Happiness and Wellbeing for Teenagers
Happiness is a state of mind or a mood. Teenagers are usually happier when they’re satisfied with their lives and relationships, although nobody is happy all the time.
Happiness and wellbeing are related, but they’re not the same thing. There are no clearly defined links between them. Teenagers can be happy because of some of the things that make up wellbeing, but they don’t need all these things to be happy.
Wellbeing comes from physical, mental and emotional health. It’s also about understanding your emotions, taking part in different activities, having good relationships and social connections, finding meaning in life and feeling that you’re doing well.
Boosting Teenage Happiness: Tips
You can boost your child’s happiness with praise and encouragement, clear rules and boundaries, a healthy family lifestyle and warm family relationships.
Praise, encouragement and positive attention
Rules and boundaries
Clear and fair rules help teenagers feel safe when lots of things in their lives are changing. If you involve your child in making the rules, she’ll be more likely to stick to them. Negotiating rules with your child is also a way of showing that you respect her growing maturity.
For older teenagers, happiness depends a lot on having freedom to make choices without too many restrictions – although they still need you to monitor what they’re doing. It’s about being respected, developing independently of parents or carers, making their own friendships and social life, and being taken seriously as individuals.
Boosting Teenage Wellbeing: Tips
Here are some ideas for fostering different aspects of teenage wellbeing.
When your child takes care of himself physically, it’s good for his wellbeing. For example, being active, having a break from technology, getting outside and getting enough sleep can help your child’s mood and improve his physical fitness.
Mental and emotional health
- Good mental and emotional health is important for teenage wellbeing. For example, teenagers with good mental and emotional health can develop resilience to cope better with difficult situations. If your child develops resilience, she can ‘bounce back’ when things go wrong, which will boost her wellbeing.
- Good emotional health also includes being aware that it’s normal and OK to sometimes feel sad, embarrassed, angry and frustrated – but these feelings usually pass.
A positive focus
If your child can notice and appreciate the good things in his life, he’s more likely to feel positive. This can also help him keep difficult times in perspective, so they don’t become overwhelming.
Your child can do this by just taking a few moments each day to focus on what she’s grateful for. You could even make this a family activity by asking everyone at the dinner table to name one thing they’re grateful for. You can be grateful for all sorts of things, like being together at dinner, the sun shining after a week of rain, having good health, being part of a great group of friends and so on.
Trying new things and getting involved in different activities keeps your child’s options open, and can build his confidence and sense of self-worth. You can encourage your child by helping him find activities he might be interested in. It’s also important to praise him for being open to new things and willing to have a go.
Relationships and social connections
Relationships and social connections are vital for teenage wellbeing. Your child needs close and supportive family and friends. And good parent-child relationships tend to lead to good teenage friendships.
Meaning in life
Meaning in life can come from doing good things for others. Your child could look for everyday ways to help family or friends – for example, giving someone her seat on the bus, or helping someone pick up papers they’ve dropped in the street. Or she could get involved in community activity. This type of ‘giving’ lights up the reward centre in the brain, which makes your child feel good.
Feeling connected to something bigger can also help to give your child’s life a sense of purpose. Meaning might come from spirituality, life philosophy, or a commitment to a cause like the environment. People with meaning have less stress and get more out of what they do.
Goals and achievement
If your child has goals that fit with his values, are fun and attainable, and let him use his strengths, it can give him a sense of purpose and achievement.