Therapeutic Boarding Schools: Does My Teen Need One?

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

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

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

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

How to know when it is time for Residential Therapy:

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

How Residential Therapy can help when nothing else does:

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

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

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

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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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Smart Teens Making Bad Choices: Looking for Teen Help

Don't be a parent in denial.

What happened to my teen that as making straight A’s always so concerned about getting their homework done on time, participated in school activities and looked forward to family gatherings?

Adolescence? Peer pressure?  Today’s society? A school incident such as bullying/cyberbullying?

Sometimes it could be something a parent can’t detect however they do see their once flourishing child now sinking into a deep dark hole.  They are either gravitating to a negative peer group or withdrawing all together, becoming secretive and actually failing school.  Sometimes skipping classes or not attending school at all.  Do you suspect they are using drugs or drinking?

What is the next step?

Seeking local help and all local resources should always be the first step.  Once you have exhausted all these options and you still see your child is sinking deeper, it may be time to consider residential therapy.  This is a major emotional and financial decision.

This will take time and research.  The Internet will be your friend and your foe at this point.  It is important you understand the difference between Internet fact and Internet fiction. Who to trust and who is simply “selling” you a litany of programs.

For a free consultation on this daunting industry, and a free chapter of my book, Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out of Control Teens, visit www.helpyourteens.com.

Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Look for programs that are not attached to “sales reps”.  You want to speak directly to an owner or director.  Someone that has a vested interest in your teen.  Someone that their reputation will be reflected on your child’s success (or lack of).  Someone who you can hold accountable through the duration of your teen’s stay.
  • Look for the ACE factor.  A=Academics – Always ask for a copy of their accreditation for education – be sure it is transferable back to where you live.  C=Clinical – Be sure the clinical staff is credentialed. E=Enrichment programs – These are critical to be sure your teen is stimulated in a positive direction to want to make better choices.  This isn’t about breaking your child down, it is about building them up.
  • Ask for parent references of parents with the same gender and age of your own teenager.  Also take it a step further.  Ask for families that are in your same geographical area.  This way maybe you will be able to meet with them and possibly even the graduate of the program you are considering.
  • Keep in mind – Short term programs – short term results.  Don’t get sucked into them.

I have many more tips and offer free parent consultation at www.HelpYourTeens.com.


Don’t reach your wit’s end and make a rash decision – made an education choice…. Be an educated parent – this a major emotional and financial decision.

Teen Help: Struggling Teens and Searching for Help

Especially during the holiday season, this can be one of the hardest decisions a parent can make.  The Internet can make it twice as confusing!

Sending a child to a residential program/school is a major decision. It is not one to be taken lightly or to be decided on overnight.

Usually a teen’s behavior has been slowly escalating and a parent knows that deep down things are not getting better.  As much as you hope and pray that things will change, this is only typical teen behavior, sometimes it just isn’t.

With drug use and substance abuse rising – more dangerous and deadly ingredients being used, such as spice and inhalants, parents have reason to be concerned.  It isn’t your marijuana of generations prior – it is so much worse and in many cases – addictive and deadly.

If you have reached your wit’s end and now surfing the Internet for help, remember, anyone can build a website.  Anyone can put up nice pictures and create great content.  You need to do your due diligence.

Years ago I struggled with my own teenager.  I was at my wit’s end.  I didn’t realize what a big business this “teen help industry” was.  Yes, my child needed help, but what we received was anything but that.  My story is a cautionary tale – not one to scare you into not using a program, however on the contrary, you have to get your child help, but you have to do your research in getting them the right help.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Your child is not for sale, try to avoid those marketing arms selling you a list of programs that are not in the best interest of your child’s individual needs.
  • Always speak with an owner or director – Someone that has a vested in your teen’s recovery.  Their reputation is on the line.
  • Wilderness and other short term programs are usually nothing more than a band-aid that will fall off as quickly as the program lasted.  They are expensive camping trips and in most cases the Wilderness program will tell you at about 4 weeks that your teen will need to continue on to a longer term program.  What? Yes, now you go back to the research board and worse than that, your teen will be deflated when he finds out he/she isn’t coming home in 6-9 weeks as they were lead to believe – and they will be starting all over again with a new therapist – new schedule – and new setting.  Don’t get caught up in this “shuffle.”  Start and finish with the same school/program.
  • The average stay should be about 6-9-12 months, depending on your teen.  Anything less is probably non-effective.  Anything more, you may be creating abandonment issues in my opinion.
  • Do you really need an Educational Consultant?  Absolutely not.  You are the parent and no one knows your teen better than you do – with a few tips, you will be able to make some sound choices.

For more helpful hint and tips, please contact www.HelpYourTeens.com for a free consultation. After the ordeal I went through, I created this advocacy organization to help educate parents on finding safe and quality programs.

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Drunkorexia: Teen and Underage Drinking that is Dangerous and Deadly

At first, “drunkorexia” may sound like kind of a funny word, jokingly made up to describe a situation in which college students and others forgo food in order to be able to afford more alcohol and feel higher effects of alcohol on an empty stomach. But what some may brush off as crazy college-kid behavior is actually a serious problem that can have highly damaging consequences both in long- and short-term health.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped college students from engaging in this unhealthy trend, and a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia indicated that one in six students had practiced drunkorexia within the last year. Typically, drunkorexia is done by women; the study showed that three out of four drunkorexia respondents were female.

Students may not realize that drunkorexia is incredibly damaging to their health, but the fact remains that the practice puts them at risk for problems like sexually transmitted diseases, malnutrition, and even seizures and comas. Specifically, the University of Missouri study indicates that drunkorexia may lead to:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • HIV
  • Drunk driving
  • Injury risk
  • Perpetrating or being a victim of sexual assault
  • Passing out
  • Malnutrition
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Heart problems
  • Seizures
  • Comas
  • Organ failures

All of the possible effects are disturbing, but perhaps the most worrisome are heart problems and cognitive disabilities that can stem from drunkorexia-induced malnutrition. STDs, injury, or sexual assault are without a doubt difficult to bounce back from, but malnutrition-induced heart problems and cognitive disabilities are something you just can’t take back. Cognitive problems are especially disturbing for college students, as they can result in “difficulty concentrating, studying, and making decisions.” These are long-term health issues brought on by drunkorexia that can follow a college student for the rest of her life. That is, assuming that the student survives past the possibility of seizures, comas, and organ failure.

So it seems that a practice that may be approached lightheartedly is in fact a very serious problem that doesn’t just stop with fun (and possible weight loss) one night. Used as a regular practice, drunkorexia can scar you for life and even end in death. And although the long-term effects are certainly frightening, the short-term possibilities of drunkorexia aren’t incredibly easy hurdles to get over, either. Just one night of drunkorexia can have serious consequences, with higher levels of intoxication and starvation putting students at risk for dangerous behavior.

At high levels of intoxication, students lose the ability to make good decisions, which can lead to dangerous situations like having unprotected sex, or even being involved in a rape, driving drunk, and becoming injured as a result of stunts, fights, or simply an inability to function properly. In addition to these risks, just one night of intense drinking on an empty stomach can lead to blackouts, hospitalization, and death from alcohol poisoning.

Clearly, drunkorexia has serious and lasting consequences, even for students who aren’t repeat offenders.

Source:  Online College

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Home 2 Homeroom: A Wake Up Call for Parents

Parenting teens is a challenge today.

Schools and parents today need to work together to help prevent teen drug use.

Fast Facts: Preventing Teen OTC Cough Medicine Abuse – From Home to Homeroom

A Wake Up Call for Parents

  • Thirty-three percent of American high school teens know someone who has abused cough medicine, a wake up call for those parents who think that their teen is not affected or being exposed to the issue.
  • Six percent of high school teens admit to abusing cough medicine containing dextromethorphan, or DXM, to get high in the past year.

Cough Medicine Abuse Does Not Happen By Accident

  • While safe and effective when taken as directed, teens looking to get high from cough medicine take excessive amounts, sometimes 25 to 50 times the recommended dosage. This translates to multiple bottles or packages of medicine at one time.
  • Teens often abuse cough medicines with other prescription drugs, illicit drugs, or alcohol.
  • Even the best kid in the world doesn’t have the same ability as adults to assess risk because the part of their brain that processes risk, the frontal cortex, doesn’t finish developing until their mid 20s.

Parents Have the Power to Keep Teens Drug-free

  • Research shows that kids who learn a lot from their parents about the risk of drug abuse are up to half as likely to use.
  • Parents are not alone in their fight to prevent medicine abuse; reaching out to the school nurse can help parents learn more about the issue and access local resources.
  • Parents can learn more about the Home to Homeroom campaign by logging onto www.StopMedicineAbuse.org

Parents can interact and help raise awareness by joining online communities including:

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Homework, Homework, Homework: 10 Sites to Help Your Teens

Homework headaches – HELP!

Is the stress of homework getting you down? Do you need some help studying for that final exam but don’t know where to turn? If so, you will find this list of 10 online homework helper sites is just what you need to get the learning-ball rolling again.

The best part of these sites is that they are all available to you FREE of charge!

  1. Cliff Notes.com This site is basic and probably one of the easiest to navigate, but don’t let that fool you; there are informational study aides for all high school subjects. Cliff notes: they’re not just for literature anymore.
  2. Infoplease has several interactive tools that will ease your learning. There are calculators for distances, a conversion chart, a place to find latitudes and longitudes, a thesaurus and atlas and dictionary, quizzes and timelines! When it comes to needing homework help and information, this is the place to go!
  3. At Discovery Education you will find multimedia resources to help you complete and excel with those tough assignments. This site also includes a huge assortment of parent and teacher resources, so everyone can find something to do and learn.
  4. Scholastic is not just for book orders. This site has a “homework hub” of activities that reinforce learning, while at the same time allows you to have some fun.
  5. Fact Monster: is a site of lists and lists of facts, but that’s not all; it is brimming with information, quizzes, reference materials, encyclopedia, almanac, and links to other sites. You need it? It’s here!
  6. Even the well known site, Yahoo, can help you with your homework. This site gives you the opportunity to post your question and get a specific answer. The nice thing is that all the other posted questions from the past are archived, so you can go through those questions and answers to find even more information.
  7. The Homework Spot is your homework connection place, with links to hundreds of other sites for information on every subject. Because it is organized by grade level, the homework help you need is easy to find. Help for all ages and subjects are just a click away.
  8. One of the pages that homeworkspot.com links to is Ed helper . This is a great site where you will find actual worksheets for practicing skills in all areas from pre-k to high school level.
  9. Let’s focus on one subject this time: Math. This site is math, math and more math; everything you’ve always needed to know about math, from practice sets to games, tools and links to online tutors.  This site has it all.
  10. Jiskha.com is another one of those sites that allows you to post questions about all subject areas. This site is quite similar to the Yahoo site with one added feature: if you are in a hurry or really don’t “get –it” you can chat “real time” with a tutor who will help.  There is a cost of $.99/minute for this service, which may be well worth the cost!

When looking for help with your homework you might also want to consider contacting your local library. Many libraries have online tutoring/Q and A sessions, all for free.  Also, if you prefer a more one-on-one instructional format for homework help, there are several other sites that will connect you with a tutor for a fee.

Source:  Internet Provider

Most libraries offer free tutoring services.  The Broward County Library offers free tutoring programs.  Click here for more information.

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