Help Teens Through Understanding Core Beliefs
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Help Teens Through Understanding Core Beliefs

Psychological principle that will help you help teens

Do you know any teenagers who are trouble makers? Your own perhaps? Understanding core beliefs can help parents help their children. Core beliefs are like post-it notes. The ones that get reinforced, stick. If our friends and family help reinforce our positive beliefs about ourselves, those are the ones that stick. If no one is around to shore up the positive, those negative beliefs will be the ones that remain. Can you imagine if everyone went around wearing their core beliefs like post-its?

We would see our teens with yellow notes on their foreheads saying, “I am too shy,” “I’m not popular,” or “I am not smart.” Hopefully we’d see a few of the positive beliefs too, like, “I’m a good friend,” or “I am creative.” If only it were that easy. As we get older, we bury these core beliefs under layers of years and experience. But they still stick! Helping teens early on can be beneficial to them for the rest of their lives.

Since unfortunately reading our teens’ beliefs isn’t as easy as reading a post-it, we are usually able to discover their negative beliefs are “sticking” through their coping skills. If a teen has negative thoughts, they will have negative coping skills. Coping skills are those things we do every day to help us get though- jogging, reading, listing to music. What helps us get by. Alcohol, drugs, or criminal activity are examples of negative coping skills.

Once a negative coping skill is used, thinking errors will apply. These include justification, blaming, or minimizing the behavior that occurred. “We only smoked a little bit, it’s really not that bad.” This allows the negative behavior to continue occurring. Teens may blame their bad behavior on parents or other circumstances in their life.

These events occur in a cycle. First, a trigger occurs that activates a teen’s negative core belief. For example, one friend says to another, “I got an A on the science test. How did you do?” If my negative core belief is that I’m no good at school, I will feel vulnerable. I will probably use one of my negative coping skills, like gossiping. I will justify what I do. My negative core belief and negative coping skill are reinforced!

The good news: catching teens in this cycle and getting back to their core beliefs will help! If teens can change negative beliefs about themselves they will be happier and will not act out.

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Comments (1)

Wonderful advice. Teens often times feel depressed and that no one understands them. This advice will surely help. Thanks.