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  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.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 Drinking is Underage Drinking: Prom and Graduation Parties are No Exceptions

MADDPower

April is Alcohol Awareness Month at the same time teens are getting ready for many celebrations including school being over.

It is that time of the year and teens are excited about their proms and graduation.

With this usually comes celebration, but remember, drinking age is usually 21 years-old.

Parents need to encourage their teens to make smart choices.  There is the POWER of PARENTS!

Steps you can take at home:

Help your son or daughter steer clear of the dangers of underage drinking with these five steps:

Step 1: Think of yourself as a coach

Your role in preventing underage drinking is similar to coaching. You can help your teen by

  • Sharing information
  • Discussing choices and monitoring behavior
  • Helping your teen anticipate and handle challenging situations
  • Cheering your teen on to make smart, safe choices

Step 2: Get busy communicating

Begin a series of conversations with your son or daughter—proactively, before he or she gets caught drinking—about how:

  • Alcohol is a drug with serious sedative effects
  • Drinking has health dangers and other risks for young people
  • It is illegal to drink before the age of 21
  • You want your teen to be safe and respect the law
  • Your teen can plan ways to resist peer pressure to drink

Step 3: Keep track of your teen
You need to know what your teen does after school, at night, and on weekends—and with whom.

  • Agree on rules, limits, and consequences
  • Monitor all in-person and online activities
  • Know your teen’s schedule
  • Make sure he or she has your permission for activities
  • Talk to parents of kids with whom your teen spends time
  • Enforce consequences consistently

Step 4: Show respect and caring
Your teen will respond better when you

  • Listen respectfully to his or her ideas and concerns
  • Explain that rules, limits, and consequences are meant to protect them
  • Help your teen think logically and make smart choices
  • Remind your teen how much you love and care about them

Step 5: Be a positive role model
Your teen will be most receptive to your guidance if you lead by example and act responsibly.

Source:  MADD Power of Parents

10 Tips to Help Create a Parent and Teen Home Contract

TeenContractTeens can be a challenge, but they don’t have to be.

While teens may initially balk at the idea of agreeing to implement a contract with their parents, getting all of your mutual rights, responsibilities and expectations on paper can make a big difference in the way that you communicate with one another.

The effectiveness of a well-written contract is one of the many reasons why written agreements dictate so much in terms of professional behavior, a concept that can be applied directly to you and your teen.

These are 10 of the things that you should include in your own parent-teen contract, so that there are no disputes borne of misunderstanding or miscommunication.

  1. Driving Privileges – Driving is a rite of passage, an undeniable sign to both your teen and yourself that she’s starting to grow up. Handing over those keys doesn’t mean that you’re giving her free reign to do as she pleases, though. Making sure that your teen understands driving her car is a privilege that can be taken away, rather than an unassailable right, can motivate her to behave accordingly. Outlining things like curfew, safe driving responsibilities and the financial responsibilities of driving can help your teen understand just how big of a step driving really is.
  2. Cell Phone Use – Today’s cell phone plans are a bit more flexible than the exorbitant fee charges for any calls made during peak times a decade ago, but they can still be quite expensive. In an era that sees every teen with a cell phone, laying a strong foundation regarding the proper etiquette of cell phone use, the importance of never using a cell phone as a tool for bullying and the repercussions of texting and driving is important.
  3. Staying Home Alone – Your teen will inevitably decide that she’s too old for childcare or babysitters during the period between her return from school and your arrival from work. Covering what is and is not considered acceptable behavior when she’s home alone in a section of the parent-teen contract clearly communicates these things to her.
  4. Unsupervised Visits with Friends – No matter how much you’d like to be watching over your teen every moment of the day, the truth is that you just can’t. When it’s time to trust her with unsupervised outings with her friends, knowing that you’ve discussed the matter at length and covered it in your contract can help give you some peace of mind.
  5. Dating – Few things strike fear in the heart of a parent like the idea of their teen dating. Unfortunately, it’s also an unavoidable fact of life as a parent. Making sure that your child knows what’s expected of her when she’s dating in terms of curfew, supervision and the likes can make the transition a bit easier for everyone involved.
  6. Computer and Internet Usage – The Internet is a powerful learning and research tool for teens, but it can also be a very dangerous place for them. Making sure that your teen knows how to avoid online predators, bullies and other dangers is important, but so is limiting the amount of time she spends connected to a screen. Working out a reasonable Internet and computer usage policy can help to maintain peace in your home, as well as discourage constant connectivity.
  7. Television Use – Limiting screen time is as important for teens as it is for younger children, even if it is more challenging to enforce. Encouraging active pursuits and hobbies that get your teen moving will not only impact her physical wellbeing, but also help instill good habits in terms of television use as an adult.
  8. Earning and Spending – Teens have expensive taste, a fact that parents know all too well. Outlining how your teen will earn spending money, how much of her income should be set aside for expenses and different saving methods are all important parts of teaching financial responsibility.
  9. Chores – Making your teen responsible for helping with the daily running of the household can give her an idea of just how much work goes into keeping up a home and the importance of contributing fairly. Covering those chores in the parenting contract can also prevent arguments later, as it serves as a black-and-white reference when disputes arise.
  10. House Rules – Every household has its own rules to follow, and they should be spelled out clearly for your teen in her contract. When she knows exactly what’s expected of her and what isn’t allowed, she’ll be better able to navigate the area between them with confidence.

Working on the contract together will not only give your teens a sense of ownership over the agreement, but also the chance to make sure that their interests are protected. The most effective parent-teen contracts allow teens to have a voice in terms of their own rights and expectations. Try not to draw up a contract that gives your teen a laundry list of rules and no rights of her own. A contract that simply imposes rules and stifles your kids is one that they’re not likely to accept without rebellion, whereas one that outlines the needs of all involved parties is something they might be able to respect.

Source: Babysitting.net

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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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