Teen Medicine Abuse: A Growing Problem

EndMedAbuseWith the holidays around the corner, teens will have more time at home — and let’s remember, more time visiting relatives and friends.

Have you cleaned out your medicine cabinet lately?

Many parents are not aware of simple household items and over-the-counter medicines that could become deadly if not used as instructed.

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

“Out of Reach” is a special documentary created by a teen filmmaker who captures the issue of teen prescription drug abuse as it exists in his world. The issues contained in the film are a reflection of this issue across the country. It was created in collaboration with director Tucker Capps (of A&E’s “Intervention”) and The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s Medicine Abuse Project.

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Teen Suicide: Crisis on Campus

Student suicides: Be an educated parent.

An infographic by the team at College Degree Search

Hard numbers:
6 % of undergraduates and 4 percent of graduate students in 4-year colleges have “seriously considered attempting suicide” in the past year—and nearly half of each group did not tell anyone.
3X: The suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s and Suicide is currently the 2nd most common cause of death among college students.
1,100: number of suicides that occur at colleges every year – that’s roughly 7.5 per 100,000 students. 1 in 12: number of college students who have actually made a suicide plan at some point 1.5: number of college students out of every 100 who have actually attempted it.
2X as many young men, ages 20-24, commit suicide, compared with young women.
In the past 50 years, the suicide rate for those age 15-24 increased by over 200%.
12 people aged 15-24 will commit suicide today – that is one about every two hours.

Demographics:

Caucasians account for over 90% of all completed suicides.
2X: though Caucasians are twice as likely to commit suicide as African Americans; the rate of suicide is growing faster among young African Americans than among Caucasians.
Suicide rates from 1980-1995 increased 93% for African American females (age 15-24) and 214% for African American males (age 15-24).
Native Americans have the highest suicide rate among all 15-24 year olds.
Asian American women have the highest suicide rates among women ages 15 to 24.
Men commit suicide more than four times as often as women, but women attempt suicide about three times as often as men.
Suicide by firearm is the most common method for both men and women.

FACT: The emotional health of college freshmen — who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school — has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago.
The percentage of students who said their emotional health was above average fell to 52 percent.
It was 64 percent in 1985.

Campus stress producers
• Cost: Financial pressure, tuition plus room and board, is a huge stress-inducer.
• Competitiveness: How academically rigorous is the school?
• Acceptance rate: More competitive schools generally produce a more competitive student body.
• Crime on campus: is it safe?
• It’s the economy, stupid: has added to the stress, not just because of financial pressures on their parents but also because the students are worried about their own college debt and job prospects when they graduate.

5 Most Stressful Universities
5. Northwestern University Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,660 Total Price per Year: $58,829 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 51 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $23,337 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 49 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 23 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 23
4. Harvard University Undergraduate Enrollment: 10,277 Total Price per Year: $56,000 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 47 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $33,276 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 59 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 6 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 13
3. Columbia University in the City of New York Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,184 Total Price per Year: $59,208 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $31,796 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 54 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 10 percent Crime Rank (among top 25):
2. University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,852 Total Price per Year: $57,360 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $25,952 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 45 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 12 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 9
1. Washington University in St Louis Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,303 Total Price per Year: $58,901 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $23,963 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 41 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 17 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 6

Sizing up the risk factors include:
Prior history of suicidal behavior
Family history of suicide or suicide attempts
Suicidal behavior of a friend or colleague
Mental health problems like depression or substance abuse
Family history of depression or substance abuse
Easy access to lethal methods (like firearms)
Interpersonal isolation
Impulsive, aggressive or antisocial behaviors
History of abuse or family violence
Some common warning signs are when student:
Talks about suicide, death or having no reason to live
Is preoccupied with death and dying
Has trouble eating or sleeping
Experiences drastic changes in behavior
Withdraws from friends or social activities
Loses interest in hobbies, work, school, etc
Prepares for death by making out a will and final arrangements
Gives away prized possessions
Takes unnecessary risks
Relationship difficulties including a recent loss or threat of significant loss
Loses interest in their personal appearance
Increases their use of alcohol or drugs
Expresses a sense of hopelessness
Is faced with a situation of humiliation or failure
Performance difficulties
Legal or financial trouble
Is unwilling to “connect” with potential helpers

In America, someone attempts suicide once every minute, and someone completes a suicide once every 17 minutes. Throughout the world, approximately 2,000 people kill themselves each day.

What can parents do?
Stay in touch with your college kid. Freshmen especially need to know that the family support they relied on through childhood is still there, even long distance
Chat by phone, IM or Skype
Send care packages
Visit occasionally
Be a calming voice when things get rough
Do not undervalue the importance of sleep, diet, exercise and de-stressing activities
Familiarize yourself with the student health and mental health services available on campus, so you can remind your child of the support available on campus
Be sensitive to the signs of stress
What is being done to combat college student suicide:
The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) is the first piece of legislation to provide federal funds specifically for youth, adolescent and college age suicide prevention. Included in the bill is $31 million for over five years to fund the matching-grant programs for colleges and universities to help raise awareness about youth suicide
The Campus Suicide Prevention Grants program supports colleges and universities in their efforts to prevent suicide among students and to enhance services for students with depression, substance abuse, and other behavioral health problems that put them at risk of suicide.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is taking action on a broader scale. With this public/private partnership, leaders from Government, business, the advocacy community, and other groups are working together to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
National Graduate Student Crisis Line, offers immediate help for grads in crisis 1-800-GRAD-HLP (1-800-472-3457)

Teens and Internet Gossip

TeenCyberbullyingSocial media sites such as Ask.fm have been in the news lately and the headlines are not ones that parents would one to hear about their teens.  Gossip, whether online or off, can be cruel and harmful to others, especially when a person is already struggling with self-esteem issues.

“Sure enough, I had a parent come to my door and say, ‘Your daughter has been saying some rather nasty things about my daughter on this website.’”

– Patti, Mother

High school students have always spread gossip in the halls, on the walls and on the phone.  Now, it’s on the Internet, too.  On various message boards specific to communities around the country, kids write about whom they hate, whom they think is pregnant or has an STD and record other often hurtful rumors that may or may not be true.

Sixteen-year-old Jessica remembers once when some kids at her school wrote cruel things about her on the Web.

“They were just making fun of me,” she says.  “You know, she’s really ugly, she’s this, she’s that, ba-ba-ba.”

Jessica’s 11-year-old sister, Emma, admits she’s used the Web to write nasty things about another girl, though she regrets it now.

“After a while, you’re like, how could I have been so mean?  Like, why did I do that?” she says.

The other girl’s father eventually became so frustrated with what Emma had said that he came to her door and demanded her mother make her stop.

Experts say gossip on the Internet can be more harmful than the old-fashioned kind.  It’s often anonymous because kids use fake screen names.  It has the power of the written word, so it lasts longer and is taken more seriously.  And, unlikely ugly words on the bathroom wall, there’s no way to scratch it out.

“Online gossip is to hearsay gossip probably what nukes are to dynamite,” says Dr. Ramah Commanday, a school psychologist.  “It can get EXTREMELY raunchy.”

If your kids are victims of online gossip, Dr. Commanday suggests putting the gossip into perspective.

“Point out to them how what’s being said on the screen differs from what everyone knows about you as a person,” Dr. Commanday says.

You can also try what worked for Emma:  Keep your kids off the offensive website!

“When she was using it all the time, her name was on there all the time.  People were writing things about her,” explains Patti Thrift, Emma’s mother.  “Since she has no longer had access to that, she’s no longer a topic of conversation.”

Experts say that any time your child is on the Internet, you should know what he or she is doing there.  Online gossip is just another reason why.

Tips for Parents

Most of us remember passing notes during class or swapping stories over lunch with our friends in middle and high school.  But with more teens accessing the Internet these days, it appears that gossip has gone high-tech.  Teens are using message boards, instant messaging and even email to air out their frustrations – often in hurtful language – about their teachers and peers.

According to an Internet Report from the UCLA Center for Communication Policy, 97% of kids aged 12 to 18 access the Internet on a regular basis.  What they’re doing on the Internet, however, may be surprising.  The U.S. Department of Justice reports that approximately one in every 17 kids is threatened or harassed while using the Internet.  In fact, most don’t tell their parents or other adults, and if they do, the adults often don’t know how to stop the online teasing.

Gossiping, whether it’s in the halls or on a message board, more often than not leads to hurt feelings.  According to the Nemours Foundation, if teens spend enough time gossiping and passing on stories they don’t know are true, eventually no one will believe anything they say, even when it is the truth.  Teens who gossip shouldn’t expect to be trusted ever again.  Once friends learn that a peer can’t resist spreading secrets around, they won’t tell him or her anything personal.  And if a teen gossips about personal or important issues, he or she could even end up in trouble at school and at home.  Teachers don’t appreciate students who make it tough for other students to learn, and parents won’t be happy to hear that their child is causing trouble in school.

If you’ve heard your teen taking teasing and gossiping to a hurtful level, it’s time to remedy the situation.  The experts at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota offer the following advice for curbing your teen’s gossiping and teasing:

  • Cultivate your teen’s compassion.  Talk to him or her about feelings – how emotional blows can hurt as much as physical ones.  “You wouldn’t throw a rock at that boy, would you?  So you shouldn’t call him a ‘zit-face’ either.”
  • Give your teen a simple test he or she can use to judge if his or her teasing is playful or hurtful:  “How would I feel if someone said this about me?”
  • Talk to your teen about the when and where of playful teasing.  He or she shouldn’t always resort to sarcasm or jokes at someone else’s expense in order to get a laugh.
  • Examine your own behavior and that of other family members.  Do you rib your children at length, even after they plead with you to stop?  Do you tease inappropriately, that is, about the way people look or the habits they have?  Are you confusing razzing with teaching and discipline – for instance, do you communicate your frustration about your teen’s messy room by calling him “Mr. Slob”?  Make sure that your own teasing (and that of everyone else in your household) is good-natured, not aggressive or manipulative.

As a parent, it is also important to regulate how your teen uses the Internet.  If you know what your teen is doing while online, you can better prevent him or her from visiting message boards where the temptation to gossip exists.  The Media Awareness Network suggests considering the following questions concerning how your teen surfs the Net:

  • Are you involved in your teen’s online activities?  Do you know what he or she is doing and whom your teen is talking to when he or she is on the Internet?
  • Does your family have a set of rules or an agreement for appropriate Internet use?
  • Do you make Internet use a family activity by guiding your teen to good sites and teaching him or her how to do safe, effective searches?
  • Have you taught your teen not to believe everything he or she reads online and to check online information with an adult or with another source?
  • If your teen has her or his own website, have you checked to make sure it doesn’t contain harmful or hurtful information?
  • Have you talked to your teen about responsible online behavior?  Does he or she understand that making threats or harassing others online can be considered illegal activities?

References

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • Media Awareness Network
  • Nemours Foundation
  • UCLA Center for Communication Policy
  • U.S. Department of Justice

Addiction is a Disease: Teen Substance Abuse

It may start with a joint, but where will it end up?

It may start with a joint, but where will it end up?

The tragic loss of Corey Monteith has robbed us of of yet another young, talented, life cut down in its prime. At only 31 years-old, he had a bright future and an exceptional career most only dream of.

Corey Monteith never hid the fact he had struggled with substance abuse and addiction issues, on the contrary, he entered rehab many times for help.  Unfortunately it seems,  the demons of chasing the dragon (heroin) took over at the end.

What demons are we speaking about? No, not Satan, but substance abuse.

Many parents will overlook their teen only smoking pot, or just drinking a little, but in reality your denial is only harming your teenager.

Before becoming an addict, it start with just a joint – maybe just a shot of vodka, but where it ends up, no one knows.

What is addiction?

Addiction has long been understood to mean an uncontrollable habit of using alcohol or other drugs. Because of the physical effects of these substances on the body, and particularly the brain, people have often thought that “real” addictions only happen when people regularly use these substances in large amounts.

Addiction – there is a psychological/physical component; the person is unable to control the aspects of the addiction without help because of the mental or physical conditions involved. – Medical News Today

Let this tragedy be a time to open the door to communication with your teen. Talk about the dangers of drug use, drinking and other negative behaviors.

If your teen is using drugs and you are concerned about their health and safety, be proactive.  Corey started at 12 years old.  Don’t be a parent in denial – don’t assume it is just a phase.  Intervene as a parent now, you won’t regret it.

Visit www.helpyourteens.com for resources and options to get your at-risk teen help.

 

Teens and Sex: Encouraging Your Teens to Wait

SexEtcRaising teens in today’s world is not easy.

Whether your teenager’s health classes at school take an abstinence-only approach to sexual education or not, the responsibility of encouraging abstinence still falls largely upon your shoulders as a parent. Sexual activity at an early age could potentially lead to an unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases or both. Teenagers are beginning to experience adult urges, but still have an underdeveloped sense of the impulse control that governs most adult social interaction.

Approaching your teen about sexuality and abstinence doesn’t have to be awkward and uncomfortable, though, especially if you’ve established a foundation of open, honest communication.

Get to Know Your Teen

It’s not easy to talk to someone that you don’t really know, especially if your lack of mutual familiarity makes a frank conversation about sex painfully awkward. In order to effectively teach your teenager why he should avoid sexual activity until he’s older and more mature, you’ll have to be able to speak comfortably about other things, too. It’s also important that you know who his friends are, what he’s interested in and who he’s dating. The peer group around your teenager will have a certain amount of influence over his decisions, especially if he’s involved in a romantic relationship. You’ll need to tailor your conversations regarding sexuality to meet his individual situation, something you simply can’t do if you don’t know these basic bits of information.

Avoid Moral Ambiguity

If abstinence from premarital sex is important to your family because of your religious beliefs, you have concrete reasons aside from teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases for encouraging such behavior. Teenagers tend to think that the worst-case scenario doesn’t apply to them, and while these situations happen to other people, they’ll never happen to them. Heads of secular households will need to avoid attaching an ambiguous moral stigma to the idea of teen sex, especially if it’s not something you actually believe. If religion isn’t a driving force behind your hopes for abstinence, it’s best to stick to the facts.

Encourage Him to Pursue Long-Term Goals

A teenager that’s focused on a long-term goal, like finishing college or excelling in an area in which he’s particularly talented, may be more determined to avoid potential stumbling blocks along the road to the success he dreams of. Making sure that you encourage your teenager’s ambitions and that you explain how easily they could be derailed by an unplanned pregnancy or an incurable sexually transmitted disease can put a spin on abstinence that he understands.

Limit Screen Time, But Don’t Be Afraid to Use Entertainment as a Talking Point

Sex sells, a fact that’s readily apparent any time you switch on the television. While limiting screen time is a wise choice for a variety of reasons, you should realize that you simply can’t shield your teenager from allusions to sexual activity on television, in music or on the Internet. Rather than trying to block all references to sexuality, you should use them as talking points. Remember that talking about abstinence is an ongoing dialogue, not a one-time discussion. Topical conversations about the things that your teen sees on television are another effective way of applying these important principals to his real life in a way that makes sense to him.

Consider the Effects of Substance Use

Teenagers aren’t renowned for their impulse control and drinking or drug use can cause their inhibitions to drop even further. Understanding the causal link between substance use and sexual activity is essential for parents because your teenager will almost certainly find himself in the position of being offered drugs or alcohol at some point in his high school career. Making sure that your stance on experimentation with controlled substances is clear and that your teenager understands just how quickly a single mistake can ruin a promising life is important.

Have Frank Discussions About the Ramifications of Teen Pregnancy

The abstract notion of being saddled with an infant before graduation is a scary one to teenagers, but it’s still not a concept that fully sinks in most of the time. Teenagers may understand that sex can lead to pregnancy, but they still tend to believe that it will never happen to them. Girls may even believe that teen pregnancy isn’t so devastating, and they may believe that they have the necessary tools to parent. Making sure that your children absolutely understand how devastating an unexpected pregnancy would be is essential, as it may be the one lesson they hold on to when they’re confronted with temptation.

While it’s important to talk to your teens about abstinence and maintaining sexual purity, it’s also important that you foster a sense of openness and trust in your relationship with them.

A teen that’s terrified of your reaction to an impulsive mistake or even an informed decision regarding his sexual activity isn’t likely to discuss the matter with you at all, leaving you firmly in the dark. Make sure that your child knows that you strongly encourage abstinence, but that you’re there to listen to him and to help him through difficult situations even if he doesn’t live up to those expectations.

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Teen Depression: Know the Warning Signs

High school can be hard for anyone; it doesn’t matter if your teen is the captain of the cheerleading squad or the chess club.

There are many factors into teens becoming depressed like lack of self-esteem, bullies, hormones or an unfortunate event.

Here are 5 signs that your teen may be depressed:

Chooses to stay home: Teens typically spend their youth hanging out with friends, going to movies and the mall or over to a friend’s house. If your teen has been choosing to stay home and without friends, this could be a sign they aren’t happy. It’s normal for a teen to go through friendship changes but if you think it is something more, talk to your teen.

Change in clothing and hygiene: This could go either way, if your teen stops taking care of their appearances or they drastically become obsessed with their appearance and hygiene these could be signs your teen is depressed. Teens often use clothing and makeup to express themselves and when they start to let themselves go, it’s because they don’t care about themselves. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your teen starts to overdue the makeup, hair and clothing –it’s not just a trend, it’s a sign they are feeling the need to present themselves in a dramatic fashion to gain attention from anyone.

Extreme mood swings: Yes, hormones can be the reason for mood swings but not all of it. If you teen goes from being extremely happy and then straight to sad in a matter of moments, your teen could be depressed. Depressed teens do not how to express themselves and handle pain and when they are experiencing that pain, their reactions reflect so.

Grades slipping: Grade slipping is the first and easiest sign to every teacher and parent that a teen may be having difficulty, such as depression. Depression can consume one’s mind to where studying becomes hard and concentration difficult, resulting in bad grades. This is why it is important to always check your child’s progress reports and to meeting with their teachers.

Loss of friends: Teens will fight with friends but tend to get over their problems fast. Your child with gain and lose friends because it is just how life works, but if you notice that your child’s closest friends are not around, something could be wrong.

It is hard to tell if a teen is depressed or not because of the growing, learning and hormones but when in doubt, talk. Talk to you teen if you see any of these signs and consult a professional for help. Depression runs deep and could take time to heal. Talk and keep an eye on your teen and remember that this too shall pass.

Special contributor: Kelsey is the editor in chief for www.findananny.net/. She loves to write article and ideas that parents & nannies would be interested in hearing. She helps society on giving information about nannies through nanny services. She is a professional writer & loves writing on anything.

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Talking to Your Teens About Drinking and Peer Pressure

April is Alcohol Awareness Month.  It is a great time to start the conversation and in many cases it is never too early.

Here are ten questions that are asked frequently by parents of kids, tweens and teens:

1)  At what age would you suggest parents start talking to kids about alcohol? Should parents bring it up independently, or wait for their children to ask before broaching the topic?

Like with any sensitive and serious subject, as soon as a parent believes their child is mature enough to understand the topic (alcohol) is when they should start discussions.  It can start by asking them their thoughts on alcohol, listen to them carefully and remember, never criticize.  Start the discussion at their level and start learning from each other.

Education is the key to prevention and can help your child to better understand the risk and dangers of alcohol from an early age.

Waiting for a crisis to happen, such as living with an alcoholic or having an issue with a family member that has a drinking problem is not the time to start talking to the child.  With this type of situation, the subject should be approached as early as the child can possibly understand alcohol and substance use.

2)  If you’ve had bad experiences with alcohol in the past (ie you or a friend/family member has battled alcoholism or similar issues), should you be open about them with your kid? If so, when is the right age for kids to hear this information? How open should you be?

This is a very tricky question.  On one hand we value honesty, however when a teenager likes to throw it back at you when they decide to experiment and it goes too far is when you realize you may want to pick and choose what stories from your past you want to share.

If you have a family member that has battled with addiction, alcoholism or similar issues, there is nothing like firsthand experiences (especially those people that are related to them) to help them understand how harmful this disease can be and in some cases, deadly.    I think it is very important that your teenager know these stories and how it relates to them – especially as they go into middle school and high school and start feeling the peer pressure from to others to experiment with different substances.

3)  Are there any websites or books that you’d recommend having parents read or showing kids (at any age)? Are certain types of information better for each age group (ie maybe children respond better to broad themes and videos, tweens respond well to anecdotes and stories, and teens respond better to hard facts about drinking and health)?

Ask Listen Learn: Is a fantastic interactive and educational website created by The Century Council For Underage Drinking.  This site if full of facts, resources, videos downloads, games as well as more links that offer extended information.  This site is targeted for all ages from younger kids to teens.

The Cool Spot: This is another great website for tweens and teens.  This deals with information on alcohol and helping teens and young teens resist peer pressure.

Smashed:  Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas – This is an excellent book for both parents and teens of a true story.  It was a NYT’s best seller.  Eye-opening and utterly gripping, Koren Zailckas’s story is that of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics—yet—but who routinely use booze as a shortcut to courage and a stand-in for good judgment.  This book is more for teenagers and parents.

4)  Do you think that schools and/or the media do a good job of warning kids about the dangers of alcohol consumption, or do they receive mixed messages about drinking? How might you incorporate your thoughts about this into a conversation with your child?

Schools and teachers do what they are paid to do, and in most cases, especially with dedicated teachers and employees, will go above their duty and do more.  However it is the parent’s responsibility to continue to talk to their child about the risks and dangers of alcohol, as well as the peer pressure they may face in school and in their community.

Though many parents are busy today, some working two jobs, many are single parents – there are few excuses not to take the time to talk to your kids about these subjects.  Whether it is Internet safety, substance abuse, safe sex, or simply homework – parenting is your priority.  I am not saying this is easy, I know for a fact, it isn’t.  I was a single parent with two teenagers, it was very hard.  I think today is even more challenging since there is more obstacles to contend with than there was even a decade ago.

The good news is the most recent study by The Century Council says that 83% of youth cite parents as the leading influence in their decisions not to drink alcohol.  Another words – our kids are listening and parents are doing their job parenting!

5)  How often should you talk to kids about alcohol, and does it vary by age? (i.e. less frequently for younger children, more frequently for tweens, and most frequently for teenagers?)

As frequently as you have an opportunity.  If there is a reason for it – if there is a conversation about it, expand on it – don’t run from it.  This is for both tweens and teens.  As far as little children are concerned, again it depends on their maturity and what your family dynamics consist of.

 6)  If you drink yourself, is it ever a good idea to allow kids to drink with you (i.e. a glass of wine at dinner) to de-stigmatize alcohol and help them be responsible? Or is it instead better to forbid them from consuming alcohol altogether until they are 21?

Alcohol is illegal for underage drinkers.  However there are some that believe that a sip of alcohol isn’t be a big deal.  I believe this is a personal decision, but if you have alcoholism that runs in your family, it is something that I would caution you on.

The other side to this is some people believe it would eliminate them from trying it at a friend’s house where they could get into trouble such as drinking and driving.  I think this goes back to being a personal choice on for your family.  It goes back to talking to your teen – communication.  Keep the lines open!

7)  If you suspect your child’s friends are drinking or pressuring him/her to drink, should you stop allowing your child to hang out with them?

Communication.  Talk to your child about these friends.  Find out what is going on and help your child see that maybe the choices he/she is making are not in their best interest.  It is better if your teen comes to the conclusion not to hang out with these friends rather than their parent telling them not to.

8)  Should the discussion be different for a daughter versus a son? How might you talk to the different sexes differently about alcohol (i.e. maybe you’d warn girls more about not having people slip something in their drinks at parties, while you’d warn boys more about alcohol and hazing/pranks.)

I don’t want parents to get confused on gender and alcoholism.  It doesn’t discriminate.  A girl or a boy can be slipped a drug in their drink at a party – just like a girl or boy can be coerced into participating into a mean prank of hazing. 

 With this, whether you have a son or daughter, you need to speak with them about the risks of leaving any drink alone and coming back for it.  Keep in mind, you don’t have to have an alcoholic beverage to put a powdery substance into it (another words even a soda can be spiked).

The important issue is they understand that these things can happen and they can happen to them.

9)  What should you do if you suspect your teenager is drinking against your advice?

Communication.  I know it is easier said than done (and I sound like a broken record), however it is the best tool we have and the most effective.  As hard as it can be, talking with a teenager is difficult, but we have to continue to break down those walls until they talk to us and tell us why they are turning to alcohol.

If you aren’t able to get through, please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you can’t, you are not alone.  Again, teen years are the most trying times.  Reach out to an adolescent therapist or counselor.  Hopefully your teen will agree to go. If not, may you have a family member or good friend your teen will confide in.  It so important to get your teen to talk about why he/she is drinking.  Don’t give up – whether it is a guidance counselor, sports coach, someone he/she is willing to open up to.

Parents can’t allow this to escalate and only believe it is a phase.  Maybe it is – but maybe it isn’t.  Be proactive.  Don’t wait for it to reach the addiction level. Don’t be a parent in denial.  There is help and you don’t have to be ashamed to ask for it.

There are many typical teens that end up being addicts – don’t let your teenager be one of them.

 10)  Could you offer one specific tip for each age group (elementary school, tween/middle school, and high school) that I may have missed or that people might not think of?

For all ages, parents need to realize how important it is to be a role model.  As I mentioned earlier, 83% of children are listening and are influenced by their parents.  That is a large number.  So continue keeping those lines of communication open – starting early and going into their college years!

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