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According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health (July 2011), teenagers with high positive well-being had a reduced risk of engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, using drugs, and eating unhealthy foods while transitioning into adulthood.
The study is one of the first focused on the effect of psychological characteristics in teens.
In order to measure positive well-being in adolescence, Hoyt and her team went back to the 1994 data from that specific sample of young people and examined their answers to a series of “well-being” questions. These questions focused on topics that gauged the teens’ sense of happiness, enjoyment of life, hopefulness for the future, self-esteem and social acceptance. They used these measures of positive well-being during adolescence (measured in 1994) to predict perceived general health and risky health behaviors in young adulthood (measured in 2001). The researchers controlled the study for health conditions in adolescence, socioeconomic status, symptoms of depression and other known predictors of long-term health.
Positive people, in general, find the good in every situation in their lives. Setting a positive example for pre-teens and teens can assist their choices and views of their environment down the road. The following suggestions will help promote self-confidence, self-esteem, and build responsibility in their own actions.
Set a positive example. When you are facing a challenging situation in your own life, objectively analyze the circumstances to find at least one aspect that is positive. Discuss this process with your child.
While your child might not understand the full concept of the exercise, with time they will begin to master their own technique for analyzing and finding positivity.
Plan activities as a family. Taking time to disconnect from various forms of electronic entertainment as a family will open lines of communication in the time spent together.
During your disconnected, family oriented activities (game night, hiking, camping, fishing) refrain from using a cell phone or computer. Time is the most valuable resource of all relationships, especially with your children.The more time they feel they are important, the more their self-confidence will increase.
Volunteer in your community. Assisting organizations aimed at improving the lives of others teaches value, responsibility, and appreciation.
Time invested in helping others, provides more than feelings of accomplishment. Pre-teens and teens who spend time volunteering with their families at local food banks, homeless shelters, and many other non-profit organizations find themselves appreciative of the luxuries in their own lives, without feeling deserving. The experience offers great perspective into challenges faced by those in their community, while building humbled self-esteem.
Participate in sports. As a family and as individuals, maintaining a physically fit lifestyle promotes happiness.
Exercise releases endorphins that trigger receptors in the brain to bring positive mood boosts, reduced anxiety, increased self-esteem, and reduced depression.
No matter what activity you decide to do as a family, doing together is most important. You will find that the time spent together will become more conversational over time. It is through those conversations your child can reach out and discuss any problems they might be facing in school or with their peers. This is your time, as an adult, to make a difference in their life to encourage positivity and health into adulthood.
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