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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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Good Kids Making Bad Choices: Is It Spoiled Rotten Brat Syndrome?

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 28, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Help

Teen Entitlement: Spoiled Rotten Brat Syndrome

How many parents can relate to having a good kid that makes bad choices?

The conversation of mental health is one that continues in our country.  The behavior of today’s teens with our society in a me, me, me direction, is driving families to feel like they are being held hostage in their own home by a teenager they barely know anymore.

As someone that works with parents of struggling teenagers, I am faced on a weekly basis with families that are at their wit’s end.  They have exhausted all their local resources, the therapy sessions are going nowhere (if you can get your child to attend), the school has usually reached their limit with the student, and in some cases the local authorities are now involved.

Some of these homes consist of only one parent or both parents are working leaving less supervision and guidance at home.  Gone are the days when kids came home to at least one parent.  Is this part of the problem of today’s society?  I am not convinced of that.  In my opinion it could be one of the excuses.

Kids today lack the respect that generations prior were born and raised with.  No more are the days when a parent told a child to be home at 10:00 pm and they were actually home at 10:00 pm without question.  Today the teen will argue that every other kid has a curfew of 2:00 am and that is when he/she will be home whether we like it or not.

Yes, that is the way many parents are living today – at the mercy of their teenager.  I am sure some of you are recognizing your child here.

When a teen has escalated to a point that they are now controlling your home, failing in school, using drugs, hanging with the less than desirable peer group (which by the way they have become themselves), and you have determined this is more than typical teenage behavior – it may be time to seek residential therapy.  These are typically good kids making bad choices.  Some may label them spoiled rotten brat syndrome.

They are used to getting their own way and simply don’t want that to change. From the time they were little, parents have cuddled them with their every need and want.  Why should that change? If they want to go to a party until 3:00 am they believe they should be able to.  If they want to be connected to video games for fifteen hours a day, they believe that is their right to be able to. The biggest and worst decision is when a teen believes they should drop out of high school and get their GED – and in some states (at a certain age) they are allowed to – they do have that right. It is frustrating to watch your once good teen make these bad decisions.  Yes, teens believe they have rights – and parents have become (in a way) prisoner to these demands.  (It’s just an expression).

Residential therapy is sometimes mistaken for mental illness.  Though there are residential treatment centers that help the mentally challenged, I am discussing residential therapy that is aimed at building a child back up to making the better choices, teaching them self-respect and respect for others, continuing their education (underachievers) and offering enrichment programs.

EntitledTeenMany of these teens are spoiled brats.  The problem; entitlement issues.  Many parents today are guilty of over-indulging our kids and the results are coming back to us during the puberty years – in spades. The sweet angel of a toddler we once had is now a troubled teenager that is driving us mad.  We literally don’t recognize the person they have turned into.

From sneaking out of the house, to dropping out of their favorite sport – that once happy-go-lucky child has gone missing.   It is a parent’s responsibility to find them again.  It is not about shipping them off, it is about giving them a second chance at a bright future.  Sometimes that does involve removing them from their comfort zone; their environment.

Researching for residential therapy can be daunting.  The sticker shock of the price to get your child help can leave you feeling completely helpless and hopeless.

Don’t allow this to happen.  Yes, residential therapy can be costly, however there are some that accept insurances and there are others that work with parents in accordance to their income.  You need to do your homework, there is help out there.  Don’t be a parent in denial, be proactive – it is our responsibility as a parent to get our child the help they may need.

Read more – 5 Signs your teen is an entitled teenager.

Do you need help getting started? Contact us for more information.

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Tips For Starting A Conversation With Your Teenager

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 28, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Help

10 Ways to Start A Conversation With Your Teen

DadSonChatLet’s face it, we all know that raising teens today is not easy and experts all agree, communication is key to having a good relationship.  However sometimes simply talking to a teenager is not so easy.  They can be very challenging when they turn us off.

Here are some ideas for ways to get teens talking:

  1. Create a topic jar. A topic jar is a jar that you fill with different pieces of paper containing conversation topics. Each night at dinner a different person gets to choose a slip of paper from the jar and read it aloud. The reader gets to start the conversation. For example, the slip of paper could say, “Tell about something that surprised you today”.  Don’t forget to add in topics about digital lives.  “Any new apps, websites, videos, virtual friends….”  Be as interested in their online lives as you are in their offline ones.  Remember, statistics show that kids today spend at least 8 hours a day digitally connected.  This includes cell phones and computers.
  2. Ask open-ended questions. By asking questions that cannot be answered with only a yes or no, you are opening the door for your teenager to say more than a couple of words in reply to you. Try to avoid grilling her and stay away from asking questions like, “How was your day?” Her answer will most likely be a one word answer to these type of questions. Instead, say something like, “Tell me about your day.”
  3. MomDaughterChattingTalk about topics she likes. Often teens feel like they are misunderstood by their parents. Instead of trying to get her involved in whatever you want to talk about, try talking about something that you know she likes. If she is an avid tennis player, discussing the French Open is a great way to start a conversation.
  4. Schedule some one on one time with her. Take her out to her favorite restaurant with just the two of you. If that is too expensive, just go for dessert and linger over coffee. Do something that she enjoys, like going to a shopping (even if it is window shopping) or a tennis match. Sharing these moments with her will give her the opportunity to talk to you while you are both relaxed and alone.
  5. Listen more than you speak. Every minute of your time together with her doesn’t have to be filled with idle chit chat. If you are trying to get someone to talk, leaving some silence will give them the opportunity to fill that silence with conversation.
  6. Be patient with your teen. If she is going through a rough time with her boyfriend or her other friends at school it may be difficult for her to talk about. Give her opportunities to broach the subject with you, but don’t try to force her to talk to you. That will only result in her becoming more stubborn and closed off.
  7. Put yourself in her shoes. Teenagers think that their parents and caregivers don’t understand them. Try to resist saying things like, “I understand what you are going through because I was a teenager once too you know”. Every generation has their own obstacles to overcome, and you can’t know what she is going through until she tells you. Really try to imagine how you would feel if you were in her shoes going through what she is going through.  Keep in mind, we didn’t have technology or social media to deal with. It is their world today.
  8. Don’t try to fix her. Parents and caregivers often try to fix a situation before they even understand it. Everyone is busy, but make time to hear her out. Don’t jump in and offer advice until it’s asked for. The only thing you should be doing while she is talking is nodding and saying the occasional, “hmm” or “I see” to indicate you are actively listening. This part is very difficult, but she needs to feel heard. Imagine how it would feel if you were sharing one of your problems and the person kept interrupting you to offer advice. Would you enjoy that?
  9. Try to be her soft place to fall, not a road block. Teenagers are faced with a lot of peer pressure. Amazingly enough, teens will come to the right decision most of the time if given the chance. Comfort her if she’s had a fight with a friend or if she breaks up with her boyfriend, but don’t condemn the boyfriend or friend. Anything negative that you say now will come back to haunt you when she gets back together with her boyfriend or the next time that her friend comes over to spend the night.
  10. Only offer your opinion when she asks for it. If you are lucky enough to get your teen talking, don’t interrupt with your opinions. Telling her what you would do isn’t going to help because she will remind you that you and she are nothing alike. Teens are trying to break away and prove their individuality. If she asks for your advice, start by asking her what she has considered so far. This will give you an idea of where her head is and you can act accordingly. Avoid lectures at all costs.

Keep in mind, having conversations before you reach a point of confrontation makes for a happier household.  Studies have proven that families that have frequent meals together can reduce risky behavior in teens, it doesn’t have to be every day, but try to have them as often as possible.

If you feel your teen is shutting you out completely and you have exhausted all your resources, seek help from outside sources such as possible a friend or family member they respect.  You may have to then reach out to an adolescent therapist.  If you are still struggling, please contact us for information on residential therapy.  Sometimes removing them from their environment can help them reflect on what they are having difficulties with.

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Teen Driving: Dangers of Distracting Driving

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 21, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Help

Motor Vehicle Safety: Teens and The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Credit: Pexels

New Teen Driver

Becoming a new driver is one of the most exciting and liberating experiences in life. With a driver’s license comes the freedom of being independently mobile; however, there’s more to driving than the ability to slide behind the wheel of a car and take yourself where you want to go. Driving also brings a lot of responsibility that if ignored can result in injury or even death.

As a driver, you’re responsible for being alert and free of distractions, but there are many things that can divert your attention and create a dangerous situation for you and for others on the road. Distracted driving is a very serious threat: According to the CDC, it results in more than 1,000 crash-related injuries and an average of nine deaths a day. It is especially a concern for teens, as drivers who are most likely to be involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents are those who are younger than 20 years old.

Forms of Distracted Driving

The phrase “distracted driving” may seem self-explanatory, but there are actually several different types of distraction that commonly affect drivers. Drivers are most affected by manual, visual, and cognitive distractions. Manual distractions are those that cause drivers to remove their hands or feet from the steering wheel or pedals. When a distraction causes a person to look away from the road and the cars around them, it is called a visual distraction. Anything that causes a driver’s thoughts to focus on something other than the act of driving is called a cognitive distraction.

Driving Distractions and Teens

As a teen driver, you lack experience driving and reacting in certain situations. Teen drivers are typically considered to be less focused, less likely to use their seat belts, and more reckless and likely to speed. Because of these factors, the risk of being involved in an injury or fatal accident is higher when you’re distracted. Although people of all ages can be distracted, certain distractions are widely associated with younger drivers.

Credit: Pexels

Texting

Texting is a distraction that covers all three categories: It requires your brain, eyes, and hands. Studies have shown that teens are more likely to not only drive while texting but to hold longer conversations while doing so.

Passengers

Driving with other people in the car can be a major distraction, particularly when your passengers are friends of the same age. Passengers can draw you into conversations and even arguments. Rowdy behavior and pressure from peers can also come with having multiple passengers in your car. Friends can potentially pressure you into driving faster or encourage you to take dangerous risks. The risk of getting in an accident increases with each additional passenger in the vehicle.

Cell Phones and Apps

Texting isn’t the only capability of your phone that can be distracting. Almost everyone has a range of apps that they frequently use, and any of these can take your attention off of the task of driving. Whether you’re using social media apps, listening to podcasts, or playing games, you’re putting yourself at greater risk of an accident.

Preventing Distractions

Putting on makeup, eating, and drinking should be done before you get in the car. Adjust the mirrors, pick out what you’re going to listen to, and set up your GPS before you put the car in drive. Another good rule to follow is to pull over if a distraction pops up that will take your eyes, hands, or attention away from driving. Put your cell phone on vibrate and put it in a location that is out of sight: This will force you to pull over if you’re tempted to check your messages or make a call. And avoid driving with passengers, or at least limit the number of friends that are allowed to ride with you.

This article written by Jonathan Rosenfeld is lifted from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers.

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Is Your Teenager A Screenager?

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 19, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

Teen Internet Addiction: Majority of Teens Want Help Finding Digital Balance

Is your teenager constantly glaring at their screen? Are they part of the screenager generation?

Did you know that according to new studies teens are frustrated by their own obsession with their smartphones?

How can parents help them find their digital balance?

Smartphone addiction has become an increasing concern for many parents, especially with the start of school just around the corner, and many students getting smartphones.

Seventy-two percent of teens felt pressured to respond immediately to texts, notifications and social media messaging. A 2018 Pew Research report found that 95 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds had their own smartphones or had access to one, and 45 percent said they were online “almost constantly.”

So what can parents do to help prevent their teenagers from becoming screenagers?

  1. Start with a contract. The first step is to set boundaries, and what better way to do this than to put the rules in writing. Draw up a Cell Phone Contract, or a Family Agreement, with your young user. Family agreements can include rules about when and how the phone may be used, and detail consequences for breaking the rules. You can find numerous examples of cell phone contracts or family agreements online. Almost all of them focus on the same key items, such as sharing passwords with parents, limiting use of the device to certain times of the day and in certain places, promising not to use the device for inappropriate photos or bullying, and so on.
  2. Set limits and monitor use. Consider creating “no phone zones” in your home, like the dining room table, and making sure your teen is putting the phone away at certain points of the day. Also, take advantage of parental controls to set limits on your child’s smartphone use, and monitor it. Set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases; and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of the day. There are also monitoring services that let you view your child’s texts, call logs, phone location and more.
  3. Create daily and weekly offline time. Most teens admit to having FOMO, or fear of missing out, on something, and the need to respond quickly when they receive messages and notifications. That constant potential feedback loop can lead to obsessive behaviors that disturb the course of daily activities. Researchers say creating daily and weekly offline time as part of the family routine can be helpful.
  4. Be cyber aware. Being constantly connected brings increased risk of theft, fraud and abuse. Educate your young user on internet safety tips. Stress the importance of never sharing their personal or family information online and never engaging with strangers online.
  5. Be a role model. As parents, we should consider our smartphone habits as well. The 2015 Pew survey found that 46 percent of American adults  believed they could not live without their smartphones. If we expect our kids to limit their time on their smartphones, then we too need to practice what we preach.


Contract by The Exhausted Mom.

Read more about why teens are frustrated about digital addiction.

If you believe your teen is struggling with internet addiction that is now interfering with their life, and you have exhausted your local resources, please contact us.

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States with Most At-Risk Teens During COVID

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 15, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Help

States with the Most At-Risk Teens for 2020 (During COVID)

COVID has no doubt, brought more challenges for parents of teenagers. Many are having difficulties with social distancing and online schooling.

Growing up can be hard. Without a stable home, positive role models and tools for success, many young Americans fall behind their peers and experience a rocky transition to adulthood. Today, about one in nine individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.

Such issues not only affect young people later in life, but they also prove harmful to society as a whole. For instance, more than 70 percent of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military because they fail academic, moral or health qualifications.

Research shows that when youth grow up in environments with economic problems and a lack of role models, they’re more at risk for poverty, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood. The environment is even more difficult for these young Americans in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the job market, caused schools to be held online and kept people far more isolated than usual. The pandemic is also a cause of severe stress, and some youth may not have anyone to turn to for support.

With about one in nine young Americans today neither working nor in school, exposing them to greater risk of poverty and violence, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on 2020’s States with the Most At-Risk Youth, as well as accompanying videos.

To determine where young Americans are not faring as well as others in their age group, especially in a year made extremely stressful by the COVID-19 pandemic, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 16 key indicators of youth risk. The data set ranges from share of disconnected youth to labor force participation rate among youth to youth poverty rate.

States with Most At-Risk Youth States with Least At-Risk Youth
1. Louisiana 42. Virginia
2. District of Columbia 43. Iowa
3. Arkansas 44. Kansas
4. Alaska 45. Rhode Island
5. Mississippi 46. North Dakota
6. New Mexico 47. Minnesota
7. Alabama 48. New Hampshire
8. Nevada 49. Massachusetts
9. West Virginia 50. New Jersey
10. Oregon 51. Utah

Key Stats

  • Louisiana has the highest share of disconnected youth, 20.00 percent, which is 2.9 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 7.00 percent.
  • New Mexico has the highest share of youth without a high school diploma, 17.30 percent, which is 2.4 times higher than in Hawaii, the lowest at 7.20 percent.
  • Mississippi has the highest share of overweight or obese youth, 56.01 percent, which is 1.7 times higher than in Idaho, the lowest at 32.97 percent.
  • Vermont has the highest share of youth using drugs in the past month, 38.41 percent, which is 2.3 times higher than in Utah, the lowest at 16.42 percent.
  • Nevada has the highest share of homeless youth, 0.52 percent, which is 26 times higher than in Mississippi, the lowest at 0.02 percent.

Have you exhausted your local resources? Therapy doesn’t work? Considering residential treatment? Learn more about quality help. Contact us today to find out if therapeutic boarding schools can help your teen.

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Dealing with Disappointment: The Best Ways to Help Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 11, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Helping Teens Deal With Disappointment

You remember what it’s like to be a teenager trying to fit in and prepare yourself for adulthood. It’s difficult, confusing and oftentimes disappointing. Now you’re watching your teenagers go through some of the same struggles you did at their age.

While your first instinct is to make everything better, this may be doing more harm than good. Growing up is full of disappointments and failures, and that’s OK. Instead of shielding your children from every minor setback, here are a few positive ways to help your teens deal with disappointment:

Hear Them Out

Your teen just tried out for the school basketball team and didn’t make it. He’s upset, embarrassed and disappointed. Let him come to you to vent his frustrations. Try not to speak first or jump in to make him feel better, but rather let him rant and tell you all about what happened without any judgment. The more you listen, the more you can narrow down how your teen is feeling about not making them team and find ways to help him move forward.

Help Them Take Responsibility

Once you’ve heard everything your teen has to say about the situation, you can start asking some questions. For example, if she didn’t pass her driving test, ask her why she thinks that happened. Many teens’ first reaction is to start pointing fingers, such as at the driving instructor, but steer her away from this negative reaction to something she can control. If she says the test was unfair because the questions were too hard, you can ask her if she studied her driver’s permit booklet enough. Ask if those same questions were on the practice tests and if she could have prepared more. Gently explain that the test may not have been unfair but a consequence of her not being ready, and then help her come up with a plan to do better next time.

Come up With a Plan

One of the best ways to deal with disappointment is to come up with a plan for success. Have your son ask the basketball coach what he needs to do to make the team next year, and have your daughter go over the parts of her driving test she struggled with. Then, help your teen come up with ways to improve on these skills.

For example, you could sign your son up for a local basketball league where he can get a lot of playing time. Have him work with a private trainer or coach to work on his skills, and set aside time for him to practice on his own. For your daughter, help her study for the written part of her driving test with practice tests online and create a schedule for driving on your local streets, on the highway and in parking lots. While you can help your teens come up with this plan, make sure they know that they are responsible for following through and working hard to achieve success.

Through every up and down that adolescence presents, it’s important that your children know that you love them unconditionally. Whether they get the lead role in the play or get into college, you love them for who they are, not what they’ve accomplished. Be supportive and helpful in any way you can, but let your teens know that it’s okay to fail every once in awhile because that’s part of growing up. Let them be disappointed, and then help them find a way to succeed.

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5 Steps to Take When Your Friend is Suicidal

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 07, 2020  /   Posted in Teen Help

Is your friend struggling with suicidal thoughts?

As a teenager, navigating a depressed friend can be tricky. Maybe your friend doesn’t have understanding parents, perhaps the administration doesn’t preserve privacy, or maybe your friend is simply in a very delicate situation. However, you should not be the sole support for a depressed friend. Here are a few steps to get your friend the help they need.

1. Be Open and Talk

FriendshipOne of the best things you can do for a depressed friend is to acknowledge how they feel. Express concern but be sure to avoid sounding selfish. Phrases like “How could you do this to me?” make the scenario seem as though it is about you rather than them. When you recognize their feelings and their situation, ask them how you can help and what they need from you. Don’t beat around the bush; be upfront about your concerns.

2. Speak to an Adult

Find an adult that can be trusted. Many teens struggle with confidentiality and prefer to suffer in silence than have their parents be told what is going on. Whether it be a school counselor, a teacher, or your own parent, you need to find someone who has access to professional help and advice. Be sure this person will not break your trust. A trustworthy adult will not go straight to the parents. They will take the time to understand the entirety of the situation and find the help your friend needs.

3. Refer Friend to Support Groups

Given the teen suicide rate, a number of teen suicide support groups exist both in reality and online. Whichever option works best for the friend should be taken advantage of. They need to speak with people who understand and have overcome the position they are currently in.

Another good source of support is the Suicide Hotline. The National Suicide Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. The people on the other end are trained in crisis prevention and can be anonymously reached 24 hours a day. You may want to provide this number to your friend or keep the number for yourself in the event your friend has a crisis.

4. Know the Warning Signs

Though your friend may be depressed, you should only begin to truly worry if they start to exhibit the warning signs of suicide. Some of these signs can include outlining plans for suicide, talking about feelings of hopeless or feeling trapped, giving away possessions, withdrawing from loved ones, or an increase in addictive behavior.

Addiction is very strongly linked to suicidal tendencies and anyone with an addiction should be closely monitored. This can include a self-harm addiction though most people who self-harm are often found not to be suicidal. However, any addiction should be treated as soon as it has been identified.

5. Contact Necessary Authorities

It can be extremely daunting to call the emergency line when you are afraid for your friend’s well-being. They may have told you they will hate you if you call the police or maybe you’re worried about outing them to their parents. However, your friend’s safety is the top priority. If you genuinely feel your friend is at risk of taking their own life, call 911 and send them to your friend’s home. An angry friend who is still alive is better than a dead friend.

Learning that a friend is suicidal, particularly in your teenage years, can be overwhelming and alarming. Too many teens internalize that they need to be the supporter and that using outside help is off limits. Most teens are not equipped to handle a suicidal person. You need to reach out and use whatever resources you have available. Don’t be afraid to call a hotline, call the police, or speak to a reliable adult.

Contributor: Steve Johnson has always been dedicated to promoting health and wellness in all aspects of life. Studying in the medical field has shown him how important it is for reputable health-related facts, figures, tips, and other guidance to be readily available to the public.

Image via Pixabay by cherylholt

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    Helpful Tips for Research Teen Help ProgramsMost of us never expect to land in a spot where we are searching for teen help outside our local area. It’s really hard to swallow that we have exhausted our resources, our teen is out-of-control, we’re constantly walking on eggshells or feeling like we’re hostage in our own home to their explosive and defiant behavior.

    Turning to the internet can be daunting and downright confusing! You start reading terminology you never thought about or heard of -- wilderness programs, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers and more. How do you know who is qualified and who isn’t? More importantly, how do you know what your individual child needs?

    Years ago this happened to me when I had a good teen that started making bad choices. The internet, which can be a wealth of information, can also be extremely deceptive. It’s one of the reasons why I created Parents Universal Resource Experts. To help educate parents about the big business of teen help programs.



    HELPFUL TIPS: FINDING THE RIGHT TEEN HELP PROGRAM

    When searching for a therapeutic boarding school (TBS) or residential treatment centers (RTC), keep these tips in mind:

    -Internet deception

    Be cautious of the internet: Today we turn to the internet for almost everything we do, but how do we know what is internet fact, fiction, or somewhere in between? This is why doing your due diligence, especially in this big business of teen help programs, is imperative.

    -Fear-mongering sites

    You will find some websites and forums that will criticize families for seeking outside help for their teens. They may lead you to believe that all programs and schools are bad or abusive. In reality, not all schools and programs are who they say they are– which is why are you here, doing your research.

    You are taking your time to investigate what will be best for your individual child’s needs and learning from the mistakes I made so you don’t have to. It’s exactly why I created P.U.R.E.

    If you find negative complaints about a school/program you are considering – take the time to ask us about it. We never diminish a person’s experience, however we have also realized that some people are there to make it harder for parents to get help. Again, we have walked your shoes and have taken time to dig deep into this industry.

    -Beware of the Placement Specialist

    Are you talking to a placement specialist? What exactly is this? Today these are people that are paid to place your troubled teen in a program. This is not in the best interest of your child. In some cases these are programs that have less than desirable reputations – however the placement specialist is making a commission. Typically what they are good at – is marketing. You may have just become bait and will become inundated with emails from different programs. They will be sending your name and email to many programs without qualifying your child as an appropriate fit for their school.

    If you’re a parent at your wit’s end, be sure you’re always speaking to an owner or director of a program. Someone that has a vested interest in your child’s recovery. These marketing arms aka placement specialists, can be deceptive. Read “A Parent’s True Story.”

    -Placing Abroad

    Be very cautious if sending your child out of the country. Laws are different and cannot protect your child out of the country. Many parents are misled by the lower tuition–don’t be one of them. We recommend keeping your child in the United States. If you are a resident outside of the United States, this may not affect you.

    -Behind the Screen

    Don’t allow fancy websites, emotional online videos determine your decision for your child. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If a program is advertising a very high success rate, please ask them what third party organization did their statistical studies.

    In-house surveys are prejudiced and not always a good source of reliability. Keep in mind, this a major emotional and financial decision you will be making.

    Don’t judge a program by their website. You never know what is behind a screen. We have visited programs that have less than attractive websites with amazing facilities and staff. On the contrary – you will find polished websites with programs that wouldn’t leave your pets at.

    -Myths of Wilderness

    Your teen does not need to complete a wilderness program before they attend a residential treatment program (RTC or TBS). In many cases families today cannot afford that extra step of a wilderness program; however we hear over and over that parents are talked into breaking a child down before sending them to a therapeutic boarding program. Isn’t your teen already broken down? Isn’t that why you are reaching out for help?

    This is why you are looking for programs that will help stimulate your teen back on to a positive road– making good choices and creating a bright future that you had planned for them.

    -Finding the right program

    You are not choosing a program to “teach your child a lesson.” This is a common mistake many parents make. Many times, these are good children making bad choices. Harsh treatment and environment can enhance their anger as well as build resentment.

    -Accredited programs

    Don’t accept a program that is not accredited to educate your child, provides scant food and/or clothing, and has unsanitary living conditions. A visit to the program prior enrollment, if possible, is recommended.

    It is understandable that not every family has the finances or the time for the extra trip. With this, please be sure your research is thorough. Below – the importance of calling parent references can be helpful with this.

    As far as education, ask the program for a copy of their accreditation for their academics. With that you can contact your local school to be sure the transcripts will be transferable.

    -Basic human rights

    It is normal for parents to want their child to appreciate what they have at home; however deprivation of food, sanitation, and clothing should not be accepted. These are basic human rights.

    Many of these teens are suffering from low self-esteem, depression, peer pressure, etc. Taking away their basic needs may escalate these negative feelings.

    -Communication

    Asking the program about their communication with parents and visitation schedule is imperative. Another helpful tip – is to verify it through asking parent references when you call them.

    Don’t enroll any child in a program that refuses to allow parents to speak with their child within a reasonable amount of time, usually no longer than 30 days.

    Visitation in many programs begins at three months. This is your child, and family counseling is just as important as your child’s recovery.

    -Ask questions

    If you feel you have valid concerns and do not understand something, do not allow the program director to overlook your questions. Keep asking until you receive an appropriate response. This is your right as a parent. You are your child’s advocate.

    Ask for the staff’s education, training, and experience. Credentials of those working with your child are vital. Ask if they have background checks for all employees.

    -Age of consent

    Know what the age of majority (consent) is in the state of the program. Be sure children cannot sign themselves out of the program at their current age. You will see that many programs are located in the western part of the U.S. (especially Utah ) due to the age of majority of 18. This ensures your child cannot leave without your consent.

    -Choosing a program in the best interest of your teen

    Do not limit your decision on geographical location. The fact is this is the most important 6-9-12 months of your child’s life to date, it has to be the best placement/program/school that fits their emotional needs — not your travel plans.

    In reality, family visits are never more than every 4-6 weeks (depending on the program) after your teen has completely the initial ninety days.

    We remind parents – this is only a snapshot of their entire life – yet will have such an impact on their future. Let’s not limit it for geographical reasons.

    You won’t be making daily or weekend visits. This is about your teen’s healing, recovery and what is best for him/her. If it means you need to take an extra plane ride or few hours by car, remember — it’s only several months out of their entire life.

    Most programs are very similar in tuition fees, using credit cards as tuition can build frequent flyer miles. (If you are able to do this – with paying it off either with your funds or a loan you have received, can be a good option).

    There are many excellent programs in our country, find the one that is best fitted for your child, not your airport. The other important fact is – if you have a teen that is a flight risk, they are more likely (or tempted) to leave a program (runaway) and call one of their new less-than-desirable friends to pick them up.

    Choosing a program that is in an unfamiliar area is in the best interest of your teenager. Remember this is about your teen’s emotional wellness and recovery, not about geographically convenience.

    -Background check

    Check with the local sheriff department or the state office of the Attorney General or Department of Social Services (DSS) or Department of Children and Families – for reports of neglect or abuse as well as their current licensing.

    With this, understand that there are no perfect programs. Some may have had issues which have since been rectified or are not related to the students. However, others, with constant complaints, should be crossed off you list. Investigation is your best solution in finding a good program.

    When you contact the local sheriff department, ask them how many times a month they are called out to the program – how many runaways they have – and your final question should be, is if it were their child, would they send them there?

    With licensing, you want to be sure they are licensed as a residential treatment centers and not a daycare center or foster care home. You will be paying a significant amount of tuition, be an educated parent.

    -Consequences

    Find out what the program’s use of restraints is. If they have “isolation,” inquire about the length of time that is normally spent there and what this entails. Ask what the program does if your child runs away.

    -Fees

    Ask if the person who is marketing the information receives any kind of direct, or indirect referral fee or compensation (i.e. A month’s free tuition, gifts, certificates, dinners, etc.). P.U.R.E.™ discloses on our FAQ page that we do receive fees from some schools and programs.

    -Ask for and call parent references.

    If a school/program won’t give you parents references, it’s a red flag. It might be time to consider another program.

    Hopefully you have time to ask for at least 3-5 parent references. In some situation you can also speak with the teen that graduated the program too. This should be a call for information, guidance, and support. Did their child have the same issues as yours?

    If you are considering transport and apprehensive about it, ask the parent reference how they got their teen to the program. It’s a great way to gain more insights on residential therapy.

    Parent tip: Ask for families from your own geographical area, as well as parents that have the same gender and age as your child. You want to try to talk to parents as similar to your own situation as well as possibly near where you live. Maybe you could have an opportunity to meet with them in person. Keep in mind, first hand experiences are priceless.

    One question to ask the reference parent is if they could change one thing about the program, what would it be? Though it may not be a major concern, it may be another question you can ask the owner or director of the program.

    -Inside a program

    Look for programs that offer an ACE factor:

    A=Accredited Academics
    C=Clinical with credentialed therapists
    E=Enrichment Programs such as music, sports, animal assisted therapy, horticulture, art therapy, fine arts, drama, or whatever your teen may be passionate about. It is about stimulating your teen in a positive direction by encouraging them to build self-confidence and want to be their best.

    -Family decision

    Most Importantly, placement needs to be a family decision. Trust your gut and your heart.

    If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Keep searching. It is time to bring the family back together. If possible – do this research before you’re in crisis.

    Many parents call us with that gut feeling, than things go well for awhile and they don’t do anything. Suddenly they’re in crisis-mode and have 24-hours to select a program. Don’t be that parent.

    -Free consultation

    Parents’ Universal Resource Experts is about helping educate parents about residential therapeutic schools and programs. We offer free consultations.

    These tips are not to frighten anyone, it is to make parents aware of an industry that has little to no guidelines or regulations to follow.

    It is a fact, some of our kids need help. Let’s get them the right help with an educated and researched decision.

    Many parents contact us about the fear-mongering websites that are up. These sites are usually created by former students and they have listed just about every program in the country.

    Sadly, what they are doing is preventing families from getting the potential help they may need for their child. There is always good and bad in every field/industry — this is why it is imperative you do your due diligence when researching programs.

    We have personally visited, researched and spoken with many parents, students and former employees of programs since 2001. Feel free to contact us if you are considering a program and you find it on one of those fear-based websites.

    One of their issues is that they don’t believe in level systems. Keep in mind – in life, we all work our way up. Whether you start as a clerk and work your way to judge, or start in the mail room and work your way up to an executive. It’s part of the way life is. As long as it is not done in a degrading way.

    Are your considering Wilderness programs? Learn more about them.

    Understand there are some teen behavioral issues that require more intensive therapy. Read more.

    Be an educated parent, this is a major financial and emotional decision for your family.

    P.U.R.E.™ is part of bringing families back together…

    Click here for questions to ask schools and programs.
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