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Smart Teens Stuck from Anxiety

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 26, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

Is your teen struggling with anxiety?

It’s no secret, 2020 has been tough to get through. The pressures that the ongoing pandemic have placed on all of us have been challenging, especially for students who have had to adapt to online learning overnight. If you’re a student in this strange time, it can be extremely difficult to find the motivation to get up and tune in to class while the world is in a moment of crisis.

While the pandemic continues, it’s important to prioritize your mental health in tandem with your daily tasks. And even when school does return to an in-person setting, you want to maintain a robust practice of keeping your psychological and emotional wellbeing in check.

So how can you stay on top of your anxiety when studies are too demanding or overwhelming? We’ve got some tips to help you get through this difficult time with a list of activities and practices to check in with yourself.

Here’s some ways students can mitigate the effects of anxiety:

1. Normalize Checking in with Yourself

A lot of us who suffer from anxiety don’t know to recognize the telltale signs before it’s too late. The only time you seem to realize you’re in an anxious situation is when you’re in a state of panic about sending in an assignment just seconds before it’s due. Luckily, you can plan ahead to check in with yourself.

Find a regular time to formally ask yourself how you’re feeling. It could be every Friday, or it could be every time you have to study for a test. Depending on how frequently you experience the effects of anxiety, you may need to set a soothing alarm to check in with yourself every hour. That’s completely okay.

When checking in with yourself, it’s also helpful to make a list of all the symptoms you experience when you feel anxiety. Is it a headache? Stomach cramps? A fast heart rate? Whatever you feel that makes you uncomfortable or prevents you from thinking clearly, jot down the symptoms so you can recognize them early on. When you start to feel anxiety coming on and have a heightened awareness of what’s to come, you can excuse yourself from the situation until you’ve had a chance to think things through.

Let’s say you need to communicate with a teacher about your last essay grade. You did poorly and you want to know how to get better, but this particular instructor can be a bit intimidating. Having a list of your symptoms readily available can help you observe them, alerting you to take a step back. If you know one of your symptoms is a fast heart rate, you can slow it down with some deep breathing or by drinking a tall glass of water. Once you are more in control of your emotions, you can take care you’re your tasks while feeling comfortable.

2. Phone a Friend

One of the hardest hitting aspects of quarantine is that you don’t have your friends around to talk with, hang out, or vent about what’s going on in your life. Though we’re all quarantining separately, you’re not alone in your struggle to seek out a sense of peace and calm in your life.

Anxiety has the ability to trap you in your own mind and body when you’re in a downward spiral. When you notice that you’re getting caught in your head, it can help contact a friend for guidance and to get you out of your head.

Enjoying the company of a companion will get you to think externally, helping your brain produce endorphins to relieve pain and stress and boost your happiness. After speaking to a friend or a loved one, you’ll find that you feel lighter and can tackle your work with more energy and resilience.

When it comes to receiving specific help on school issues though, developing a personal relationship with mentors can also be helpful. While teachers and your parents might be preoccupied with their own COVID-related stressors, you may want to turn to other students in your school who have already taken the classes you’ve taken or experts who can help you with what you’re going through.

Studies have shown that the benefits of tutoring extend well beyond achieving good grades! Tutors can help you with time management, relating your studies to your personal interests, and take the pressure off of speaking with a teacher or professor. Mentors can also provide you with personalized study strategies as well as good coping skills. 

3. Live in the Moment

Anxiety is often caused by worrying about a future situation. Whether it’s the outcome of a job interview or the results of an exam, your mind is caught up in a situation that hasn’t really happened yet, and it can take away from your productivity in the moment.

When teens get trapped by the worst-case scenario, it can lead to panicked decision-making and further their anxiety about doing a good job on their assignment. This is why it’s important to plan ahead for situations that can put you in an anxious state of mind, so you be more present and level-headed.

One way to live in the moment and stay focused on the present is, ironically, by planning ahead. You can configure your schedule to anticipate anxiety-inducing activities that will affect your well-being and your work. Simply extend the amount of time a given activity will take to include a moment of calm before and after the event.

If you have a Zoom call scheduled at 3:00, add to your agenda that you’ll need to start doing breathing exercises at 2:30 and then again at 4:00. When you do this, you’re planning on smoothing out your emotions and cushioning stressful events. This can prevent you from spiraling out unexpectedly by giving your body the physical preparation to better handle stress.

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Post is contributed by a guest writer.

If your teen is struggling with stress, anxiety and even causing depression — if you’ve exhausted your local resources, contact us to learn more about how teen help programs might be able to help.

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How to Help Your Depressed Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 22, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Help

The Rise of Teen Depression

The number of teenagers suffering from depression has increased dramatically over the last couple of years, and as a parent, it can be difficult to know the best way to deal with it. You want what is best for your teen, but figuring out how to help them through their mental illness can be tricky. Here are five steps you can take to help your teen through their depression.

Start a Weekly Outing

Traditions can be comforting to everyone. One of the symptoms of depression can be hiding away from the world, so providing a day where you go out as a family will provide relief from that. Your teen may be reluctant at first, but over time it could become something they look forward to. It’s important for those suffering to get out into the world and take a breath of fresh air, so scheduling a Sunday walk each week, or a trip to the park every Wednesday afternoon, is a great way of making sure your teen is getting outside. It also means you get to spend more quality time with them, which can open the door for them to open up to you more.

A Little More Conversation

Talking to your teen more can be easier said than done. If they are depressed, they may hide away in their bedroom and refuse to speak more than a few words each time you see them. Talking to them, however, is a great way of making room for more conversation. Tell them about your friend’s funny mishap, tell them about the adorable dog you saw, or remind them about their auntie who has been asking after them. Importantly, talk openly about depression, rather than having it hang over your heads like an invisible cloud that you can feel but not see. Your teen may not give much of a response at first, but it’ll mean that when they are ready, they will know you are someone they can come to.

Find a Herbal Remedy

For many, the idea of your child being on SSRI’s can be scary – what if they don’t work? What if it makes it worse? There’s even the worrying symptom of suicidal thoughts in the first two weeks, which is a terrifying thought. Antidepressants are certainly necessary for some and may be for your teen (your doctor will know if they are needed), but there are milder and safer alternatives to work with either alongside them or instead of. There are plenty to choose from, with remedies such as CBD being used as an alternative to antidepressants, with great results. There are many places to buy CBD in many forms, ranging from CBD oil to CBD gel and more. If your teen’s depression has formed as a result of a sporting injury, then the CBD gel will work to minimize the pain with long-lasting results. With minimal pain, they can start to build the strength back up to be ready to play sports once again, helping them combat their depression.

If strong medication is something you are worried about, consider something more natural for your teen.

Schedule a Counselling Session

While talking to your teen is highly beneficial, having them see a professional can be crucial on their road to recovery. It provides them with a person who they can confide in completely without fear of being judged. Talking through their struggles is certainly a step in the right direction, as it can help them work through their depression and understand why they feel the way they do.

Provide Physical Contact

It is said that we need twelve hugs a day for optimal health. Just because your child is no longer eight years old and snuggled up with you on the sofa doesn’t mean they no longer need physical attention. A hug when they get home from school or a gentle squeeze of the shoulder are small habits you can introduce to make sure they know how much you love them.

As a parent, having a teen suffering from depression can be a scary and confusing time for both of you, but making sure you are a steady and reliable figure in their lives will only help them on their road to recovery.

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Contributed by a guest writer.

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Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 19, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book

Love Her Well: A must read for parents of teenager’s

It’s been a really trying year for young people, especially teenagers. When I read Love Her Well, by Kari Kampakis, it was so refreshing. Finally a book that gave parents insights, wisdom and helped them know — they are not alone in this journey of raising girls today.

Inside Love Her Well:

10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter

Moms are eager for tips and wisdom to help them build strong relationships with their daughters, and Kari Kampakis’s Love Her Well gives them ten practical ways to do so, not by changing their daughters but by changing their own thoughts, actions, and mind-set.

For many women, having a baby girl is a dream come true. Yet as girls grow up, the narrative of innocence and joy changes to gloom and doom as moms are told, “Just wait until she’s a teenager!” and handed a disheartening script that treats a teenage girl’s final years at home as solely a season to survive.

Author and blogger Kari Kampakis suggests it’s time to change the narrative and mind-set that lead moms to parent teen girls with a spirit of defeat, not strength. By improving the foundation, habits, and dynamics of the relationship, mothers can connect with their teen daughters and earn a voice in their lives that allows moms to offer guidance, love, wisdom, and emotional support.

As a mom of four daughters (three of whom are teenagers), Kari has learned the hard way that as girls grow up, mothers must grow up too. In Love Her Well, Kari shares ten ways that moms can better connect with their daughters in a challenging season, including:

  • choosing their words and timing carefully,
  • listening and empathizing with her teen’s world,
  • seeing the good and loving her for who she is,
  • taking care of themselves and having a support system, and more.

This book isn’t a guide to help mothers “fix” their daughters or make them behave. Rather, it’s about a mom’s journey, doing the heart work and legwork necessary to love a teenager while still being a strong, steady parent.

Kari explores how every relationship consists of two imperfect sinners, and teenagers gain more respect for their parents when they admit (and learn from) their mistakes, apologize, listen, give grace, and try to understand their teens’ point of view. Yes, teenagers need rules and consequences, but without a connected relationship, parents may never gain a significant voice in their lives or be a safe place they long to return to.

By admitting her personal failures and prideful mistakes that have hurt her relationships with her teenage daughters, Kari gives mothers hope and reminds them all things are possible through God. By leaning on him, mothers gain the wisdom, guidance, protection, and clarity they need to grow strong relationships with their daughters at every age, especially during the critical teen years.

Learn more about Kari’s wisdom, 15 Conversations to Have with Your Teenage Daughter.

Order on Amazon today.

 

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What Parents Can Learn From Paris Hilton’s Experiences in Residential Therapy

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 16, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

Paris Hilton has a message, and parents should listen.

Some may question the messenger, but the message is clear. If you’re considering residential therapy, take the time to research what is best for your child.

It has been an extremely stressful time during the pandemic, especially for parents of teenagers. If you were struggling with your child prior to COVID-19, chances are this new normal has only compounded behavioral issues.

Parenting at your wit’s end

No one is immune to having difficulties with their kids, from celebrities to average people. If you are dealing with an out-of-control teen, you can feel like a hostage in your own home.

In the recent documentary, This Is Paris, Paris Hilton reveals that at age 15 her parents reached their wit’s end. After being shipped off to a series of wilderness programs, she landed in a program that she claims was emotionally and physically harmful.

It’s hard to blame Paris’ parents, because I was once that mother. Two decades ago, I sent my daughter to a residential therapy program that claimed they would help my daughter, but it was very similar to Hilton’s experience.

This was after I hired an educational consultant that attempted to sell me the wilderness programs too. Fortunately for our family, we didn’t buy into the wilderness shuffle. I believed that my daughter was struggling enough, emotionally, that breaking her down in the woods wouldn’t resolve or help her problems. Unfortunately for us, we landed in an abusive program too (which is now closed down).

The teen help industry

Today teens are experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, suicide ideationself-harminternet addition, vaping, marijuana use, drinking, and other risky behavior at an alarming rate. With high school students, a 2019 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Behavioral Survey shares concerns of prescription Opioid misuse, binge drinking and other substance abuse.

The fact is, there are young people that need quality teen help and sometimes it means attending a therapeutic boarding school.

When my daughter was out-of-control, we exhausted our local resources. After going through five different therapists, outpatient therapy, and a short stay in-patient locally, I finally sent her to a relative’s to stay. That lasted less than two weeks before we made the major decision of residential therapy.

The teen help industry is a big business. No one realizes this until you need it. Why would you?

Learning from our experiences

After all the darkness, and sharing our story online in 2001, I’ve since educated thousands of parents about searching for quality residential treatment centers. Questions to ask schools and programs and helpful tips in researching facilities is some of the valuable information I offer for parents in crisis.

Although there are many that would like to see all programs shut down, we can’t ignore the fact many children and families need help. This is why it’s important that parents learn how to do their homework so they don’t end up in facilities like my daughter and Paris Hilton did.

Does your teen need residential therapy?

As I share with all parents, only you can answer that.

Here are some questions to consider:

1Have you exhausted all your local resources? From using local therapy to extending into outpatient, teens can be easily shut-down. Although we know that many times it’s difficult to get a teen to open up to a therapist—or even attend a session—parents need to know they at least tried. When in residential therapy, the entire program evolves around their emotional wellness, 24/7. Being removed from their negativity helps tremendously.

2. Living with a relative. Some families have attempted to move the troubled teen to a relative. Again, sometimes this works—and other times it can be a Band-Aid, however it can help you make that decision that you have exhausted your local resources before you decide to choose residential.

3. Is your teen a danger to themselves or other people (you)? Has your child become violent towards you or themselves? This is when you know it’s time to start researching for residential therapy. It’s not working at home.

4. Do you feel like you are a hostage in your home by their behavior? Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells? Being careful about what you say or how you act for fear they may become explosive? Again, this is a red flag that it may be time for residential therapy.

Originally posted on Psychology Today by Sue Scheff.

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Preventing Risky Behavior in Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 05, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article

Navigating Emotional Maturity to Prevent Risky Behavior in Teens

Let’s face it, teenagers have it rough. They’re taking on new responsibilities, struggling with physical and emotional transitions, and just trying to get their lives figured out. But with all these new challenges, teens might find themselves unprepared to shoulder the emotional burden of being an adult.

Taking more difficult and time-consuming classes in school, learning how to navigate peer pressure with real consequences, and entering the job market in the midst of a pandemic can take a toll on your mental wellbeing. Facing this kind of pressure, teens are prone to depression or engaging in risky, anxiety-driven behavior.

If teens don’t have the skills to process their emotions in a mature and level-headed manner, they might bottle up their emotions, become more aggressive, or even shut down. Luckily, there are several ways to help your teen develop emotional maturity to prevent risky behavior.

Here are four pieces of advice to get them started:

1. Don’t Get Lost in the Worst-Case Scenario

One of the most common ways that teens can get lost in a downward emotional spiral is from anxiety about the future. When they have to grapple with the uncertainty of college applications, finding their place in the world, or even how other people will react to bad news, they might buckle under all this built-up pressure. This often occurs when teens don’t have a strong sense of their own identity and self-worth. They start to think that every outcome is going to be the worst-case scenario. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

You can warn your teen about the dangers of overthinking and why it happens. When they understand where their fears are coming from and how often it happens to others, your child might better understand that their anxiety is really being driven by their imagination. Though it’s important to anticipate negative consequences, they should know that it’s usually always worse in their minds.

For example, if your teenager feels like they’re not going to do well on an exam, they might start to stack up all the negative outcomes until the end of time! The failed test leads to a bad grade, which leads to poor college applications, which leads to not getting into college, which leads to never getting a job, which leads to … etc. But if you talk to your teen about humanizing their fears, knowing that everyone fails sometimes, it can show your teen how to adapt to situations. Because your teen is worried about this exam, you might tell them that if they study hard, it’s more likely they’ll do better, but also that their teachers are there to help them if they can’t get the material down.

You can help your teen avoid the risky behaviors that come with anxiety-driven decisions by practicing mental checks. If you notice your teen is starting to spiral, you can point this out and work through the problems together. Once you have a good understanding of the telltale signs of an anxious meltdown, you can remind your teen that they’re getting into an unnecessary headspace. Soon, your teen will be able to recognize these symptoms on their own and learn to self-regulate; now they’re not putting so much importance on the future, but focusing on the present moment with a level-head.

2. Leave Pettiness to Others, It’s not for You

Pettiness is a signature of childish behavior. Talking back, getting the last word, or exhibiting passive aggressive behavior when they don’t want to outright say what’s on their mind. Nobody likes this kind of attitude and it can really dampen your teen’s reputation among their friends and future peers.

You can help root out this behavior by pointing out how hurtful this behavior can be. Not only is it frustrating for the people on the receiving end of the stick, but it will also hurt your child’s ability to effectively be heard. You want your teen to be able to get over the small stuff and the pettiness of others, so it’s important to point out exactly what it looks like and when it occurs.

Managing pettiness is especially important to do when you’re not both in an argument so that your teen can anticipate the emotions that bring about pettiness. Sure, they might think it’s satisfying to get in that little jab in the moment, but they should understand it’s hurtful to everyone in the long run. It might even get your teen into more immediate trouble if they snap at someone dangerous or in a position of power. You can point out that if your teen really wants to win an argument, they can do it by exhibiting well thought out reasoning, calmness, and superior decision making.

One practice that might help your teen leave pettiness at the door is deep breathing and meditation. When your teen recognizes that urge to get back at someone, they can mentally address the situation, and take three calming breaths. On a physical level, this slows down their heart rate and establishes a more serene mindset, the trademark of an emotionally mature adult.

When they’ve let the moment pass, they’ll be able to respond with something genuinely considered. This will achieve one of two satisfying results for your teen in lieu of a petty comment: 1) they’ll be able to communicate their feelings and solutions to the issue at hand with a mature attitude, resulting in a collaboration with their adversaries, or 2) they’ll be able to communicate their feelings and solutions to the issue at hand with a mature attitude, while their adversaries are left to their own petty squabbles.

3.Be Mindful of Others

Teens that are trying to balance college applications heavy duty classes and struggling to figure out their identity are practically treading water. They’re taking on so much that sometimes they can’t help but only think of themselves and their own wellbeing. As a parent, it takes a lot of patience to deal with their self-centered nature, but understand that it’s a survival tactic that’s going to take some mending.

If your teen shows signs of a short temper or rude behavior, it could mean that your child is having difficult with their tasks or their own self-worth.

This is a common cause of teens trying to amplify their own importance or freaking out about the consequences of their responsibilities. To treat this behavior, you can help your teen become more mindful by demonstrating mindfulness.

When you show that you care about what’s going on in their lives, it could help them let their guard down and open up. It’s a perfect opportunity for you to also share what you’re going through and how teamwork can be a solution for what they’re going through. This can help them understand that it’s important to check in with others and reflect on how they impact their friends and family.

You can also help your teen become more mindful by encouraging them to actively engage in helping others. Volunteer opportunities are a great way to consistently keep others in mind while supporting the community.

If your teen is already stacked with a busy schedule, they could do something as simple as checking in with their friends once a week to share what’s going on in each other’s life. Sometimes, we’re so focused on what we’re doing individually, that we forget to hold space for talking about others. If your child is able to invest in their friend group and address how they impact or help one another, they’re more likely to be normalize collective care. When your teen starts to exhibit risky behavior, they’ll have others to help them out as a result of being mindful in the first place.

4. Take Responsibility for Your Actions

This is the big one. Taking responsibility can be difficult for teens because it involves admitting fault sometimes. That can be really difficult for teens who are trying to look out for their self-image and present their lives as idyllic. But not taking responsibility is the work of a child, not an adult. Adults know when to take credit for their achievements and drawbacks. Whether it’s taking a promotion at work for their efforts or learning from when they’ve missed an assignment or forgotten to do a chore, people with mature emotions own their actions.

As we’ve stated before, challenges are learning opportunities, and the same thing can be said for making mistakes. You can point out to your teen that it’s actually a sign of strength and maturity to admit your mistakes and learn from them.

When you own your actions, not only are you demonstrating security in who you are, but you’re also taking note of what lead to the circumstances in the first place.

For example, if your teen chose to hang out with their friends instead of working on a paper for school and they receive a bad grade, it can be looked at as a learning opportunity.

The next time your child has to choose between spending time with friends or completing an important task for school, you could teach them to say something like, “I’m sorry I can’t hang out this weekend. I didn’t take my last assignment seriously and I want to do better on this next one.Could we can hang out on Monday?”

This can be appealing to your teens for two reasons:

1) they are learning to set priorities and won’t have to be stressed later, and 2) they’ll be acting as a role model for their friends.

When your teen exercises responsibility, they’re showing others that they’re reliable, smart, and mature. Kids don’t often think of responsibility as an attractive quality, but you can show them how it exhibits problem-solving and honesty, qualities that their peers will admire and respect.

Taking responsibility also reduces risky teen behavior by eliminating risky situations in the first place. If your teen understands how to assign importance to their tasks and look at their mistakes as opportunities to grow, they could greatly reduce anxiety and feelings of shame or avoidance in their lives.

You can help your teenager develop responsibility by getting them started with a chore chart, talking over their obligations together and establishing what responsibility means, and recognizing the feelings that accompany discomfort around responsibility.

Author Bio:

Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.

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Coping Skills for Teens Workbook: 60 Helpful Ways to Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 13, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book

Coping Skills for Teens Workbook: 60 Helpful Ways to Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger

We are now living in a time of uncertainty.

Aside from peer pressure, family drama and normal life concerns — our children are now living through a pandemic.

How is your teen dealing with it – emotionally?

A teen version of the #1 Bestselling Coping Skills for Kids Workbook, this version is written specifically with a tween/teen audience in mind.

There are 60 coping strategies included in the book, and it’s divided into Coping Styles to make searching for a coping skill easier.

This book also includes several pages to support teens as they work on their coping skills, including:

  • Feelings Tracker Worksheet
  • Identifying Triggers and Making a Plan
  • Positive to Negative Thoughts Worksheet
  • Journal Pages
  • Wellness Worksheets, including a Self-Care Plan

Order on Amazon

There’s also a rich resource section full of apps, books, card decks, and other resources to help teens deal with stress, anxiety and anger.

Author: Janine Halloran is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has been working with children, adolescents and their families for over 15 years. She is the Founder of Encourage Play, Coping Skills for Kids, and the host of the Calm & Connected Podcast.

Order your copy on Amazon.

Is your teen struggling with depression? You may be interested in the new Depression Workbook for teens.

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Disrespectful, Rebellious and Defiant Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 11, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Help

Disrespectful, Rebellious and Defiant Teens

We live in a culture where sadly teens seem to believe it is their way or no way.  A common theme we hear is the disrespect of authority that a teenager has – especially towards their parents.

When we think of generations prior, we would never consider defying our mother or father.  If they told us to be home by 10:00 pm, we were — no questions asked.  We wouldn’t dream of talking back, if we did, expect that bar of soap.

Today our children know they have the ability to threaten us with many things, including calling the authorities on us.  Frightening isn’t is?  It is almost like parenting or disciplining our children (teens especially) is challenge for fear of consequences.

So how do you handle a teen that is being disrespectful, rebellious and defiant?

During the tumultuous teenage years, these are 10 of ways to avoid fighting with your child.

  1. Establish Rational Boundaries – During adolescence, your teen is revisiting the same mindset of early toddlerhood that leaves her looking for ways to test boundaries as a means of asserting her independence from you. Making sure that she knows some boundaries cannot be challenged lays a foundation for calm, rational interaction. Just be sure before you make those rules that you understand your teen’s need for a reasonable amount of independence, and avoid overly harsh authoritarian rules that leave no room for such expression.
  2. Shift Your Perspective – As an adult parent of a teenager, it can be difficult to remember your own battles during the tender years leading up to adulthood. Before flying off of the proverbial handle, try to remember how you felt as a teen, so that you can see things from your own teenager’s perspective.
  3. Refuse to Escalate the Situation – When you’re standing face to face with a raging, screaming teen that pays no heed to the feelings of anyone around her as she expresses her frustration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of shouting right back at her. By maintaining your composure and refusing to let the situation escalate into a full-on altercation, you’re effectively maintaining control of the confrontation without adding fuel to the fire.
  4. ParentsTalkingTeensPractice Good Listening Skills – Sometimes a teen feels as if he’s not being truly heard and in response will lash out with anger, when all he really wants is to know that his viewpoints and opinions are being listened to. Taking the time to ask your child how he feels and actually listening to the answer he gives can diffuse many arguments before they start.
  5. Create a “No Judgment” Zone for Tricky Discussions – Teenagers face a variety of difficult choices and situations, and those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn for advice due to a fear of parental judgment or punishment can internalize that stress, leading to nasty arguments borne of frustration. Making sure that your child knows she can safely approach you with difficult questions can eliminate that frustration, making for a more peaceful environment within your home.
  6. Know When to Compromise – As a parent, it’s often difficult to admit when you’re being unreasonable and concede an argument, or at least to make compromises when you’ve reached an impasse. Mastering the art of a sane compromise with your teen, however, is the key to keeping a tense discussion from escalating.
  7. Understand When to Walk Away – When you can’t hold on to your temper, it’s okay to walk away. If you ascribe to a philosophy of walking away to let your temper cool, though, it’s essential that you afford your teenager the same respect. Resist the temptation to follow her in order to continue a diatribe; it’ll only lead to an even nastier confrontation.
  8. angry-teen-girlActively Avoid Triggers – There are some subjects that bring out a passionate reaction in everyone, and those triggers differ from one person to the next. Your teenager is no different, and you know the things that will upset her before you discuss them. Avoid the subjects you know will upset your child, especially if there’s no real reason for discussing them.
  9. Refuse to Reward the Silent Treatment – The silent treatment is infuriating for anyone, but it’s important that you not reward that behavior from your teen. Attempting to draw him out with false cheerfulness or prodding him to talk will only blow up in your face, so let him stew without interference for a while.
  10. Avoid Drawing Comparisons – Telling your teenager that you never acted the way he does, or illustrating just how much more tolerant of a parent you are because you don’t punish him the way you would have been punished for behaving in such a manner serves absolutely no productive purpose. Remember that your teen is trying to establish himself as a separate entity from you; drawing comparisons, even when you’re just looking for common ground, can ultimately be counterproductive. 

FamilyDiscussionMaking a concerted effort to foster an open, honest relationship with your teen can make it easier to avoid the worst arguments, but the occasional disagreement is pretty much par for the course. Rather than dwelling on an argument after it happens, try to think about how you could have handled it differently so that you can apply that knowledge the next time negotiations become tense.

If you have tried many ways to have a peaceful home and your teenager is continually causing tension, creating contention among the family – please seek help immediately.  If they refuse to get help, or you have exhausted your local resources, consider residential therapy.

Many families have had tremendous success since when you remove the child from the environment they are better able to focus on where all the negative feelings and behavior are stemming from. Contact us for more information.

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Suicide Ideation and Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 08, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Suicide Prevention

Myths of Teen Suicide Ideation

Understanding teen suicide, separating fact from myths:

Despite the efforts of the mental health and public health fields, suicide remains the third most common cause of death for adolescents 15-19 years of age (behind accidents and homicide).

Although facts such as these can leave us feeling hopeless, there are myths that may lead us to act inappropriately or not take action at all. By dispelling myths with currently known research findings, we can improve our ability to identify children at risk and more effectively intervene to prevent suicide.

Myth: Suicide always occurs without any warning signs.

Fact: There are disorders and behaviors that can be diagnosed and/or observed that can assist with identifying youth at risk for suicide. Depression is the single most significant psychiatric risk factor for adolescent suicidal behavior. Some predictors of suicidal events in treated, depressed samples of adolescents include a past suicide attempt and high baseline levels of suicidal ideation, agitation, and anger. Other significant risk factors for suicide in adolescents include other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use, and disruptive behaviors (such as conduct disorder and significant impulsivity). A recent study revealed that family conflict is also a significant contributor to suicidality in a depressed population (Brent et al., 2009). Further, a recent stressful life event in combination with a psychiatric condition is an increased risk for suicide attempts (Gould et al., 1996).

Myth: If you ask a child or adolescent about suicidal thoughts, you might put an idea into their heads, so you should not ask.

Fact: A recent multi-site study looked at predictors of suicidal adverse events in a population of depressed adolescents and found that relying on “spontaneous report of suicidal adverse events will underestimate the rate of events compared to systematic assessment” (Brent et al., 2009). In the study, they detected more suicidal adverse events, nonsuicidal self-injury events as well as more suicide attempts when the monitoring was conducted in a systematic manner. These findings suggest that not asking a child about suicidal ideation is significantly more dangerous than asking.

Myth: If an adolescent has made a suicide attempt in the past, they are not likely to try again in a more lethal manner. They are just trying to get attention.

Fact: While suicidal ideation alone would tend to over predict the likelihood of a suicide attempt, a previous attempt is a very strong indicator of high risk. A previous suicide attempt is the number one and two predictors, for boys and girls respectively, of a completed suicide. Some believe that adolescents who make a second attempt might just be dramatic, when in fact they are truly at risk of taking their lives.

Myth: Media coverage about suicide attempts or completed suicides does not impact suicidal behavior in youth.

Fact: Suicide contagion is real. There is an increase in suicide by readers/viewers when the number of stories about individual suicides increases, a particular death is reported at length or in many stories, the story of a suicide is placed on the front page or at the beginning of a broadcast, or the headlines about a suicide death is dramatic. It is important to not dramatize the impact of suicide through descriptions and pictures as this can encourage other adolescents to seek attention in the same way.

Of more recent concern is the use of the internet as a tool for attention and communication about suicide among teens. There is no research yet to understand the impact of cyberspace on youth suicide.

The National Institute of Mental Health has a website devoted to assisting the media with appropriate reporting of suicide (www.nimh.nih.gov/).

Myth: Taking medication for depression may make a child suicidal.

Fact: Although there is significant controversy about this issue, many researchers have found the opposite to be true. The introduction of the SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) in the 1980’s was believed to contribute to the steady decrease in suicides between 1990 and 2003. Following the institution of the “black box warnings” for SSRI’s, between 2003 and 2005, the prescription rate of SSRI’s for adolescents dropped 22% in the United States.

During this same period suicide rates increased in the Netherlands by 49% and in the United States by 14%. Several researchers have advocated the theory that the reduction in use of SSRI’s led to the increased rates in youth suicide.

Myth: Once people decide to die by suicide, there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Fact: While suicide prevention is still far from perfect, there have been a few agreed upon effective interventions. Those interventions that have been shown to be beneficial include physician education, means restriction, and gatekeeper education (Mann et al., 2005). Education of primary care physicians about the diagnosis and treatment of depression in children and adolescents is an important component to decreasing youth suicide.

By ensuring that youth do not have access to the most commonly used lethal methods of suicide we can decrease the number of completed suicides (firearms, pesticides, etc.). Although gatekeepers refer to such groups as the military, it is possible that schools can perform such a function. The Columbia Suicide Screen (www.teenscreen.org) has been utilized to identify suicidal and emotionally troubled students that would not otherwise be identified by school professionals.

Myth: Only a professional would be able to identify a child at risk for suicide.

ParentSupportsignFact: Parents, caregivers, and involved school personnel may be the first to notice changes in a child at risk for suicide. Some warning signs include those that indicate a severe depression and others that are particular risk factors for suicide. Some signs to watch for include: change in eating and sleeping habits, withdrawal from friends/family, violent actions, running away, substance use, neglect of personal appearance, personality change, boredom, decline in academic functioning, frequent physical complaints, lack of enjoyment in activities, and intolerance to praise.

Also, as per the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Facts for Families (www.aacap.org), a teenager who is planning to commit suicide may also: complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten inside, give verbal hints with statements such as: I won’t be a problem for you much longer, Nothing matters, It’s no use, and I won’t see you again, become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression, and develop signs of psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts).

Although the rates of adolescent suicide are disheartening, by learning about the facts and making informed decisions, professionals and parents involved in the lives of adolescents can begin to make a difference.

Source: Bradley-Hasbro Children’s Research Center

If your teen is struggling and you have exhausted your local resources such as local therapy and outpatient help, please contact us for information on residential therapy.

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Text Lingo: Secret Language of Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 05, 2020  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Parenting Teens

Teen Text Lingo

TeenTextLingoIn reality, net lingo also known as text lingo, is not a secret.  Parents can go to several websites including search engines to try to decipher what their teen is saying on their cell phone text messages or social media sites.

Their net-code-language can take time to unravel and you have to be up-to-date with their slang to know what is going on in their lives.

It can be overwhelming to parents, however it is important to keep up with their digital lives.

Frequently used text codes by teens today:

  • 8 – Oral sex
  • 1337 – Elite -or- leet -or- L337
  • 143 – I love you
  • 182 – I hate you
  • 1174 – Nude club
  • 420 – Marijuana
  • 459 – I love you
  • ADR – Address
  • AEAP – As Early As Possible
  • ALAP – As Late As Possible
  • ASL – Age/Sex/Location
  • CD9 – Code 9 – it means parents are around
  • C-P – Sleepy
  • F2F – Face-to-Face
  • GNOC – Get Naked On Camera
  • GYPO – Get Your Pants Off
  • HAK – Hugs And Kisses
  • ILU – I Love You
  • IWSN – I Want Sex Now
  • J/O – Jerking Off
  • KOTL – Kiss On The Lips
  • KFY -or- K4Y – Kiss For You
  • KPC – Keeping Parents Clueless
  • LMIRL – Let’s Meet In Real Life
  • MOOS – Member Of The Opposite Sex
  • MOSS – Member(s) Of The Same Sex
  • MorF – Male or Female
  • MOS – Mom Over Shoulder
  • MPFB – My Personal F*** Buddy
  • NALOPKT – Not A Lot Of People Know That
  • NIFOC – Nude In Front Of The computer
  • NMU – Not Much, You?
  • P911 – Parent Alert
  • PAL – Parents Are Listening
  • PAW – Parents Are Watching
  • PIR – Parent In Room
  • POS – Parent Over Shoulder -or- Piece Of Sh**
  • pron – porn
  • Q2C – Quick To Cum
  • RU/18 – Are You Over 18?
  • RUMORF – Are You Male OR Female?
  • RUH – Are You Horny?
  • S2R – Send To Receive
  • SorG – Straight or Gay
  • TDTM – Talk Dirty To Me
  • WTF – What The F***
  • WUF – Where You From
  • WYCM – Will You Call Me?
  • WYRN – What’s Your Real Name?
  • ZERG – To gang up on someone

TextLingoSheetBe an educated parent – you will have safer teens!

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Help for Teens Over 18 Years Old: Young Adults That Are Still Kids

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 03, 2020  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Helping Your Young Adult Teen

Arging“My 18 year old is out of control and I am at my wits end!  What can I do?” – Anonymous Parent.

18 and 19 year old teens can be the most difficult to address simply because they are considered adults and cannot be forced to get help.

As parents, we have limited to no control.  Practicing “tough love” is easier said than done, many parents cannot let their child reach rock bottom – as parent’s, we see our child suffering – whether it is needing groceries or a roof over their head and it is hard to shut the door on them.  In many situations, a young 18 year old is still in high school and you still feel responsible.

I think this is one of the most important reasons that if you are a parent of a 16-17 year old that is out of control, struggling, defiant, using drugs and alcohol, or other negative behavior –  it is time to look for intervention NOW.

It may not be a residential therapy but at least start with local resources such as therapists that specialize with adolescents and hopefully offer support groups.

It’s unfortunate that in most cases the local therapy is very limited how it can help your teen.  The one hour once a week or even twice, is usually not enough to make permanent changes.  In many cases getting your defiant teen to attend sessions can sometimes cause more friction and frustrations than is already happening.

This might the time to consider outside help such as a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center.  However parents with the 18-19 year olds have usually missed their opportunity.  They were hoping and praying that at 16 and 17 things would change, but unfortunately, the negative behavior usually escalates.  Don’t get stuck in the blame game – move forward and try to go on to the next steps for young adults.

Since 2001 I have heard from thousands of parents –  most are hoping to get their child through high school and some will be satisfied with a GED. It is truly a sad society of today’s teens when many believe they can simply drop out of school.

SadTeenStarting as early as 14 years old, many teens are thinking this way and we need to be sure they know the consequences of not getting an education. Education in today’s world should be our children’s priority (as well as being kind and caring to others) however with today’s peer pressure and entitlement issues, it seems to have drifted from education to defiance (entitlement) – and not being responsible or accountable.

I think there are many parents that debate whether they should take that desperate measure of residential therapy, it’s a major emotional and financial decision – but in the long run – you need to look at these parents that have 18 and 19 year olds that don’t have that opportunity anymore, the choice will become more clear.

While you have this option, and it is a major decision that needs to be handled with the utmost reality of what will happen if things don’t change.  The closer they are to 18 – the more serious issues can become legally.  If a 17+ year old gets in trouble with the law, in many states they will be tried as an adult.  This can be scary since most of these kids are good kids making very bad choices and don’t deserve to get caught up the system.  As a parent I believe it is our responsible not to be selfish and be open to sending the outside of the home.

It is important not to view this as a failure as a parent, but as a responsible parent that is willing to sacrifice your personal feelings to get your child the help they need.  Keep in mind – this is a very short part of their life that will give them many years of a healthy one.

There are young adults at that are willing to get help or will attend life skills programs when the parents will give them no other options.  Especially if they are facing trouble with the law or homelessness.

If you are interested in young adult programs, please contact us for more information.

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