Resilient and Confident Teens: An Expert Guide

Reviewed by Dr Lucy Russell DClinPsyc CPsychol AFBPsS

Dr Rose Aghdami Chartered Psychologist

In this guest post by Dr Rose Aghdami, Chartered Psychologist and Resilience Specialist, learn how to grow resilient and confident teens using her unique approach.

Help to Increase Your Teen’s Inner Strength (And Your Own!) Using the FUEL Your Resilience Approach

I love spreading the word about increasing resilience. Why? Because resilience is the best safeguard against anxiety, stress and burnout. It’s relevant to us all. Whether we already have lots, or only a little, resilience, the great news is that resilience skills can be learnt. Almost everyone can become more resilient. Once learnt, you have the skills for life.

As a psychologist I work with teenagers and adults, who often come to me to address their stress and anxiety. Over the years I’ve found that developing resilience skills is enormously helpful. So, having researched the key elements of resilience. I then summarised them in my model ‘FUEL Your Resilience’, to include Flexibility, Use of Resources, Energy and Locus of Control. It’s easy to remember, practical, and easy to apply. Teenagers can relate to it as well as adults, so share it with your teenager – and use it for yourself too.

FUEL Your Resilience

  • F = Flex your thoughts, feelings and behaviour

Flexibility is key to resilient and confident teens (and adults). I can’t emphasise that enough! Experiencing different ways of doing things, and they are often just that, different, not better or worse, helps develop adaptability to whatever life brings.

Be flexible in your thinking – don’t stay with rigid, unhelpful thinking patterns. Notice your self-talk and make sure it’s realistically positive, kind and non-judgemental.

Be flexible in your feelings – allow yourself to be open to feeling differently than usual about things if it’s helpful. You might see the lighter side of a situation rather than being critical, or it might be realistic to feel realistically optimistic instead of gloomy.

Be flexible in your behaviour too. You’ll only build your resilience if you do things differently. No changed actions means no changed results.

Try a resilience practice today – include Flexibility by doing something different.

Decide on one thing, large or small, to do today that would be a new way for you of doing something. Notice how it leaves you feeling. Keep Flex in mind and focus on practising it today.

Resilient and Confident Teens

  • U = Use your resources – internal and external

We all have internal resources, like skills, strengths, experience, which we carry with us all the time and can tap into and use when we need to. We also have external resources, such as family, friends, professional support, information in books or on the internet, which are available to us.

Sounds good – but many people aren’t clear about their own strengths and qualities, or if they do, they give them away to others but don’t use them to benefit themselves. It’s worth finding out your strengths, and making sure you apply them to your own situation as well at to others’. Also, some people find it difficult to ask for help from their support network, so soldier on as if it’s somehow more noble to deal with pressure and adversity on one’s own. We don’t have to face everything on our own, and it can feel a relief to have help. Generally, within reason, people are happy to help and get a warm glow when they do, so it suits everyone.

Use Your Resources more today.

Start by identifying one of your strengths, which might be kindness, hope, or forgiveness, and applying it to yourself today (as well as to others, not instead of…!).

  • E = Energise – do more of what recharges you

Do you know what energises you? There may be things which you used to do to recharge but which have disappeared from your life, because work, family or other demands on your time have increased. However, it’s easy to slip into a lifestyle which is tiring. Without regular opportunities to recharge, you end up running on empty. If this sounds familiar, get rid of, delegate, or minimise tasks which drain your energy and make time for those activities which energise you.


Think of something that has energised you in the past and that you’d like to do again, or a new activity which would recharge you and you’d like in your life. Plan the next three steps you’d need to do to make it happen.


  • L = Locate your control – take charge when you can

Do you believe that you control your experience of life or that other people, events and circumstances do so?

If you believe such control is within you, then you have what psychologists call an ‘internal locus (location) of control’. This is good! Research shows that if you have an internal locus of control, you feel better about yourself, and about life. You are also more resilient than people who have an ‘external locus of control’. They feel that control lies in external factors, so they feel like a puppet lacking control over their experience of life.

To strengthen your all-important internal locus of control, and your resilience, when you’re facing a challenge or under pressure remember you always have options as to how to respond. Yes – there are always options.

We can’t control other people, or circumstances, or weather – to name but a few – but we can always control how we respond. It’s not always easy, but it stops you from feeling like a victim of circumstance.


Strengthen your internal locus of control by being decisive. Just for today practice identifying and expressing your choices and preferences – try not to say ‘I don’t mind’. You don’t have to insist on your way or the highway. You can take turns if your choice clashes with another person’s. This practice is about reminding yourself that you have the capacity to shape your experience of life. This helps fuel your resilience.

Dr Rose Aghdami is a Chartered Psychologist and Resilience Specialist: She is also the founder of the free Facebook group for women: Calm, Confident and Resilient with Dr Rose Aghdami:

We hope you’ve enjoyed Rose’s post on how to build resilient and confident teens (and their parents). If you’d like a free summary of her FUEL Your Resilience approach which you can use as a reminder and guide, you can get it here:

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