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  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.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 Defiance: Ways to Avoid Fighting with Your Teenager

TeendefianceWhen you’re raising a teenager, your house can feel like a war-zone that’s scattered with potential land mines masquerading as casual questions. Every interaction can feel like it has the potential to blow up in your respective faces, leaving parents wondering what the safest course of action is in terms of avoiding an argument. During the tumultuous teenage years, these are 10 of the most reliable ways to avoid fighting with your child.

  1. Establish Rational Boundaries – During adolescence, your teen is revisiting the same mindset of early toddlerhood that leaves her looking for ways to test boundaries as a means of asserting her independence from you. Making sure that she knows some boundaries cannot be challenged lays a foundation for calm, rational interaction. Just be sure before you make those rules that you understand your teen’s need for a reasonable amount of independence, and avoid overly harsh authoritarian rules that leave no room for such expression.
  2. Shift Your Perspective – As an adult parent of a teenager, it can be difficult to remember your own battles during the tender years leading up to adulthood. Before flying off of the proverbial handle, try to remember how you felt as a teen, so that you can see things from your own teenager’s perspective.
  3. Refuse to Escalate the Situation – When you’re standing face to face with a raging, screaming teen that pays no heed to the feelings of anyone around her as she expresses her frustration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of shouting right back at her. By maintaining your composure and refusing to let the situation escalate into a full-on altercation, you’re effectively maintaining control of the confrontation without adding fuel to the fire.
  4. Practice Good Listening Skills – Sometimes a teen feels as if he’s not being truly heard and in response will lash out with anger, when all he really wants is to know that his viewpoints and opinions are being listened to. Taking the time to ask your child how he feels and actually listening to the answer he gives can diffuse many arguments before they start.
  5. Create a “No Judgment” Zone for Tricky Discussions – Teenagers face a variety of difficult choices and situations, and those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn for advice due to a fear of parental judgment or punishment can internalize that stress, leading to nasty arguments borne of frustration. Making sure that your child knows she can safely approach you with difficult questions can eliminate that frustration, making for a more peaceful environment within your home.
  6. Know When to Compromise – As a parent, it’s often difficult to admit when you’re being unreasonable and concede an argument, or at least to make compromises when you’ve reached an impasse. Mastering the art of a sane compromise with your teen, however, is the key to keeping a tense discussion from escalating.
  7. Understand When to Walk Away – When you can’t hold on to your temper, it’s okay to walk away. If you ascribe to a philosophy of walking away to let your temper cool, though, it’s essential that you afford your teenager the same respect. Resist the temptation to follow her in order to continue a diatribe; it’ll only lead to an even nastier confrontation.
  8. Actively Avoid Triggers – There are some subjects that bring out a passionate reaction in everyone, and those triggers differ from one person to the next. Your teenager is no different, and you know the things that will upset her before you discuss them. Avoid the subjects you know will upset your child, especially if there’s no real reason for discussing them.
  9. Refuse to Reward the Silent Treatment – The silent treatment is infuriating for anyone, but it’s important that you not reward that behavior from your teen. Attempting to draw him out with false cheerfulness or prodding him to talk will only blow up in your face, so let him stew without interference for a while.
  10. Avoid Drawing Comparisons – Telling your teenager that you never acted the way he does, or illustrating just how much more tolerant of a parent you are because you don’t punish him the way you would have been punished for behaving in such a manner serves absolutely no productive purpose. Remember that your teen is trying to establish himself as a separate entity from you; drawing comparisons, even when you’re just looking for common ground, can ultimately be counterproductive. 

Making a concerted effort to foster an open, honest relationship with your teen can make it easier to avoid the worst arguments, but the occasional disagreement is pretty much par for the course. Rather than dwelling on an argument after it happens, try to think about how you could have handled it differently so that you can apply that knowledge the next time negotiations become tense.

Source:  Babysitting.net

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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.

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.