Addiction and Teens: Reality Check for Parents

AddictionParenting teens can be challenging. No matter how many times we talk about just saying no to drugs, there will be a teenager that will cave to peer pressure. Parents need to stop being in denial and start educating their kids about the dangers of addiction which can follow drug abuse. Stop saying, “not my kid!” Yes, it could be your kid! Parent denial only delays treatment.

3 Reality Checks for Parents:

  1. Myth: We try to keep our home teen-friendly because if our teen(s) hang out here – even if they’re drinking – we know they’re safe.Reality Check: There is nothing wrong with making your teen and his/her friends comfortable in your home. But teenage drinking is never safe even when they are being “supervised.” Not only is alcohol bad for their health and development but it also impairs their judgment. The media has reported on scenarios where teens in these situations have wandered off and died in a preventable accident, driven drunk and hurt themselves or others and committed a violent act against a peer.
  2. Myth: It’s better for my child if he/she considers me a best friend.Reality Check: Part of your job as a parent is to set and enforce rules. Trying to be their best friend is only confusing and gives mixed messages.
  3. Myth: My husband and I have different parenting styles. What’s the big deal?Reality Check: It’s critical for all caregivers to be on the same page whether they are married, divorced, nannies, grandparents, etc. Consistency is key to raising a healthy and responsible teen who understands and respects boundaries.

 

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Parent and Teen Communication

ParentTeenRelationshipTeens are mysterious creatures

They seem to move from child to young adult almost overnight.  Parents of teens frequently find themselves irritated by the things they say and the way they act.  You may be trying to make sense of the chaos of adolescence, but it can be a mistake to judge them too quickly.

Here are a few myths about teenagers and how to be sure you dispel them.

My teen doesn’t care about my feelings.  The words your teen uses might lead you to feel unloved by him, however, the truth is that he does care about you a great deal.  Children from around age 11 and up are going through many changes.  Some are physical in nature, but there are also many emotional shifts.  Your child is growing up, learning a lot and realizing that at some point he is going to have to live a life apart from you.  He is attempting to assert his independence from you and is at times unsure of how to do this appropriately.  He will attempt many things, including talking back and disregarding your feelings.  Your teen actually cares a great deal about your feelings and is looking for reassurance that it is ok for him to separate from you in some ways.  While it may not be acceptable for him to talk to you in a disrespectful way, it’s important to talk to and treat your teen like an adult as much as you can.  How do you respond to other adults when they say hurtful things to you?

My teenager is lazy. While some teens have better work ethic than others, the adjective “lazy” is not an accurate description of most teens.  When motivated, a teen can do amazing things; even a teen who plays video games for too many hours a day can be inspired to do amazing things.  The key term here is motivation.  Finding what motivates your teen is important, and may be the only way to get him to get off the couch and help around the house.  The best way to motivate a teen is to give him ownership of the project.  If you expect him to help keep the house clean, then he needs to feel that he has a vested interest in the home.  Letting him have input on where furniture goes, what carpet is picked out or what color the walls are can go further in investing your child in the home than you think.  There is nothing wrong with offering incentives for your child to complete tasks, whether monetary or relationship based.  However, nagging and hounding your teen will NOT create motivation.

My teen never listens to my advice.  Teenagers are going though many changes and are trying to find their identity outside of their parents view.  Your teen is most likely listening to you, but greatly wants to gain an independent life. He is afraid that following your advice will lead him to being dependent on you for a long time.  Parents of teens have to walk a very thin line between giving advice and telling the child what to do.  If your teen is still coming to you for advice, count yourself lucky, because that often stops at some point in the adolescent years too.  When your child tells you a story or shares an issue he is facing, do not jump in and tell him how to fix the problem.  Step back and just listen, ask questions to clarify and then validate the feelings he might be having about the situation.  Once he has finished the story, you can ask him if he wants your advice.  He may say no, in which case you thank him for telling you and let him know you are there if he wants to talk about it further.  If he says he wants your advice, give it with caution, understanding the best way for him to learn is if he helps to come up with the solution.  Because of this, aiding your child through questions can be the most helpful.  Once the advice is given, it is his hands.  He needs to be given the freedom to choose what he will do with your suggestions.

My teen does not want to spend time with me anymore.  While it is very true that as your child gets older he will spend less and less time with you, it is far from the truth that your teen does not want to spend time with you.  Most teens have more activities outside of the home as they get older and their interests change drastically, sometimes from one day to the next.  The way they talk might even change.  All these adjustments mean that you will understand him less and less each day.  It is not that he wants to spend less time with you; it is that he perceives there are fewer things he has in common with you.  Making an effort to understand the culture and how it changes from day to day can greatly improve the time you spend together because you will have more in common with him.  The truth is that he still craves the time he gets to spend with his mom or dad, but realizes often unconsciously that he needs to pull away from you too.

It is too late to build good communication habits in my teen. It is never too late to teach and model healthy communication habits.  You may feel that the habits both you and your child have are already ingrained in your mind and will never change, but that simply is not true.  It takes small but measurable changes in your behavior to effectively help your teen communicate better.  Your teen is likely looking for someone to work to understand him, even if that person never fully can.
Raising a teenager can be a maddening adventure, but it can also be touching.  To see the child that was once so little and helpless becoming an adult can be overwhelming.  Sometimes parents want to hold onto the little child they once knew.  Unfortunately, attempting to hold on by treating the young adult like you did when he was little can cause a great deal of friction between you both.  It is a difficult process to communicate with a teenager, but when done with respect and understanding it can be a less frustrating phase.

Source: GoNannies

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Teens Struggling with Substance Abuse

With summer about here and teens with more free time, parents need to be aware of what today’s latest statistics are with drug use.

Yes, teen substance abuse, according to the latest study, is up 33%. TeenSubstanceAbuse

What does this say to parents of teenagers?

Are the parents too trusting of the teens or are the teens too smart for the parents?

Are you still digesting that?

Let’s understand this.

One in four teens (24 percent) reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime (up from 18 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2012), which translates to about 5 million teens. That is a 33 percent increase over a five-year period.  -According to Drugfree.org

That is a lot teens using illegal prescription drugs to get high or alter their moods.

Where are they getting these drugs from? 

Parents, grandparents, a friend’s home or simply buying them off the street.   This isn’t  blame game it is time to get a grasp on it and communicate to your kids about the risks of prescription medicine when it is not taken for the reasons it is prescribed for by a doctor.  Sometimes it takes a near death of a friend to make your child wake-up, let’s just hope it is not the end of someone’s life.  The attitude that it can’t happen to me is common, and it is followed by a parent’s denial that their child would use drugs.

Communication and education.

This is a nationwide problem.  Go to www.drugfree.org/medicineabuseproject and educate yourself and your family. Take the Pledge with your family to end medicine abuse, before it’s too late.  Then go to www.stopmedicineabuse.org and educate yourself and your kids about the dangers of over-the-counter medicine (OTC) abuse.  OTC are potentially deadly can be extremely harmful to your teens also.

Have a conversation with your teen, don’t wait for a confrontation.  As the report also stated, parents seems to lack concern about prescription drug use in comparison to getting caught or using such drugs as crack or cocaine or other illegal drugs, as follows:

Almost one in four teens (23 percent) say their parents don’t care as much if they are caught using Rx drugs without a doctor’s prescription, compared to getting caught with illegal drugs. – According to Drugfree.org

 

Drug use (substance abuse) is a serious cry for help, and making your teen feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teenager is abusing drugs and alcohol are:

  • Violent outbursts, rage, disrespectful behavior
  • Poor or dropping grades
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions, track marks
  • Missing curfew, running away, truancy
  • Bloodshot eyes, distinct “skunky” odor on clothing and skin
  • Missing jewelry, money
  • New friends
  • Depression, apathy, withdrawal, disengaged from the family
  • Reckless behavior

Tips to help prevent substance abuse:

  1. Communication is the key to prevention.  Whenever an opportunity arises about the risks of drinking and driving or the dangers of using drugs,  take it to start a conversation.  Remember parents, it is important to be a parent first – friendship will come in time.
  2. Have a conversation not a confrontation.  If you suspect your teen is using drugs, talk to them.  Don’t judge them, talk to them about the facts of the dangers of substance abuse.  If your teen isn’t opening up to you, be sure you find an adolescent therapist that can help.
  3. Addict in the family?  Do you have an addict in your family?  Sadly many families have been effected by someone that has allowed drugs to take over their lives.  With this, it is a reminder to your teen that you want them to have bright future filled with happiness.  The last thing you want for them is to end up like ____.
  4. Don’t be a parent in denial.  There is no teenager that is immune to drug abuse.  No matter how smart your teen is, or athletic they are, they are at risk if they start using.  I firmly believe that keeping  your teen constructively busy, whether it is with sports, music or other hobbies they have, you will be less at risk for them to want to experiment.  However don’t be in the dark thinking that your teen is pulling a 4.0 GPA and on the varsity football that they couldn’t be dragged down by peer pressure.  Go back to number one – talk, talk, talk – remind your teen how proud you are of them, and let them know that you are always available if they feel they are being pressured to do or try something they don’t want to.
  5. Do you know what your teen is saying?  Listen or watch on texts or emails for code words for certain drug lingo. Skittling, Tussing, Skittles, Robo-tripping, Red Devils, Velvet, Triple C, C-C-C-, Robotard are some of the names kids use for cough and cold medication abuse.  Weed, Pot, Ganja, Mary Jane, Grass, Chronic, Buds, Blunt, Hootch, Jive stick, Ace, Spliff, Skunk, Smoke, Dubie, Flower, Zig Zag are all slang for marijuana.
  6. 6.     Leftovers.  Are there empty medicine wrappers or bottles, burn marks on their clothes or rug, ashes, stench, etc in their room or if they own a car, in their car? Teens (and tweens) either take several pills or smash them so all of it is released at once.  Be sure to check all pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, under beds, etc. for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use.  Where are your prescription drugs?  Have you counted them lately?
  7. Body language. Tune into changes in your teen’s behavior. Changing peer groups, altering their physical appearance and/or lack of hygiene, eating or sleeping patterns changing, hostile and uncooperative attitude (defiance), missing money or other valuables from the home, sneaking out of the house, etc.
  8. 8.     Access to alcohol.  Look around your home, is there liquor that is easily accessible?  Teens admit getting alcohol is easy-and the easiest place to get it is in their home.  Know what you have in the house and if you suspect your teen is drinking, lock it up!  Talk to them about the risks of drinking, especially if they are driving. 
  9. Seal the deal.  Have your teen sign a contract to never drink and drive. Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) www.saddonline.com provides a free online contract to download. It may help them pause just the second they need to not get behind that wheel.
  10. Set the example, be the example.  What many parents don’t realize is that you are the leading role model for your teen.  If your teen sees you smoking or drinking frequently, what is the message you are sending?  Many parents will have a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, however the teen needs to understand you are the adult, and there is a reason that the legal drinking age is 21.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

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 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 for Young Adults: Dealing with an 18 Year old Child

Helping your teenager at any age is a priority.

Helping your teenager at any age is a priority.

At this time of year, it seems we are contacted by more and more parents that have an 18 year old or a 17 year old that is almost 18. If you have been struggling with your younger teen and like many of us, keep hoping and praying it will change, take a moment to think about if it doesn’t. Don’t miss opportunities to give your child a second chance for a bright future. Whether it is local therapy, a motivational program or a Boarding School, as parents we do what is best for our kids.

“My 18 year old is out of control and I am at my wit’s end! What can I do?” Anonymous Parent.

18 – 19 year old teens can be the most difficult to address simply because they are considered adults and cannot be forced to get help. As parents, we have limited to no control. Practicing “Tough Love” is easier said than done, many parents cannot let their child reach rock bottom. As parents, we see our child suffering whether it is needing groceries or a roof over their head and it is hard to shut the door on them.

I think this is one of the most important reasons that if you are a parent of a 16-17 year old that is out-of-control, struggling, defiant, using drugs and alcohol, or other negative behavior I believe it is time to look for intervention NOW. I am not saying it needs to be a residential treatment center or a program out of the home, but at least start with local resources such as therapists that specialize with adolescents and preferable offer support groups.

It is unfortunate that in most cases the local therapy is very limited how it can help your teen. The one hour once a week or even twice, is usually not enough to make permanent changes. Furthermore getting your defiant teen to attend sessions can sometimes cause more friction and frustrations than is already happening in the home.

This is the time to consider outside help such as a Therapeutic Boarding School or a Residential Treatment Center. However these parents with the 18-19 year old teenagers may have usually missed their opportunity. They were hoping and praying that at 16 or 17 things would change, but unfortunately, if not addressed, the negative behavior usually escalates.

In the past 12+ years I have heard from thousands of parents and most are hoping to get their child through high school and will be satisfied with a GED. It is truly a sad society of today’s teens when many believe they can simply drop out of school. Starting as early as 14 years old, many teens are thinking this way and we need to be sure they know the consequences of not getting an education.

Education in today’s world should be our children’s priority however with today’s peer pressure and entitlement issues, it seems to have drifted from education to defiance being happy just having fun and not being responsible.

I think there are many parents that debate whether they should take that desperate measure of sending a child to a program and having them escorted there but in the long run you need to look at these parents that have 18-19 year olds that don’t have that opportunity.

While you have this option, and it is a major decision that needs to be handled with the utmost reality of what will happen if things don’t change. The closer they are to 18 the more serious issues can become legally. If a 17+ year old gets in trouble with the law, in many states they will be tried as an adult.

This can be scary since most of these kids are good kids making very bad choices and don’t deserve to get caught up the system. As a parent I believe it is our responsible not to be selfish and be open to sending the outside of the home. It is important not to view this as a failure as a parent, but as a responsible parent that is willing to sacrifice your personal feelings to get your child the help they need.

At 18, it is unfortunate, these kids are considered adults – and as parents we basically lose control to get them the help they need. In most cases, if they know they have no other alternatives and this is the only option the parents will support, they will attend young adult programs that can offer them life skills, emotional growth, education and more to give them a second opportunity for a bright, successful future.

Do you need help finding young adult life skills programs?  Contact us at www.helpyourteens.com.

Parent’s Universal Resource Experts www.helpyourteens.com
Sue Scheff www.suescheff.com
Wit’s End Book  www.witsendbook.com

Teens and Self-Esteem: Tips to Help Your Teen Make Better Choices

Help! My teen is hanging with the wrong crowd!

This is a common statement from parents when their child is starting down a negative road.

Your child’s self-esteem is an important part of his self-image. It helps him feel he’s worthwhile just as he is and helps him feel good about his choices and decisions. A healthy self esteem doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that is nurtured and grown throughout a lifetime, and something that the important people in his life have a chance to help cultivate.

Here are some tips for boosting your child’s self-esteem.

Give your child choices throughout the day. A big part of healthy self-esteem is feeling capable. Offering your child choices about what outfit to wear, what to have for a snack or for lunch, or if he should pick up the play room before or after going to the park will give your child practice making good choices. When offering young children choices, the key is being comfortable with whatever the child chooses. The goal is to help him think about both sides and make a decision that he feels will best satisfy his needs.

Avoid generic praise. Parents want kids to feel good about the things they do and to encourage them to repeat the types of behavior they value. So parents often say things like “Great job!” after everything from finishing vegetables at dinner to putting socks on in the morning to going down the slide at the park. While generic congratulations feel good to a child for a short time, after too many times it becomes meaningless. In fact, congratulating a child for things that don’t require real effort can make a child lose trust in the parent’s honesty.

Use specific praise generously. It’s helpful to a child’s self-esteem to hear from parents and other adults about their accomplishments, both big and small. Instead of using generic praise, let your child know how much you admire and appreciate his specific behavior. Phrases like “I appreciate your help in picking up the play room this afternoon. It means we have more time at the park!” or “Eating your vegetables will help your body grow strong and healthy. I love your willingness to try new things.” or “I’m so proud of how you climbed to the top of the tower. That took strong arms and great balance!” will help your child feel good about his abilities and choices.

Avoid negative labels. Most of the way we communicate with others is based in lifelong habits. Unfortunately some unhealthy habits may find their way into your parenting or caregiving vocabulary. Labeling a child as being mean, lazy, uncoordinated or hyperactive, or calling him a whiner, liar or babyish can negatively affect his self-esteem. Children are sensitive to what the people they love think about them and words can have a huge effect. Choose your words carefully and talk about challenging behaviors or traits in positive terms.

Become a great listener. Giving your child your full attention and truly listening to what he is saying and how he feels is an immediate self-esteem booster. When you turn off your phone, the TV and the computer and fully engage with your child it shows him that you really care about him and that you’re interested in what he has to say. That kind of undivided attention is rarer than it should be these days and will make your child feel valued and loved.

Model healthy self-esteem. Your child looks to you for clues about how to think, act and feel. Make sure you’re sending the right message. Invest in developing your own healthy self-esteem and you’ll be on your way to helping your child develop it too. Have a positive body image, be confident about your abilities, and don’t let petty criticisms from the outside world make you feel bad about yourself and your choices. If you struggle with esteem issues, talk about them with your child in an age appropriate way and show him the steps you’re taking to develop a healthy self-esteem. Showing your child that you’re not perfect, but that you’re working towards being better, gives him the freedom to accept his flaws too.

Teach problem solving skills. Teaching your child how to objectively assess a situation, brainstorm solutions, and put a plan into action is a proactive way of building self-esteem. Children who feel able to handle challenging situations, who recognize that when they get knocked down they can get right back up and try again, and who are confident that every problem has a solution have a strong sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an important part of a child’s healthy emotional development. It acts like a suit of armor for your child, protecting him from many of the bumps and bruises that come with everyday life. It also gives him a strong foundation to build life skills on.

Source: Babysitting Jobs

11 Facts about teens and self esteem are listed on DoSomething.org and are very interesting including:

  • 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel good about how you look (compared to 54% of girls with high self-esteem).
  • Teenage boys can be prone to obsessive exercising, binge eating, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, steroid abuse and diet aid abuse.
  • One of the main factors in teen promiscuity is self-esteem. When a teen has little or no self-confidence, he or she will use sex as a means to build confidence.

Do you feel your tween or teen is struggling with low self worth, starting to go down a negative path. Don’t let it escalate. Be proactive and reach out for help. Finding a local adolescent therapist can sometimes help. If it has gone too far, you may have come to a point where residential therapy is the answer. You can visit www.helpyourteens.com.

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