If you think your teenager’s depressed, firstly, really listen to your teenager then help them find solutions or a more positive outlook.

When you’re listening, give your teenager your full attention, even if you’ve heard the story before. Show you empathise and get how hard it is for them by saying things like:

‘That sounds tough. That must have hurt. You seem really upset about that I can see you’re feeling really down today’.

While they’re talking do your best not to judge or criticise them, or give them advice on what to do. Then gradually help them move on by saying ‘ok, so what do you think you could do? What would be the best way to deal with that? Is there anything I can do to help?’

Help them see that ruminating on the problem may not be helping them. See if they can find ANY positives in the situation. Will this make them more resilient, stronger or closer to you?

Also, change their focus. What are their good points? What are the good things in their life, the things they’re grateful for? Get them to write them down. And see if they can focus on those every time they find themselves feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts.

Secondly, encourage activities that will help – social activities, sunlight and exercise.

  • Encourage your teenager to spend time with friends, and make your home welcoming to their friends.
  • Go out for a walk with your teenager to give them sunlight and gentle exercise. Borrow a dog if you have to.
  • Or encourage them to do exercise they enjoy.
  • Do things together – experiment with cooking, doing something creative, doing exercise or yoga together, or play a board game.
  • If you can keep them away from hours on the internet.

And finally, get some professional help.

If your teenager’s depressed for more than a few weeks, encourage them to see their GP. And ask for them to be referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – CBT- or a talking therapy. Even if they have to go on a waiting list. Try to avoid just taking medication, because some antidepressants can interfere with your teenager’s ability to manage their own stress and emotions.

However depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and sometimes medication is needed. But make sure they still access CBT or a talking therapy. And do everything you can to make sure your child attends the appointments.

So if your teenager’s depressed, three things you can do are:

  1. Really listen to your teenager and help them find solutions or focus on positives.
  2. Encourage activities that will help – social activities, sunlight and exercise.
  3. And get professional help or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

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If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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