4 Activities that Instill Optimism in At-Risk Teens


Which is harder: raising teens or being a teen? Teens go through years of frustration toward their parents, angst toward school, yearning for friendship and general feelings of uneasiness. Although many teens have positive experiences, there are still plenty who suffer through these years. Parents, teachers and other loved ones can help by helping teens understand that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

A positive attitude, and an awareness of the bigger picture of life, can spur teens on during the high school years.

Consider some of these activities can help instill this optimism in teens.Self-confidence is often nurtured through volunteering, as teens realize that they do have something valuable to offer other people.

Focus on the Positive

Teens often see and focus on the negative aspects of their lives. While it’s okay to discuss the negative, adults should try to help teens put things into perspective. Encourage teens to identify all of their positive traits, including personality, special talents or important goals. Ask them to make a list of these traits, so they can revisit the list when they are feeling down. Teens can also compose a letter to themselves, detailing specific goals they want to accomplish in their lives, career aspirations or other life aspirations.


When teenagers are involved in some type of sport, they have a way to release any negative energy. Sports give teens something to focus on, and goals to reach toward. Many coaches offer inspirational talks. Working as a member of a team also helps instill a sense of pride and optimism toward life. Not every kid is cut out to be the star football player, but there are a number of options to consider as healthy ways to relieve stress and anxiety physically. Consider martial arts, dance or yoga in place of the more traditional high school sports.


Broaden a teen’s horizons through travel, giving them the gift of experience. Visiting other parts of the country, or another country altogether, is an educational experience teens won’t soon forget. Encourage teens to make meaning out of what they see or do in other parts of the world. Focus on making comparisons between places visited and where you currently live. Sometimes teens feel like the town or city they reside in is not for them, but they often don’t realize there is a much bigger world out there.


A volunteer opportunity can give teens a sense of purpose. Perhaps they might travel to another state during the summer to volunteer on a special project. Volunteer work instills a sense of pride and accomplishment in teens. Self-confidence is often nurtured through volunteering, as teens realize that they do have something valuable to offer other people.

Summer Camp

A teen summer camp might be just the thing to give teenagers confidence, independence and a brighter outlook on life. Many summer camps specialize in specific areas, such as music, art, drama or science. Choose a camp based on your child’s interests and watch him or her blossom. A little time away from home, family and friends will allow your teen to shine in ways he or she might not be used to.

AdventuresCrossCountry.com has seen the amazing transformation that takes place when teens experience new places and people. They walk away with broadened horizons and new confidence about the possibilities in their own lives.


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