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Let's Talk Life - How do I deal with my teenager?

Published:Saturday | September 29, 2012 | 12:00 AM
  • How do I deal with my teenager?

Dear Counsellor,

I have a teenager who is only interested in talking with friends on the telephone and on the Internet. I need some tips to deal with this problem.

- Valerie

Dear Valerie,

Teenagers love to be with their peers and need to have limits and boundaries. Your teen needs to organise so that he is able to do homework and study. You need to tell him that he can only speak to friends after homework and chores have been completed.

You need to reinforce the rules and stay committed to keeping him on track. Raising teenagers is not easy as they want to test limits and do their own thing. They are risk-takers and so need guidance.

Identify what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour at home, at school, and elsewhere.

Have high expectations for good behaviour and explain the consequences for complying and disobeying. Be specific when dealing with your teen. Put rules in writing and keep rules short and to the point. Be prepared to explain your decisions and be reasonable. Enforce consequences. Your teen may have an easier time accepting a consequence if he played a role in deciding it.

One of the most important parenting skills needed for raising healthy teens is giving positive attention. Spend time with your teen to remind him that you care. Listen to your teen when he talks, and respect your teen's feelings. For every time you discipline or correct your teen, try to compliment him twice. Show your teenager love. Regularly eating meals together may be a good way to stay connected to your teen. Invite your teen to prepare the meal with you.

Encourage your teen to be safe when on the Internet. Don't share personal information online. Don't share passwords or get together with someone you meet online. Don't send anything in a message you wouldn't say face to face. Don't text or chat on the phone while driving.

  • Addressing depressed teens

Dear Counsellor,

I would like some strategies for dealing with depression in teenagers.

- Marie

Dear Marie,

There are strategies that can enhance resilience in teenagers. Offer unconditional support. Try to build and maintain a positive relationship with your child. A strong parent-child relationship will help to deal with depression. Set aside time each day to talk. Find out what excites and concerns your teen. Encourage your teen to express his feelings. Recognise your child's achievements and praise his strengths in all areas. Offer positive feedback when you notice positive behaviour. Respond to your child's anger with calm reassurance rather than aggression.

Encourage your child to spend time with good friends and to get involved in extracurricular activities. Positive peer experiences and strong friendships can help with depression. Playing team sports or taking part in other organised activities might help by boosting your teen's self-esteem and increasing his social-support network.

Encourage physical activity as this might play a role in reducing depression and anxiety.

Make sure your teen gets a good night's sleep. A consistent bedtime routine and certain rituals can encourage good sleep. Some people read the Bible and pray before falling asleep. Others play soft music or write in a journal.

Email questions and feedback for Dr Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson to or call 978-8602.