Teen Help: Good Kids Bad Choices

TeendefianceSummer is here and some parents will be considering summer camps while others are in the midst of hoping their teenager passed the school year, or had enough credits to graduate. If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with school and acting out, it can drive you to your wit’s end.
Maybe your once fun-loving teenager who is good looking, intelligent, and has lots of good friends is now talking back to you, staying out late or sneaking out, defiant, and possibly sexually active? On the flip side, your once sweet child might be a teenage misfit who is acting out because of bullying, or is experimenting with sex, drugs, and/or alcohol in a desperate attempt to find acceptance.
What happens when you have a teenager that decides they don’t want to finish high school when they are more than capable? Perhaps they were consistently getting excellent grades and now they are just getting by or failing completely.  From an overachiever to an underachiever.  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.
Is this typical teen behavior?
Possible, but how do you know when it is and when you need to intervene?
As the school year is coming to an end, it is a good time for parents to evaluate where their teen is at both emotionally and academically–especially if they are in High School. These are your final years to make a significant difference in their lives, and get them on a positive road towards their futures. When a child is crying out for help by using illegal substances,  running away, flunking in school, becoming secretive, possibly affiliating with a gang, or displaying other negative behavior it is a parent’s responsibility to get involved, as painful as that is, and seek treatment.
When adolescents reach the point of rebelliousness, many parents will try therapy, and this is a good place to start. But the success of local treatment will depend on the child and how far their behavior has escalated. Unfortunately many parents I have spoken to have reported that the one-hour session once a week–or even twice a week–rarely makes a difference in their teen’s behavior. For many parents there comes a time when residential therapy is taken under serious consideration–especially if drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. It is important to seek outside help, and removing a teen from their environment can be critical in getting them the help they need to heal. This is particularly true when a teen needs to be separated from undesirable peers that are instigating or perpetuating their negative behavior.
Though the majority of teens are unwilling to attend residential treatment, most of them are professionally transported by experts in the field. Parents spend a lot of time and stress about this part of the decision, but hiring a professional in this field can lessen the worries. They are trained to work with at-risk youth and will ask you all about your child before they arrive. In speaking with many parents and teens that have successfully used transports, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
At the end of the day, your teen truly wants to feel good about themselves again, too. They want to be that happy child that you remember. Remember, they were once that a good kid, and they can become that good person again.  Being a teenager isn’t easy, and parenting that child when you have reached your wit’s end is a challenge. Knowing you are not alone helps!
Take away tips for parents:
When seeking residential treatment, I always encourage parents to look for three key components that I call the ACE factor:
·        Accredited Academics (Ask to see their accreditation): Education is important, some programs actually don’t offer it.
·        Clinical (Credentialed therapists on staff): Please note–on staff.
·        Enrichment Programs (Animal assisted programs, culinary, fine arts, sports etc): Enrichment Programs are crucial to your child’s program. They will help build self-esteem and stimulate them in a positive direction. Find a program with something your teen is passionate about or used to be passionate prior their path in a negative direction.
I also encourage parents to avoid three red flags:
·        Marketing arms and sales reps (All those toll-free numbers, be careful of who you are really speaking to and what is in the best interest of your child.)
·        Short term programs (Wilderness programs or otherwise, rarely is there a quick fix. Short term program are usually short term results. They usually will then convince you to go into a longer term program after you are there a few weeks–why not just start with one? Consistency is key in recovery. An average program is 6-9-12 months, depending on your child’s needs and the program.)
·        Statistics that show their success rate (I have yet to see any program or school have a third party–objective survey–perform a true statistical report on a program’s success. Success is an individual’s opinion. You have to do your own due diligence and call parent references.)
For more information about researching residential therapy and helpful tips, visit http://www.helpyourteens.com and don’t forget to review the list of questions for schools and programs so you can make an educated decision.
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Rude Teens: Transforming them to Politeness

TeenRespectTeaching a young child to say please and thank you is one thing, but struggling to get your teenager to be polite to you is quite another. The truth is that most teens are more polite to other people than they are to their own parents. This is due to a number of things, including the fact that you are the person he feels most comfortable with and as a result is more easily frustrated with.

It is also due to the fact that teens are going through a transformation phase and are experimenting with their independence. Politeness is one area where they tend to test the waters.

However, there are ways to help your teen be more polite while going through this life change.

  1. Avoid demanding your child to use polite words – it only causes a power struggle that did not exist before you made the demand. Saying to a teenager “I am not giving you this until you say please” only creates a struggle for control. It does nothing to teach the child why he should use polite words. When a child becomes a teen, the more important thing to teach is tone of voice. Instead of demanding he talk courteously, tell him why you don’t like the tone of voice he used. “I don’t care for the way you asked me to do that. It seems to me like you don’t respect me when you talk to me like that.”
  2. ALWAYS speak politely to your teen – this is a very difficult endeavor to be sure, but until every word that comes out of your mouth is said with care, composure and calmly, you cannot expect your teenager, who has hormones that are going crazy, is trying to be independent and yet is scared all at the same time, to be the only one in the room speaking with civility. If you have a history of speaking with unkind words or tone to your child, now is a great time to turn over a new leaf. If you do decide to change the way you speak, it is a good idea to communicate this change with any child, especially teenagers. Your words can help bridge some of the disconnection he feels toward you because of the words you have used in the past. Let him know that you are aware you will not do this perfectly. Bad habits are very hard to break. Ask him for his help in your conversion. Together find a word or phrase that he can use when he feels that you are not speaking to him with courtesy. You then need to agree to ALWAYS take a step back when he uses it. You should also work out the same agreement with him. Maybe it is the same word and maybe it is a different one. But know that if you break your promise to take a step back when he uses that word, he is going to too.
  3. Don’t embarrass him in front of others, especially his peers. The social world of a teenager is a very difficult place to be. The pressure he feels from friends is not a small concern to a teenager. Parents who make light of the pressure their child feels to fit in, be liked or at least not be noticed run the risk of pushing their child away. There is a very good chance that your teenager will refuse to act polite when around his friends and other children. It is never a good idea to deal with the conflict at the time of the offense. It can be very difficult to refrain from correcting your teen around his peers; however, you have to remember that there is a good chance there are other people watching too. The eyes of judgment can be overwhelming and make you want to set the record straight and demand that your child treat you with respect. The best thing you can do is to take a step back and talk to your child about it after he is away from anyone else. He will no longer have the pressure of other people to show off for and you will be able to be calmer about the situation.

Parenting teens can often be a thankless job because the child rarely wants to show his love the way he used to when he was little. However, watching him begin to grow into a healthy and happy person can be rewarding, especially if the expectation for him to be perfect is not there. Understanding that at this time in your child’s life he is testing his own abilities, desires and his decision whether or not to show respect is really important to the growing up process.

Source: Go Nannies

It’s Not My Kid: Parents In Denial

NotMyKid2On a weekly basis parents will continue to blame the friends or the other kids that their teen is hanging out with for the bad choices their child is making.  You have to think, if the parent can’t come to some accountability—how can we expect the teen to?

Have you stopped to consider your child (teenager) has made a choice to hang out with that peer group?  They have free will not to hang out with that negative choice of friends–however that is where they believe they fit in.

Why?

Low self-esteem?  Belief that it is a cool group?  Desire to be part of a group even if it is a less than desirable one?

I speak to parents on a weekly basis and often hear how parents can make excuses for their teen.  Whether it is a friend’s fault–the school’s fault–the fault of an ex-spouse–you name it, rather than putting the blame on the person that is making the bad choices, some parents have a difficult time admitting their once good child is now making such negative decisions.

Don’t be a parent in denial; you are only hurting your child.  The sooner you recognize your teen needs help the sooner you can get on the path to recovery and healing in your home.

Do you feel like you are hostage in your home to your teen’s behavior?  At any moment  your teen could explode in a rage over something that didn’t go their way?

You shouldn’t have to live that way.  In life we don’t always get what we want all the time – actually most of the time.  Teens need to learn early that respecting authority, especially their parents, is a priority.  If you are giving your teen their boundaries and they are defying them you are heading down a road of trouble.  Start with consequences and don’t waiver.  Never threaten what you can’t follow through with.

If you feel you have exhausted all your local resources and including therapy, visit www.helpyourteens.com and consider the next step.  It may prove beneficial.  It is important to be proactive and don’t forget, academics are important too.  Just because your defiant child is out-of-control doesn’t mean they are going to skip out on school!

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens!

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Therapeutic Boarding Schools: Does My Teen Need One?

Order Wit's End today.

Order Wit’s End today.

After the tragic events of Sandy Hook Elementary the world sits in a state of horror and mourns for the children and heroes we lost.

The questions linger, could this have been prevented?  Is it about gun control?  Is it about mental health?

Working with parents of at-risk teens on a weekly basis, I know firsthand that families are at their wit’s end searching for help.  Some are literally scared of their own child.  Some are scared of what they read online about residential treatment centers.  I don’t blame them – I was once a victim of this industry myself, which is why I am a Parent Advocate today.  I have made it my mission to help parents find safe and quality residential therapy for their struggling teens.

Let’s discuss if your teens does need residential care also know as therapeutic boarding schools?

How to know when it is time for Residential Therapy:

  • You have read and re-read most parenting books and behavioral strategy — removing privileges, instilling consequences that are being broken,  to behavioral contracts to one-on-one behavioral support in the home — and your teen still doesn’t get better.
  • Your child had been given numerous psychiatric diagnoses, none of which totally fit. He/she has been on different medications, but none result in long-term changes.
  • Your house is a war zone every day. Your child is routinely explosive and scares younger siblings and you. You are exhausted and the stress of managing daily crises is taking a toll on your marriage, your job, your personal life and you  have reached your wit’s end.
  • Your child has been expelled from school (or on the verge of  being expelled), is addicted to video games, using drugs or alcohol, and has had multiple run-ins with the law.
  • Your child engages in self-injury, threatens to hurt others or kill himself.
  • Your child has had a psychiatric hospitalization.
  • You have finally exhausted all your local resources.  This is not an easy decision and one that comes out of love.  It is time to give your son or daughter a second opportunity for a bright future – finding a residential therapy setting for 6-10 months out of their lifetime is a small price to pay considering the alternative road they are on.

How Residential Therapy can help when nothing else does:

  • RTC (residential treatment center) or TBS (therapeutic boarding school) focus on helping the child take personal accountability. Through intensive individual, group and family therapy, residential staff work on shifting the child from blaming others for his problems to acknowledging that he is where he is because he made poor choices.
  • RTC or TBS remove your child from their negative environment.  Whether is a contentious home situation or a negative peer group, it is an opportunity to be in an objective placement to open up and speak freely to others that may have his/her same feelings.
  • RTC or TBS have level systems so children learn the consequences of their actions. If they make poor choices or don’t do their levels work, they don’t gain privileges. The levels system incentivizes children to change their behavior.
  • RTC or TBS provide structure and containment that is impossible to achieve at home. Most RTC or TBS are in remote areas where there is nowhere to run. Therapists, behavioral staff and a levels program provide intensive scaffolding to support the child as he learns coping skills that he can then use to regulate himself. When a child can utilize coping skills, he feels in control and begins to make better choices.
  • RTC or TBS are particularly skilled at helping parents recognize the ways they are unwittingly colluding with their child’s behavior, and learn tools to change their own behaviors. Parent workshops and family therapy (usually via phone and visits) are essential for the child to return home successfully.
  • When selecting an RTC or TBS, it is important for a parent to find one that has accredited academics, qualified therapists and enrichment programs.  This is part of doing your due diligence when researching for programs for your teenager.

My book, Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen (HCI), outline a complete detailed list for parents that are seeking help.  Starting with local resources to deciding if you need an RTC or a TBS and the differences.

For more assistance, please contact us at www.helpyourteens.com.  We offer a free consultation as well helpful hints and tips on our website for finding programs and schools.

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Teen Help: Helping Parents Find Help for their Struggling Teen

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

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

With the tragedy of Newtown, CT we are faced with so many unanswered questions.

The grief of the loss of life is unimaginable – when you look at the age of the children and their protectors that died doing what they were trained to do, it is simply unconscionable that anyone could do such a heinous act.

We are hearing issues of gun control combined with mental health.  At the end of the day, like teenagers using illegal drugs (and adults for that matter) if someone is determined to find a gun and shoot people, they will.

The fact is we need to get people the help they need before they get to the point of wanting to seek out guns for killing – or drugs for getting high.

Though that is an extreme example, many parents are seeking help for their struggling teen.  They are at their wit’s end.  They feel like they are hostage in their own home.  After exhausting all their local resources they realize that residential treatment is their last resort – but how can they send their child away?

The real question is, how can you not?  How can you not get your teen the help they need?  In many cases your teen does need to be removed from their environment to be able to start recovery.  Being around their negative peer group and sometimes ever around their family (and this is not a personal reflection on you) but the state of mind your child is in, can bring contention that they are not able to move forward.

So what can you do?  You get online and the confusion is overwhelming with websites promising all sorts of things – marketing people scaring you into the urgency of placing asap or else….. Sticker shock of the price of getting help! Don’t get scammed – it did happen to me – I created my organization so it wouldn’t happen to other parents.

There is help for everyone.  If you don’t have insurance for mental help, and even with insurance, there are programs that can help.  You will have to dig harder to find them.

Obviously if you are able to go into a program you can finance there are more options, but in a time in our economy when things are not financially great, not everyone falls into this category.  This doesn’t mean you can’t find help.

I encourage you to visit my website – www.helpyourteens.com for more information on residential therapy.  Never give up – be proactive.  Now, more than ever, is a reality that parents need to get their troubled teens the help they need.

Tough Love – Tough Decisions That Save Lives

Toughlove

When you have reached your wit’s end, holidays seem to not matter.

When it comes to sending your child to residential therapy it is probably one of the hardest decisions a parent can make.  It just doesn’t seem normal to send your teenager to a behavioral modification program.  Let’s face it – we all know that sending them to college is part of the circle of life, but no one prepares us for the potholes that some families face – residential treatment centers.

As the holidays approach a teenager’s behavior can sometimes escalate and this can leave a parent with a decision that they don’t want to make.  How can they send their child into a teen help program during this time of the year?

As a Parent Advocate and Parent Consultant, I share with parents that you have many years ahead of you to have many wonderful holidays together – however in some cases, it can mean saving your child’s life by removing them from not-so-safe situations – especially if they are involved in drug use or hanging out with unsavory groups of what they consider friends.  With the extra time off from school -it sometimes can add up to more time for trouble.

Are you struggling with your teenager?  Confused about what school or program is best for their needs?  I founded Parent’s Universal Resource Experts, Inc over a decade ago for parents that are at their wit’s end – after I was duped and my daughter abused at a program that mislead us.  Our experiences are only to help educate parents – there are more good programs than there are not so good one.  It is up to you to do your due diligence.

Remember, family is a priority – your child’s welfare comes first.  There will always be more holidays – let’s be sure your child’s safety and security are first and foremost.

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Rules Teens Break

Parenting teens is challenging!

The teenage years are some of the most exciting times for a teen and the most stressful and terrifying for a parent. Teens are in between the stage of no longer being a child but not quite old enough to be an adult.

New things are presented and for your child’s mental, physical and emotional health are sensitive and you have placed rules to keep them safe. As much as you hope your teen doesn’t break the rules, chances are they will, here are 5 they are most likely to break:

Curfew: Missing curfew is probably the least life altering rule to break but the most common rule teens break. Whether they miss curfew by 5 minutes or 2 hours, it will happen. Missing curfew usually happens because teens tend to just lose track of time and not pay attention. The reason why parents enforce curfew is for their safety late at night.

Lying: Even if your teen is a horrible liar, lying is easy. Teens lie for the same reasons adults lie, to prevent getting in trouble, hurting someone or facing unfavorable consequences. Lying can get tricky because teens tend to think a ‘little white lie’ won’t hurt anything or anyone. False; lying is a bad habit to pick up. Teach them that there are always consequences and the best thing to do is to just face the facts like an adult and suffer the repercussions.

Cheating: But Mom, everyone else did it! Cheating in school is common for teens, especially those who are nearing the end of their high school career and lack the motivation to complete course work. Cheating is also another trait that can be hazardous to their adult life. Cheating is not acceptable as a teen or an adult.

Going too far: Teens are full of hormones and discovering themselves and others on physical levels. That first boyfriend or first girlfriend is both exciting and scary for the parent and teen. Have a sit down conversation that is honest but firm about sexuality and the mental, emotional and physical consequences that come with it. The more you talk and educate your child, the less you have to worry about possible situations arising. It’s an uncomfortable topic for everyone involved, so make it easy for your teen to talk to you about it.

Drinking: Drinking, smoking and drugs are more common in high schools than you a parent wants to believe. Just as you do with the sex talk, talk to your teens about these other vices. They need to know what happens legally, personally, mentally and physically if your teen chooses to abuse these vices before the legal age limit. Drinking and driving is a problem among teens, teach them that no matter what, they can ALWAYS call you for a safe ride home. The more your child knows the better off they are on making the right decision.

Source: Jack Meyer is a regular contributor for Nanny Background Check.

It is important to remember, you are a parent first — you can become their friend later. They need a parent to guide them to a bright and healthy future.