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Parenting Teens

Distracted Driving: Helping Teens Become Safer Drivers

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 16, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

National Teen Driver Safety Week is here!

Distracted driving kills the same as drunk driving. That’s the message people need to understand. Generations prior it was loud and clear, if you drink and drive, you risk killing yourself or other people on the road.

We must make distracted driving as serious as getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

New Survey Suggests Over Half Of Teen Drivers May Be Overconfident In Their Driving Skills

Hum by Verizon released new survey findings to raise awareness of teen driver safety, the needs of young drivers, and the benefits that technology can provide on the road. KRC Research conducted the survey of 1,004 American teens (ages 13-17) between Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 2017.

More than half (57 percent) of teen drivers responded that they are just as good at driving as their parent or guardian, yet nearly three in four (72 percent) have felt unsafe on the road and cited getting into an accident (77 percent) as their No. 1 concern on the road.

Additional findings include:

Opportunity for more driver’s education

·        51 percent of teen drivers wish they had learned more about how to drive safely in ice, snow and wet weather.

·        47 percent of teen drivers wish they had learned more about how to change a tire and 44 percent wish they knew how to jump start a battery.

·        34 percent wish they had learned more about how to handle distractions in the car while driving, either through driver’s education or with their parents.

Teens’ confidence and concerns

·        57 percent of teen drivers would prefer to learn driving skills from someone other than their parent or guardian.

·        77 percent of teens say their main concerns on the road are accidents and 53 percent are concerned with other aggressive drivers, followed by getting a speeding ticket 42 percent and running out of gas 37 percent.

Responsible use of tech

·        82 percent of teen drivers say that technologies like blind spot detectors, back-up cameras and traffic alerts have helped them improve their driving.

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How to Take Action During National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 19, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Anita Brikman

As National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM) approaches, I want to take some time to help inform other parents about over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse and the corresponding risks. It can be easy to overlook the potential dangers of misusing medicines that are legal and readily-available, but it’s important to recognize that these medicines can be harmful when abused… as some kids are doing.

Specifically, I want to highlight the abuse of OTC cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM). While these medicines are safe and effective when used as directed, one in 30 teens have abused DXM to get high. Furthermore, one in 3 teens knows of someone who has abused DXM, which means there’s a pretty good chance that your teen knows another teen who has abused the substance. What’s even more alarming? Some teens abuse OTC cough medicine by taking up to 25x the recommended dose, which can lead to dangerous side effects such as disorientation, double or blurred vision and impaired physical coordination. It’s certainly uncomfortable to think about, but I’m comforted knowing that the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign is actively working to alert parents and community members of this issue.

As a parent, I know that we all want to keep our families safe. Here are four things you can do during NMAAM to prevent medicine abuse in your home and community:

  1. Educate yourself. Learn about the warning signs and side effects of abuse to ensure it doesn’t go unnoticed in your home. Keep an ear out for slang terms and an eye out for changes in your teen’s behavior, physical appearance or group of friends.
  2. Take inventory of the medicines in your home. If you regularly keep tabs on what you have, you’ll be able to more easily notice when something goes missing without explanation.

To identify medicines that contain DXM, check the active ingredients list on the Drug Facts label and look for the above icon on the packaging.

  1. Talk with your teen. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but teens who learn about the risks of substance abuse from their parents are 50% less likely to misuse. Once you have the talk, be sure to keep the door open for an ongoing dialogue.
  2. Inform others. Talk with parents, teachers and other members of your community. Share what you’ve learned to make sure they are aware of the dangers of substance abuse and what they can do to prevent it.

For more information on how to prevent medicine abuse, visit StopMedicineAbuse.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

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How to Help Your Teen Cope With Stress During the School Year

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 06, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

When summer ends and the school year begins, you can practically hear a symphony of teenagers simultaneously groaning. Who can blame them though? They need to wake up during the early hours of the morning, study for exams, complete homework for several different classes, balance extracurricular activities, maintain a social life – and in the midst of all of that, take care of themselves. That’s a lot on a young person’s plate! As a parent, you can expect them to be incredibly stressed out at having to manage everything all at once. Teens have a heavy amount of stress because not only do their high school years prepare them for college; they also begin to develop their individuality, learn how to be responsible, and get a taste of adulthood.

To help your teen have a more productive semester and reduce their academic anxiety, here’s how you can help them cope with stress during the school year:

Encourage them to focus on their well-being, first and foremost

Believe it or not, simple self-care methods such as taking showers, self-grooming, and relaxing can pushed aside in exchange for dedicating more time to school work. However, one never feels their best when they don’t take care of themselves! While your teen’s ambition is admirable, they should always consider the state of their emotional and physical well-being. Your teen should also always make time for hobbies and passions that make them happy as well. School work may take up most of their time, but they need to remember their personal needs and happiness is just as important.

Inform them of healthy coping mechanisms 

There’s a huge difference between dealing with stress in a healthy way versus an unhealthy way. Unhealthy coping mechanisms cause more stress and do more damage. Examples include suppressing emotions, purposely hurting others, self-harm and so forth. In the long run, unhealthy coping mechanisms can lead to your child developing depression, anxiety, and even an addiction to substances later on life. Factually, 1 in 8 Americans are alcoholics, and your teen does not need to be a part of that statistic, nor endure mental conditions that can be avoided. To prevent that, and many other unfortunate circumstances, inform and educate them on how to properly handle their stress with healthy coping mechanisms such as journal writing, articulating feelings to a trusted individual such as you or a friend, and meditation.

Help them establish a set schedule

With so many obligations that need to be fulfilled, your teen will get overwhelmed on where to focus most of their attention. Have them sit down to schedule a wake-up and sleep time, set aside specific parts of the day for studying, and adhere to it. However, they can be flexible on the weekends for friends and personal time. Fun is needed too! By following a schedule, your teen will be able to handle their responsibilities and live their life in an organized matter, rather than feeling lost or frazzled with what to do first.

Go grocery shopping for healthy food and meal prep 

A healthy and well-rounded diet affects a person just as much emotionally as it does physically. When overwhelmed with an endless list of things to do, it’s normal for a teen to eat whatever is available and neglect their diet. Educate your teen about healthier food choices, teach them to cook, and encourage them to prepare their meals ahead of time. If they meal prep healthy food, they never have to worry about spontaneous fast food purchases or unhealthy cravings! Over time, your teen will also naturally gravitate towards healthy food in general.

Encourage your teen to exercise

With stress taking a toll on both a mental and physical well-being, teens need a therapeutic outlet to release it! Exercise is one of the best methods of stress relief due to its ability to pump endorphins – nature’s pain-killing chemicals – throughout their body. Additionally, exercise helps stabilize their mood, improves overall brain function, and keeps them feeling energized and ready to take on the day. Regardless of the exercise they choose to do, such as weight training versus yoga, all exercises will contribute the same positive benefits. If your teen is up for it, suggest taking up an exercise together!

Tell them to take a break

When your teen needs a break from vigorously studying, offer to take them outside for some fresh air or remind them that it won’t hurt to relax for a few minutes. Despite sounding counter-intuitive, taking a break is actually more beneficial than harmful. The more your teen forces themselves to work, the less productive they become. With overexertion, they lose the ability to focus on tasks, become easily irritable, and rarely sleep. Some examples of breaks include spending fifteen minutes on the couch doing what they please, meditating, and even catching up with you about what’s been going on in their lives. By stepping back from the required readings and math notes, teens seize this moment to replenish their energy to study efficiently, absorb information, and demonstrate what they have learned onto their exams.

Remind them that stress is a part of life, and they will get through it just like everything else

Stress is inevitable. Truthfully, at times, it feels like it lasts forever – but that is never the case. Remind your teen that stress is always going to be a part of life, but they don’t need to fear it. What really matters is taking of themselves and always doing the best they can to succeed.

Contributor: Trevor McDonald

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Tips to Help Get Your Teens to Adhere to Their Curfew

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 25, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Being a teenager can be difficult when you’re caught between childhood and adulthood and you’re trying to figure out who you are. But raising a teenager can be even more trying. You want to give your teen more freedom and responsibility, but you’re still concerned about what they’re doing and who they’re with all the time.

This has resulted in curfews. While some teenagers never have a problem making it home on time, for others it’s a battle. With this being said, here are a few tips to help you get your kids to adhere to their curfew:

Determine a Reasonable Time

Picking a time at random for your teenager to come home may not be the best tactic for getting them to follow the rules. Gather the data before you set any mandates so you know that your time is reasonable and fair for your child. Empowering Parents suggests talking to other parents, school staff and other sources to see what time they set for their child’s curfew. Then, think about your teen and how responsible and trustworthy they are to make it earlier or later.

While you may be tempted to set the same time your parents set for you when you were a teenager, you need to recognize that times have changed. You also shouldn’t fall into the trap of having to stick to the same curfew for every child. Fair is not always fair. Each child is different and has different needs, wants and maturity levels. So take all the factors into consideration and come up with an individualized plan with your spouse and child.

Stick to the Agreement

Once you set a time for curfew, stick to it. Your teens may try to get you to waiver or see how far they push the limits, but this is a time for you to stand firm on the rules. Let them know that 10:15 does not count as making a 10:00 curfew. Just because they have a cellphone also doesn’t mean they can call or text to tell you they’ll be late. Set the expectation that they are responsible for making it home on time. If you fall asleep before their curfew, make sure they wake you up to let you know they’re home safely. You also should let your teen know that you can use the home security camera system to see if they made it home on time or if they decide to sneak back out of the house.

Discuss the Consequences

Just because your teenager knows the rules doesn’t mean they’re going to follow them. When you set the time for their curfew, you also should go over the consequences for breaking it. If it’s a minor infraction, the punishment also can be small, such as taking their smartphone away or grounding them for a short period of time. However, if they’re hours late or consistently miss curfew, you may want to resort to larger consequences. These could include taking the keys to their car away or not allowing them to go out with their friends until they can prove that they are ready to follow the rules.

If your teenager is constantly getting in trouble and acting defiant, you may need to take a different approach to consequences. Treat the rules like a businessperson rather than as a scared and angry parent. For example, if an employee came in late every day, you wouldn’t yell at them as soon as they clocked in. Instead you would take them aside and explain the consequences, such as having their pay docked, suspension or even losing their job. For your child, you shouldn’t yell and start lecturing them the second they get home. Give yourself time to cool off and then discuss the next steps in the morning when you can act more rationally. If your child is still being defiant, you can explain that the consequences may be turning off their cellphone service, taking their car away or even calling the police if you’re afraid they’re doing something unsafe.

Reward Good Behavior

It’s just as important to react to positive behavior as it is to punish negative behavior. If your teenager consistently meets their curfew and is acting responsibly, you should address and reward that. Consider moving back their curfew by an hour, or be willing to make an exception on special occasions like a concert or school dance. You also could give them more freedom and privileges by letting them take the car out later or further away than normal. Let them go to a party you normally wouldn’t. Show your child that you notice that they’re becoming a responsible adult and that you trust them to make good decisions.

Curfew doesn’t have to be a constant battle with your teenager. If you set expectations and stick to them, everyone in the household is on the same page and understands the results of breaking and following the rules.

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How Boosting Teen Confidence is as Easy as Changing a Tire

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 21, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Building confidence in adolescents is key in raising healthy kids. But, of course, it’s not always easy. Research has shown that giving teens some form of responsibility can boost their self-confidence. Additionally, encouraging them to develop problem-solving skills — and resisting the urge to step in and help when things don’t go their way — can give teens an uptick in confidence, too.

Young people’s formative years are some of the most critical in developing good habits and decision-making. Here’s how you can foster more self-esteem in your teen and keep them out of trouble. Some might say it’s as easy as changing a tire.

Getting Started

While you may be reluctant to hand over the keys to your teen, you may also be surprised to know that not using your parental authority could potentially be damaging, as it can instill in your loved ones a sense that disobeying authority is OK. With that in mind, try not to unload all your worries on your teen, as expressing fear and frustration about everyday life, low test scores, unruly friends or dubious weekend plans can be negatively interpreted.

Instead, express to them some level of confidence. By doing this, your teen will remember that even though they experienced some struggles, they still had a vote of confidence from both parents. Of course, giving your child permission to drive is a big deal. So before you hand over the keys, set a curfew and a few other ground rules.

And while your teen may already have their driver’s license, it’s your responsibility to teach them about vehicle safety and mechanics. Teaching your teenager about the ins and outs of the car they’ll be driving promotes responsibility, and it will give them something to care about.

Changing a Flat Tire

Sure, you may changed a flat tire dozens of times, but it’s also important your teen learns on their own. Try not to be too overbearing or bossy, and only provide assistance when your teen asks for it. Instilling in them this sense of responsibility can foster greater self-esteem and achievement down the road.

Of course, one of the first things to teach your kid about replacing one or more tires is to let them know about which tell-tale signs to look for when experiencing a flat. Provide your teen with a list of steps to change a flat tire and then give them an opportunity to harness those skills.

Ultimately, both you and your teen can learn something from this activity. Parents, know that you’re nurturing growth in your teen with this challenge. And remember: A challenge can be just what your teen needs to avoid rebellion and boredom. It may be simple, but changing a flat tire provides many lessons, from problem solving to persistence, which can be valuable learning experiences for your teen. As a parent, recognize your teen’s willingness to try, and be supportive while attempting not to be too overbearing. In the end, this will help your teen build and better exude confidence.

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Dealing with Disappointment: The Best Ways to Help Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 11, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

You remember what it’s like to be a teenager trying to fit in and prepare yourself for adulthood. It’s difficult, confusing and oftentimes disappointing. Now you’re watching your teenagers go through some of the same struggles you did at their age.

While your first instinct is to make everything better, this may be doing more harm than good. Growing up is full of disappointments and failures, and that’s OK. Instead of shielding your children from every minor setback, here are a few positive ways to help your teens deal with disappointment:

Hear Them Out

Your teen just tried out for the school basketball team and didn’t make it. He’s upset, embarrassed and disappointed. Let him come to you to vent his frustrations. Try not to speak first or jump in to make him feel better, but rather let him rant and tell you all about what happened without any judgment. The more you listen, the more you can narrow down how your teen is feeling about not making them team and find ways to help him move forward.

Help Them Take Responsibility

Once you’ve heard everything your teen has to say about the situation, you can start asking some questions. For example, if she didn’t pass her driving test, ask her why she thinks that happened. Many teens’ first reaction is to start pointing fingers, such as at the driving instructor, but steer her away from this negative reaction to something she can control. If she says the test was unfair because the questions were too hard, you can ask her if she studied her driver’s permit booklet enough. Ask if those same questions were on the practice tests and if she could have prepared more. Gently explain that the test may not have been unfair but a consequence of her not being ready, and then help her come up with a plan to do better next time.

Come up With a Plan

One of the best ways to deal with disappointment is to come up with a plan for success. Have your son ask the basketball coach what he needs to do to make the team next year, and have your daughter go over the parts of her driving test she struggled with. Then, help your teen come up with ways to improve on these skills.

For example, you could sign your son up for a local basketball league where he can get a lot of playing time. Have him work with a private trainer or coach to work on his skills, and set aside time for him to practice on his own. For your daughter, help her study for the written part of her driving test with practice tests online and create a schedule for driving on your local streets, on the highway and in parking lots. While you can help your teens come up with this plan, make sure they know that they are responsible for following through and working hard to achieve success.

Through every up and down that adolescence presents, it’s important that your children know that you love them unconditionally. Whether they get the lead role in the play or get into college, you love them for who they are, not what they’ve accomplished. Be supportive and helpful in any way you can, but let your teens know that it’s okay to fail every once in awhile because that’s part of growing up. Let them be disappointed, and then help them find a way to succeed.

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Protecting Your Teen Driving With Auto Insurance

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 07, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Have you been living in dread of your teenager’s sixteenth birthday? It’s a much-anticipated or much-feared day, depending on whether you’re the teenager or the parent. Many teens await their sixteenth birthdays with anticipation, looking forward to hitting the road. That driver’s license is a rite of passage. But when your teen driver gets that license, there’s something else they’re going to need (well, apart from a car). And that’s insurance.

You might have heard that insurance rates are often higher for teens. That’s because teens often like to toe the line of risky behavior and they have little experience driving, which makes insurance even more important. We’ll tell you what you need to know about insuring a teen driver so that you can get them the coverage they need – without breaking the bank.

When you’re insuring your teen driver, keep these things in mind:

  1. Add your teenager to your auto policy.

Instead of taking out a brand new policy for your teen, add them to yours. This will help keep the rates under control, especially if you have a good driving record and drive a safe, reliable car. You’ll also want to make sure to note which car the teen will be driving – the vehicle does have an impact on the insurance rates. As you can imagine, a safe, solid minivan will cost less to insure than a sports car.

  1. Up your deductible.

If you’re able to, you can raise your deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance will step in to cover the rest. This will, in turn, lower your premium. Think about how much money you can access as a deductible and choose an amount that’s right for you.

  1. Quest for discounts.

Does your kiddo have good grades? If you’re the proud parent of a student with a good GPA, your insurance company will likely reward you with a discount. “Good students” are seen as being less of a risk. See, hitting the books and studying hard comes in handy sometimes!

If you have a slightly older teen driver who’s headed off to college, you might be able to get a discount if they’re going to school more than 100 miles away and they’re not bringing a vehicle with them. They won’t have so much time behind the wheel, and that’s where the discount kicks in.

These are just a couple possible discounts. Be sure to ask your agent about any others you might qualify for.

  1. Choose the vehicle carefully.

The car that your teen drives has an impact on their insurance rates, which we mentioned above. It might be better to go with a safe, reliable used car than to get them a new, shiny car. Yes, they might beg and beg for a new car that’s all fancy and such, but a nice, semi-indestructible used car might be better for your wallet in more ways than one. If you already have a safe car that you feel comfortable with your teen driving, all the better! Do it. The car should ideally be more than five years old and have four doors. Whatever car you end up getting for your teen to drive, make sure that it’s in good shape.

Other practical information: Only name one car for your teen to drive and don’t let them drive any other vehicles. The rule should be that they can only drive the car that they’re insured for. Keep the car in your name rather than switching it over to that of your teen driver.

  1. Send them to driving school.

You might meet with some very loud and stubborn resistance, but it’s a good idea to send your teen to driving school. Preferably one that’s approved by your insurance company – check with your agent to see if they have any suggestions. By having your young charge complete a course in driver’s ed you might get a discount on their rates.

  1. Pay for minor damages yourself.

“I swear, Mom and Dad, I didn’t see the mailbox there…It’s just a scratch, really…”

If there’s a minor snafu with the car, take care of the repair yourself rather than claiming it on your insurance. Any claim can make your rates go up, plus there’s your deductible to consider. If it’s something you can handle on your own, do.

Of course, we hope that you’ll never have to pay for damages of any kind, but just in case something happens…

  1. Consider a PLUP.

A what? A Personal Liability Umbrella Policy. Since that’s a bit of a mouthful, we’ll just call it a PLUP.

A PLUP provides an extra layer of coverage over top of the insurance that you already have. Your auto policy has a certain limit on it, but if an accident causes damages that exceed that limit, you’re left on your own to cover the rest. That’s where the PLUP comes in. The PLUP will step in where the auto policy stopped, covering the damages up to its limit.

Insuring your teen driver is something that you know you have to do. You might not look forward to paying the higher premium for your auto insurance, but you’ll be able to breathe easier knowing that your teen has coverage.

If you want to talk more about insuring your teen, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. If you’d like to get a free quote for your auto insurance, fill out our quote form and you’ll be on your way!

Contributor: Katherine Betts

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7 Ways to Bond Outdoors With Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 15, 2017  /   Posted in Summer Camps, Teen Help

The outdoors is the perfect place to spend time with your teen because it’s a world free from distraction. Back home it’s TV, iPhone, iPad and anything digital to occupy a teenager’s mind, but step outside and everything changes. If you’re looking for ways to spend quality time with your son or daughter outside of the house, here are some great ways to bond with your teen.

Car Camping

This is the perfect introduction to the outdoors. Car camping eases into the wilderness while keeping some of the comforts of home. Parks and forests have designated campgrounds with picnic tables, fire pits and bathroom facilities to accommodate campers of any experience. Simply drive up to your spot, pitch a tent and enjoy a warm fire under the stars.

Hiking & Backpacking

Ready to leave behind the graded campsites for more secluded pastures? Backpacking is a great way to get away from the crowds and explore parts of the wilderness not accessible by any vehicle. The hobby requires lighter, more technical gear, but nothing that is hard to get or will break the bank:

  • Large backpack
  • Small tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Cook system
  • Water filtration/purification
  • Food

There’s a little more to it, as many backpacking checklists will point out, but these are the bare essentials; strap them on your back and hit the trail. This is a great opportunity to learn skills like using a map and compass and is incredible exercise.

Boating & Fishing

Fishing on the boat is the perfect way to do something while doing nothing. The sound of the water and the crickets chirping around it is one of the most serene experiences on the planet. If you think your teen might get bored with sitting around, waiting for a fish to bite, put a little more fun into the preparation. Shop around together for a new rod and reel, go through and refresh the tackle box and prepare a delicious lunch to take on the boat. Nothing builds up a teenager’s appetite like doing nothing! And when that first fish finally bites, it’ll all be worth it.

Climbing & Bouldering

Pro climber Alex Honnold recently scaled the face of Yosemite’s El Capital without a rope. It’s easy to look at this incredible feat and be intimidated by climbing, but it’s actually easy to get started. First, the teen years are a great time to start and rock climbing gyms across the country accommodate people of all skill levels.

So if your teen can scale the expert wall by their pinkies but you’re barely gripping wood blocks, you can both still practice at the same gym. And when it’s time to finally take the hobby outdoors, it will be easy to find a spot you both can enjoy.

Skiing & Snowboarding

The outdoors doesn’t close down at the end of summer. In fact, it gets even better. If you live anywhere near a decent ski resort (look for man-made slopes too), then strap on some skis or a board. Maybe this is a sport your teen already does with friends or maybe you’re both learning it together. Either way, shredding through fresh powder is its own fun and enjoying it together is just icing on the cake.

Wilderness Classes

Going back to backpacking, some people can be intimidated by the idea of venturing out into the wilderness with nothing but the gear on their back. What better way to trek with confidence than a wilderness class to learn the basics? The National and State Parks Service, local outdoors retailers and various outdoors non-profit groups all have classes that are either free or a low cost. They’ll cover anything, whether for beginners who’ve never camped or for experts learning new skills.

Volunteering

Okay, “volunteer” might not be a word that resonates with teenagers, but volunteering can actually be real fun when done in the outdoors. Anyone can volunteer for trail cleanup in state and national parks, which serves as a great way to see our public lands for free. And, in some cases, volunteers have access to areas of parks and forests most people wouldn’t ordinarily go to, so there is an essence of exclusivity.

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100 Deadliest Days on the Road

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 26, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

AT&T stresses IT CAN WAIT message

Memorial Day marks the start of the 100 deadliest days , when the average number of teens dying from car crashes is 16 percent higher than the rest of the year, according to AAA. That’s because teens are on the road more during the summer months. During this time of year, more parents are also on the road while taking their kids to swim lessons, baseball, softball, summer camp, and more.

AT&T is using the Memorial Day Weekend as an opportunity to remind young drivers, and their parents, to never let their smartphones distract them behind the wheel. And a good first step is to take the pledge at www.itcanwait.com to keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do the same. AT&T launched the It Can Wait campaign in 2010 to help put an end to texting and driving. Since that time, AT&T research has revealed smartphone distracted driving has grown beyond texting to video chatting, emailing, web surfing, photo snapping, posting to social media, and more.

In addition to taking the IT CAN WAIT pledge, AT&T encourages drivers to use a free app, like AT&T DriveMode, to help curb the temptation to engage in texting while driving. This is especially important for teen drivers, since texting is their primary mode of communication. The DriveMode app silences incoming text messages and sends an auto-reply to the sender letting the person know you’re driving. The app’s auto-mode feature automatically turns on the app when you reach 15 MPH and turns it off after you stop. And parents will receive a notification if their teen driver turns off the app. The AT&T DriveMode app is available to customers of all wireless carriers for iPhone and Android users.

AT&T has also added a virtual reality experience component to the IT CAN WAIT campaign to show the potentially deadly consequences of glancing at your smartphone while driving. You can download the free AT&T VR app and buy Google Cardboard at www.ItCanWait.com/VR to use with your smartphone to experience the IT CAN WAIT driving simulation.

Lastly, AT&T encourages you to get involved with the IT CAN WAIT movement and educate others in your community and workplace about the dangers of smartphone distracted driving. You could just save a life.

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7 Tips You Can Start Using Now to Help Your Teen Gain Financial Success

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 04, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

According to a Sallie Mae study, more than 84% of college students have credit cards and 20% graduate owing more than $7,000.

Although it can be a good thing to open credit cards early in life, collecting debt that you cannot repay is never good.

At 18, your child can get a credit card without your consent.

Start talking to your children about the importance of financial security before they begin making uneducated decisions on their own. This should happen before they go to college for the best chance of financial success.

  1. Start the conversation early – As soon as your child is old enough to understand the concepts of earning, borrowing and paying, it’s time to start talking about credit. Explain the fundamentals of credit cards and how they work, including repayment plans and interest rates. You’ll find that life is full of teachable moments, so continue the conversation whenever you see an opportunity to reinforce positive behaviors or warn about negative ones.
  2. Explain how credit scores work – With a basic knowledge of how credit cards work, your child may soon be ready to learn about credit scoring. This conversation can become very detailed, but it’s okay to start with the basics. Let your child know that these bureaus are monitoring how you use credit and you are graded on their assessment, much like you would be graded on an exam.
  3. Help Her Build New Credit – Every child is different, so there isn’t a magic age where it makes sense to give your child a credit card. If your child is mature and shows that he or she is responsible with money, you may want to co-sign on a card while he or she is still a minor. This will give your child a head start on building credit. By the time he is 18, he could already have built new credit that will increase his credit score.
  4. Start a Savings Account – Children under the age of 18 cannot legally open a savings account on their own, but you can open a joint account for your child at any time. Having her name on the account will give her some flexibility to make financial decisions, and because you are involved in setting up the account, you can open a dialogue about how to save money. The way you approach this will depend on your child’s age and your own preferences, but you should offer some guidance on how your child uses the account. For example, you may require that all money goes into the savings account before any purchases are made. Review the balance regularly and discuss things like future purchases and how to save more money.

If you want a savings account that your child cannot access, consider a 529 College Savings Plan. This is a state-sponsored program available in many states. You can contribute to this savings plan without being taxed.

  1. Start a Retirement Savings Account – It may seem premature to start saving for retirement when your child is still in diapers, but this is one small thing you can do to help secure her financial future. There’s now a kid-friendly Roth IRA that parents can fund before their kids even enter the workforce. Parents can save money for their children’s retirement tax-free, as they would with a standard IRA. The account may continue growing as the child grows. As your child begins working, propose matching all or some of the money she invests throughout college.
  2. Create a budget and task them to report back – For many children, college is the first time they are living away from home. With such freedom comes responsibility that some are simply not prepared to handle. You can help by getting involved with creating and maintaining a budget. This is especially prudent if the child is receiving an allowance.
  3. Create an investment portfolio – You can start investing in mutual funds on your child’s behalf at any time. However, since this is a long-term investment, try to keep the risks on the low to moderate side.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is financial intelligence. When he understands how and why he is making smart financial decisions, he is more likely to continue following that pattern.

The simple act of opening a dialogue about finances sends the message that money is never a taboo topic. Armed with a healthy attitude towards finances, your child is less likely to accumulate crippling debt and more likely to achieve financial success.

Contributor: Trevor McDonald

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