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The Nature Effect: How Getting Outside Benefits You and Your Troubled Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 15, 2016  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

teennatureIf there was a simple way to better the relationship you have with your teen, you would want in on it, right? Well, the simple solution is all around you — nature.

Your brain on nature

Does your family make time to get outside and spend time in nature? If not, you may want to consider it. Spending time outdoors for an extended period of time is essentially like hitting the reset button on your brain. Oftentimes, people just like you and your teen, cite feeling more clear headed, less stressed, more creative and even more alive after spending time outside. It’s true. Spending time in nature is restorative to mental health, and its effect can be described as a psychological process called attention restoration therapy. Spending time outdoors can even change the wiring in the brain, but we will get to that later.

Disorders, illness and their relationship to nature

There are a myriad of health problems that face our children and teens today, from ADD/ADHD, cognition disorders and depression to obesity, stress, Type II Diabetes and even something called nature deficit disorder. And while there is no single remedy to treat many of these ailments, there is something that can help. Now more than ever, kids and teens are widely disconnected from their natural outdoor environment and spending copious amounts of time indoors. A disconnection from nature leads to difficulties concerning concentration, a sadly diminished use of the senses and even higher rates of mental illness. Even creativity levels, attention spans and desire to explore suffer because of our kids’ limited exposure to the outdoors. But as a parent, you can help to prevent these outcomes by simply getting them outside in a natural environment more often. In recent years, “wilderness therapy” has emerged as a way to help troubled teens and adolescents with disciplinary or psychological problems get back on track. Some of these programs last up to eight weeks, completely emerging your teen into the wilderness. However, these programs are not for everyone and should only be considered after taking other measures first. They are also only recommended for teens dealing with serious drug, alcohol and other serious issues.

Nature combats stress in teens and parents

One of the major draws of spending time in nature is its ability to reduce stress. While you may be thinking “What stress does my teen have?” right now, you should know that your kids are likely under a lot of pressure. From their peers, teachers, coaches and even you. Dating, sex, status, drugs and alcohol, school and other factors are big contributors to stress for teens. However, recent research has shown that our environments directly impact stress levels and our bodies. The University of Minnesota reports that nature soothes and restores, improving moods from stressed, depressed and anxious to more balanced and calm. Other studies that were also cited by the University of Minnesota claim that nature is all-around associated with a positive mood, meaningfulness, vitality and psychological well-being.

Using nature to connect with your troubled teen

Research out of the Human-Environment Research Lab has shown that time spent outdoors in nature connects people to each other and the larger world around them. If your teen is standoffish and distant, they may just need a little more nature in their routine. Use this time to put your screens away — yes, all devices, phones and tablets — and really connect with your outside environment and kid. You have to be genuinely invested in this activity and that means that you will have to power down. Whether you opt to take a weekend camping trip or just decide to go for an afternoon hike, being outdoors can help to foster a healthier relationship between you and your teen. When you’re ready to experience the great outdoors, make sure you’re equipped with the right outdoor gear. That way you can ensure you’re prepared for whatever adventure you have planned.

Walking outdoors has big benefits for adolescents and adults

Would you believe that a simple walk in the woods could actually change the wiring in the brain? You better believe it. Sure, people have cited that they feel better after talking a walk in nature, but recently both The New York Times and NPR reported that walking outside is truly beneficial for the brain. Researchers used brain scans and found that people who walked outdoors, even for a short period of time, actually had changes in their neurological functioning — for good. Something as simple as a walk in nature could change everything.

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Check Your Shelf To Help Prevent Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 08, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

With summer nearly over and an impending cold season on the horizon, millions of Americans will self-treat their symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine that contains dextromethorphan (DXM). While DXM can do wonders for a cough when taken according to labeling instructions, it can also be abused to get “high” when consumed in large amounts.

Abusing DXM poses serious health implications and causes concerning side effects such as nausea, vomiting, confusion, rapid heartbeat and disorientation. Despite the risks, one out of every 30 teens reports abusing DXM and one out of three teens knows someone who has abused the substance.

Like all forms of substance abuse, there are measures that parents can put in place to help prevent it. However, when it comes to OTC cough medicine abuse, a study conducted by David Binder Research shows that less than half of parents take steps to prevent medicine abuse in their homes.

chpa-checkyourshelf2

Establishing a clear monitoring system is essential to preventing medicine abuse in your home. If you happen to fall in the 50 percent of parents who are not yet enacting protective measures, here are a few tips from Stop Medicine Abuse for checking your shelf:

Only together can we ensure the health and safety of our teens. So, after checking your shelf, make sure to share these tips and spread awareness about OTC cough medicine abuse with other parents in your community. For additional medicine abuse prevention resources and parenting tips, don’t forget to visit Stop Medicine Abuse.

Contributor: Blaise Brooks is a mother of one, caregiver of two, accountant and community advocate. Blaise is also a contributor to The Five Moms blog on StopMedicineAbuse.org, working to spread the word about cough medicine abuse with other parents. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Addiction and Teens: How Suicide Comes Into the Picture

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 06, 2016  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

PixabayTeenThe teen years are difficult for many, although some young people are better equipped to handle stressful situations and therefore seem to have an easier time. For the most part, teens don’t have the emotional maturity to cope with some of the issues they face today, which can lead to substance abuse as they attempt to find a way through the situation.

Many parents fear that drug and alcohol abuse will lead to death by overdose, but there is also a risk for death by suicide when substances come into the picture, especially if there was already a mood or mental disorder present that is exacerbated by drugs or alcohol. With emotions already running high for young people, adding a substance into the mix can only makes things worse and, frighteningly, causes impulsive behavior that may make self-harm easier. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-34.

For this reason, the risk for suicide is heightened when a teen has access to a weapon, which is why all families who own guns are strongly urged to keep them locked up or secured in a hidden place, preferably with a lock on the trigger and the bullets in a separate area.

Teens–especially those who suffer from an undiagnosed condition such as bipolar disorder–may begin to feel as if there is no way out when they experience a difficult life event. These feelings are dangerous, especially if there has been substance abuse present that could make the individual impulsive. Drugs and alcohol can lead to depression, isolation, a decline in physical health, and can affect sleeping habits, which could lead back around to substance abuse as the individual tries to get rest.

The reasons a teen may turn to drugs or alcohol are myriad. It can stem from an unhappy home life, a recent big life change such as divorce or a death in the family, chronic illness, or it could be something unseen by friends and family, such as a struggle with sexuality or cyber-bullying.

In order for parents to help, it’s always a good idea to know who their child is spending time with and what they do in their free time. This can be useful when it comes time for the teen to open up about any issues they may be having.

Some of the warning signs of addiction in teens include:

  • Loss of interest in things that once brought joy
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Decline in physical health or appearance
  • Slurred or impaired speech
  • Detached emotions or being overly emotional
  • Being secretive
  • Lashing out
  • Getting into legal trouble

If you have a loved one who is exhibiting these behaviors, it’s important to open up a conversation with them and let them know you’re listening. Don’t be judgmental or introduce guilt; chances are, they already feel guilty about something, or perhaps they are suffering from low self-esteem. Let them know you’re there for them and encourage them to seek help in the form of counseling, or to make an appointment with a doctor. It’s a good idea to talk one-on-one, as too many people in a room can make the individual feel like they are being ganged up on.

If you feel that self-harm is imminent, don’t leave the individual alone. Remove any items that could be used for harm from the area and call for help. Remember that you won’t have all the answers, and you may not be able to reach your loved one the way they need to be reached. There are professionals waiting to help when this is the case.

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

Contributor:  Michelle Peterson has been in recovery for several years. She started RecoveryPride.org to help eliminate the stigma placed on those who struggle with addiction. The site emphasizes that the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride and offers stories, victories, and other information to give hope and help to those in recovery.

 

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Tips on Setting up a Smartphone Contract With Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 20, 2016  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

You already have a number of rules for your teen. From keeping his room reasonably clean to helping feed the pets and doing homework before watching television at night, your teen is used to living with certain boundaries. So why shouldn’t this extend to his cellphone usage?

Now that you have bought your teen his first smartphone, you should create a cellphone contract to make sure he knows the boundaries. Here are a few reasons why:

Why a Contract

SmartphoneContractUnfortunately, smartphones can be used in ways that are less than wise. Your teen may be tempted to text and drive or post messages or photos that are inappropriate. After all, they are young and will probably try to bend the rules. But when you take the time to write out and sign a list of expected behaviors, everything is clearly set up in black and white. Your teen might try to say he forgot a certain cellphone rule, but when you can bring out the contract as a reminder, it will take a bit of the wind out of your child’s sails.

Include What Type of Phone is OK

Your teen may have visions of the latest and greatest smartphone, but you and your wallet will have the final say. In the contract, spell out what types of cellphones your teen is allowed to have, including any information you wish to add about acceptable price ranges, payment and data plans, and other features. You may not want to get the newest version of a smartphone, but rather go a step down to save a little money without sacrificing the quality. For example, instead of buying your teen the new Galaxy Note7, go for the Galaxy Note5 that still has many of the same features. If your son is contributing some allowance money to the payment, add that to the contract, too.

Decide if You Approve of Internet Access

Your teen might not need a phone that can access every last website on the internet. If you feel like he should be able to text his friends and call you for rides but not be tempted to buy things from online retailers, that is totally fine. But if you think he might need it for school research or for checking email, you might allow Wi-Fi access when necessary. No matter what you choose, write it down in the contract so there are no misunderstandings later.

Make a List of Rules and Consequences

As for how to fill out the rest of the cellphone contract, sit down with your teen and go over whatever rules you feel strongly about. These may include things like “No texting friends after 9 p.m.,” “No loaning your smartphone to friends” and “No texting or driving, period.”

The consequences should also be very clear. Some examples may include “If my grades drop to a C or lower, I will lose my phone until they are back up” or “I will lose smartphone privileges for a day if I play games on my phone before finishing my homework.”

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Look Closer: Recognizing OTC Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 18, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

StopMedAbuse2By Tammy Walsh

Do you know who your teen is hanging out with? Have your teen’s hobbies changed dramatically? These are important aspects of teens’ lives that parents should be aware of – especially when it comes to detecting signs of potential substance abuse.

Substance abuse can take many forms. While abuse of alcohol, marijuana, prescription and illicit drugs generally takes the spotlight in mainstream media, the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine is one that parents should pay attention to as well. OTC cough medicines, which contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), might be perceived to be “safer” to abuse as they are generally more affordable and easily accessible as compared to other substances. However, even though DXM is safe and effective when taken according to labeling instructions, over-consumption of DXM for the purpose of getting high can produce damaging side effects.

Being aware of your teen’s emotional, physical and mental state is essential to preventing any form of substance abuse. Teens who are at risk tend to display a specific array of warning signs. But how do we discern between a red flag and a fluke? This significant distinction can be tough for parents.

To get you started, take a look at the following infographic from Stop Medicine Abuse:

LookCloser

As parents, it’s up to us to create an atmosphere that is safe for our teens. Now that you know what to look for, which questions to ask and how to make a difference, will you do your part? If you’re ready to help stop medicine abuse among our teens, make sure to visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for more tips and resources.

About Tammy Walsh:
Five Moms’ Tammy Walsh is a mother of two and high school educator. After Tammy’s family was personally touched by over-the-counter cough medicine abuse, she founded the Northport Community Book Club and joined the Five Moms to help educate others about the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse.

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3 Alternative Ways to Treat Mental Illness That Eliminate The Threat of Addiction

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 28, 2016  /   Posted in Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

PillsFor some people with mental illness, the idea of relying on pharmaceuticals and therapy sessions is not acceptable. Because of concerns about pharmaceutical companies and addictive, dangerous, and expensive medication, more and more people seek alternative treatments for their mental illnesses. The guidance of a trained counselor is important, and there are plenty of counselors willing to work with an alternative treatment plan. Be sure to do your research before starting an alternative treatment. Suggestions based on pseudoscience very easily can lead a well-adjusted individual to a path of increased symptoms and negative side effects. We present a few alternative methods for treating mental illness here, so that you can begin to educate yourself about alternative treatments.

Tried and True Herbal Supplements

If you step into any natural foods store, you are bound to run into a wall of various supplements, all claiming to be beneficial for this or that ailment or illness. While some herbal supplements can help alleviate your symptoms, it is important that you do the research, find valid studies, and make your decision wisely. Some well-tested supplements include St. John’s Wort for minor depression, Kava Kava for panic and anxiety, and tulsi (Holy Basil) for stress.

Be sure to avoid anything that uses homeopathy. The basis of homeopathy comes from the flawed, ancient concept that an ailment can be cured by a herb that would cause the ailment. The substance is then diluted hundreds of times, leaving, at most, a single molecule of the original substance. Though this water “solution” may not cause adverse effects, the cessation of treatment may cause symptoms to return.

Diet and Exercise

As always, improving your diet and scheduling regular exercise can help a number of issues people often experience. For those with mental illness, a good diet devoid of nutritional gaps can work to even out chemical imbalances. The exercise component keeps the body fit while generating endorphins, which boost your mood.

If you decide to take this treatment path, it is important that you work with a counselor. For some people, good diet and exercise simply are not enough to counteract the mental illness. A counselor will be able to monitor your wellbeing and decide whether or not the treatment is effective enough to stand alone.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

A psychiatric service dog differs from a companion animal. While companion animals can be an excellent form of treatment, they help only by providing love, affection, and a reason to get out of bed and get moving. Service dogs are specially trained to perform tasks such as providing pressure during panic attacks, retrieving medication, leading someone from a crowd during a PTSD flashback, and a number of other helpful tasks. Though a service dog alone is not a complete treatment, they can be extraordinarily beneficial for those struggling with mental illness.

Service and companion animals also can provide the added benefit of preventing addiction and suicide. For some people, mental illness is isolating, fostering depression and suicidal thoughts. An animal standing by to provide love while simultaneously offering a reason to live can make all the difference.

The world of alternative treatments can be difficult to navigate. Misinformation is published very easily and falsely backed by poorly conducted studies. The importance of research and professional guidance cannot be ignored. If you want to refuse pharmaceuticals in lieu of a more natural treatment for your mental illness, be sure you are acting responsibly. Get the help of a professional and investigate all claims thoroughly. With these two precautions, it will suddenly become easier to pinpoint a truly effective alternative treatment.

Contributor:

Adam Cook has a strong understanding of the devastation that can be caused by addiction. He recently lost a close friend to an addiction-related suicide. In an effort to better educate himself and to help others, he created AddictionHub.org, a site that provides addiction and mental health resources. When he isn’t working or adding to his website, he’s prepping for his first triathlon.

Image via Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures

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Keeping a Watchful Eye on Your Teens and Their Friends

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 27, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teens55As a parent, the stuff you got away with as a teenager will often come back to haunt you when you have teens of your own. Even if you were a relatively “good” teen who didn’t get into too much trouble, imagining your own children making those same decisions can keep you up at night.

This is especially true when your teenager invites friends over to the house. While you understandably want and need to keep tabs on your kids and their friends, you also don’t want to be the obnoxious parent who is constantly coming into the room or trying to join in their fun. In order to keep an eye and ear on your teens and their guests without having to physically check on them every few minutes, consider the following ideas.

Keep the fun stuff in the main rooms

One of the easiest ways to monitor your kids is to encourage them to socialize in the family or living room. To do this, make sure the electronics, like the TV, game consoles and Blu-Ray players, are located in that room. When the kids are hanging out watching a movie or bowling on the Wii, stay within earshot in an adjacent area of the house. To really encourage your teens to use the room for entertaining, involve them in the decorating process; take them to Ikea or Target to pick out teenager-friendly furniture that they’ll want to use.

Harness the power of your home security system

A great way to keep an electronic eye on visiting teens and your own kids is to use an indoor or outdoor security camera. While you don’t want to announce that you’re using a security system to spy on your teens, it’s perfectly reasonable to check the footage now and then to see what is going on in the backyard or basement.

Be friendly and welcoming

To know your teen’s friends is to know your teen, Reader’s Digest says. When your son or daughter has a friend over, be warm and welcoming, and ask about how school and/or work is going. The more you get to know your teen’s pals, the more you will get a handle on who you can trust and who needs more careful monitoring. Trust your instincts on how much privacy is appropriate; for example, if you know one of their friends has a habit of visiting websites you don’t approve of, don’t allow them to disappear into a bedroom with a laptop.

Use food as an excuse

While you do not technically need an excuse to check on your teens and their buddies — after all, it is your house and you make the rules — you can certainly use the lure of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or pizza as a way to monitor what is going on. Call everyone down for a snack or knock at the door with a tray of cupcakes or chips and dip, and surreptitiously glance around the room to see what is up.

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Ecstasy Use Is on the Rise Among Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 28, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

HYTBlogPostTeenDrugImagine letting your teenage son or daughter go out for the night only to find out they have been hospitalized or even died due to an overdose of some illicit pill they were offered at a music festival. If you’re ever put into such a tragic situation, it would be hard not to blame yourself. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to six families in New York just a few weeks ago. Two teenagers died and four others were hospitalized due to an overdose of ecstasy (also known as “Molly”) at the Electronic Zoo music festival. The increasing popularity of this party drug makes it imperative parents recognize, discuss and address the risks their children face every day due to drugs.

Increasing Danger of Ecstasy

Ecstasy is increasingly becoming a risk for teenagers and college students alike. According to a 2011 study by MetLife and DrugFree.org, ecstasy use has been increasing. The rising popularity of raves and music festivals is contributing significantly to the increased use of the drug.

In addition, “safer” alternatives, such as ecstasy in its pure MDMA form, are making teenagers think they are being safe and smart with their drug use. The unfortunate reality is these “safe” alternatives are neither pure nor safe. According to a report by DrugScope.org, some “pure” ecstasy tablets can have as little as zero percent purity. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports even 100 percent pure ecstasy can cause difficulty breathing and a decreased ability of the body to regulate its temperature. With the near certainty adulterants and impurities are mixed into the pills, this risk is multiplied dramatically.

How to Protect Your Child

Don’t pretend these issues don’t exist. This simply will not work. The popularity of ecstasy among today’s youth means you need to take an active role in informing your child of the risks. Speak with your children about the dangers and provide a safe place where they can be honest with you about their thoughts and any experimentation they have done.

According to the non-profit HelpGuide.org, there are a number of warning signs for ecstasy use, including:

  • Sudden and chronic lethargy
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Run-ins with the law
  • Rift in their relationships, parental or otherwise
  • Abandoning activities they used to enjoy

If you think your child has already developed a drug problem, seriously consider seeking treatment. Not all rehabilitation clinics are the same, and you should find a treatment center that incorporates a variety of services and methods. Seek a center that only employs certified professionals who are quick to answer any questions or concerns you have.

Prevention is the best method in ensuring your teen stays safe and healthy, so consider having a discussion about ecstasy as soon as possible.

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If you suspect your teen is using ecstasy, seek help immediately. If your teen refuses local therapy or out-patient help, consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.

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5 Common Driving Myths Young Motorists Swear are True

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 22, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens

TeenDriver555If you want to know anything about driving, ask a new teen driver. While their overall enthusiasm and eagerness to get behind the wheel is heartfelt and genuine, many teens seem to possess a great deal of driving knowledge that’s not always accurate. With that in mind, check out the following commonly held beliefs about driving — and why they’re fiction instead of fact.

Keeping Your Wheels Shiny and Clean

A commonly held opinion among young drivers, notes Cars.com, is the importance of keeping the dashboard and wheels as shiny and clean as possible. The theory behind this myth is that using a protectant compound will protect the wheels and dashboard, keeping them in better shape for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, when it comes to the shiny dash, it can actually be unsafe; a slippery dash with a mirror-like finish will give off a major glare, which can reflect on the windshield and make it hard to see.

And while shiny, clean tires look nice, the best way to take care of them is through proper, regular maintenance. When it comes time to replace two or four tires, be sure to purchase new, name-brand tires from a reputable company, and always put the newer tires on the rear versus the front. This is true of front-, rear- or all-wheel-drive vehicles.

Red Cars Get the Most Speeding Tickets

Another commonly held belief by teen drivers, notes DriveTeam, is that owning a red car means you’re more likely to incur a speeding ticket. The theory behind this myth is that “arrest me red” vehicles more readily catch the eye of traffic cops.

In actuality, red cars are no more likely to get pulled over than any other colored vehicles. This may come as bad news to teens in black, blue or silver cars, but the best way to avoid getting pulled over is to obey the posted speed limit and be a safe, courteous driver.

Keep Your Hands at ’10 and 2′

Many parents of teen drivers were taught to pretend the steering wheel was like a big clock and to keep their hands at the “10 and 2” position. As Defensive Driving notes, this advice was more appropriate back in the day when fewer cars had airbags.

Now that most vehicles employ this important safety equipment, the “10 and 2” advice can be admonished, as the practice often leads to broken arms and other injuries during an accident. Teens who believe this myth most likely learned it from their folks, so gently advise them that current best practices call for keeping your hands at the “9 and 3” position.

Only Speeders Get in Accidents

Ah, if this was only the case. If it were true, our insurance rates would drop significantly, and we would all chug along at the speed limit, completely confident that we would never get in a wreck. Sadly, this myth is not true. Remind teens who are cavalier about speeding that driver error is the main cause of crashes — even when they’re traveling at 5 mph in a parking lot.

While it’s commendable teens are aware of the dangers of driving too fast, teach them that they must be vigilant at all times. This means paying close attention to their actions behind the wheel, as well as what other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are doing.

All New Drivers Get in Accidents

Hearing a new teen driver announce this myth will make any parent’s blood run cold. It’s almost as if they are daring the universe to make this untrue statement become reality. In actuality, there are plenty of young drivers who make it through their teen years without a single door ding, let alone a fender bender.

On the flip side, adult drivers who have perfect records could suddenly get rear ended in an intersection. Age is not the key here — other drivers’ bad actions and inattentiveness are much more likely to cause an accident.

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Summer Months: Higher Teen Death Rate

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 20, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

GuardrailIf you had to choose for your teen to drive through an icy winter storm or an 80-degree “not-a-cloud-in-the-sky” day, which would you prefer? If you’re like most, you’ll probably put your trust in the warm summer day as opposed to the blistery winter one.

Now, ask yourself the same question after reading the following statistic:

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the summer months of June, July, and August consistently have higher teenage crash deaths than any other month.

It would take a rare parent to send their teenager off for a drive during a winter storm without a few words of warning (if you were to even let them behind the wheel at all!) But do you allow yourself the same pause for reflection before your son hops in the car after summer practice to go to the beach with friends? Or when your daughter pulls out of the driveway on a warm July night to catch a movie?

Here’s to making summer 2015 the safest one yet. Some tips to help ensure your teen always comes back to you in one piece:

1. Buckle Up. Did you know? Compared to other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use and the majority of teens involved in fatal crashes are unbelted. Set an example by always buckling up yourself — whether they’re in the car or not!

2. Limit passengers. I know, I know. Carpooling is all the rage and I’m all for protecting the environment, but make sure your teen knows there is a LIMIT to how many friends he or she may have in the car at any one time. Distracted driving is a real and all too serious thing, and the more friends in the car the more likely a distraction.

3. Speaking of distracted driving . . .think of investing in a nifty little product I happened upon recently called the Drop Stop. Drop Stop has made it their mission not only to catch all your small belongings that INEVITABLY fall in the gap between your seats, but to eliminate distracted driving in doing so. Your teen drops their phone, their jewelry, their credit card etc., while they’re driving. It falls between the gap. They look down, and down, and down, and… crash. With Drop Stop, they won’t have to look down, ever. If anything ever falls, they’ll know right where to find it, and it’ll be there safe and sound once they park.

4. Help your teen maintain their vehicle! Do they tires have enough tread? When was the last time they had an oil change? Does every light work and at what percentage are the breaks? Keep your teen safe by seeing to it these maintenance issues are up-to-date all while teaching your teen very adult responsibilities.

Summer inevitably means more teen drivers on the roads, many who have had minimal experience behind the road. Their lack of experience can lead to dubious decision making which can lead to every parent’s worst nightmare: A car collision.

What are some of your best tips for teen drivers, and parents of teen drivers? Share with me in the comments below, and remember: Drive safe this summer!

Takeaway tips:

• Discuss safe driving with your teen before they get a license.

• Be a role model. Don’t text and drive, even with your years of experience.

• Educate your teen. Sign them up for drivers-ed or online classes.

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