Sue Scheff – Pre-Teens and Peer Pressure

When your preteen first starts middle school they may be facing real peer pressure for the first time. Experimenting with smoking, drugs and skipping school does start at this age. This is because these recently elementary school graduates want to fit in with the older crowd. Here are some things you can do to help your preteen be prepare for when they are asked to do something that they normally wouldn’t do.Be the first to say something. If you haven’t talked to your preteen about drugs, smoking or anything else they could be facing because they haven’t had to face that problem yet, talk to them now! Don’t avoid it until it becomes a problem or you start to see “signs”. Be proactive with your preteen.

Role play. Let your preteen be the one who offers you a cigarette. This will be an eye opening experience. Say no and keep saying no. When you preteen says, “I couldn’t say that”, ask them what they could say or do. Then role play with your preteen saying no. Practice until your preteen feels comfortable enough to do it on his own with his friends. Learn how to role play here.

Being rude is sometimes okay. Let your teenager know it is okay to avoid people who are trying to get him to do something he does not want to do, even if it is an old friend.

Let them make you the scape-goat. Tell your preteen that there is nothing wrong with using you as an excuse. Saying, “My mom would be so mad!” to a friend who is trying to get them to smoke is a perfectly good enough excuse to get out of the situation.

Be available. Be ready and available should they need to come to you with questions or thoughts on a situation. Even if your teen didn’t make the right choices, you can help them come up with a better solution the next time the situation arises.

Sue Scheff: ADHD and Drug Abuse

Source: Connect with Kids

“In a way that athletes have used steroids and other medications in the past to enhance their athletic performance, Adderall is actually being used to kind of pseudo-enhance their academic performance.”

– Heather Hayes, M.Ed., Counselor.

Nineteen-year-old Marisa McCorkle has been using Adderall for two years.

“I use it for various reasons,” she says, “like tests, it helps me on tests. [And it] helps me stay awake, and [with] studying.”

It sounds like a wonder drug. Adderall – an amphetamine commonly used to treat ADHD.  But, studies show it’s being abused more and more.

“In a way that athletes have used steroids and other medications in the past to enhance their athletic performance, Adderall is actually being used to kind of pseudo-enhance their academic performance,” states Heather Hayes, a licensed professional counselor.

One of the biggest problems with using the drug recreationally is that most teens are unaware of its dangers.

Twenty-year-old “Dave,” a college student, says, “I think it’s pretty safe unless you’re taking five at a time.”

But experts say even in small doses, the dangers of taking Adderall can range from headaches, increased heart rate and insomnia to things far worse.

“Any amphetamine has the potential to give someone an amphetamine psychosis,” warns Hayes. “So when you take a lot of amphetamines and you’re not sleeping, then you will literally hallucinate. … [You] will absolutely leave reality and become delusional and paranoid.”

Hayes says parents need to make the dangers of taking Adderall clear to teens. Otherwise, they may continue to believe it’s a cheap and easily available drug that helps them study. Marisa and Dave are examples of students with this belief.

“I get it for free, but I know people who will give … maybe two to five dollars [per pill],” says Marisa.

“Actually, I’m gonna go to my doctor and, uh, try to get a prescription next semester,” says Dave, “’cause I think it’s a really effective way to get good grades. I wouldn’t think it was that hard to, uh, fake having ADD.”

But others say Adderall fools you – that it only seems like it’s helping kids study. Amanda Mattison, 17, has seen first-hand what can happen.

“[Students taking Adderall] can focus when they’re taking it, and they study and they cram for five or six hours and they’re good-to-go for the exam,” she says, “but by the time the exam rolls around, they’re either too worn out or … it’s lost it’s effect.”

“Bottom line,” says Hayes, “Adderall is as dangerous of a drug when unsupervised as any other medication. It’s addictive and it is dangerous.”


Tips for Parents

Adderall, manufactured by Shire Pharmaceuticals Group of the United Kingdom, is a stimulant prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Shire states, “Adderall isn’t intended to enhance test scores and should only be used under medical supervision.”

Adderall is a fast-acting mixture of amphetamines. Amphetamines act on the brain by mimicking the neurotransmitter dopamine, which increases alertness and concentration. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health in the late 1970s found that low-dose stimulants increase concentration and alertness in everyone, not just people with attention disorders. Here are some things to know about ADHD:

  • ADHD is a medical condition linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Doctors believe it stems from biological, not environmental, conditions.
  • Generally, people with ADHD have trouble focusing on tasks or subjects, and they may act impulsively and often get in trouble.
  • Approximately 3 to 7 percent of school-age children and 4 percent of adults suffer from ADHD.
  • Adderall is one of a handful of stimulants prescribed for ADHD.
  • Side effects of Adderall can include loss of appetite, insomnia and weight loss.

During late-night study marathons, students from grade school to med school have long relied on stimulants– which include everything from caffeine to cocaine. But with Adderall, and other similar prescription drugs, some high school and college students are hoping to improve scores on standardized (and even classroom) tests. Other students are turning to alternative medicine, such as hypnosis or herbal supplements, for an extra edge.

The concern with Adderall is not from a single use. One pill won’t kill you. But one pill is likely to lead to a second pill, then a third and a subsequent snowball effect where physical damage can occur. Also, Adderall is relatively easy to obtain. Overall, prescriptions for stimulants have risen from 1.6 million in 2000 to 2.6 million a month in 2004. Adderall XR, a once-a-day, extended-release form of the drug, is the leader in its class, capturing about a third of the market. Consider the following:

  • Prescription drug use was once rare, but it has now crossed into the mainstream.
  • Prescriptive amphetamines have figured prominently in calls to emergency departments and poison control centers.
  • Kids, and even their parents, are desperate for any available academic edge and willing to go to the extreme to obtain it.
  • Some students feel extra pressure because they feel they are not just failing themselves, but also failing their parents and other family members.
  • The College Board, the nonprofit administrator of the SAT, has no rules explicitly prohibiting drug use. Spokeswoman Chiara Coletti says, “We certainly do not recommend that students take any drugs or stimulants in hopes of affecting their scores.”
  • Some kids taking Adderall have valid prescriptions, but not all. Under federal law, it’s illegal to knowingly possess a “schedule II” drug (like Adderall) without a prescription. But prosecutions for possession are rare.
  • Many schools would suspend or expel a student caught using marijuana or other street drugs but might not punish students taking prescription drugs to help with test taking.


  • ADHD Support and Resources from Eli Lily
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Nature Magazine
  • Shire Pharmaceuticals Group
  • TeensHealth
  • The Wall Street Journal

Sue Scheff: Preventing Teen Drug Addiction

dareD.A.R.E. – Drug Abuse Resistance Education has been known for many years and has helped been part of many schools in helping children learn the dangers of drug abuse.  As a parent, take some time to review their newly updated information and website.  It is important that parents and educators work together to help prevent drug use.

Source: D.A.R.E. Official Website

This year millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence.

D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation’s school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world.

D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.

Sue Scheff – Raising Teens Together

shoulderIs your teen pushing your buttons?
Not sure how to handle it?
We’re here to help you make the most of your relationship, stay ahead of the game and find common ground with your teenager. Shoulder to Shoulder is dedicated to making your job easier by connecting parents and caregivers and sharing the insights of those who have been there before. From written resources and a Blog for parents of teens to relevant research and parenting tips, we hope you find our resources useful as you navigate the teen years with your child.

Sue Scheff: Inauguration Week – Teens and Politics

inaugurationWhat an exciting week we have ahead of us!  It is amazing how today’s youths are getting involved in politics and taking the initiative to learn all they can.  This is not only a historical time for our country, there is a feeling of unity among all people of all ages.  This can also a great time to spend with your kids and explain the importance of this upcoming week.  How do you feel?  Do your kids truly understand the history of this moment?  This is a perfect opportunity to have family time and excitement as well as creating lasting memories. 

Below is an article Connect with Kids posted back in June outlining how teens really took part in this past election.  Again, an exciting time in history!

Source: Connect with Kids

“When parents talk about politics with their kids, when they participate themselves — this leads to a higher level of interest in politics among their children,”

– Dr. Alan Abramowitz, Political Science Professor, Emory University

Nineteen-year-old Will Kelly is pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and talking to voters.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Hartley is answering phones, making copies and filing news clips.

She is a die-hard Democrat, and he is a faithful Republican. Both teenagers have a passion for politics and for getting involved.

“To be honest,” Will says of his volunteer work, “because I care about what’s going on and it troubles me to see how so many people become apathetic with what they do have in this country – that we take so much for granted.”

“At 17, I can’t vote yet, I don’t pay taxes, but within a year I’m going to have to know enough about leaders – not only national, but local and state – to be able to say who I want running things,” says Amelia of her involvement.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, young voters are turning up in record numbers this presidential election.

One reason, experts say, their parents.

“There has been quite a bit of research that shows that when parents talk about politics with their kids, when they participate themselves, when they take their kids to vote with them, that all this leads to a higher level of interest in politics among the children,” says Dr. Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University.

It is a level of interest, Dr. Abramowitz adds, that persists over time. “Even many years later, those who were raised in families that were politically active and where the parents talked about politics remain more active themselves.”

Amelia and Will say they’ve been invigorated by the hard work of politics. And, in fact, it’s sparked an interest.

“Is there a future in politics for me?” Will ponders. “Well that’s a question I seem to ask myself a lot. We’ll have to see.”

“There are a lot of career paths I’m considering,” says Amelia, “and politics is definitely one of them.”

Tips for Parents

The polls are showing teens are lining up in record numbers to have their say in this year’s election.  Consider these statistics from a recent poll by Time Magazine, among 18-29 year olds:

  • 70% said they are paying attention to the race
  • 53% said Barack Obama was the candidate best described as ‘inspirational’
  • 83% said this election will have a great impact on the country
  • A majority (54%) say the US was wrong to go to war in Iraq
  • 80% of young people rate the economic conditions in this country as only fair or poor
  • Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they feel the country is headed down the wrong track
  • Affordable health care (62%), the Iraq War (59%), and being able to find a stable, good paying job (58%) are the top issues a majority of young people worry about the most.

More than 6.5 million young people under the age of 30 participated in the 2008 primaries and caucuses.  In fact, Obama’s margin of victory in Iowa came almost entirely from voters under 25 years old.  In New Hampshire, his edge among young voters was 3 to 1; in Nevada, it was 2 to 1; and in Michigan, nearly 50,000 under-30s voted “Uncommitted” because Clinton’s name was the only one on the ballot.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, getting kids involved in a civics or government class is a great way to get them more interested in the elections.  From the 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Report, young people who report that they recently choose to take a civics or government class are more likely than other young people to say that:

  • they helped solve a community problem,
  • they can make a difference in their community,
  • they have volunteered recently,
  • they trust other people and the government,
  • they have made consumer decisions for ethical or political reasons,
  • they believe in the importance of voting, and
  • they are registered to vote.

Parents are also one of the greatest influences on young voters. 

  • Start with the basics.  Make sure your 18-year-old knows when and where to vote.
  • Getting your 18-year-old to the polls could pay big dividends.  People who have been motivated to vote once are more likely to become repeat voters. 
  • Acquire and fill out voter registration forms with your teen. If your teen meets age requirements, you should each fill out a voter registration form.
  • If your teen meets age requirements on Election Day, go to your polling place together to cast your ballots.
  • If your teen doesn’t meet age requirements for the 2008 election, but will turn 18 before the 2012 election, involve them in the current election as preparation for the next election.
  • Consider taking teens between 14 and 17 to the polling place with you.  Even if they are not permitted inside for security reasons, the visit will demystify the voting process.
  • Remind your child that the November election is the result of many local primaries and that Americans are able to vote for their national, state and local leaders.
  • Kids who are not old enough to vote can still have an impact on elections.  Encourage kids to get involved in the political process.  They can go door-to-door in support of candidates or help with fundraising efforts.
  • It can seem daunting to research candidates, because information on the different races is not centralized in one place.  Parents can share news articles with their kids.  The key is to engage students with issues they will find relevant to their lives. 


  • Time Magazine
  • The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Sue Scheff – Teen Truancy

As second semester is open, the phones are ringing and the parents have a common thread, their teens are not going to school!  Skipping classes and already talking about dropping out.

Truancy is a term used to describe any intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. Children in America today lose over five million days of their education each year through truancy. Often times they do this without the knowledge of their parents or school officials. In common usage the term typically refers to absences caused by students of their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate “excused” absences, such as ones related to a medical condition. It may also refer to students who attend school but do not go to classes. Because of this confusion many schools have their own definitions, and as such the exact meaning of the term itself will differ from school to school and district to district. In order to avoid or diminish confusion, many schools explicitly define the term and their particular usage thereof in the school’s handbook of policies and procedures. In many instances truancy is the term referring to an absence associated with the most brazen student irresponsibility and results in the greatest consequences.

Many educators view truancy as something much more far reaching than the immediate consequence that missed schooling has on a student’s education. Truancy may indicate more deeply embedded problems with the student, the education they are receiving, or both. Because of its traditional association with juvenile delinquency, truancy in some schools may result in an ineligibility to graduate or to receive credit for class attended, until the time lost to truancy is made up through a combination of detention, fines, or summer school. This can be especially troubling for a child, as failing school can lead to social impairment if the child is held back, economic impact if the child drops out or cannot continue his or her education, and emotional impact as the cycle of failure diminishes the adolescent’s self-esteem.

Read the causes here.

Sue Scheff – ADHD ODD – Parenting the Defiant Teen

ADHD behavior issues often partner with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) — making discipline a challenge. Try these strategies for parents of ADD kids.

Every parent of a child with attention deficit disorder knows what it’s like to deal with ADHD behavior problems — sometimes a child lashes out or refuses to comply with even the most benign request. But about half of all parents who have children with live with severe behavior problems and discipline challenges on an almost daily basis.

Read Entire Article Here.