*My daughter received complimentary Invisalign treatment due to my collaboration with the brand, but all opinions are my own.
One of the top teen New Year’s resolutions of 2019 is to “be happier.” It’s broad and it’s basic, but if you remember your own teenage angst, it makes a lot of sense. Here are four ways to help teens help themselves toward this worthy goal.
1. Focus on the effort, not the outcome.
We can control our effort, but we can’t always control the outcome. So, instead of complimenting your son on how well he did on a test, praise him for how hard he studied for it. Instead of focusing on many points your daughter scored in a game, applaud her for the hours of practice she put in. After all, somebody else may have scored even more points or gotten an even higher grade on the curve. What matters is effort. So much so that a major research study showed praising our kids for how smart they are can actually harm them, whereas praising them for how hard they work, really helps them. Why would that be? Because when young people think brains are what matter, if they fail, they assume there is nothing they can do about it. Intelligence is a fixed factor. But when they believe hard work is the key and they fail, the natural conclusion is that they’ll do better next time if they just work harder. The researchers who discovered this fascinating dichotomy found that students who were told how smart they were tended to choose tasks they knew they could conquer whereas those who were told how hard-working they were took on more new challenges.
2. Smile, even when you don’t feel like it.
Yes, it sounds crazy, but another study showed that when we put our face in a smiling position, it actually makes us feel better because of the close connection between body and mind. The thing is, some teenagers don’t want to break into a big grin, because they wear braces and feel self-conscious. My daughter Kelsea sure did, during her first phase of orthodontic treatment with regular braces. That’s one reason I switched her to Invisalign clear aligners for phase two. My favorite part is how quickly and easily Kelsea’s teeth are moving during her Invisalign treatment. I’ve seen firsthand that Invisalign aligners works to fix teen smiles. And it's not just Kelsea. Invisalign treatment can even work for teens with more complex orthodontic problems like overbites, underbites, crowding and spacing. A bonus is that we haven’t had to miss any basketball or play practices to deal with broken wires poking Kelsea in the gums. And she doesn’t get “hangry” missing her favorite foods like popcorn, since she can remove her aligners to eat whatever she wants. If you and your teen are curious, there’s a great tool at Invisalign.com that shows you qualified Invisalign-trained orthodontists and dentists in your area. As for Kelsea, wearing these virtually invisible aligners made her so confident that she even kept them in for her school picture! She was smiling wide and looked so happy and that made ME happy.
ADD KELSEA SCHOOL PHOTO
3. Find your true talent.
There’s so much emphasis on academics in our culture, that we don’t always recognize or celebrate people’s other talents. Encourage your teenager to explore what they’re great at outside of school and they could get a huge boost in self assurance. For example, I know a 16-year-old boy who just isn’t great at math or spelling or taking standardized tests, but he is a genius when it comes to taking apart and putting together electronics. Some teens discover they are brilliant at building things. Or they have a soothing touch with animals. Or they are the one all of their friends turn to for unofficial counseling. Maybe your teenage son is a budding chef who can improvise brilliant combinations of ingredients. Perhaps, your teen daughter is a gifted musician who plays by ear and has started writing songs. These are not just hobbies. They are marketable skills that can boost confidence short term and lead to lucrative careers in the long term. Being encouraging is one thing. Another way to demonstrate to your teenager that you value these activities is by staying actively engaged in your own hobbies outside of your profession.
4. Help your teen get a job.
A few decades ago, nearly 60 percent of teenagers held jobs. Today, less than a third do, according to the Pew Research Center. Swimming pool management companies have resorted to hiring teenagers from Eastern Europe as lifeguards, because not enough American teens want the work. That’s a shame because working helps teenagers develop responsibility and accountability. Things go wrong and they have to improvise and problem-solve. “A kid who develops that roll-up-your-sleeves-and-pitch-in mindset doing a summer job… will be a highly valued employee in the real world,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of “How To Raise An Adult." In fact, one study showed that teenagers who work while in high school have higher incomes later. Another study found that people are much more careful when they manage their own money than they are when they handle other people’s — like their parents’— money. Employment website Monster.com says the top industries that hire teenagers are construction, hospitality, landscaping, recreation and tourism. Plus, having some spending money equals freedom equals control. And teenage rebellion is all about young people wanting to gain some control over their own destinies. Help your teenager to get a job and he or she will be freer and happier in 2019.