teen happiness
Photo credit: flickr user – Paxxon Woelber

Every teenager will go through a phase where they feel and act invincible, some to more extremes than others. It is a scary time for parents, as you want to protect your teen from any sort of danger, physical or emotional. However, allowing and even encouraging your son or daughter to take risks could actually increase teen happiness.

Teens are wired to take risks

The University College London released results from a recent study showing that teens were more likely than any other age group to take risks. Their minds are programmed to seek out the thrill from taking risks.

Changes to the limbic system of the brain cause teens to seek risk, challenge, and emotional stimulation. – Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD

With every step outside of their comfort zone, teens experience a rush of adrenaline: the possibility that they could succeed and do something amazing, accompanied by the possibility of failure. With each risk, teens learn more about themselves, develop new skills and increase their confidence.

Taking healthy risks improves teen happiness

A teen’s invincible, thrill-seeking desires can push them to drive recklessly or experiment sexually with a friend. However, that same desire in teens is also what encourages them to try out for the varsity basketball team or take up bouldering at a climbing gym.
Though some risk-taking can be detrimental to a teen’s health and well being, some risks actually promote healthy development during adolescence and increase teen happiness. A certain amount of risk-taking is needed for teens to develop analytical skills, fulfill a desire for independence and ascertain a personal identity

Negative vs. Positive risks

All risk-taking activities require teens to take get out of their comfort zone, to try something new. There is a possibility of failure or rejection with each activity.
Negative risky behavior:

  • Sexually active
  • Texting while driving
  • Substance use
  • Speeding while driving

Positive risky behavior:

  • Running for student council
  • Joining a new social group
  • Playing team sports
  • Trying a new activity

Adolescents who regularly take healthy risks to increase teen happiness are also less likely to participate in negative risk-taking.

For example, a teenage girl who plays sports is less likely to have sex early and less than half as likely to get pregnant as girls who do not participate in sports. – Elizabeth Donovan, MA

So though your teen might fail to make the team or realize they might not be the best at an activity, encouraging them to try can have a highly positive effect.

Wilderness therapy promotes healthy risk taking

If your son or daughter is experimenting with too many negative risks and is struggling elsewhere, a wilderness therapy program, such as blueFire Wilderness Therapy, might be able to help. blueFire pushes teens out of their comfort zone in order to develop self-confidence and increase teen happiness. Each day, teens are faced with internal and external challenges. They either succeed, realizing what they are capable of, or they don’t succeed and learn something they can use in another situation. We help teens have the courage and resilience to face and overcome every obstacle.
To learn more about blueFire Wilderness Therapy, call a staff member today at 844-413-1999.


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