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Monthly Archives September 2015

Teen Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 05, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help

TeenSuicideKidsInHouseA parent’s worst nightmare is surviving a child’s suicide.

It’s not natural to outlive your child, especially to suicide.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month however this topic is one that needs attention 365 days a year.

Kids In The House offers a library of videos by experts to help educate parents on teen suicide prevention.  Today’s generation of online peer pressure in combination with offline only complicates our teen’s stress and anxiety. The world of cyberspace has created a new level of concern for many parents – and they must continue to be in touch with their teen’s emotional lives both offline and online.  It’s why your offline chats are so important – frequently.

American Foundation for Suicide offers the following warning signs for parents of teens and youth:

  1. Take it seriously, even if your friend brushes it off
    1. Suicidal ideation (continual suicidal thoughts) is not typical and reflects a larger problem
  2. An angry friend is better than a dead friend
  3. Ask, listen, tell, if the threat is immediate stay with the person
  4. Bring friend to a trusted adult. If they don’t know what to do or don’t take it seriously find another adult
  5. Be a good listener but remember suicidal ideation reflects a bigger underlying problem such as depression, substance problems, abuse, problem-solving difficulties. You can listen but they need to speak to a professional.
  6. 30% of attempters tell someone before, many don’t tell anyone after.
    1. When some talks to you, that is the moment for intervention
    2. With each suicide attempt, risk of suicide increases
  7. Warning Signs
    1. Change in mood- sadness, anxiety, irritability
    2. change in behavior- isolation
    3. Change in sleep
    4. Change in appetite
    5. Increase in aggression or impulsiveness
    6. Agitation
    7. Feeling hopeless, worthless
    8. Saying things like “No one will miss me” or “You’ll be better off” (feeling like a burden)
    9. Feeling ashamed or humiliated or desperation, as after a break up or test
    10. Collecting means
    11. Talking about wanting to kill themselves
    12. Drop in grades
    13. Risk taking
    14. Giving away prized possessions

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.


For more information on teens visit KidsInTheHouse.com

If you believe your teen is struggling or suffering with any of the above and have exhausted all your local resources, you may want to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.

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Teens, Violence and Guns: What’s a Parent’s Responsibility?

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 04, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

GunA 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 34 percent of American households with children under the age of 12 have firearms. It behooves gun enthusiasts to not only teach their children how to properly use firearms, but also be up to date on all the latest laws and treatises being discussed and passed by U.S. and state governments. The following three tips will make you a more responsible gun owner and parent:

Second Amendment Discussion

There are many different reasons Americans choose to own firearms. Avid hunters typically like to own several shotguns and muzzleloaders. Former military men and women often carry over the hobby of taking apart and building firearms from scratch. But when explaining guns and self-defense to children, it’s usually best to stick to the laws and treatises of the land.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The aforementioned sentence has been dissected and re-interpreted perpetually since the Amendment was ratified in 1791. The law was passed after the Revolutionary War to guarantee Americans the right to defend themselves against tyrannical government entities.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, clarified the meaning of the Second Amendment once and for all in 2008. The court struck down a 32-year ban on handgun possession within the Washington D.C. city limits. The majority ruled that the ban violated Americans’ individual rights to bear arms. There are only five states left in the Union that prohibit open-carry all together after Texas legalized it for licensed gun owners this year.

Firearm Storage

Always keep your firearms locked away and out of the reach of children. There are plenty of options for gun safes that fit every budget. Emphasize to your children that they should never touch a firearm without your supervision. If you feel a gun is necessary in a nightstand or dresser drawer for protection, make sure it’s not loaded. Keep the safety engaged on all firearms while not in use.

Teaching Recreational Shooting

There is no right or wrong answer as to when you should start teaching your kids how to shoot. The National Shooting Sports Foundation highlighted the story of former Olympian Vincent Hancock who shot his first clay target at age five. He went on to win consecutive gold medals in skeet shooting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics.

Regardless of when you choose to introduce your children to shooting, there are some universal safety rules all parents need to follow:

  • Always keep the muzzle pointed downward when not intending to immediately shoot.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  • Eye and ear protection are necessary to prevent hearing damage.

Firearms are as American as apple pie, so make sure you’re exercising your right to bear arms in a safe and responsible manner.

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Keeping guns safe is a priority.  Is there a reason outside of recreational shooting that your teen is wanting a gun?  Mental health has become a major topic in our county when it comes to shootings.  If your teen is struggling emotionally, having feelings of suicidal or homicidal thoughts, get help immediately.  If they refuse local help or you feel it isn’t helping, please contact us for more information.

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Teens Lying and Manipulation

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 03, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

ParentsTeensDon’t panic too much, many teens will lie to their parents, if you think back to your childhood there were probably times when you weren’t completely honest with your own parents.  However when this behavior becomes chronic as well as places them in risky situations, there has to be consequences.

We don’t condone dishonesty.  

Lying leads to manipulation with parents and if a teen is seeing a therapist, it can bleed into those sessions too, which means you are paying for counseling of things that may not be really happening.

Getting to the root of the problem, why is your teen lying?

Of course they know you won’t approve of their actions or may not allow them to do what they want to do or definitely won’t understand the truth.

When your child is younger, spotting a fib isn’t much of a challenge. Little ones don’t quite have the skills they need to fabricate a plausible excuse, so picking apart a questionable story is usually the work of a moment. As kids get older and hone their skills in the world of deception, however, it usually becomes a bit more difficult to spot a false story. Accusing your teen of lying when she’s telling the truth can cause a major blow-up and do serious damage to your relationship, but letting her out of the house with a flimsy story can put her in dangerous situations. At no time in your child’s life is it more difficult to pick out a lie than when she’s a teenager, but it’s also the time when it’s most imperative.

While there’s no fool-proof method of pulling out the truth when a teen is determined to lie, there are a few things you can keep in mind that may help you get to the bottom of a story before things get out of hand.

Look for Out-of-Character Behavior
Just as all poker players have a tell or two that will tip off an opponent in the know, everyone has a few tics that can give them away when they lie. The key to spotting suspicious behavior in your teen, however, is to be intimately familiar with her habits when she’s telling the truth. When you know your child and her mannerisms through and through, you’ll be better positioned to pick up on inconsistencies that indicate a lie or two. For instance, a teen that normally looks at the floor may be conscious that she needs to make eye contact in order to sell her story, and may hold that eye contact for so long that it tips you off to her tall tales. Any mannerisms that are out-of-character and suspicious can be indicators that she’s lying, so be on the lookout for changes in behavior.

Listen Carefully
It’s easy to get so caught up in trying to decode your teen’s behavior that you miss out on the most important aspect of determining the veracity of a story: just listening. Make sure that you pay attention to not only your teen’s mannerisms, but also what she says and how she says it. Long pauses after you ask a question are usually the result of your teen looking for holes in her story before answering, concocting an answer to your question that falls in line with her previous tale or to cover her tracks in case of a misstep. Slight stuttering or stammering or a change in pitch may also be indicators that your teen’s story isn’t entirely true.

Observe Her Body Language
A teenager that’s normally poised and graceful may have a perfect, seamless story to tell that fails only because her shifty body language betrays her. Look for fidgeting, excessive touching of the face, mouth or neck, tapping toes or a visible struggle to stand still. If your teen is suddenly fascinated with the hemline of a shirt or a stray thread poking out of a seam, she may be looking for an excuse to avoid making eye contact with you. Watching your child’s body language and comparing it with her normal behavior can give you a good idea of when her story is less than honest.

Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, or even the strange ones. Your job as a parent is to find out where your teen is going and what she’s up to, so don’t shy away from questioning a story that doesn’t sit right with you. Follow your instincts and listen to what your own experience tells you. If there’s a loose thread in your teen’s story, follow it to see how well that story holds up. Look for inconsistencies or discrepancies with the information you already have versus what she’s giving you.

Social Media

Are you monitoring her online activity?  Is there anything that is not adding up online that she is telling you differently offline?  Keep in mind, when safety trumps privacy it is a parents responsibility to dig deeper.  Your child’s safety is a priority.

Trust Her
While it may seem like trusting a teenager is just asking for trouble, you may be actively harming your relationship with her by questioning every word that falls from her mouth. Realizing the importance of showing her that you do trust her, and letting her know that you’re approachable when she’s in need of help or advice can actually foster a more open relationship that’s based on mutual trust and respect. When you work to build that trust, you won’t have to worry so much about picking apart her stories, as she’ll be more honest with you from the outset of a conversation. Accusing your child of lying when she’s telling you the truth only makes her angry and makes her more likely to stretch the boundaries of the truth in the future. After all, if she’s being accused of lying and punished undeservedly for dishonesty, why shouldn’t she at least earn your lack of trust and the penalties you level against her by doing exactly what you accuse her of?

Most importantly, you are a parent first. Most people have lied at one point or another — however when our teens are in the habit of lying about their whereabouts, what they are doing and manipulating you, this is unacceptable.  This is a habit they will take into their future and it will not be good.

Have you exhausted your local resources?  Are they manipulating your therapist? Sometimes residential therapy is the best way to help your teen find out why they are compulsively lying.  What is going on internally and emotionally to cause this behavior?  Contact us for more information.

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Is Your Teen Struggling With Their Sexual Orientation?

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 01, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

GayTeensSexual orientation is a very important topic that parents and teens need to understand and learn more about.

It’s a fact that youth that struggle with their sexual orientation are at-risk for being bullied, cyberbullying, and have a higher-suicide rate.  Parents must open up their lines of communication and be willing to open their minds to what their child is feeling.

What is sexual orientation?

The term sexual orientation refers to the gender (that is, male or female) to which a person is attracted. There are several types of sexual orientation that are commonly described:

  • Heterosexual (straight). People who are heterosexual are romantically and physically attracted to members of the opposite sex: males are attracted to females, and females are attracted to males. Heterosexuals are sometimes called “straight.”
  • Homosexual (gay or lesbian). People who are homosexual are romantically and physically attracted to people of the same sex: females are attracted to other females; males are attracted to other males. Homosexuals (whether male or female) are often called “gay.” Gay females are also called lesbian.
  • Bisexual. People who are bisexual are romantically and physically attracted to members of both sexes.

FatherSonAlthough we live in a more accepting society today of all sexual orientations, many parents have a hard time accepting that their child may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Even if you are struggling with this possibility, remember the importance of showing unconditional love to your child.

Teens who realize that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender sometimes stay “in the closet” (do not reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity) for a long time because they are afraid of what their friends, family (especially their parents), and others will say and do. This can be very stressful and can cause depression, anxiety, and other problems.

Parents can find local support groups through PFLAG (Parents, Families, Friends and Allies United with LGBTQ People).  Ten tips for parents to help you better understand your child and let them know you are interested in getting to know about them better.  Another great resource for teens and parents is The Trevor Project.

What is most important to understand is that LGBTQ teens can be at-risk for depression and suicidal thoughts if not addressed.

  1. 80% of gay and lesbian youth report severe social isolation.
  2. 6 in 10 LGBT students report feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
  3. Young people who are LGBT and who are “out” to their immediate families report feeling happier than those who aren’t.
  4. While non-LGBT students struggle most with school classes, exams, and work, their LGBT peers say the biggest problem they face is unaccepting families.
  5. Facts about teens and suicide.

If you feel your teen is struggling, be sure to reach out to them. If they are shutting down emotionally, find outside help. Let them know you are there for them. If you fear they are escalating deeper into depression and refusing to get help, contact us for more information.

Sources: Kids Health, WedMD, DoSomething.org, The Trevor Project


Leave a note for your teen today. Let them you love them – no matter.

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