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Monthly Archives February 2018

Car Responsibilities: How to Talk to Your Teen About Driving

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 27, 2018  /   Posted in Uncategorized

Driving is a major responsibility for anyone — although learning the proper mechanics is something teens in particular need to understand before getting on the road. Case in point: Six teens die every day from car crash injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Knowing this information, if you’re working with your teen to get their learner’s permit or driver’s license, it’s time to sit down and have “the talk” — that is, about car responsibilities.

Be a Good Role Model

It’s no secret young people tend to emulate the actions, beliefs and attitudes of their parents, which is why you should always set a good example to teach and reinforce good habits. As such, when you get in your car, make it a habit (if it isn’t already) to put away your smartphone, fasten your seat belt and check your mirrors before starting the vehicle.

Additionally, you’ll always want to use your turn signal, follow the speed limit and keep your emotions in check. Never drink and drive or get behind the wheel if you aren’t feeling like yourself, and be open to discussing the decisions you make behind the wheel. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, your teen is watching you and will want to model your actions and behaviors.

Set Limits

When your teen gets their driver’s license, it’s important to set some important rules of the road beyond the relevant driving laws in your state. By clearly defining your expectations upfront, you’ll reduce conflicts, costly mistakes and other problems. Moreover, you’ll feel more confident and have better peace of mind about your teen’s driving abilities.

Fortunately, some states require teens to have progressive driving licenses that set limits on when they can drive and how many passengers are allowed in their vehicle at any one time. But even if your state doesn’t employ any restrictions for teen drivers, you should have open, honest discussions with your loved one about these important topics.

If you feel it necessary, draw up a safe driving contract with your teen to lay out any limits and responsibilities. For example, you may want to mention that they can only drive if they keep their grades up and stay out of trouble. Additionally, discuss any repercussions for distracted driving, including the use of their smartphone and ability to hang out with friends.

Continue the Discussion

Safe driving goes beyond explaining any important rules of the road. In fact, these conversations should be ongoing to ensure your teen maintains good driving habits and understands their responsibilities behind the wheel. While they should know the rules of the road, they also need to understand how to take care of their vehicle and when to take it in for maintenance.

For instance, if their tires are under inflated or don’t have enough tread, they could pop or slide on the road, creating a chain of events that could result in an accident. With that in mind, teach your teen how to check for symptoms of over-inflated tires and signs tires may need to be replaced, ensuring any new tires have an appropriate ply rating that measures strength and capacity.

As a parent, you also should discuss responsible driving behaviors and what to do in the case of an accident. While your teen may be reluctant to have these conversations, reinforce these conversations again and again. Because if they aren’t mature enough to talk about it, then they aren’t mature enough to get behind the wheel.

When All Else Fails, Reinforce the Rules Again and Again

Despite your best efforts and intentions, the information you share with your loved one may go in one ear and right out the other; after all, teens will be teens. Still, know that your teen is bound to make mistakes and/or circumvent your advice and rules while behind the wheel.

In these instances, it’s important to reinforce the rules you previously taught them or go back to the drawing board to implement new strategies. In the end, driving can be an inherently dangerous activity, which is why you need to do everything in your power to keep your teen — and everyone else on the road — safe.

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Are You A Mentally Strong Parent?

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 20, 2018  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Mentally Strong Kids Have Parents Who Refuse to Do These 13 Things

By Amy Morin

Raising a mentally strong kid doesn’t mean he won’t cry when he’s sad or that he won’t fail sometimes. Mental strength won’t make your child immune to hardship – but it also won’t cause him to suppress his emotions.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Mental strength is what helps kids bounce back from setbacks. It gives them the strength to keep going, even when they’re plagued with self-doubt. A strong mental muscle is the key to helping kids reach their greatest potential in life.

But raising a mentally strong kid requires parents to avoid the common yet unhealthy parenting practices that rob kids of mental strength. In my book, “13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do“, I identify 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong kid equipped to tackle life’s toughest challenges:

1. Condoning a victim mentality

Striking out at the baseball game or failing a science test doesn’t make a child a victim. Rejection, failure, and unfairness are a part of life.

Refuse to attend your kids’ pity parties. Teach them that no matter how tough or unjust their circumstances, they can always take positive action.

2. Parenting out of guilt

Giving in to guilty feelings teaches your child that guilt is intolerable. Kids who learn this won’t be able to say no to someone who says, “Be a friend and let me copy your paper,” or, “If you loved me, you’d do this for me.”

Show your kids that even though you feel guilty sometimes – and all good parents do – you’re not going to allow your uncomfortable emotions get in the way of making wise decisions.

3. Making kids the center of the universe

If you make your entire life revolve around your kids, they’ll grow up thinking everyone should cater to them. And self-absorbed, entitled adults aren’t likely to get very far in life.

Teach your kids to focus on what they have to offer the world, rather than what they can gain from it.

4. Allowing fear to dictate choices

Although keeping your kids inside a protective bubble will spare you a lot of anxiety, playing it too safe teaches your child that fear must be avoided at all times.

Show your kids that the best way to conquer fear is to face it head-on, and you’ll raise courageous people who are willing to step outside their comfort zones.

5. Giving their kids power over them

Letting kids dictate what the family will eat for dinner or where the family goes on vacation gives kids more power than they are developmentally ready to handle. Treating kids like an equal – or the boss – actually robs them of mental strength.

Give your kids an opportunity to practice taking orders, listening to things they don’t want to hear, and doing things they don’t want to do. Let your kids make simple choices while maintaining a clear family hierarchy.

6. Expecting perfection

Expecting your kids to perform well is healthy, but expecting them to be perfect will backfire. Teach your kids that it’s okay to fail. It’s fine, and normal, not to be great at everything they do.

Kids who strive to become the best version of themselves, rather than the best at everything, won’t make their self-worth dependent upon how they measure up to others.

7. Letting kids avoid responsibility

Letting kids skip out on chores or avoid getting an after-school job can be tempting. Afer all, you likely want your kids to have a carefree childhood.

But children who perform age-appropriate duties aren’t overburdened. Instead, they’re gaining the mental strength they need to become responsible citizens.

8. Shielding kids from pain

Hurt feelings, sadness, and anxiety are part of life. Letting kids experience those painful feelings gives them opportunities to practice tolerating discomfort.

Provide your kids with the guidance and support they need to deal with pain so they can gain confidence in their ability to handle life’s inevitable hardships.

9. Feeling responsible for their kids’ emotions

Cheering your kids up when they’re sad and calming them down when they’re upset means you take responsibility for regulating their emotions. Kids need to gain emotional competence so they can learn to manage their own feelings.

Proactively teach your child healthy ways to cope with their emotions so they don’t depend on others to do it for them.

10. Preventing kids from making mistakes

Correcting your kids’ math homework, double checking to make sure they’ve packed their lunch, and constantly reminding them to do their chores won’t do them any favors. Natural consequences can be some of life’s greatest teachers.

Let your kids mess up sometimes and show them how to learn from their mistakes so they can grow wiser and become stronger.

11. Confusing discipline with punishment

Punishment involves making kids suffer for their wrongdoing. Discipline, however, is about teaching them how to do better in the future.

Raising a child who fears “getting in trouble” isn’t the same as raising a child who wants to make good choices. Use consequences that help your kids develop the self-discipline they need to make better choices.

12. Taking shortcuts to avoid discomfort

Although giving in to a whining child or doing your kids’ chores for them will make your life a little easier right now, those shortcuts instill unhealthy habits in your kids for the long term.

Role model delayed gratification and show your kids that you can resist tempting shortcuts. You’ll teach them they’re strong enough to persevere even when they want to give up.

13. Losing sight of their values

Many parents aren’t instilling the values they hold dear in their children. Instead, they’re so wrapped up in the day-to-day chaos of life that they forget to look at the bigger picture.

Make sure your priorities accurately reflect the things you value most in life, and you’ll give your children the strength to live a meaningful life.

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Talking To Teens About Tragedy

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 16, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help

Many of us remember Columbine as if it was yesterday.

Today, shootings, especially school shootings, are not any easier to hear.

How do we talk to our teens about these tragedies?

It’s time to turn to the experts.

Dr. Michele Borba, a leading educational psychologist shares her 10 Tips to Talk to Kids About Tragedy including her T.A.L.K. model.

T – Talk about the event.

Ensure that your child has accurate information that come from you so as not to develop unfounded fears.

A – Assess how your child is coping.

Every child handles a tragedy differently. There is no predicting. Tune into your child’s feelings and behavior. Watch and listen how he deals with the event so you’ll know how to help him cope and build resilience.

L – Listen to your child’s concerns and questions.

Use the “Talk. Stop. Listen. Talk. Stop. Listen” model as your discuss a tragedy. Listen more than your talk. Follow your child’s lead.

K – Kindle hope that the world will go on despite the horror


Dr. Robyn Silverman is a child and teen development specialist wrote an informative blog post on helping direct parents in try to make sense of this senseless act.

  • Get children mental help when they need it.
  • Do social skills training with kids who are lacking in empathy.
  • Be a mentor or help find a mentor for children who can use some guidance.
  • See children for their strengths, not simply for what they lack.

Read Dr. Robyn’s full post here.


Melissa Fenton, a former librarian, who brought us the compelling essay about parent shaming, “Put Down Your Pitchforks,” nails it again, when she pens on the website Grown and Flown, “Trying to be ‘Perfect’ is Killing Our Teens and We’re to Blame.

Teenagers are suffering from depression and anxiety in record-setting numbers. Stumped researchers, social scientists,  and psychologists have only begun to investigate the causes, many of which they have linked to smart phone and social media use, but is that really it? Could be, seeing as how they’re growing up under a selfie spotlight – with images of perfection constantly loading in their devices – perpetuating the great lie that everyone else has it more together and better than they do.

And we got here when we opened every conversation with our high schoolers about futures, goals, and achievements with the words, “I just want you to succeed,” instead of the words, “I just want you to be happy.”

Take time to read this entire essay. It’s a must read and share it with every parent of a teenager.


Do you believe you’re teen needs outside help?  Have you exhausted your local resources?

Contact us for information about residential therapy. Don’t be a parent in denial.

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End Peer Cruelty: Understanding Bullying

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 14, 2018  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Teen Help

It’s a sea of sadness when we read headlines of peer cruelty, youth dying and the rise of incivility in our country today. Whether it’s offline, as in the school cafeteria or online, in the palm of your child’s hand, hate is hate and it’s killing our society.

Dr. Michele Borba is a leading bullying prevention expert as well as a best-selling author. In her most recent book, End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy (Free Spirit, February 2018) she gives us a road-map to bring back civility for our young people.

What works and does not work to reduce bullying?

In Dr. Borba’s new book, she explains that bullying is a learned behavior and can be unlearned, but the solutions to ending peer cruelty are not simple. She continues:

All these eye-catching posters and buttons, T-shirt contests, song competitions, one-day trainings, packaged worksheets, or stop-bullying — while they mean well — are not effective solutions. Bullying is not a one-size-fits-all approach that uses the same strategy for the targets, bystanders, and students who bully. After-all, each bullying incident differs in motivation, type, and dynamics, just as each student’s learning needs differ.

Understanding cyberbullying terminology that parents and educators should know:

  • Sexting: electronically sending or posting a naked, sexualized, or compromising photo of a person
  • Flaming: posting angry, rude comments in an online forum
  • Harassment: repeatedly sending offensive messages to someone
  • Denigration: attacking someone online by spreading rumors or posting false information
  • Outing and trickery: electronically disseminating intimate private information about someone or tricking someone into disclosing private information, which is then disseminated
  • Impersonation: pretending to be someone else and posting material online to damage that person’s reputation
  • Exclusion: intentionally excluding someone from an online group
  • Cyberstalking: creating fear by sending frequent threatening messages to someone

Is your child a victim of bullying or cyberbullying?

Dr. Borba offers insights and warning signs in her new book as well as the 6R’s of prevention.

Bullying:

Most bullying signs go unreported or undetected. Many students are uncomfortable telling adults they were bullied for fear it will make matters worse, because the parent or educator will confront the bullying child. Fear of retaliation is a major concern of targets, and rightly so. Most bullying occurs in areas and times when adults are not present to protect targets. That’s why it’s crucial that educators learn specific warning signs of bullying so they can support potential targets. Every student can have an “off” day and display a sign or two, so look for a sudden unhealthy behavior that is not typical of the student and endures. Of course, the signs might also indicate other problems, but any signs warrant closer examination and discussing with other staff members and the child’s parents.

Cyberbullying:

A perpetrator uses digital media (such as texts, emails, IMs, website posts, tweets, videos) to hurt, threaten, embarrass, annoy, blackmail, or otherwise target another child. Though it is most common during the middle school years, the problem is making its way into the younger set. It is not surprising that cyberbullying has the potential to cause severe psychological damage in targeted children. Though most electronic bullying happens off school grounds, many students carry cell phones or tablets to school, so the staff should be aware of these signs. In addition to many of the signs just listed, a child who is being cyberbullied may:

  • be hesitant to go online, or act nervous when an IM, text message, or email appears
  • act visibly upset after using a computer or cell phone, or suddenly avoid electronic devices
  • hide or clear the computer or cell phone screen when a peer or adult approaches
  • spend longer hours online in a more tense, pensive posture

End Cruelty, Build Empathy is a must-own for every parent and teacher. It offers step-by-step valuable and practical solutions — as well as information to help you navigate through a generation of “mean.” From elementary school to middle and high school, no one escapes the scars of bullying, but with education and awareness we are on the way to helping to combat it.

How will you help your community become a kinder one – offline and online?

Is your teen a victim of bullying or cyberbullying?

Have you exhausted your local resources or maybe therapy isn’t working anymore? Considering residential therapy? Contact us for more information.

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