Inspire an Attitude of Gratitude To Elevate The
Mental Health of Your Teen
By Jean Keese & Jen Caple
In a recent regional survey by our regional Planet Youth coalition*, more than half of our youth reported feelings of hopelessness and depression. This statistic serves as a wake-up call, reminding us that we should make mental health a priority for our teens.
As parents, we hold a powerful tool in our hands – the ability to teach our children the practice of gratitude. Practicing gratitude has a profound impact on our overall health and happiness.
In essence, the practice of gratitude is a gateway to more positive emotions.
Gratitude guides our focus toward positive aspects of our lives, leading to elevated joy and contentment.
Not only does gratitude benefit our mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, but it also has physical health benefits such as improved sleep quality, increased energy levels, and a boosted immune system.
Expressing gratitude strengthens our relationships by cultivating appreciation and connection.
Encouraging teenagers to embrace gratitude can have a transformative effect on their well-being and mindset. And, if they start now, it cultivates a habit that will last a lifetime!
There is no downside to an attitude of gratitude! But how do we inspire this?
Where Your Focus Goes, Your Energy Flows!
Life can be stressful, especially with children. Life with a teenager can be exponentially MORE stressful. It’s natural to sometimes (or often) react to our teenagers from a place of fear and anxiety! But, when we do this, we elevate their anxiety and fear.
So, check your energy.
Make sure you are taking care of your own mental and physical health. That way you show up as the best version of yourself, operating from a place of calm, stillness – and positivity.
How we frame our conversations has a powerful impact, and that can be positive or negative.
So breathe, and put your focus into expressing gratitude for what is going well with your teen. Not just what your teen is struggling with. If you pour positive energy into your teen, the positivity will grow – and come back full circle.
Commit to growing a positive teen!
They will not only feel better about themselves, but they will learn from your positive outlook and share it with others. Maybe not today, but eventually.
Remember, where your focus goes, your energy flows!
Thought leader Brene’ Brown has a book called “Gifts of Imperfection.” In this book, she reminds us that we need to let go of who we think we’re supposed to be in order to embrace who we are.
Let go of what people think. Instead, embrace authenticity. Let go of perfectionism. Embrace self-compassion. Let go of scarcity and fear of the dark. Embrace gratitude and joy!
In this book, she offers many wise words, but to let go of fear and replace it with gratitude and joy can be embraced by parents – and then offered to our youth as a way to boost happiness, and mental health.
We are all imperfect – as humans, and as parents. But one thing we can do, in our own imperfect way, is teach our children about gratitude.
There is no downside!
Here are some other ideas to inspire your teen to embrace an attitude of gratitude.
- Lead by Example: As adults, we are positioned to be the most influential role model in our teens’ life. By visibly demonstrating gratitude and expressing appreciation, you let your teen see the positive impact it can have.
- Gratitude Journal: Encourage your teen to keep a gratitude journal where they can regularly write down things they are thankful for. Support this habit by joining them at a designated time to journal.
- Expressing Appreciation: Teach your teen the importance of expressing gratitude to others. Encourage them to say “thank you” to friends, family members, teachers, or anyone who has done something kind or helpful. This simple act reinforces the power of gratitude and promotes positive relationships.
- Volunteer and Give Back: Engage your teen in community service or volunteer activities. Exposing them to different perspectives and giving back to those in need cultivates gratitude and empathy. It also allows them to recognize their own blessings and appreciate the impact they can have on others’ lives.
- Family Gratitude Rituals: Incorporate gratitude into your family routines. During mealtime, encourage each family member to share one thing they are grateful for that day. This ritual fosters a sense of gratitude as a family value and strengthens the bond between family members. It also encourages meaningful conversations.
- Mindful Moments: Teach your teen to pause and appreciate the present moment. Encourage them to notice and savor simple pleasures like a beautiful sunset, a delicious meal, or time spent with loved ones. This mindfulness practice allows them to embrace the positive experiences in their lives fully.
- Acts of Kindness: Encourage your teen to perform acts of kindness for others without expecting anything in return. Whether it’s helping a friend, volunteering at a local charity, or simply offering a kind word, these actions foster gratitude by highlighting the positive impact they can have on others’ lives.
- Positive Reflection: Encourage your teen to reflect on challenging situations and find the silver lining or lessons learned. By shifting their perspective towards gratitude even in difficult times, they develop resilience and a positive mindset. We don’t grow and learn when we always succeed or get too comfortable. We can be upset and disappointed but still take away a positive perspective.
Keep in mind that nurturing gratitude is a continuous journey. These practices will instill an attitude of gratitude, which will benefit them throughout their life. This practice brings a greater sense of happiness, improved mental health, stronger relationships, and overall well-being. Start embracing gratitude with your teen today and witness the positive impact it has!
*2023 West Central Mountains Planet Youth Student Survey
Jean Keese is a health and wellness writer, marketing consultant, and founder of GathR Pilates where she is a Pilates Instructor and holistic wellness professional specializing in Clinical Ayurveda. Jean is the McCall-Donnelly Planet Youth Coalition coordinator and West Central Mountains Regional Planet Youth Marketing Director. She is passionate about helping people cultivate healthy lifestyles and believes this is the foundation for a balanced and joyful life.
Jen Caple is a licensed clinical social worker and founder of Elevate 208, where she offers life-coaching and counseling services Jen is certified in compassion fatigue, stress first aid, traumatology, and critical incident stress management. I have extensive training in EMDR, FLASH, crucial conversations, and suicide prevention. Jennifer’s diverse career has included working in a variety of settings. In the school setting, she has helped educate children on ways to identify and better manage emotions and relationships. Jen also serves on the Youth Advocacy Coalition board.