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  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.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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Teen Shoplifting: Why Do Teens Steal

teenshopliftingAs we are in the summer months, more teens are hanging at the malls.  I get an increase in calls of teens being arrested for stealing and/or shoplifting.  Why are they doing this, especially if they have the money to pay for it?

Too Young To Start

There are almost as many reasons teens steal as there are things for teens to steal. One of the biggest reasons teens steal is peer pressure. Often, teens will steal items as a means of proving’ that they are “cool enough” to hang out with a certain group. This is especially dangerous because if your teen can be convinced to break the law for petty theft, there is a strong possibility he or she can be convinced to try other, more dangerous behaviors, like drinking or drugs. It is because of this that it is imperative you correct this behavior before it escalates to something beyond your control.

Another common reason teens steal is because they want an item their peers have but they cannot afford to purchase. Teens are very peer influenced, and may feel that if they don’t have the ‘it’ sneakers or mp3 player, they’ll be considered less cool than the kids who do. If your teen cannot afford these items, they may be so desperate to fit in that they simply steal the item. They may also steal money from you or a sibling to buy such an item. If you notice your teen has new electronics or accessories that you know you did not buy them, and your teen does not have a job or source of money, you may want to address whereabouts they came up with these items.

Teens may also steal simply for a thrill. Teens who steal for the ‘rush’ or the adrenaline boost are often simply bored and/ or testing the limits of authority. They may not even need or want the item they’re stealing! In cases like these, teens can act alone or as part of a group. Often, friends accompanying teens who shoplift will act as a ‘lookout’ for their friend who is committing the theft. Unfortunately, even if the lookout doesn’t actually steal anything, the can be prosecuted right along with the actual teen committing the crime, so its important that you make sure your teen is not aiding his or her friends who are shoplifting.

Yet another reason teens steal is for attention. If your teen feels neglected at home, or is jealous of the attention a sibling is getting, he or she may steal in the hopes that he or she is caught and the focus of your attention is diverted to them. If you suspect your teen is stealing or acting out to gain your attention, it is important that you address the problem before it garners more than just your attention, and becomes part of their criminal record. Though unconventional, this is your teen’s way of asking for your help- don’t let them down!

Need help?  Visit www.HelpYourTeens.com and join us on Facebook.

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.

Teen Drug Use: Safeguard My Meds

Statistics show that 70% of people 12 years-old and older who abused prescription pain relievers say they got them from a friend or relative.

Where will you be for the holidays?

Grandparents? An aunt’s? Friends?

Most homes have medicine cabinets – and most medicine cabinets have prescription drugs in them.

The holiday season is upon us and with family dinners, parties and get-togethers, you can usually expect more visitors in your home. But did you know unused and easily accessible medicines have the potential to be misused and abused by anyone entering your home – including teens and young adults?

Yet many people don’t realize the personal responsibility that comes with having prescription medicine in the home. That’s why the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma launched the Safeguard My Meds program.

Here are a few simple, yet important steps that can be taken to protect prescription medicine.

· A locked storage container should be kept for prescription medicines at greater risk of being abused – such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and depressants. These medicines are targets for theft by anyone who enters your home, so extra precautions should be taken.

· Keep track of your medications with the Medicine Inventory Sheet. Take inventory of your prescription medicines at least twice a year, such as when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.

· Learn more about the safe storage and disposal of prescription medicine by Downloading the Brochure and by visiting www.safeguardmymeds.org.

· Take the Personal Responsibility Pledge and commit to doing your part to safeguard and keep prescription medicine out of the wrong hands. Take the pledge!

Have a safe, healthy and fun holiday!

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Drug Use and Your Teenager: 10 Warning Signs

Parent denial is very common. Not one parent wants to admit that their own child may be drifting off in a negative direction. However if you ignore the obvious signs, you are no better than condoning this substance abuse.

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.
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. Leftovers. Are thereempty 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. 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.

Do you have a teen that you suspect is using drugs? Have you exhausted all your local resources? Take the time to learn about residential therapy, visit www.HelpYourTeens.com. Each teen and family are unique, there are many teen help programs, knowing how to locate the one best for you can be a challenge, however Parents’ Universal Resource Experts in can help, starting with a free consultation.

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Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.

Teen Help Programs: The Difficult Choices

School is about over, the grades are in and you realize that your teen has failed some courses.

You also have realized they really don’t care much about their education at all!

Unfortunately I hear this more and more from parents today.  We have extremely intelligent children capable of getting A’s and not working up to their academic potential.  What is going on?

Teens that would rather either just get a GED or some that want to quit school all together!  Years ago that wouldn’t even cross our minds -but today these kids don’t recognize the importance of an education.

Especially in today’s financial world.

Some parents are also dealing with their smoking marijuana.  Some just brush it under the table and say that it is the same as when the were kids.  Well, it isn’t.  Pot today can be far more lethal than it was generations prior.

Whether you are  parent that is feeling hostage in their own home or a parent that feels their teen is heading down a dark path, you now have determined you need outside help there are steps that every parents needs to take.

I always tell parents that they need to exhaust all local avenues.  Short of your teen being 17+ years old, (since at that age you only have 12 months to do something – and do it quickly) – you have options to start with.

Local therapy, support groups, community centers, youth groups and youth pastors, sometimes sending your teens to live with a relative, changing schools…. these are all options that may work.  Sadly – many times they don’t – which is when you have to face it is time for residential therapy.

As you get online you have to be so careful of all these wonderful, colorful websites – tearful testimonials – slick sales reps and toll free numbers to God knows where.  Remember, this is your child you are searching for, not a car.

I created Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc (P.U.R.E.) exactly for parents in need – parents that have reached their wit’s end and don’t know where to turn.   On my site you will even find helpful hints in researching schools and programs and questions to ask.

I urge parents to read my story – when I struggled with my own teen daughter and the mistakes I made.

Remember, this is a major financial and emotional decision – take  your time and make an educated decision.

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Teens Smoking Pot – Teen Drug Use

Parenting teens in today’s society is not an easy task.  Communication with your teenager is key to their success on many levels, however as a mother that raised two teenager, I know it is easier said than done.  Drug and alcohol use among teens is an issue parents need to be aware of.   There are many good kids making some very bad choices.
A common misconception parents make is thinking that a teen that is only smoking marijuana is a phase.  Marijuana and the substitutes for it, such as spice, are more risky and dangerous than years/generations prior.  They can be laced with higher levels of PCP than can literally alter the mind of your teen as well as cause brain damage.
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
Do you have a teen that you suspect is using drugs?  Is therapy not working?  Have you exhausted all your local resources?  Take the time to learn about residential therapy,  visit www.HelpYourTeens.com.
Each teen and family are unique, there are many teen help programs, knowing how to locate the one best for you can be a challenge, however Parents’ Universal Resource Experts can help, starting with a free consultation.
Please remember, it is not your marijuana from your college or teens days.
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