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Knowing These Slang Terms Can Help You Detect Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 05, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teenagers seem to come up with new phrases on a daily basis, and it can be hard to keep up with the meanings of their jargon. However, it’s important to know certain terms that are slang for dangerous activities, such as medicine abuse.

1 in 30 teens has abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (also known as “DXM”) to get high. While DXM is a safe and effective ingredient when used as directed, some teens abuse it by taking up to 25 times the recommended dosage. This can cause dangerous side effects such as blurred vision and a rapid heartbeat, among others.

To hide this risky behavior from parents, teachers, and other adults, teens have come up with a myriad of slang terms to speak in code. Phrases such as “skittling,” “robo-tripping,” and “tussing” are among the list of slang terms you should keep your ears perked up for.

Being able to detect medicine abuse by recognizing slang terms and other warning signs is important, but even more important is what you can do to prevent medicine abuse before it happens:

  1. Talk to your teen. Studies have found that teens who have the “drug talk” with parents/guardians are 50% less likely to abuse.
  2. Monitor your medicine cabinet and your teen’s activities. Warning signs such as empty cough medicine bottles/packaging in the trash when no one is sick or drastic changes in a teen’s behavior could be indicators that you should look closer.
  3. Share this information with other parents, teachers, and members of your community. The more people who are able to detect and prevent medicine abuse in teens, the better. Find resources for taking action and spreading the word here.
  4. Look for the icon below and check the Drug Facts label on cough medicine packaging to identify which medicines contain dextromethorphan.

There are over 100 OTC cough medicine brands that contain DXM.

Look for this icon to easily identify which ones include the active ingredient.

Stop Medicine Abuse is a prevention campaign working to alert parents and members of the community about the problem of teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM). You can learn more on by visiting the Stop Medicine Abuse website or connecting with the campaign on Facebook page and Twitter.

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Digital Parenting Challenges

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 30, 2017  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

“Everything has a time and place.” This familiar saying is a popular motto for juggling life’s demands and pleasures. We can also apply this mantra to managing the abundance of today’s technology with our children. Somewhere among the love and hate relationship with social media and homework searches, we must find a healthy balance in regards to our children’s technology use. To help us on this journey, we need to consider what teens are doing online, if we should be monitoring our children’s Internet activity, and ways we can curb overuse.

What Are Teens Doing Online?

It’s no secret that our kids rely heavily on their devices, but as parents, we often find ourselves wondering what is so compelling to keep their attention fixated on glowing screens for hours and hours on end. We know they enjoy scrolling through social media, taking selfies, posting funny DubSmash videos, or streaming videos. Afterall, these features have made digital devices an indispensable luxury for our kids.

However, lurking behind all of the merriment is a dark side to our daughters’ and sons’ digital activity. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to recognize all the scary situations awaiting our children just by glancing at their screens. No, these scenarios can range anywhere from oversharing personal information to cyberbullying to interacting with online predators. Up until a few years ago, these topics were foreign and completely left out of parenting guidebooks.

Consider how a recent study found that 87 percent of our kids have encountered cyberbullying as witnesses or victims. These numbers are up from around 28 percent just a little over a year ago, which means rates of cyberbullying have basically tripled. This is disheartening on many levels, because cyberbullying has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts in our children.

In addition to cyberbullying, sexting is so commonplace that experts see these behaviors as normal and many teens view sexting as a safe alternative to sex. This might be true when it comes to pregnancy and disease, but if kids are underage, the simple act of snapping a provocative selfie is considered child pornography. Sexting, even if it is consensual, will be prosecuted as distributing or possessing child pornography. In addition to legal battles, this can open kids up to digital exploitation, bullying, and harassment.

Should You Monitor Or Not?

Realizing our children might be participating in risky online behaviors is frightening, but we need to realize that 70 percent of our kids actively seek ways to hide their online activities from us. This is only compounded when our sons and daughters are plugged in an average of six or more hours every day. Which can lead many of us to contemplate spying or using monitoring to stay on top of our children’s digital presence. Afterall, anything posted online has the potential to be made public.

Typically, experts warn spying should be avoided, because these behaviors have the potential to ruin parent and child relationships. Monitoring, however, doesn’t rely on sneaking around or hacking devices. This technique can range from simply following a teen’s social media accounts or openly installing software to compile a complete picture of a child’s texts, social media apps, contacts, and locations. If done correctly, this method offers opportunities for open dialogue while protecting a teen’s privacy.

How Should We Handle Constant Device Use?

To help parents overcome modern digital parenting challenges, please check out the following seven tips:

Begin an ongoing conversation about developing a healthy balance of technology in our lives. 

Teach social media etiquette early and build on topics as a child ages. 

Institute a “blackout policy”. An example of this could be powering down all devices from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. to allow a break from technology.

Limit the amount of data a child has access to on their Smartphones or tablets. 

Provide opportunities for children to log off for a few minutes daily. Reclaim family meals, sign up for extracurricular activities, or dust off the old board games for an alternative to pixels and selfies.

Reinforce a child’s good choices. Give them feedback to show that you notice their good choices.

Create a technology contract for the family that clearly lays out all expectations and consequences.

How does your family manage digital parenting challenges?

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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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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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Teen Cough Medicine Abuse: What it Looks Like and Prevention

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 13, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

A cup of coffee in your favorite mug is not something that typically that comes to mind when you reach for cough syrup to relive your symptoms. However, some teens intentionally consume this amount of cough medicine – one cup or 250 milliliters – to get high. That’s 25 times the recommended dose.

Stop Medicine Abuse’s recent video is a startling reminder to talk with your teens about medicine abuse. Many parents think that illegal drugs and alcohol are the only substances they should be looking out for. However, one in 30 teens has abused dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in most over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines, to get high. That’s about one teen per classroom.

How can you tell if your teen is abusing cough medicine?

Watch for changes in your teen’s behavior and keep a close eye on your medicine cabinet. Warning signs include sudden changes in attitude, loss of interests, declining grades and missing or empty containers of cough medicine. Keep an ear out for slang terms, such as “red devils” and “orange crush,” words that might not be as innocent as they seem. You can also monitor your teen’s internet behaviors for suspicious activity.

But don’t worry! There is a simple, yet effective solution: Talk with your teen. You might be met with eyerolls and dismissive comments, but the fact is that teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to abuse substances. Teens might not admit it, but they are listening and just one conversation could help prevent medicine abuse.

You can get more information at StopMedicineAbuse.org or join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

Contributor: 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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Florida Drug Rehab Programs

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 26, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

It’s a billion dollar industry – and in the summer of 2017 the drug rehab scam in Florida was exposed.  Sadly, this came after several deaths of young people.

This is why our organization is so crucial to families today. A Parent’s True Story was published in 2001 and has helped thousands of families since then to educate them to find healthy and safe programs for their teenager.

Don’t narrow your search by state,  always double check your insurance claims and never get sucked in by sales reps on toll-free numbers. Lear more on our pages of helpful hints.

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Summer Flings: Teens and Healthy Relationships

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 23, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Whether it’s a summer romance or puppy love, teenagers are bound to experience relationships they believe will last forever. In reality, I’m sure there are some of you reading this that have actually married your high school sweetheart.

Like generations earlier, having the sex talk with our child is always that dreaded conversation for many parents. Today it’s not only conversations about sex, you must also be chatting frequently about their tech activity — as predators linger in their virtual playground, teens will flippantly send nudes without a second thought, and oversharinghas become as common as eating ice cream.

The Missing Piece.

A new report from Harvard Graduate School of Education Making Caring Common Project, The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young Peoples Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment reveals that a high percentage of teens and young people want guidance from their parents and educators through meaningfulconversations to nurture healthy relationships and more.

The Misconceptions of the Hook-up Culture.

In an interview with Radio Boston, Richard Weissbourd, Director of Making Caring Common, shared the findings of how the young people viewed the hook-up culture;

“Only about 4 percent said they were interested in hooking up. About 8 or 9 percent said they were interested in having casual sex with a friend. It’s very consistent with other data too … About 8 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds are dating casually, the rest are in a serious relationship or not dating at all. We have big misconceptions about this.”

The Opportunity We Have.

This report is opening doors for today’s parents to have an opportunity to TALK early.

70 percent of young people (18- to 25-year-olds) surveyed wished they had more guidance from their parents about the emotional aspect of relationships including these following topics. I’m confident most of us struggled with these in our teen years:

· 38 percent – how to have a more mature relationship

· 36 percent – how to deal with break-ups

· 34 percent – how to avoid getting hurt in a relationship

· 27 percent – how to begin a relationship

65 percent in the same age group wished their school taught the above in health or sex education class.

The Harsh Reality of Being A Girl.

In an earlier study from PEW Research, they shared the extreme forms of online harassment that females (18-24 years-olds) experience.

According to Harvard University’s The Talk research, 87 percent of females also reported negative and humiliating experiences.

· 55 percent – being catcalled

· 52 percent – having a stranger say something sexually to them

· 47 percent – insulted with sexual words (slut, ho, bitch) by a man

· 41 percent – touch without permission by a stranger

Sadly 76 percent of the respondents said their parents never had conversations with them about how to avoid or handle sexual harassment or forms of misogyny.

Being a Caring Partner.

Many parents have had the talk about safe-sex, abstinence, or whatever their preference is for their family — but are you remembering to discuss with your child about being a caring and respectful sexual partner?

The Talk report uncovers that although statistics reveal that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during college, parents and adults don’t seem to be having constructive conversations with young people (teens) about consent.

· 61 percent – being sure their partner wants to have sex and is comfortable doing so before having sex.

· 62 percent – the importance of not pressuring someone to have sex with you after they said no.

· 56 percent – the importance of not pressuring someone to have sex with you.

· 49 percent – assuring your own comfort in engaging in sex.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Talk research offers tips for parents to help young people develop healthy relationships. What’s important to understand is although they are only kids [teens], they — like us — want to have caring and meaningful friendships too.

We constantly talk about being role models with our behavior, from texting and driving to using foul language to our online behavior, but when was the last time you chatted with your teen about your summer flings or any romantic engagement? Your mistakes? What did you learn from it? Sometimes your teen needs to know you are human too. This isn’t about hooking-up, having sex or fifty-shades of whatever you’re into — it’s about “hey, I’ve been where you are, I had my heart broken too. Let’s go have ice cream and talk about it.”

Takeaway tips:

· The Talk research is your door-opener to start conversations about relationships with your teenager.

· Divorce, sadly, is common, however it’s how you handle it that effects your kids and their future relationships.

· Single parents that date is great, but be respectful to your partner. Your children are watching.

· Parents online, use discretion with your digital sharing. Teens will model your behavior.

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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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