Positively Teenage

Positively Teenage will be published by Franklin Watts/Wayland/Hachette in May 2018 but Positively Teenage is not only a book: it’s an attitude based on a set of beliefs and a load of knowledge. I’m already talking about it in schools and the ideas are going down very well.

I know, from my work in schools, that there’s a hunger and a need for a positive view of adolescence. Parents of 10-12s in particular ask for something uplifting, unthreatening, empowering. Does adolescence have to be bad? No. I want to show young people and their parents how it can be exciting, heartening, positive. This is “growth mindset” in action – and I explain that term in the book, too. In fact, that term underpins the philosophy of Positively Teenage.

The book covers many aspects of life: changes that happen in adolescence; looking after your physical health; making your brain work well and boosting mental health. There are tips and activities and everything is based around the principles of FLOURISH: Food, Liquid, Oxygen, Use, Relaxation, Interest, Sleep and Happiness. And it’s beautifully designed by the clever people at Hachette, making it a joy to read or dip into!

You can pre-order it here: Positively Teenage: A positively brilliant guide to teenage well-being

Do have a listen to my 52 Ways to Wellbeing podcast episodes in the Wellbeing and Stress Management section of my website. They’re for adults as well as young people but are perfect for schools interested in Positively Teenage.


The idea came from my talks to parents about adolescence. I was asked into a few London prep schools to talk to the parents of older pupils, aged 10-12/13, and I immediately sensed two over-riding emotions: fear and negativity. Overwhelmingly, parents were worried about their children becoming teenagers and were assuming that it would be a terrifying and negative experience. That’s very sad, because it’s not true!

Something has been happening since The Teenage Guide to Stress was published in 2014. Quite rightly, there has been a strong public focus on the devastating problem of teenage mental illness. While I’m very glad about this, there’s an unintended consequence: an impression that adolescence is a mental illness, that “teenage” is synonymous with “problem”, that bad things will happen in the teenage years, that it’s a time to be endured and survived, rather than lived well. We focus on the problems and forget the positives, the power.

Something else: normal negative human emotions are too often viewed as a problem, as if anger, anxiety, fear and sadness were demons; as though feeling those things means there’s something wrong with your mental state.

Those “negative” emotions are, in fact, entirely proper. It’s healthy to feel angry when someone treats us badly; to feel anxious or afraid when faced with frightening things; and miserable after sad times. Not to have those feelings would be unhealthy.

I started a section on my old website for Positively Teenage and its ideas. But a chance remark in an email to a publisher which had approached me about something quite different led to a contract for this book. Very exciting!

Positively Teenage will remember the following:

  • That adolescence is a natural, positive, essential and temporary stage of development
  • That parents and young people should welcome and be excited by the idea of a young person moving strongly and healthily towards adulthood and independence
  • That there might be “downs” along the journey – in fact, there probably will be, because that’s life, whatever our age
  • But that a positive, healthy and knowledgeable approach helps us live through the downs and enjoy the ups
  • That, yes, mental illness may happen, that we must recognise the symptoms when it does, and that then medical intervention is important
  • But that it’s wrong and unhelpful to approach the teenage years feeling negative or pathologising every downward emotion
  • Because, although “bad things happen”, good things happen, too, and many teenagers go through these few years perfectly well, becoming strong, resilient and ambitious young adults.