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September 10, 2015

The pressure to be the best in life is impressed upon our teens from a young age as our culture continually strives to avoid failure at all costs. But is that really the best way to parent? What if teens were placed in a comfortable environment that also presents teens challenges to help them master new skills, achieve individual goals and make personal choices—free from a fear of failure? Giving your teen access to this type of nurturing environment is crucial to their development and can help prevent feelings anxiety and depression. Learn more about how you can help your teen pull through moments of failure with these practical parenting tips.

Social Strain

Social media strongly affects the way our teens view themselves and others. Most people post their “ideal life” on their social platforms, spending hours cropping and adding filters to skew photos and documenting only the moments that put them in the best positive light. This inundation of “perfect” can do major damage to your teen’s self-esteem and they way they view their own successes and failures. Social media allows for comparison overload, and if your teen doesn’t get as many likes, retweets or favorites as their peers, they get discouraged and may experience feelings associated with anxiety or depression. Your teen may likely feel their peer’s lives are better or cooler than their own, stifling them from pursuing their personal interests, taking risks or exploring opportunities for personal growth.

>>> This powerful video can help your teen understand the deep psychological effects of social media.

Facing Fear

Failure happens, it’s part of life. However, there are healthy and unhealthy ways your teen can react to their own shortcomings. Failure can be uncomfortable and bring upon feelings of embarrassment, shame, guilt, anger and even depression. But failure can also provide the motivation your teen needs to try again with new refined methods. If your teen is avoiding participating in activities you know they are interested in, like trying out for a sports team or applying to the college of their dreams, it may be time to intervene.

Help your teen break the connection between failure and self-worth with these tips:

1. Practice self-compassion: Our self-worth is not dependent upon our academic successes, social standings, athletic abilities or physical appearance. Express to your teen that refraining from negative self-talk will lead them to a happier and healthier relationship with themselves.

2. Let go of competition: There’s nothing wrong with valuing excellence, but when teens feel valued only for their accomplishments there is a problem. Remind your teen that valuing themselves and striving to be the best person they can be is what is truly important.

3. Seek out a mentor: Learning from a successful mentor who has pushed through failings to find success presents your teen with great opportunity. Encourage them to find someone they admire so that they may glean insight into the path they took.. Also, share stories, with your teen, of immensely successful icons who have experienced failure; for example, Howard Schultz was turned down more than 200 times before he started Starbucks.

4. Find the silver lining: When you fail, you’re simply that much more knowledgeable about what doesn’t work. There’s always something positive your teen can learn from their experiences. Reinforce it’s OK to fail as it’s simply helping them discover who they are.

Teachable Moments

Letting your child experience all the teachable moments the real world has to offer them is difficult for many parents. It is natural to want to protect your teen from making mistakes and buffer them from potentially decimating situations. Your teen will come up against moments of failure, challenges and setbacks sooner or later. Preparing them for the real world before they become young adults and fly the coop is a necessary part of parenting. Need a little help? Pacific Quest is here for you. Our Wilderness Therapy Program is designed to help adolescents and young adults challenge their current belief systems, overcome their feelings of anxiety and depression and find a feeling of inner-peace and purpose. Interested in learning more? Download our Adolescent Brochure here.
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