How To Raise Optimistic Teenagers

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Teaching teens to be hopeful starts at home. (Getty Images)

Raising a teenager can be a swooshing roller coaster of sugar-sweet joys and quiet disappointments.

In the midst of the adventure, you may find yourself playing the pivotal role of a cheerleader. Suddenly, it has become your job to rejoice in your child’s triumphs and help them overcome self-doubt. Optimistic kids keep their dreams on the horizon and stay motivated to be at their best no matter what they face.

“Kids are willing to take more chances when they are optimistic,” says Lisa Rutigliano, a teacher of Advanced Placement Psychology and Child Development at Valley Stream Central High School. “It opens so many more doors because they see everything as an opportunity.”

An optimistic outlook can make kids happier, more successful, and more resistant to stress.

How can you raise an optimistic teen? Let’s take a look.


“It is important to give kids attainable goals that are moderately challenging,” says Rutigliano. “These build a sense of confidence. So many teens have a lot of negativity in their lives, and that is what they come to expect from themselves and their future. Attainable goals give them a sense of optimism on a small scale that they can carry throughout their lives.”

Your teen may be able to do their homework without being told, or cook a meal by themselves. Praising them for little successes shows them that you have confidence in their maturity as they become independent young adults.


Kids are perceptive, and they will be able to see right through any false hope you give them.

If your child is an aspiring track star, don’t tell her she can easily beat the competition. Rather, notice the times she was able to outperform herself, and encourage her improvement.


Kids who are getting negative messages through the media all day will be more likely to believe them. Make your own soundtrack with upbeat songs that encourage and inspire. Play it while the family is doing the dishes or cleaning the house on the weekends.

Positive parents raise optimistic kids. Model finding the hope and overlooking the negative in every situation, and your kids will develop the skill.

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