Struggling Teens: Where to Get them Help Over the Summer

TeenHelp5What is your at-risk teen doing this summer?

Summer is almost here and the calls are coming in from parents that are struggling with what to do with their at-risk teens.

Some issues we are hearing:

  • Failing some classes, when they are more than capable of getting passing grades, if not straight A’s.
  • Dropping out of their favorite sport or activity.
  • Smoking pot — occasionally – though parents may blame it on the friends, please keep in mind, it is your child making the decision to inhale that joint or pop that pill.
  • Drinking – again, it may be the friends you want to blame, but are they holding the bottle to your teen’s mouth?
  • Sneaking out of the house.
  • Defiance, lying, stealing……
  • Maybe they have changed their peer group this year?

Let’s face it, with a combination of any of these above, you could be traveling down a negative path.  Chances are very good a short-term summer program will not address a long term solution.

It can irritate me when I see parents get sucked into these very expensive Wilderness programs that give tell you they can turn your child around in 4-9 weeks.  Really?

I think if you interview most of the families that have dug deep  into their wallets and spent that $15K-20K on a Wilderness program (which is likely to have zero academics to get your child caught up), you will find that at about the 4 week point, the program is already prepping the family for the “next step” of a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center (another $50K step).

Or if the family truly cannot afford, which I have spoken to many of them too, since they have spent their  last dime on this summer last ditch hope, they soon find that within 3-6 weeks after Wilderness, their  child is back to their old ways.

What is the answer?  It depends on the child, but in most situations it is finding the right placement the first time around.  Not starting at one place – and “breaking him down” (aren’t they already broken?) and breaking your wallet too, and then going to yet another to break your wallet again.

Most quality and qualified programs are designed to treat teens that come in with the anger and defiance.  There are excellent 6-8-10 month programs that can offer a complete package of academic’s, emotional growth (clinical) and enrichment programs (which are so important to help stimulate your teen in a positive direction).

It is my opinion, and after almost thirteen years of watching parents and families in this big business of “teen help” get screwed (sorry for the slang) but until you walk my shoes and have taken the time to learn about what goes on behind the scenes – the word just about seems appropriate.

I firmly believe in getting our kids help, as a matter of fact, it is our responsibility as a parent to do that.  We also have to do our due diligent.

Google is not God — the Internet has some very disturbing sites – and disgruntled kids, parents, employers. Yes, I was one of them, but I also have a lot of substantial legal facts behind my case.  I don’t sit and rant.  As a matter of fact, I don’t want to discuss it – I want to continue to educate parents about how they can find the best program for their child’s needs.

I offer many great tips, questions to ask schools and programs and resources.  Visit www.helpyourteens.com.

Teen Drug Use: Warning Signs If Your Teen is Using

TeenDrugUse5This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis. Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not.

However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.

Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:

• Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family. This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.

• Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open. Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.

• There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.

• A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

• Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness. Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.

• Lying , usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police.

• Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.

• Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.

These are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized.

• Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.
• Evaluate the situation.
• Talk to your teenager.
• Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.
• By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.
• Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.
• If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.

The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded. Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family. Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together. An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.

Contributor: Shawnda Burns, LCSW

Visit http://www.helpyourteens.com if you feel you are at your wit’s end and have exhausted all your local resources.

Teen Help: Deciding if Residential Therapy is Right for Your Teenager

Helping your teenager at any age is a priority.

Helping your teenager at any age is a priority.

We are rounding up second semester and looking at spring break.  Parents are worried as their high school student (teenager) is still failing, refusing to complete assignments and still believes that education is a farce.

On the other hand we know our child is more than capable of getting A’s and B’s yet they are barely bringing home D’s.  College?  We are praying they finish high school.

What is wrong with society? Why are kid of the notion that they can just drop out of high school and get a GED?  Years ago GED’s were frowned upon–only for those that were either adjudicated or maybe medically necessary.  Now it is too easy for these kids to just drop out.

Then we have teens that want to smoke pot on a daily basis.  You know it is legal in some states. You know their parents do it.  Really, is it that bad?  Well, as a matter of fact – it is.

Marijuana, especially when sold on the streets to our kids, is more likely to be laces with other ingredients – possibly even  heroin.   What happens then?  Do you have an addict on your hands now?  Anyway you cut this – teens shouldn’t be smoking pot.  Cigarettes?  Let’s face it – it is bad for your health, but it doesn’t alter your personalty – and there are times when a parent has to pick and choose issues.

I don’t condone cigarettes – I don’t smoke them, but I wouldn’t look for residential therapy for them either.

Back to drug use and failing academics.  If your teen is nearing 17 years old and you are watching them throw their life away, it may be time to consider residential therapy – an emotional growth program.  Once that offers academics, therapy and enrichment programs.

I don’t believe in anything punitive, primitive or harsh – this is about building a child back up again to make better choices.  Giving them that inspiration to reach into adulthood with a  passion.  Yes, there are great programs that can instill this into teens.

For more information contact www.helpyourteens.com.

Teen Help: Beware of Scams

Parenting is difficult enough, don't allow a sales rep to scam you.

Parenting is difficult enough, don’t allow a sales rep to scam you.

At a time when parents can be at their wit’s end, they can be a perfect prey for those marketing sales reps that are waiting to save your teen from themselves.

As a parent that had a troubled teenager, I know what it is like to feel like a hostage in my own home, I was desperate for help.  My daughter was desperate for help.  What were weren’t desperate for was fraud, abuse, and people that took advantage of others when they are at their weakest moments.

You would think we would come out of our experiences with a feeling of all residential programs and schools are bad, but that simply is not true.  One bad apple doesn’t mean they all are bad – however, keep in mind, the program that duped us owned several programs – and although the one my daughter was in is closed today, the people running it are running several others that are operating in our country today!

The people that scammed us were part of a large group called WWASPS.  They have gone through several name changes.  In my opinion, that is something they do very well.  They have a location in LaVerkin, Utah that seems to have several names now.  Cross Creek, Horizon Academy, Riverview, now I just heard about Youth Foundation or Youth Foundation Success Academy (I guess it depends on what the sales rep wants to call it).  All lead back to the same address in LaVerkin, UT.  As a matter of fact, I spoke with a parent that called twice – and though her sales rep didn’t recognize her voice, she gave her two different programs – after telling her one of the programs was closed.

I don’t know – all I do know is that some teens truly need residential therapy and I hope parents do their due diligence in finding safe and quality help.  There are many excellent programs in our country.  You don’t have to be scammed – you don’t have to be put in a position where you feel uncomfortable or forced to do something that doesn’t feel right.  Your gut needs to tell you it is the right thing to do.

Need help?  Visit www.helpyourteens.com – We have helpful tips for researching schools and programs.

Don’t be a parent in denial, be proactive.

Parenting At Risk Teens: From Home to Homeroom

Parenting teens is a challenge today.

Schools and parents today need to work together to help prevent teen drug use.

Fast Facts: Preventing Teen OTC Cough Medicine Abuse – From Home to Homeroom

A Wake Up Call for Parents

  • Thirty-three percent of American high school teens know someone who has abused cough medicine, a wake up call for those parents who think that their teen is not affected or being exposed to the issue.
  • Six percent of high school teens admit to abusing cough medicine containing dextromethorphan, or DXM, to get high in the past year.

Cough Medicine Abuse Does Not Happen By Accident

  • While safe and effective when taken as directed, teens looking to get high from cough medicine take excessive amounts, sometimes 25 to 50 times the recommended dosage. This translates to multiple bottles or packages of medicine at one time.
  • Teens often abuse cough medicines with other prescription drugs, illicit drugs, or alcohol.
  • Even the best kid in the world doesn’t have the same ability as adults to assess risk because the part of their brain that processes risk, the frontal cortex, doesn’t finish developing until their mid 20s.

Parents Have the Power to Keep Teens Drug-free

  • Research shows that kids who learn a lot from their parents about the risk of drug abuse are up to half as likely to use.
  • Parents are not alone in their fight to prevent medicine abuse; reaching out to the school nurse can help parents learn more about the issue and access local resources.
  • Parents can learn more about the Home to Homeroom campaign by logging onto www.StopMedicineAbuse.org

Parents can interact and help raise awareness by joining online communities including:

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

Teen Using Drugs to Teens Selling Drugs

Yes, this is a trend I am hearing more and more of – and it is quite disturbing.

Parents fear their teens using drugs – well, some parents even make excuses – “it’s just pot, I did it when I was a teen,” please understand – this is not the marijuana you did when you were a teen – in most cases marijuana can be laces with other substances that can be addictive or even deadly.

Now phone calls are coming more frequently of teens that are dealing drugs not only to support their habit – but to make money.

A cry for help?  Yes!  Well, no – not according to the teenager, but the parents should wake up and realize they have to intervene before this escalates to major drug trafficking and your child is no just arrested for possession but now is dealing with drug trafficking, selling to minors – and maybe more serious charges.

I recently wrote an article for School Family  – 10 Tips to Help Prevent Teen Drug Addiction.

This combined with getting your teen outside help are steps, you, as a parent can take.

Visit www.helpyourteens.com for more information.

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

Underage Drinking: Ask Listen Learn

April is Alcohol Awareness Month!

Did you know that 83% of youth cite parents as the leading influence in their decisions not to drink alcohol?

Additionally, when compared to 2003, more kids today recall having the conversation with their parents about the risks and consequences of underage drinking.  This is encouraging news and emphasizes the importance of parents continuing these conversations at home.

The Century Council, a national not-for-profit dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking developed Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix in 2003 with a team of educators and professionals.  The program provides resources to start the conversation between parents and kids on the risks of underage drinking.

To kick-off Alcohol Awareness Month, the organization has teamed up with athletes and positive influencers, including Apolo Ohno, Bryan Clay, Mallory Weggemann, and Tyson Gay, to help reach youth and urge kids to take the pledge to say ‘YES’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘NO’ to underage drinking.

What are you waiting for?  Talk to your kids today!  Never stop talking.  They are listening.  Just look at the statistics – they speak for themselves.

Join Ask Listen Learn on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.