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Monthly Archives December 2015

Does Your Teen Steal or Shoplift?

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 26, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

teenshopliftingNo family is immune to have their good child decide they want to steal or shoplift an item.

We frequently get calls from parents of teens being arrested or accused of stealing and/or shoplifting. Sometimes the stealing is isolated to your home – items in your house to the point that you are hiding your valuables (I’m confident some of you are shaking your head in agreement).   Why are they doing this, especially if they have the money to pay for it?

Too Young To Start

There are almost as many reasons teens steal as there are things for teens to steal. One of the biggest reasons teens steal is peer pressure. Often, teens will steal items as a means of proving’ that they are “cool enough” to hang out with a certain group. This is especially dangerous because if your teen can be convinced to break the law for petty theft, there is a strong possibility he or she can be convinced to try other, more dangerous behaviors, like drinking or drugs. It is because of this that it is imperative you correct this behavior before it escalates to something beyond your control.

Another common reason teens steal is because they want an item their peers have but they cannot afford to purchase. Teens are very peer influenced, and may feel that if they don’t have the ‘it’ sneakers or mp3 player, they’ll be considered less cool than the kids who do. If your teen cannot afford these items, they may be so desperate to fit in that they simply steal the item. They may also steal money from you or a sibling to buy such an item. If you notice your teen has new electronics or accessories that you know you did not buy them, and your teen does not have a job or source of money, you may want to address whereabouts they came up with these items.

Teens may also steal simply for a thrill. Teens who steal for the ‘rush’ or the adrenaline boost are often simply bored and/ or testing the limits of authority. They may not even need or want the item they’re stealing! In cases like these, teens can act alone or as part of a group. Often, friends accompanying teens who shoplift will act as a ‘lookout’ for their friend who is committing the theft. Unfortunately, even if the lookout doesn’t actually steal anything, the can be prosecuted right along with the actual teen committing the crime, so its important that you make sure your teen is not aiding his or her friends who are shoplifting.

Yet another reason teens steal is for attention. If your teen feels neglected at home, or is jealous of the attention a sibling is getting, he or she may steal in the hopes that he or she is caught and the focus of your attention is diverted to them. If you suspect your teen is stealing or acting out to gain your attention, it is important that you address the problem before it garners more than just your attention, and becomes part of their criminal record. Though unconventional, this is your teen’s way of asking for your help- don’t let them down!

If they have escalated to a point that they are stealing from your home – usually this can mean they are in need of money. In most cases it is typically for drugs. Be sure you are reaching out to your teen and trying to engage in conversations. Communication is key to helping build your relationship and trust – yet sometimes it can be a struggle.

If it fails, get outside help with a counselor or therapist or someone he/she trusts to speak with. If the problem continues – you may need to research residential therapy.  Please contact us for more information.

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ADHD and Teens: From Adolescence to Adulthood

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 15, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

ADHDTeenBoyAttention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common diagnosis today when it comes to children.

Years ago, kids would be labeled troubled and sometimes even kicked out of school for their behavior that in many cases, they simply were unable to control.

I know this firsthand since my son went through three different schools (and this was in kindergarten) before we had him properly tested and finally diagnosed. I was someone that refused to give into those labels – but when you reach your wit’s end, you need to understand that ADHD is not something that is terminal or even bad, it’s treatable and in reality – once you figure it out, it’s manageable.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that these children are not intelligent, or on the low end of the IQ side.  Quite the contrary. They are typically exceptionally smart. My son is now an Occupational Therapist – had a full academic scholarship through college and has always been extremely intelligent.

Parents assume that if we ask if a child is ADD or ADHD we are asking if they are special needs or handicapped, this is not true.

Today many adults are now recognizing that they have symptoms of ADHD that have been untreated. In our generation, we didn’t know a lot about it. Today we do.

Here’s an interesting infographic – at the end you will see a list of successful people that have ADHD. ADHD is not a bad thing – your child/teen can and will be successful if they are diagnosed with this – they only need to be treated to learn how to manage it.

ADHD: From childhood to adolescence to adulthood
Infographic courtesy of Rawhide.

Is your teen struggling with ADD/ADHD and you’ve exhausted your local resources? Is their behavior escalating into risky actions outside of academic underachieving? Contact us for options and resources.

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Helping Teens With Self-Esteem

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 13, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

SelfWorthHelp! My teen is hanging with the wrong crowd!

This is a common statement from parents when their child is starting down a negative road.

Your child’s self-esteem is an important part of his self-image. It helps him feel he’s worthwhile just as he is and helps him feel good about his choices and decisions. A healthy self esteem doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that is nurtured and grown throughout a lifetime, and something that the important people in his life have a chance to help cultivate.

Here are some tips for boosting your child’s self-esteem.

gift of failureAvoid generic praise. Parents want kids to feel good about the things they do and to encourage them to repeat the types of behavior they value. So parents often say things like “Great job!” after everything from finishing vegetables at dinner to putting socks on in the morning to going down the slide at the park. While generic congratulations feel good to a child for a short time, after too many times it becomes meaningless. In fact, congratulating a child for things that don’t require real effort can make a child lose trust in the parent’s honesty. Obviously this is an example for younger children – however the New York Time’s best seller by Jessica Lahey, The Gift of Failure, is an excellent example of over-praising a child and especially a teenager can actually hinder them, rather than help them.

Use specific praise generously. It’s helpful to a child’s self-esteem to hear from parents and other adults about their accomplishments, both big and small. Instead of using generic praise, let your child know how much you admire and appreciate his specific behavior. Phrases like “I appreciate your help with the housework. It means we have more time to go to the mall this weekend.” or “I’m so proud of how you tried new activities at school. It’s a great way to find out what your passionate about.” Will help your teen feel good about his abilities and choices.

Avoid negative labels. Most of the way we communicate with others is based in lifelong habits. Unfortunately some unhealthy habits may find their way into your parenting or care giving vocabulary. Labeling a child as being mean, lazy, uncoordinated or hyperactive, or calling him a whiner, liar or babyish can negatively affect his self-esteem. Children are sensitive to what the people they love think about them and words can have a huge effect. Choose your words carefully and talk about challenging behaviors or traits in positive terms.

Become a great listener. Giving your child your full attention and truly listening to what he is saying and how he feels is an immediate self-esteem booster. When you turn off your phone, the TV and the computer and fully engage with your child it shows him that you really care about him and that you’re interested in what he has to say. That kind of undivided attention is rarer than it should be these days and will make your child feel valued and loved.  In the same way – your teen need to turn off their phone and electronics to listen to you too.

Model healthy self-esteem. Your child looks to you for clues about how to think, act and feel. Make sure you’re sending the right message. Invest in developing your own healthy self-esteem and you’ll be on your way to helping your child develop it too. Have a positive body image, be confident about your abilities, and don’t let petty criticisms from the outside world make you feel bad about yourself and your choices. If you struggle with esteem issues, talk about them with your child in an age appropriate way and show him the steps you’re taking to develop a healthy self-esteem. Showing your child that you’re not perfect, but that you’re working towards being better, gives him the freedom to accept his flaws too.

Teach problem solving skills. Teaching your child how to objectively assess a situation, brainstorm solutions, and put a plan into action is a proactive way of building self-esteem. Children who feel able to handle challenging situations, who recognize that when they get knocked down they can get right back up and try again, and who are confident that every problem has a solution have a strong sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an important part of a child’s healthy emotional development. It acts like a suit of armor for your child, protecting him from many of the bumps and bruises that come with everyday life. It also gives him a strong foundation to build life skills on.

TeensOnBeach11 Facts about teens and self esteem are listed on DoSomething.org and are very interesting including:

  1. Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views him/herself as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view permeates every thought, producing faulty assumptions and ongoing self-defeating behavior.
  2. Among high school students, 44% of girls and 15% of guys are attempting to lose weight.
  3. Over 70% of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks. Brighten someone’s day by posting encouraging messages on your school’s bathroom mirrors. Sign up for Mirror Messages.
  4. More than 40% of boys in middle school and high school regularly exercise with the goal of increasing muscle mass.
  5. 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating. This compares to 25% of girls with high self-esteem.
  1. About 20% of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  2. Teen girls that have a negative view of themselves are 4 times more likely to take part in activities with boys that they’ve ended up regretting later.
  3. The top wish among all teen girls is for their parents to communicate better with them. This includes frequent and more open conversations.
  4. 38% of boys in middle school and high school reported using protein supplements and nearly 6% admitted to experimenting with steroids.
  5. 7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.
  6. A girl’s self-esteem is more strongly related to how she views her own body shape and body weight, than how much she actually weighs.

Do you feel your tween or teen is struggling with low self worth, starting to go down a negative path. Don’t let it escalate. Be proactive and reach out for help. Finding a local adolescent therapist can sometimes help. If it has gone too far, you may have come to a point where residential therapy is the answer. Contact us for more information.

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Preventing Underage Drinking During the Holidays

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

Teens are not any different than adults and parents, they want to celebrate the holidays and be festive!

What is different is alcohol shouldn’t be included in their recipe of fun.

Let’s face it, we were all kids once, and during this time especially, relatives would have us try drinks during home parties – but what parents are facing today can be more serious than generations earlier.

Here some tips for discussing the holiday alcohol chat with your teens:

Do your research: Learn the facts of the affects of alcohol and how it can affect their health and mind. That way, you can successfully communicate the right information to your kids. Have the talk early with your kids before the parties and peer pressure start, and talk about it often. We know so much more today than we did generations earlier.

Reduce peer pressure: Teach your teens that they should celebrate the holidays with friends they can trust and that have share similar interests and values with. By doing this, kids can minimize the effects of peer pressure and they won’t feel uncomfortable at parties.

Have the right timing: There are many great ways to give an excuse to have the talk; talk to your teens when they enter high school, when they’re going to their first party, or when a teen alcohol-related event appears on the news.

Listen and pay attention: It’s important to listen and not lecture. Ask their opinions and suggestions. Pay attention to what kids are doing during the holidays, who they are hanging out with, and if their behavior changes, find out why.  Keep in mind – it’s best to have your conversation before a confrontation arises.

Have a safe word: Doing this will give your kids the chance to call or text you if they are uncomfortable with what’s going on at a party and they won’t feel embarrassed.

Have others involved in the conversation: Have older siblings involved in the conversation, a family friend, a teacher or coach involved since these are all trusted people.

This information is courtesy of The Alcohol Talk.  Also for more information on underage drinking, please visit the non-profit organization Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility at: www.responsibility.org.

Is your teen out-of-control and you have exhausted all your local resources including therapy and out patience services? Are you considering residential treatment? Learn more about it and if it is right for your individual teen and your family. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Raising Responsible Teens in an Entitlement Generation

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 01, 2015  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

EntitledTeenRaising teenagers is not easy especially when they are expected everything handed to them. It seems we live in an entitlement generation.

It’s not uncommon to hear parents of teenagers bemoaning the lack of responsibility and maturity that their children exhibit. As kids get older and enter into the teenage years, it becomes more apparent that they’re actually approaching adulthood, whether they’re prepared for it or not.

Instilling a sense of responsibility in a teenager can be a very challenging prospect, but it can also help them to avoid succumbing to peer pressure or failing to learn important life skills as they grow into productive, capable adults.

Let Them Experience Natural Consequences

It’s normal to want to limit your teen’s exposure to disappointment, failure and hurt as she grows into an adult. However, shielding her from the natural consequences of her more irresponsible behavior will only make it more difficult for her to connect her choices to those consequences. While you certainly shouldn’t allow your child to behave recklessly or take dangerous risks without intervening, you also should think twice before stepping in to protect her from the inconvenience or even disappointment of making an irresponsible choice. For instance, nagging and cajoling your teen to collect her laundry or pay her cell phone bill will probably only make her more likely to resist in an attempt to test boundaries and assert her independence. Allowing her phone to be shut off or her clothes to go unwashed as a result of her choice not to manage those tasks, however, can help her to understand the importance of managing her responsibilities.

Model Responsible Behavior

While a teenager may not show many signs of listening to what you say, you can be certain that she’s watching the things that you do. Demanding her to behave responsibly while allowing her to see you making decidedly irresponsible choices is not only ineffective, it can also be downright offensive to kids. Taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to parenting doesn’t usually help your children gain the skills or learn the lessons that they need to learn, so be sure that you’re practicing what you preach when it comes to accepting responsibility and behaving accordingly.

Minimize Large, No-Strings-Attached Purchases

It’s become something of a rite of passage for teenagers to receive vehicles and other pricey objects as they come of age, but simply presenting them with such items without requiring that they take ownership for care and maintenance of them, or make any financial investment of their own, can cause your teen to feel as if she’s entitled to such grand gestures. Helping your teen to purchase a car but insisting that she make part of the payments, purchasing a car outright but requiring her to pay for the insurance, and making sure that she alone is responsible for the care and upkeep of her things can help her learn more about how to be responsible and that she has to earn the things she wants rather than them just being given to her.

parent-talking-to-teenMaintain an Open Line of Communication

When your teen knows that she can approach you with her problems, concerns or questions, she may be more likely to do just that. Part of being responsible is learning how to admit when you need help, and learning from the experiences she has along the way. Make sure that your child knows she can come to you when she’s feeling pressured or anxious so that she’ll be more likely to address her problems than to seek an irresponsible, escapist solution that could have far-reaching implications.

Make a Chore List

If your teen wasn’t responsible for keeping track of and completing a list of chores as a child, instituting a policy of doing just that after she reaches adolescence can be a struggle. Still, she needs to understand that there are tasks in life that must be completed, even if they’re distasteful or less than thrilling. Giving your teen a list of chores and some real-life, practical consequences that accompany her failure to complete them are two ways of helping her to gain responsibility through experience and consequences.

FamilyDinnerEat Dinner as a Family

In today’s busy world, sitting down to family dinners can seem like a major inconvenience. Studies at Emory University, The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University and a white paper study by Dr. William J. Dougherty all show, however, that kids and teens that regularly share meals with their families have lower rates of obesity, higher academic performance, are less likely to develop or struggle with eating disorders, have higher self-esteem, and have lowered risks of depression, substance abuse and teen pregnancy than their peers whose families don’t share meals together. Preparing and sharing dinner as a family unit can help your child make more responsible choices and be more capable, productive and successful in adulthood.

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