpful. It is the opposite of antisocial behavior or pessimism. 
  • Prosocial environments are conducive to our values and goals. 

The MyTeenLifeCoach Approach

Expand Awareness about facts and myths of pessimism

Investigate: What is happening in the teen’s environment that may create pessimism? This includes school, parents, life events, and mental and physical health.

Explore: Walk the teen through their thought process.

  • Situation -> thought -> emotion -> behavior  
  • Notice the pessimism. Where does it occur? How does it feel? 
  • Where could they change their approach to facilitate more positive behaviour or outcomes? 

Build Tools to protect from pessimism.

When negative feelings or pessimism arises, three helpful tools to help teens cope include:

Distract: Feeling overwhelmed? Stop, take a break, and get out of your head. Do something to distract yourself from your thoughts. Take a walk, feed the dog, go to the gym, read a book, take a shower, etc.  

Dispute: Challenge the negative belief. Is this true, or is it a story? If it’s a story – how can you rewrite it?

Distance: Put distance between you and your thoughts. Beliefs are just beliefs – it doesn’t make them true. You are not your thoughts, and you are not your emotions.  You are good and whole inside even when you don’t feel good. 

  • Tiered mastery opportunities: Examples include playing an instrument, learning a language, and discovering a new hobby. 
  • Relying on strengths: What does the teen do well? How can they continue to build on that talent or skill?
  • Encouragement/praise for positive outcomes: Notice when things go well and call it out 

Please book an Exploratory call with us to discuss your needs. You are not alone.

Build Resilience Like A Jellyfish

Fun Fact: Jellyfish can be found in nearly all of the world's oceans, from the surface to the deep sea. They can thrive in various temperatures, salinities, and oxygen levels, making them remarkably adaptable.

If a jellyfish can do it, so can we. Let us support you in your journey to a more fulfilling life!

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Build Resilience Like A Jellyfish

Fun Fact: Jellyfish can be found in nearly all of the world's oceans, from the surface to the deep sea. They can thrive in various temperatures, salinities, and oxygen levels, making them remarkably adaptable.

If a jellyfish can do it, so can we. Let us support you in your journey to a more fulfilling life!

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