Start by asking how you can help.
If they’re thinking negatively, for every negative, ask them to think of a positive that’s equally true.
Example: If they’re worried that someone doesn’t like them, remind them of all the people who do like them, and the qualities those people admire in them.
If they’re imagining the worst outcome, get them also to imagine the best outcome and what they can do to help make that happen.
Example: If they’re worried about letting their team down in a sport, remind them of times when they’ve played really well, and encourage them to picture themselves doing the same again. This simple visualisation trick can help in achieving any performance goal.
If they’re putting pressure on themselves, help them to set realistic, manageable expectations.
Example: Get them to think about what a good outcome would be, based on their history, and to aim for that. Anything more is a well-deserved bonus. Let them know it’s okay to make mistakes; it’s an essential part of stretching ourselves and mastering skills.
Make sure they know you’ll love and support them no matter what, and reassure them through your own role modelling.
Example: Point out positives, not negatives, and praise effort over achievement. Don’t berate yourself or others for mistakes.
Be aware of the expectations you’re setting by what you say and do. Use positive, encouraging language to highlight your teen’s strengths, and remind them of previous tough times that they’ve overcome. By helping them to identify what worked in the past, you’re giving them strategies they can use now. And for some of it, you don’t need to teach them anything – just be there for them.