Teen Lifeline is reminding parents of Arizona teens there’s no place like hope for the holidays. That’s because studies show teens who live in a state of hope may experience increased happiness, improved academic achievement and lowered rates of suicide.
We know hope is a skill you can learn and develop over time. This holiday season, we’re asking parents to take a few minutes each day to check in with their kids and help them develop skills that impact their hopefulness.”
Developing skills that translate into hope is especially important during the holiday season, when added stress from finals, family commitments, holiday events and gift giving can sometimes cause hope to seem elusive.
Staff and volunteers at Teen Lifeline encourage parents and teens to try these four simple steps to increase hope this holiday season:
Make a gratitude list. Write a list of things for which you are thankful. This is an activity that families can do individually or together. Start with a list of five things and try to add at least one or two new things to the list each day. Even small things, like sunshine, a smile from a stranger or hearing a favorite song can spark gratitude. Remembering what you are grateful for can help increase feelings of hopefulness.
Change the narrative – Most of the time, what you say to yourself about what’s happening in your life is more important than what’s actually happening. Positive thinking takes practice. Work together with your teen to stop negative thoughts and try to rephrase them in a positive way.
For instance, when you notice yourselves thinking or talking about how boring the holiday party at grandma’s house will be, stop and brainstorm several reasons you’ll enjoy the event, such as getting to see family members, tasting your favorite holiday treat or playing a favorite game.
Positive relationships. If your teens have positive relationships in their lives, nurture them. The holidays are a perfect excuse to encourage your teen to text, call or arrange to spend extra time with people with whom they have healthy relationships.
If your teen is lacking positive connections with other people, look for ways to encourage new friendships. Help your teens plan an activity with people they would like to get to know better, gift them equipment or registration fees to join a club or sports team, or support your teen in finding a place to volunteer.
Set attainable goals. The holiday season is a natural time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the future. Be an example of setting realistic goals and taking concrete steps to attain them. Consider setting a family goal for 2020. Or, ask your teen what his or her goals are and how you can support them as they work to achieve their goals.
Teens who are struggling to feel hope in their lives are invited to call Teen Lifeline 24/7/365 at 602-248-TEEN (8336) or 800-248-TEEN. The hotline is staffed by teen peer counselors from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. daily. Trained counselors are available at all other times.
Teens can also text with a teen peer counselor at 602-248-8336 between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. every day of the year.
For more information about Teen Lifeline, visit TeenLifeline.org.
Nikki Kontz is the Teen Lifeline clinical director.