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Monthly Archives June 2015

Teen Depression: 10 Common Causes

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 30, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

TeenDepressionIt’s summer, schools out, why should my teen be depressed?

With today’s digital lives there could be so many reasons.  Are they missing the routine of seeing school friends?  Are they being harassed online?  Or are they watching their friends on social media have a blast while they believe their summer is boring?

What was true a generation ago is still true today, teens are unpredictable and still difficult to figure out.  However depression is a very real emotion.

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage.

After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved.

TeenStress55While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.

  1. Academic Stress –(Especially if your teen is applying to colleges this summer). Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional well-being. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. FamilyDiscussionFamily Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.

It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional well-being, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression.

Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor.

If your teen is struggling with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for local help.  If they refuse to get help or you find it isn’t benefiting them, contact us to determine if residential therapy would be an option.   Exhausting your local resources is always your first path.

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Teens Sharing Prescription Drugs

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 29, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

OTCmeds5The Perfect High.

It seems fairly innocent, after all a doctor prescribed the medication.  Is that how teens will excuse the use of a prescription drug?

Smoking marijuana is unfortunately common among many tweens and teens, however just behind that is the use of prescription drugs.

Sometimes these prescription drugs are easily found in a grandparents home or even your own medicine cabinet.  Have you seen the recent movie on Lifetime – The Perfect High? It covers all these bases of how teens are very resourceful and creative when it comes to finding prescription medication.  It will also give you the deadly road that they can end up on.

When teens want medicine to help clear up their acne or a strong painkiller for a headache, an alarming number of them skip the doctor and borrow prescription medication from friends, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers based their study on a survey of approximately 1,500 U.S. boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 18. They found that roughly 19.7% of girls and 13.4% of boys actually borrow or share prescription medicine with both friends and family.

teens sharing pillsConsider these additional findings from the study, published in the journal Pediatrics:

  • About 7% of older teen girls (aged 15-18) reported sharing prescription medication more than three times.
  • Eleven percent of the girls aged 12 to 18 admitted one reason they shared medications is they wanted “something strong for pimples or oily skin.”
  • Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reported they received prescription medication from a family member.

A survey of 12 to 17-year-olds in the U.S. has found that about 20 percent said they have given their prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Darvocet to friends or obtained drugs the same way, according to a study published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Allergy drugs, narcotic pain relievers, antibiotics, acne medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications were the most commonly shared. About one-third of those who borrowed medications said they had experienced an allergic reaction or other negative side-effects as a result.

ParentsTalkingTeensPast research has shown that 40 percent of adults also share their medications.  Parents needs to remember their children are always watching and listening to them.

Tips for Parents

According to the CDC study, most of the adolescents surveyed said they actually had their own prescription for the medication they borrowed from friends. They said they borrowed the medication because they either didn’t have the medication with them or they ran out of it. Others said they shared medicine because they “had the same problem as the person who has the medicine.”

What is the harm in sharing prescription drugs? The Nemours Foundation reports that drugs are tools doctors use to fight infection, treat disease and relieve pain. The right drug, however, must be given to the right child, for the right condition, and taken in the right amount and under the right circumstances to work well.

Taking another person’s prescribed medication puts a teen at risk for overdose, allergic reactions, hazardous interactions with other medications and dangerous health side effects. In fact, the CDC study reported that many teens share the acne drug Accutane, which can result in severe fetal birth defects if a pregnant teen takes only one dose.

As a parent, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basic elements of a prescription:

  • How much of and how often the medicine should be taken
  • What the side effects and reactions are, if any
  • How the medicine should be taken
  • How the medicine should be stored

If your doctor prescribes medication for your teen, always look at it carefully before you leave the pharmacy. The Nemours Foundation offers these additional questions to ask your pharmacist:

  • Does this medication require special storage conditions (room temperature or refrigeration)?
  • How many times a day should it be given? Should it be given with food? Without food?
  • Should my teen avoid dairy products when taking this medication?
  • Should I look for any special side effects? What should I do if I notice any of these side effects?
  • Should my teen take special precautions, such as avoiding exposure to sunlight, when taking this medication?
  • What should I do if my teen skips a dose?
  • Is it OK to cut pills in half or crush them to mix into foods?
  • Will this medicine conflict with my teen’s alternative treatment of herbal remedies?

To ensure that your teen is using his or her prescription medicine safely, the National Clearinghouse for Drug & Alcohol Information suggests reviewing the following information with your teen and or your physician:

  • Talk with your physician about any other drugs – prescription, over-the-counter or illegal – you are taking. Drugs may interact negatively with one another, causing harmful side effects and even causing medications to be ineffective.
  • Discuss your medical history with your doctor. Side effects caused by some drugs may worsen other health conditions, even if the medication is used properly. For example, some prescription medications may elevate the user’s blood pressure, causing a serious consequence if the user already suffers from high blood pressure.
  • Read the instructions that come with your medication carefully and take the drug exactly as recommended.
  • Do not give your prescription medications to other people, and never take prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you by a physician.
  • Throw out expired or leftover medicines.

References

If your teen is struggling with a prescription drug problem, don’t hesitate to reach out for local help.  If they refuse to get help or you find it isn’t benefiting them, contact us to determine if residential therapy would be an option.   Exhausting your local resources is always your first path.

StopMedicineAbuse.org is another great website full of information for parents on over the counter drug abuse.

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Teens and Underage Drinking

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 29, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

TeensAlcoholWhether it’s summer break, back to college freedom or a Friday night without parents, underage drinking is a concern that parents need to take seriously.

Do you believe underage drinking is okay?

People have different philosophies about alcohol. One thing everyone can agree on is that drinking and driving kills, as does buzzed driving.  Especially with young drivers, such as teenagers, mixing alcohol with an automobile is not only potentially deadly for them, but for others on the road.

Facts About Underage Drinking:

You probably see and hear a lot about alcohol—from TV, movies, music, and your friends. But what are the real facts about underage alcohol use?

Myth Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.
FACT Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.

Myth Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.
FACT Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do (like get into fights).

Myth Drinking alcohol will make me cool.
FACT There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.

teendrinking4 (1)Myth All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in.
FACT If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that more than 70 percent of youth age 12 to 20 haven’t had a drink in the past month.1
 
Myth I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.
FACT On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, not even drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”

Myth Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink too.
FACT A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. People who begin drinking by age 15 are five times more likely to abuse or become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking after age 20.2
 
Myth Beer and wine are safer than liquor.
FACT Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!

underage_drinkingMyth I can drink alcohol and not have any problems.
FACT If you’re under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It’s illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.

Sources

1 Office of Applied Studies (2008). Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National findings. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.2 Office of Applied Studies (2004). Alcohol dependence or abuse and age at first use. The NSDUH Report.


If your teen is struggling with a drinking problem, don’t hesitate to reach out for local help.  If they refuse to get help or you find it isn’t benefiting them, contact us to determine if residential therapy would be an option.   Exhausting your local resources is always your first path.

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Teens and Self Harm

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 27, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

CuttingSelf-injury (self-harm) with teenagers has been a constant and growing concern for parents and professionals.

Cutting is most common when it comes to self harm.

Cutting isn’t new, but this form of self-injury (SI) has been out in the open more in recent years, portrayed in movies and on TV — even talked about by celebrities who have admitted to cutting themselves at some point.

Cutting is a serious issue that affects many teens. Even if you haven’t heard about cutting, chances are good that your teen has and might even know someone who does it. Like other risky behaviors, cutting can be dangerous and habit-forming. In most cases, it is also a sign of deeper emotional distress. In some cases, peers can influence teens to experiment with cutting.

The topic of cutting can be troubling for parents. It can be hard to understand why a teen would deliberately self-injure, and worrisome to think your teen — or one of your teen’s friends — could be at risk.

But parents who are aware of this important issue and understand the emotional pain it can signal are in a position to help.

EmbeddedAnother form of self harm, related to cutting, is “self-embedding“.

Objects such as metal (paper clips), crayons, and plastics are some of the examples of what teens are inserting into their skin after cutting themselves.  Self-embedding is generally not a suicidal act, but a person can develop skin infections or worse: Bone infections or deep muscle infections.

If you discover that your teen is cutting, there are several important keys to remember. First and foremost, approach your teen with a level head. Address your teen calmly and supportively.  Do not react angrily or upset your teen in any way.

Experts warn that overreacting or reacting loudly or angrily can often push your teen further away and increase the cutting or self injuring behaviors. Your teen needs to know you are open to hearing what she or he has to say and getting him/her the help they need. You should also tell your teen that you are not upset with them, love them, and know they are in a lot of pain.

SelfInjuryCounseling for a teen that cuts is crucial. It can often take many years of therapy before your teen is willing or able to uncover the reasons they cut. Schools, pediatricians and emergency rooms can be extremely helpful at providing resources for teens that cut.

Often there are local support groups for parents who feel guilty or unsure of how to deal with a teen that cuts.

If your teen is cutting and you have exhausted your local resources or he/she is unwilling to get help and would like to consider residential therapy, please contact us for more information.

Resources: Kids Health

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Teens and Online Gaming

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 27, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

OnlineGaming2It’s not Game Boy and it’s certainly not simplicity of the game of Operation.  Yes, I said the simplicity of it, since compared to today’s digital gaming, Operation was a walk in the park.

Online gaming is not only fun and thrilling for the player it can be addictive as well as risky if they are not careful.

Why?  They are interacting with virtual strangers and they have the common sense and maturity to know when to click-out if you feel uncomfortable.

When you look in your living room, are your teens and tweens immersed in a video game on a console, computer, or cellphone?

Chances are, the games they’re playing have online connectivity. Gartner reports that a large portion of the $111 billion video game market consists of online games. 38 percent of minors enjoy video gaming as a hobby, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and there’s plenty of benefits to encouraging them to play online enabled games.

They provide your kids with entertainment, socialization, computer skill development, and brain stimulating activities. Unfortunately, these socialization elements also open your tweens and teens up to certain risks and dangers, such as becoming a victim of hacking or social engineering.

Knowing how to protect your tweens and teens and developing their own risk- aware skills is an essential part of safe online gaming.

VideoGamesChecking Appropriate Content

Online games span many genres, from a hidden object game by iWin to MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. Pay close attention to the rating and types of content and concepts presented in the game your teens and pre-teens are playing. Consider playing along with your children to see exactly what information your kids are picking up, as well as steering them to age appropriate games if the content is not suitable for them. The Entertainment Software Rating Board handles video game ratings, starting at EC for early childhood and going up to AO for adults only.

Checking for Chat Rooms

Many online games have chat rooms or messaging functions to provide social interaction with other gamers. Online games with parental controls allow you to filter out bad language, block private messages, and control whether your child gets chat room capability or not. This is another way of ensuring your kids aren’t exposed to inappropriate content. Some games also allow you to mute specific players if a particular individual is harassing your child.

Time Monitoring

The allure of online gaming makes it easy for your children to spend many hours playing all of the games at their disposal. Track the amount of time that they play through parental monitoring software. Some games, such as World of Warcraft, allow you to prevent an account from being played past a daily or weekly amount, or restricting the time of day that the child can log in. This helps you keep your kids happy with their favorite activities while not allowing it to take up all of their free time.

Avoiding Hackers

Online gaming portals provide hundreds of games through a single website. Some of these games play directly in the browser, while others are downloaded and installed on your computer. Keep the computer anti-virus running to avoid downloads and browser plugins with viruses and trojans attached. Read through gaming portal reviews to find legitimate sites, or check gaming magazines and blogs for this information. Check for https encryption when your child logs into the site, and handle downloadable game installations yourself to stop companion software, such as toolbars, from getting installed.

Check Game Emails

Some online game services send out emails informing players of new developments, specials, and updates. Phishers take advantage of this by posing as official game representatives and tricking users into providing account information. Monitor the email address your child used to sign up with a service, and screen any emails for phishing attempts.

OnlineGamingWant to know if a game is age appropriate for your child?  Visit Common Sense Media for a ratings review.

If you suspect your child is addicted to video games, don’t hesitate in getting help.  If they refuse to attend or it is doesn’t seem to be helping, please contact us to determine if residential therapy would help.  There are digital detox programs.

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Should You Read Your Teen’s Text Messages or Emails?

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 25, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

TeenWritingGenerations earlier the question would be, should you read your teen’s diary or journal?

In today’s digital lifestyle, some may not even know what a diary looks like.  This is sad since a diary has many benefits for youth.  There was recently an article about why all children should keep a journal, and most importantly, it does take them offline and keep their information private.

Either way, the question is the same, when is it appropriate to invade your child’s private space?

It always comes back to when safety trumps privacy.

Our teens deserve to be trusted unless they give us reason to suspect something is wrong.

Here is a review of some warning signs.

  • Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a gut feeling something is deeper than a secret and you are not satisfied with the answers they are giving you, trust your gut.  A parent’s intuition is usually pretty good.
  • Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however if it becomes extreme, it might be time to dig deeper if they are not opening up to you.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? Is your once goal oriented good kid now gravitating to a negative peer group? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
  • Is your teens eating habits changing?  Not eating with the family or barely eating?
  • Is your teen sleeping a lot? Or rarely sleeping?  Spending a lot of time – connected digitally?  Bloodshot eyes?
  • Do you suspect drug use?  Maybe drinking?  Is there an odor on their clothes or them?
  • Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries?
  • Are they overly protective of their cell phones or computer?  Always covering their screens when you are around, or clicking out?
  • Do they hide their cell phones? Or completely attached to them?
  • Are they anxious when at their computer, seem fearful, attempt to hide their incoming emails?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?

TeenTexting5Like with determining if you should invade their privacy with their journals or diary, unless your teen or tween gives you good reason to read their text messages and emails, as parents, you should respect their privacy.

When it comes to younger children, especially under 10 years old, parents should always be allowed to see what they are doing.  Most younger children are usually not as protective as teens or tweens.  As a responsible parent, you will know when there are red flags or warning signs and you need to step in.

Keeping an open dialog with your tweens and teens is critical.  Letting them know you are there for them as well as talking to them about the issues of sexting, cyberbullying, predators and other areas of concern.

Be sure you are updated with the secret language of texting!

Should you read your child’s emails or text messages?  Only you can answer that.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer children.

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Teens, Body Image and Eating Disorders

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 24, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

Body image is a serious subject to both pre-teens and teens.

It’s bathing suit season combined with the pressure to fit-in with the cool-kids, today’s teens may take drastic measures to drop pounds.

Of course the Internet has resources that is always a click away to give them ideas (and not in a good way) to lose weight quickly.

As much as the web is an educational tool, it can also be used for purposes that are not healthy for people.

Many dangerous places exist in cyberspace, especially for those with body image difficulties. A quick, easy Google search can produce a long list of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites – places where those who suffer from eating disorders (ED) support each other and establish a sense of community.

There are at least 100 active pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia sites. Some statistics state that several of these sites have accumulated tens of thousands of hits. Many sites treat eating disorders as lifestyle choices, rather than the illnesses they truly are. Most personify anorexia (“Ana”) and bulimia (“Mia”) into companions – individuals one can look to for guidance and strength.

The medical community classifies eating disorders as mental illnesses. Experts say girls with eating disorders focus on their bodies in a misguided bid to resolve deeper psychological issues, believing that they can fix their inner troubles by achieving a perfect outside.

EatingDisorderEating disorder specialists say pro-anorexia sites are particularly dangerous since those suffering from the disease are usually in deep denial and cling to the illness to avoid dealing with its psychological underpinnings. Websites that glorify eating disorders make treatment increasingly difficult.

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • There are an estimated 7 million females and 1 million males suffering from eating disorders in the United States.
  • The Harvard Eating Disorders Center estimates that 3 percent of adolescent women and girls have anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorders.
  • Four-of-five 13-year-old girls have attempted to lose weight.
  • One study showed that 42 percent of first- through third-grade girls want to be thinner.

About 1 percent of females between 10 and 20 have anorexia nervosa. Between 2 percent and 3 percent of young women develop bulimia nervosa. Almost half of all anorexics will develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.

Without treatment, up to 20 percent of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, the mortality rate falls to 2 to 3 percent. The recovery rate with treatment is about 60 percent. Alas, only 10 percent of those with eating disorders receive treatment.

Pro-ED sites are just one reason why parents need to monitor children’s online behavior. In the web journals or logs (blogs) of these sites, users share near-starvation diets, offer tips for coping with hunger and detail ways to avoid the suspicions of family members.

They discuss extreme calorie restriction and weight loss through laxatives, diet pills and purging (self-induced vomiting).

  • Between the ages of 8 and 14, females naturally gain at least 40 pounds.
  • More than half of teenage girls are – or think they should be – on diets.
  • Websites were changing the very culture surrounding eating disorders, making them more acceptable to girls on and off the Internet.
  • Pro-ED sites thrive off the denial aspect of the illnesses while promoting the perceived benefits of having an eating disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa message conceptual design

Eating disorders in children and teens cause serious changes in eating habits that can lead to major, even life threatening health problems. The three main types of eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia , a condition in which a child refuses to eat adequate calories out of an intense and irrational fear of becoming fat
  • Bulimia , a condition in which a child grossly overeats (binging) and then purges the food by vomiting or using laxatives to prevent weight gain
  • Binge eating, a condition in which a child may gorge rapidly on food, but without purging

Resources provided by:

  • Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc.
  • Harvard Eating Disorders Center
  • The National Institute of Mental Health
  • Reuters
  • Socialist Voice of Women
  • WebMD
  • South Carolina Department of Mental Health

If you suspect your child is struggling with an eating disorder, get help immediately.  If they refuse to attend local resources or you are not seeing any progress, please contact us for residential therapy options.

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When Your Teen Runaways or Constantly Sneaks Out

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 22, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

RunawayTeenLet’s face it, raising a defiant teenager is not easy and when they become out-of-control and leave your home it is scary.  How long will they be gone?  Have they runaway?  Do they sneak out in the middle of the night?  Was this planned?

The streets are not a place for youth — yet they believe they are wise enough to survive!

One of any parent’s greatest fears is a missing child.

Each year, one million troubled teens from every social class, race and religion run away from home. Unfortunately, for American families, that number continues to rise.

Confused, pressured and highly impressionable teens follow their peers into bad choices.

In most cases, runaway teenagers want to escape the rules and boundaries of their family and household. Disagreements with parents leave them unhappy and frustrated to the point of rebellion. Naiveté leads them to believe they could survive outside the nest; and dreams of a life without parental guidance, rules and punishment seem ideal.

The dangers of a runaway lifestyle are obvious. Afraid and desperate, teens on the street are easy targets for robbery, rape, prostitution, drug addiction and violent crime. While the official Runaway Hotline cites nine out of ten teens return home or are returned home by the police within a month, any amount of time on the street can change a child forever.

Protecting our children from a potential runaway situation is incredibly important; the problem is serious, and the effects are severe.

If your child has runaway, contact your authorities and report it. Then reach out to  National Runaway Safeline for support.  They have a vast amount of resources and information for parents and youth.

TeenRunawayIf you suspect your child is struggling at home, is constantly leaving your home (sneaking out), please don’t hesitate in getting outside help.  If they refuse to attend (local therapy) or it doesn’t seem to be working, consider residential therapy.  Contact us for more information.  Many families have been successful when their teen was running away constantly with residential therapy.

This behavior can be a cry for help.

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Dangerous and Deadly Games Teens Play

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 20, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help
TeensToday

Simply good kids making some really bad choices.

Is it peer pressure?  Is it today’s trend?  Is it meant to end their life?

Today’s teen games are not games at all, they can put their lives at risk and the consequences are extremely serious.

So why play at all?

Why do kids do anything?  Why did we do anything when we were growing up? It’s part of life.

Let’s face it, it’s not our world anymore.  Marijuana is not the pot of yesterday.  The Internet has made it easier for our kids to meet those strangers that we only worried about with adorable dogs – now they are accessible 24/7 through screens.  Are our kids mature enough to know when to click-out?

As parents, we have to be educated about what today’s trends are so we can constantly have discussions about these behaviors.  Communication is key to awareness and prevention for safety offline and online.

What are these games? 

car-surfing1)  Car Surfing (also know as Ghost Riding and Skitching)

PURPOSE: A thrill-seeking activity that produces a rush of excitement and adventure.

RESULT: Accidents due to Car Surfing, Ghost Riding and Skitching can result in brain trauma, skull fractures, spinal damage, broken bones, internal bleeding, paralysis and even death. In the medical literature the most common cause of death in these deadly games is head injury. High vehicular speeds are not required to sustain injury. Accidents and deaths have been reported from vehicle going anywhere between 5 and 80 miles per hour.

HOW IT’S PLAYED:

Car Surfing involves a teen riding on the exterior of a moving car that someone else is driving.

Ghost Riding is when the driver gets out of a moving vehicle to dance beside it while it continues to move forward.

Skitching is when a person is pulled behind a car on an object such as a skateboard.
YouTube and many other sites offers tips and video coverage of all of these dangerous vehicle games in action.

ChokingGame2)  Choking Game (also know as Rising Sun, Space Monkey, Space Cowboy, Flatliner, Gasp, American Dream, Tingling, Blackout, Passout, Funky Chicken, and Roulette.)

PURPOSE: To cut off flow of blood to the brain resulting in lightheadedness and a euphoric high.

RESULT: The death of thousands of brain cells which could lead to short-term memory loss, hemorrhage, harm to retina, stroke, seizures, coma and death (Neumann-Potash, 2006). Within 3 minutes of oxygen deprivation to the brain a person will suffer brain damage. Extend that to 4-5 minutes without oxygen and you get DEATH.

HOW IT’S PLAYED: The Choking Game can be played either alone or in a group. If played in a group, one teen willingly submits to being choked by a friend. Teens use ropes, scarves, belts, bags, dog leashes as a choking weapon. When the Choking Game’s played alone the need for a high can become deadly. Most deaths reported from the Choking Game are from loners. Oftentimes, these teens pass out and are unable to release the rope, etc. resulting in their premature death. And if that’s not enough you can easily find written instructions for the Choking Game or YouTube.

WARNING SIGNS:
• Blood shot eyes
• Talking in code using the game’s alias names
• Locked doors
• Excessive need for privacy
• Disorientation after being left alone
• Frequent headaches
• Increased hostility or irritability
• Marks on the neck
• Unexplained presence of belts, scarves, bungee cords, or plastic bags
• Any of the above items tied to bedroom furniture, in closets, etc.
• Bleeding Spots under the skin on the face, especially under the eyelids.

Inhalants13.  Huffing (also known as Sniffing, Bagging, Boppers, Poor Man’s Pot, and Head Cleaner.)

PURPOSE: To inhale chemical vapors to get a feeling of lightheadedness and euphoria.

RESULT: Short-term use may mirror the symptoms of alcohol intoxication: Dizziness, hallucinations, impaired judgment, depression, slurred speech and irritability. Long-term effects can include: Death, permanent brain damage, irreversible organ damage, and cardiac arrhythmia.

HOW IT’S PLAYED: Breathing in a variety of inhalants. Other means of inhalant abuse are sniffing or snorting products or balloons or bags filled with inhalants. There are three types of commonly used inhalants:

Volatile Solvents – Examples include glue, paint thinner, felt-tip markers, and gasoline.
Aerosols – Examples include hair spray, deodorant, spray paint and vegetable oil cooking spray.
Gases – Examples include chemicals used in room deodorizers, propane, and butane (found in lighters).

WARNING SIGNS:
• Slurred speech
• Chemical odors from breath
• Red and runny nose
• Sores present around mouth and nose
• Decrease in appetite
• Unexplainable clothes saturated with chemicals
• Chemical stains on clothes and or body
• Nausea and vomiting

Resources courtesy of Psychology Today.

If you suspect your teen is engaging in risky behavior, don’t hesitate in reaching out for help.  Contact us for more information on residential therapy if your local resources have been exhausted or your teen refuses to get help.

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Teens Hanging With The Wrong Crowd

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 19, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

teensmoking-1Let’s face it, it’s stressful when we watch our kids make decisions we know aren’t good for them, like hanging with peers that are potential trouble.

What I often share with parents, these friends may have influence also know as peer pressure, however it your teenager that has the final decision from knowing right from wrong.

Studies have shown that parents are the main influence on their teenager, it has to be a constant stream of communications and it is an effort – no one said it was easy.

TeenPeerPressureSince it is rare your teen will simply stop hanging out with friends just because you say so, it is important to help them understand why you feel they are not in their best interest, and what the risks are.  Or possibly (and this is true) maybe the friend is a good person and we are misjudging someone by their appearance.

Either way, here are some tips to help you intervene and learn more about who your teen is spending time with:

1.  Talk to your teen

If you’ve been on autopilot for a while with your teen and the lines of communication are a little dusty, spending more time with your teen is often in order. If your teen knows you care about what’s going on in their life, they will be more likely to listen to what you have to say. The way you approach talking about your teen’s friends is crucial. Teens will defend their friends to the death and will often shut down and close themselves off to you if they feel you are attacking them. Instead, first talk about how your teen’s behavior has changed since he or she started hanging out with a particular group of friends. Firmly explain what types of behavior are acceptable and unacceptable.

When you finally broach the topic of your teen’s friends, make sure you discuss the specific types of behavior they exhibit that you’re unhappy with, rather than vague, sweeping criticisms. Doing this lessens the chances of your teen thinking you just blindly hate their friends for no reason. For example, “I think that so-and-so is disrespectful of his parents. I saw him cussing out his mother in the parking lot after the basketball game. That’s not okay, and I don’t want you to think it’s okay to treat me that way either.”

2.  Invite the friends over

Typical responses when you talk to your teen about his or her friends are “You don’t even KNOW my friends!” or “You just don’t understand.” If this is the case, open up your home and have your teen’s friends over a time or two. Order in some pizzas and spend some time with them. Make an honest attempt at building a relationship with them. You don’t have to hover, but get an idea of who they are, their personalities and what makes them tick. This is an important part of assessing your teen’s circle of friends. Sometimes they’re not as bad as their hard exterior and crazy hair lead you to believe.

3.  Get to know their friends’ parents

If your child is getting into trouble with a group of friends, chances are there are a couple other parents out there who aren’t happy about it either. Get in touch with the parents of your teen’s friends and discuss what you can do to counter what’s happening when your teens get together. While it’s tempting to play the blame game, don’t fall into that trap. You don’t want to ostracize the adult(s) who can help reinforce any separation or disciplinary action you have to take.

4.  Find positive mentors

Finally, is there an old friend of your teen’s who’s doing well in school and could talk to your teen about his or her behavior and choice of friends? Is there a trusted family member, older teen or 20-something that your teen looks up to who could take them under their wing? If your teen won’t listen to your warnings about their friends, perhaps they will listen to someone who’s been in their shoes more recently.

Is your teen in need of outside help?  Never hesitate or be ashamed to reach out for help to local resources.  If they refuse to attend or it doesn’t seem to be helping, you may want to consider residential therapy if their negative behavior is escalating.  Contact us for more information.

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