Social worker and author Joey Dlamini took time out during lockdown to write and publish her book, The Teen Top 25, aimed at helping teens and parents navigate through life during what can often be awkward adolescent years.
Dlamini, based in Soweto, originally hails from Bela Bela, in Limpopo, and describes herself as a “helper an encourager”.
“I am an encourager and someone who is an eternal optimist,” said the mother of three, who is also the founder of Beaccentuated, a non-profit organisation that supports kids in their journey to discovering their potential.
She is a firm believer that, with the right support, children can reach their full potential. “I believe in young people and want to support them; hence I wrote my book The Teen Top 25: Foundational Life Lessons for a Thriving Journey to Adulthood. I also believe in the power of therapy, so I offer counselling services for children, parents and families.”
With her book, Dlamini hope to help both parents and teens, who are not prepared for the teenage years or are geared for doom and gloom. “My book aims to bridge the gap between children and their parents, while also empowering teenagers to start adulthood strong,” she said.
Having ‘the talk’
“For some of us, ‘the talk’ meant parents telling us that we will either fall pregnant or go to jail with no qualifications. The book is a conversation starter for parents and helps them to redefine ‘the talk’ into a conversation that informs, affirms and empowers children for their new milestone. At the same time, it helps the teen to understand themselves better in relation to others and their new milestone.”
The book covers topics such as failure, purpose, doing hard things, role models and role models, among other themes.
“These are some of the topics that were never discussed with me while I was growing up. I was expected to figure things out for myself. However, I believe we are able to make a difference in our children’s lives. They do not have to make the same mistakes that we made, but they can learn from our mistakes and make better choices.”
When it comes to bullying, Dlamini hopes that her book will start a conversation between parents and their teenagers, where the culture of a safe environment will be created.
Bullying has becoming one of the major challenges that children face in schools and online and, according to research done by bullying.gov, kids can experience depression, anxiety, loneliness and sadness. These symptoms can continue into adulthood, should the child not receive assistance.
Symptom of society
“I think bullying is a symptom of our society. Our kids are sadly showing what we as a society teach, whether we are aware of it or not. So bullying can be the result of various factors, such as kids coming from dysfunctional families or environments. We have also normalised violence, so kids grow up thinking that it is part of our daily lives and, therefore, acceptable,” said Dlamini.
“Some kids don’t have outlets for their fear, confusion or anger so they might act out by harming others. Others can be influenced by their peers so they bully to seek validation or as a way to retaliate for the bullying they experienced. We should also check the messages we share with our kids concerning bullying when they come crying – do we comfort them or tell them that they must go back and fight for themselves?”
Dlamini told Health-e News that some of these mental health issues can manifest physically, with a child not eating or sleeping, which might affect their school and extramural performances.
“It is interesting to note that bullying also affect the mental health of those who are aware of bullying incidents, as they also become fearful and anxious about being a potential victim of bullying. Some might even feel guilty for not being able to help the victim, which could make them feel powerless. So no one really wins with bullying, not even the bully themselves.” – Health-e News
Loved the article Pamela. A stellar job done by you and Joey. I loved her perspective on bullying and how it is merely the tip of the ice-berg and as parents we ought to go deeper. And just also highlighting the fact that issues of mental health are not only experienced in adulthood – children are just as human as we are as adults so that too go through these mental and emotional experiences. Thus, it should be every parent’s business to try and best assit their children in dealing with what I call “big emotions”. So, we can start teaching and modelling to them what the healthy way of doing so looks like. And in the future they will do the same when they are adults as well.