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Monthly Archives March 2016

Teen Sexting: What Parents Need To Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 30, 2016  /   Posted in Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

Did you know that 54 percent of adolescents report knowing someone who has sent a text, and 15 percent admitted to sexting?

Sending sexual images and content has consequences not only to your teenager but in some situations, to parents also.

Sexting laws are relatively new. State laws regarding sexting differ significantly and in states without designated sexting laws, the crime may still be punished under pre-existing laws that target child pornography. While the legal consequences of sexting are still a little hazy, it’s a good idea to talk keep your kids in the loop. This infographic provides tips for parents to prepare their children for an increasingly digital world.

Permanent Picture: Teen Sexting (And What Parents Should Do About It)
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Permanent Picture: Teen Sexting (And What Parents Should Do About It) (via Intella Blog)

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4 Tips to Help Teens With ADHD Improve Their Grades

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 28, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

ADHDBoy2Every parent wants their child to do well in school and succeed in life. It’s challenging to watch your teen’s grades slip, despite the time, attention and effort you put into helping them improve. This can be even more difficult for parents of children with ADHD. If your teen has ADHD and you’re looking for ways to help them improve their grades, we’ve gathered some tips below.

Unique tools

Kids with ADHD simply do not learn successfully under conventional methods. So it’s wise to try unconventional study methods.

Create a word puzzle to help your child with a specific subject which they are struggling in. Rather than simply reading a book and quizzing them on the information, this is a fun way to study that doesn’t feel like school work.

Have your teen review the information they studied for a few minutes just before they go to bed can also help them remember the information and process it while they sleep.

Break it up

According to PsychCentral.com, cramming for an exam simply doesn’t work. It can put added pressure and anxiety on your teen, which hinders them from understanding and remembering information. Experts suggest breaking up study time into increments for better success. For example, if your child has an exam in a week, ask them to study for 25 minutes each day leading up to it, rather than for hours the night before.

Don’t put the phone away

This one sounds counterproductive, but it actually isn’t. If your child is one of the millions of kids today with a smartphone, don’t ask him or her to put it down just yet. The apps and resources in smartphones can actually be helpful to your child.

For kids with ADHD, planning ahead is crucial. At the start of the school year or even a particular week, have your child note key due dates in the calendar of their phone. Also, have them set up reminders with the alert feature so they never miss something important. This article offers more insight — though geared toward college students, middle and high school students alike can benefit from the tips.

When studying, however, ask your child to put their phone in airplane mode or simply take the phone until they are finished to avoid distractions.

Physical activity

Physical activity is helpful in reducing stress, clearing the mind and getting blood flowing. But for kids with ADHD — and kids in general who may be dealing with the pressures that come with being a pre-teen or teenager — physical activity is even more important. Some experts even say that movement is medicine when it comes to ADHD, helping to increase attention and improve mood.

Even if your child is not interested in sports, make it a point to incorporate a brisk walk, bike ride or even a game of catch into family time. This can help with bonding and also bring forth the aforementioned benefits.

Above all, keep the lines of communication open with your child, assess what’s working on a regular basis and adjust your strategy as needed. It can be tough to help children with special needs help themselves. But with preparation and creativity, it will be easier for the two of you to achieve success together.

Contributor:  Joyce Wilson taught for decades. Now happily retired, she spends her days sharing her teaching knowledge with today’s teachers and hanging out with her grandchildren. She and a fellow retired teacher created TeacherSpark.org to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.

 

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Life Skills Your Teen Can Use Now and Later In Life

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 21, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens

You teen is at an important age, where his or her interests and hobbies will have a large influence on their identity. Make sure your teen is engaged in activities that are beneficial in the short and long term. There are skills they can develop that can help them cope with the stress of adolescence, discover what they love, keep them busy and also help prepare them for the professional world. Here are four life skills for teens that could help them immediately and prepare them for a job:

ParentTeenCookingCooking Skills

Fine-tuned cooking skills will equip your teen to make meals for themselves and open up opportunities towards a solid career in the culinary world. If you, or a family member, has enhanced knowledge about knife skills, gastronomy or advanced cooking techniques, share them with your teen. Arrange that they work with an experienced cook, within your family, twice a week. They can be given more responsibility, once they’ve established their basic skills. For example, after about three weeks, your teen can design a menu that combines complementary dishes and tests their culinary skill set. You can sign your teen up for a cooking class offered within your community, for more in-depth instruction. You can also ask a local restaurant if they have any internship opportunities within their kitchens. An internship is a wonderful opportunity for your teen to learn how a high-functioning restaurant kitchen operates, first hand.

Recreational Sports

Your teen should have hobbies that keep them occupied and out of trouble. Recreational sports are an excellent hobby that allow the release of stress and encourage focus within the practice of a skill. Single-person recreational sports provide your teen with personal goals and incentives– they can only rely on themselves and their own growth in skills for the achievement of their athletic goal. Swimming, running, cycling and kayaking are recreational sports that your teen can practice independently. They can set short term and long-term goals for themselves, which is a valuable skill one must utilize in many facets of their professional life. There is also the sport of target practice, with the use of airsoft guns, compound bows or crossbows. This sport requires immense practice and focus– two traits that can be found in highly successful people and are desired by employers in every field.

Writing Journal

Communication is key in every area of our lives. Help your teen develop their communication skills, with the promotion of journal writing. You can provide them with a journal and encourage a regular practice of writing with monetary incentive. If their allowance is dependent on how many pages they write, they will cooperate with less protest. A journal is a therapeutic outlet for your teen, where they can write down their daily encounters and the thoughts they have on their budding identities. Let your teen know that their writing journal is private and you will only check the page numbers, with their supervision. Writing is a method of critical thinking, which is important in many jobs– your teen should get a head start on sharpening this skill. A journal also helps refine your teens’ communication skills. Communication is another key career trait that is pivotal in job interviews, professional interactions and project presentations.

Computer Skills

If you’re the parent of a self-proclaimed computer geek, seek out opportunities that will help them develop digital skills. If your teen is interested in website design, enroll them in a graphic design course. Many community colleges have design departments, some of which may offer part-time, night courses. Graphic design will let your teen engage with their computer, exercise their creativity and help prepare them for an eventual career in that realm. If your teen loves video games, help them find a class or a group that will teach them how they can create their own video game. TechRocket has online tech courses that teach kids Python, iOS, Java, Minecraft, 3D printing and more. Coding and digital design activities are a creative outlet for your teen and can equip him or her with the knowledge and skills that are highly sought after by the tech industry.

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7 Signs Your Teen Is Suffering From Depression

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 19, 2016  /   Posted in Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

TeenSuicide3Every day there is an average of 5,400 suicide attempts among young people grades seven through 12. One in ten teens develop a depressive disorder before the age of 16.

One of the top signs of depression among teens is addition to the Internet, which leads to more isolated screen time, especially with the Internet being so accessible via mobile phones.

Below is a roundup of signs a teen may be suffering from depression, as well as visual representation through this infographic:

Seven Signs Your Teen Is Suffering From Depression

  1. Addicted to the Internet – Kids may go online to escape their problems, but excessive computer/mobile use and screen time only increases their isolation, making them more depressed with feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  1. Jokes About Committing Suicide – Kids who talk or joke about committing suicide may be suffering from depression. Your teen may be writing comments on social media saying things like “I’d be better off dead.”
  1. Has Violent Outburst – Violence is most common in kids (especially teenagers) who are victims of cyberbullying. Their self-hatred can develop into homicidal rage.
  1. Skips School – Depression can cause low energy and concentration difficulties. At school, this may lead to poor attendance, a drop in grades, or frustration with schoolwork.
  1. Becomes Reckless – Depressed teenagers may engage in dangerous or high-risk behavior, such as reckless driving, out-of-control drinking and unsafe sex.
  1. Loses Interest in Activities – Kids and teens who are depressed may lose interest in sports or activities they used to enjoy, because they have the reduced ability to function in events and social activities.
  1. Critical Comments – Depressed kids are overly sensitive to rejection and may make harsh critical comments about themselves. These feelings of worthlessness can stem from trouble in teenage relationships.

7SignsDepression
A smartphone in the hands of a teenager or young child can encourage impulsivity, TeenSafe, one of the most popular parental monitoring technology services, provides the tools necessary to assist parents in detecting issues before they turn into serious problems.

TeenSafe aims to empower parents with the tools to monitor and manage a child’s online activity in order to help know when they need to open up a dialogue and start a conversation.

If you suspect your teen is struggling with teen depression and you have exhausted your local resources, it might be time to consider residential therapy or a therapeutic summer program. Contact us today for more information.

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Are Prescriptions the Only Way to Help with ADHD

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 17, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Uncategorized

Although the causes of ADHD are unknown there are several characteristics that have shown to play a role in the development of the disorder. For instance, if a parent has ADHD, their child has more than a 50% chance of also having the disorder.  ADHD is also linked to children with a low birth weight, children who experience head injuries at an early age, and children of women who smoke or drank during pregnancy. Although these risk factors have played a part in the development of ADHD, the causes are still unknown.

With the improvements of modern medicine, doctors have found ways to use prescription drugs as an ADHD treatment. There are both stimulant and non-stimulant medications to treat ADHD symptoms. Stimulants increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain to improve concentration, while non-stimulants affect neurotransmitters.

Although these medications have shown improvement in many situations, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of giving young children these medications. Luckily, there are other treatment options to try for children with ADHD to improve their focus before resorting to medications.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is often another commonly used way to cope with the symptoms if ADHD. Behavioral therapy helps children and their parents structure the child’s time more efficiently by increasing positive attention, establishing predictability, and creating routines. In most cases, rewarding kids for staying focused will yield better results than punishing them for being off task. It has also been beneficial for parents and teachers to periodically let the child know how they have been doing; for instance, if the child tends to interrupt others by announcing their thoughts frequently let them know every so often how they are doing, as opposed to ridiculing them every time they interject.

ADHD Coaching

David Giwerc, president of the ADD Coach Academy, defines ADHD coaching as an “ongoing collaborative partnership created to facilitate personal growth and awareness that leads to conscious choice, focused action, and a meaningful, rewarding life.” In this relationship the coach and client work together to achieve the client’s goals. ADHD coaching is used to correct certain behaviors and improve lives by deepening learning and improving focus. It focuses on improving inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity to help those with ADHD reach their goals.  Creating new experiences and applying those new ways of doing things consistently in your life will eventually create new neurotransmitter patterns in the brain.

Exercise

Exercise should be a crucial part in everyone’s life, but it is especially beneficial to children with ADHD. As most of us know, when we exercise it releases endorphins into our system; endorphins help regulate mood, elevate dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Since people who have ADHD have lowered levels of those brain chemicals, the boost in chemicals helps focus and lengthens attention span. Team sports or activities where children have to pay close attention to their movements are some of the best ways to improve social skills and work on channeling their energy. Some of these sports include ballet, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, and tae kwon do.

MeditationRecent studies have shown that meditation can also help reduce the symptoms of ADHD.  It can help improve attention, anxiety, organizational skills, emotional control, memory and behavior regulation. Meditation teaches children and adults how to pay attention and not act on their impulses. Eventually the child learns how to think through their impulsive actions with meditation before executing them. There are many meditation classes offered at yoga studios, but it can also be practiced just as easily at home. There are also many guided meditations on YouTube to follow if you are uncomfortable leading your own or your child’s practice.

Sleep 

The amount of sleep a child usually gets can also affect their ADHD symptoms. Studies have shown that children who get an extra 30 minutes of sleep are less restless and impulsive. One of the issues with sleep is that children with ADHD can sometimes have issues calming down and actually falling asleep. Some ways to help children fall asleep are, establishing a consistent bedtime routine, having the child sleep in a cool, dark room, and using melatonin or essential oils. Also make sure to eliminate any screen time an hour or more before it is time for bed. The blue light that is radiated from most electronic devices can delay the release of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

By implementing some of these activities into a routine schedule, your child with ADHD can start focusing better; not to mention the bonus of your child not having to use medications. But keep in mind everyone is different, so if one method works for one child, it may not work for another, and some children may still need medication to help their ADHD symptoms.

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Contributor: Bobbi Phelps produces content on behalf of the ADHD specialists at Cerebrum Health Center. An avid writer and learner, she loves to use her skills for engaging others in important topics in creative and effective ways. When she is not working, she loves exploring, hanging out with her dogs, and binge watching shows on Netflix. Tweet her @Bobbi_Phelps or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Eating Disorders Are Also a Disorder for Male Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 12, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

TeenBoyCanstock1The words ‘eating disorders’ often conjure up images of young female teens, yet research suggests that numerous boys and teens are also at risk. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders, one in every 10 cases of eating disorders involves males. Maudsley Parents, meanwhile, notes that while in the 1960s and 1970s, eating disorders in males were thought to be practically non-existent, in the 1980s and 1990s the number of males affected was thought to stand at around 10 per cent and now, males make up 25 per cent of eating disorder patients.

Boys as young as seven or eight can develop anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorders or Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) and it is estimated that some 10 million boys and youths in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. The most common age for the development of anorexia nervosa is the late teens or early 20s, while binge eating disorder tends to arise in males and females in their 20s. The most common age for the onset of bulimia, meanwhile, is 12 to 25. Sometimes, although an official disorder is not diagnosed, problems still exist. According to National Eating Disorders.org, for instance, around three per cent of teen boys display unhealthy weight control behaviors, while 43 per cent of men are dissatisfied with their body image.

Some of the most pertinent findings on male eating disorders include:

  • While female with eating disorders tend to focus on thinness, boys and teens aim for a lean, ‘ripped’ body in which muscles are visible.
  • Males who play sports which are judged have a 13 per cent risk of developing an eating disorder, compared to only three per cent in those who play referred sports.
  • Male athletes with anorexia commonly have the following personality traits: competitiveness, being impulsive, having a tendency to be depressed, perfectionism, worrying about weight and hyperactivity.
  • Some sports in which eating disorders have been more prevalent include weightlifting, wrestling, gymnastics, dancing, and bodybuilding. Often, males feel that looking more muscular will bring them success in other areas (for instance, in social acceptance, acceptance by romantic interests, etc.).
  • Eating disorders in males can be linked to the concept of ‘control’. Males can feel that is their duty to control all aspects of their lives, including how they look. This can lead to an obsession with dieting, attendance at the gym, etc.
  • Males are less likely to obtain help when they have eating disorders for many reasons. Firstly, anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are often thought of as an exclusively ‘female’ problem. Secondly, boys and teens can be fearful that their concerns will not be taken seriously by health professionals. Thirdly, they often don’t know who to turn to.
  • Signs to watch out for in boys include an obsession with exercise or eating specific foods, not being able to resist exercise even when one is injured, low testosterone levels, etc.

If you or a loved one may have an eating disorder, it is vital to obtain help; anorexia nervosa has an alarmingly high mortality rate, and the sooner diagnosis and treatment are received, the better. Gold standard treatments for eating disorders include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (in which patients are taught about the interrelationship between how they think, behave, and act, and taught practical strategies to overcome obsessive thoughts and negativity). Another excellent treatment is Maudsley Therapy, which involves the whole family supporting the person with the eating disorder. Families are taught to set aside blame and judgement and focus on a positive strategy that each members plays an important role in carrying out.

In eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, the first step is to establish weight gain. In bulimia, the key is to stop the bingeing-purging cycle, while in binge eating disorder, bingeing is the key behavior which must be prevented. Once the individual establishes a normal weight and begins to feel stronger, they are then given more freedom with respect to choosing the types of food they eat, etc. Eventually, they develop a healthy, positive relationship with food, and recognize the triggers that can lead to a relapse into unhealthy behaviors. Patients also need to be tested for other possible co-existing conditions (such as depression, or anxiety). If present, these conditions need to be diagnosed and treated, to enable lasting recovery.

Contributor: Helen Young

If you feel your son is struggling with an eating disorder and you have exhausted your local resources, it might be time to consider residential therapy.  Please contact us for options.

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Helping Your Teen Land That First Job

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 07, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Summer Jobs

TeenJobsFor most teenagers, the main motivation in seeking a part-time job is to earn money of their own. For parents, though, the hope is that the benefits of teen employment go beyond the financial. In practical terms, work experience can begin building a teen’s resume, help in learning management of finances, provide networking experiences that may prove valuable later in life, as well as marketable skills for future employment.

Additionally, a job can instill confidence and encourage responsibility in adolescents. Parents should be aware, however, of some of the possible pitfalls of your teenager working, such as less school involvement and slipping grades. Note that many of the problems can be negated by limiting the hours worked and monitoring stress levels and school work.

Here are five tips parents can use to guide their teens in a successful job search.

1. Prepare Materials

Before beginning the job hunt, help your teenager prepare the basic materials, starting with a photo ID, Social Security card and, depending on age, a work permit.

Next, help your teen prepare a resume. Although many of the entry-level positions may not require a formal resume, writing one will help your teen pinpoint interests, skills and relevant experiences (think volunteering, school clubs, household responsibilities). For examples of first resumes, check out resources from your high school’s guidance counselor or the website Adventures in Education.

2. Research Job Options

The next step in the job search is to research available opportunities. Prepare your teen to expect entry-level jobs to be fairly basic. Beyond the typical teen jobs in retail or food service, your teen could also use this opportunity to look for a position at a company related to a field your teen is interested in pursuing as a career.

For instance, if your teen is interested in cyber security or computer programming, look at a company such as LifeLock, which is doing exciting work in the field and has a supportive company culture. Even though a teen’s first job may be basic, the experience and networking can be invaluable down the road.

Help your teen look for positions by reaching out to family and friends who may know of part-time positions not posted elsewhere.

3. Practice for the Interview

Most jobs will require at least one in-person interview. Interviews can be intimidating, even for the most outgoing person, so help your teen prepare by holding practice interviews.

Use a resource such as Understood.org to find the most common interview questions for first jobs. Use these practice interviews to help your teen applicant understand the importance of things like professional dress, eye contact, energy and a respectful demeanor.

4. Follow Up and Thank You

After interviews, encourage your teen to write a note thanking the interviewer for their time and asking if any additional information to aid in the employment decision is needed. This will help set a professional tone for your teen’s future employment. For sample thank-you notes, look at websites such as Job-Hunt.org or Business News Daily.

5. Accepting a Job Offer

Finally, once a job offer comes in, help your teen consider if the commitment required by the job is realistic. Also, encourage your teen to communicate time limitations with the employer from the beginning to avoid being over-scheduled or scheduled during school or extra-curricular activities.

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