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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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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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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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Teen Help For Troubled Teens During COVID19

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 30, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

Are you searching for teen help during COVID19?

Is your teen driving you crazy?

You’re not alone.

No doubt, many parents are experiencing new challenges with their anxious teenagers during these uncertain times.

In a recent survey by Common Sense Media, the spread of the coronavirus has upended school for teens, with 95% of 13- to 17-year-olds in the U.S. reporting the cancellation of in-person classes at their schools at least temporarily.

Teens are worried – the average youth is facing stress, anxiety and some are feeling loneliness (according to the survey). For those that were already experiencing risky behaviors, this can be more troubling.

Quarantine life could be a time of relaxation for some, but for some parents of teens, it’s anything but relaxing.

Whether your teen is stressed out from not being able to mingle with their friends, or spending way too much time online (especially since they had to finish school virtually) — maybe your teen is feeling isolated or lonely, are they sinking into a depression? Are they self-medicating? Becoming defiant, angry, raging or even explosive? Are they stealing your credit card — ordering things offline without your permission?

You’ve exhausted your local therapy, in many cases, your teen has been able to manipulate their way around their therapist. Maybe you’ve tried out-patient — even a short stay in a local hospital.

Is residential therapy for you?

When a parent calls P.U.R.E. they are usually surfing the internet and confused by all the fancy websites, terminology they are now learning about (RTC, TBS, Wilderness, transport services and more) and wondering — is this really want my child needs?

The fact is, in many situations you have a good kid that is now making some bad choices and you never in a million years thought you would be facing this day.

None of us did. Yet here we are.

That’s the best part – you’re not alone.

There are many residential therapy schools and programs in our country, probably because there are many families in need of help today. Although there are many good programs and schools – there are also many that you need to be skeptical of – as well as many sales people you need to concerned about that may not have your child’s best interest at heart.

When will you know it’s time for residential therapy?

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

Keep in mind, there are different types of residential therapy. P.U.R.E. can help educate you on what may best fit your child’s individual needs without placing them out of their element. Think you may not be able to afford residential therapy? Take a moment to review the financial options.

During COVID19, most programs are taking precautions to keep your child safe. They will likely have your teen placed in a 2-week quarantine home prior entering a program.

Residential therapy is a major emotional and financial decision. Contact us today for more information.

 

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Conduct Disorder in Teens: Symptoms and Treatment

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 15, 2020  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Featured Article, Teen Help

Conduct disorder is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teens.

A child with this disorder may display a pattern of disruptive and violent behavior and have problems following rules.

It is not uncommon for children and teens to have behavior-related problems at some time during their development. However, the behavior is considered to be a conduct disorder when it is long-lasting and when it violates the rights of others, goes against accepted norms of behavior and disrupts the child’s or family’s everyday life.

What Are the Symptoms of Conduct Disorder?

Symptoms of conduct disorder vary depending on the age of the child and whether the disorder is mild, moderate, or severe. In general, symptoms of conduct disorder fall into four general categories:

  • Aggressive behavior: These are behaviors that threaten or cause physical harm and may include fighting, bullying, being cruel to others or animals, using weapons, and forcing another into sexual activity.
  • Destructive behavior: This involves intentional destruction of property such as arson (deliberate fire-setting) and vandalism (harming another person’s property).
  • Deceitful behavior: This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal.
  • Violation of rules: This involves going against accepted rules of society or engaging in behavior that is not appropriate for the person’s age. These behaviors may include running away, skipping school, playing pranks, or being sexually active at a very young age.

In addition, many children with conduct disorder are irritable, have low self-esteem, and tend to throw frequent temper tantrums. Some may abuse drugs and alcohol. Children with conduct disorder often are unable to appreciate how their behavior can hurt others and generally have little guilt or remorse about hurting others.

What Causes Conduct Disorder?

The exact cause of conduct disorder is not known, but it is believed that a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, psychological, and social factors play a role.

  • Biological: Some studies suggest that defects or injuries to certain areas of the brain can lead to behavior disorders. Conduct disorder has been linked to particular brain regions involved in regulating behavior, impulse control, and emotion. Conduct disorder symptoms may occur if nerve cell circuits along these brain regions do not work properly. Further, many children and teens with conduct disorder also have other mental illnesses, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disorders, depressionsubstance abuse, or an anxiety disorder, which may contribute to the symptoms of conduct disorder.
  • Genetics: Many children and teens with conduct disorder have close family members with mental illnesses, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and personality disorders. This suggests that a vulnerability to conduct disorder may be at least partially inherited.
  • Environmental: Factors such as a dysfunctional family life, childhood abuse, traumatic experiences, a family history of substance abuse, and inconsistent discipline by parents may contribute to the development of conduct disorder.
  • Psychological: Some experts believe that conduct disorders can reflect problems with moral awareness (notably, lack of guilt and remorse) and deficits in cognitive processing.
  • Social: Low socioeconomic status and not being accepted by their peers appear to be risk factors for the development of conduct disorder.

How Common Is Conduct Disorder?

It is estimated that 2%-16% of children in the U.S. have conduct disorder. It is more common in boys than in girls and most often occurs in late childhood or the early teen years.

How Is Conduct Disorder Diagnosed?

As with adults, mental illnesses in children are diagnosed based on signs and symptoms that suggest a particular problem. If symptoms of conduct disorder are present, the doctor may begin an evaluation by performing complete medical and psychiatric histories. A physical exam and laboratory tests (for example, neuroimaging studies, blood tests) may be appropriate if there is concern that a physical illness might be causing the symptoms. The doctor will also look for signs of other disorders that often occur along with conduct disorder, such as ADHD and depression.

If the doctor cannot find a physical cause for the symptoms, he or she will likely refer the child to a child and adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses in children and teens. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a child for a mental disorder.

The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on reports of the child’s symptoms and his or her observation of the child’s attitudes and behavior. The doctor will often rely on reports from the child’s parents, teachers, and other adults because children may withhold information or otherwise have trouble explaining their problems or understanding their symptoms.

How Is Conduct Disorder Treated?

Treatment for conduct disorder is based on many factors, including the child’s age, the severity of symptoms, as well as the child’s ability to participate in and tolerate specific therapies. Treatment usually consists of a combination of the following:

  • Psychotherapy : Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) is aimed at helping the child learn to express and control anger in more appropriate ways. A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to reshape the child’s thinking (cognition) to improve problem solving skills, anger management, moral reasoning skills, and impulse control. Family therapy may be used to help improve family interactions and communication among family members. A specialized therapy technique called parent management training (PMT) teaches parents ways to positively alter their child’s behavior in the home.
  • Medication Although there is no medication formally approved to treat conduct disorder, various drugs may be used (off label) to treat some of its distressing symptoms (impulsivity, aggression), as well as any other mental illnesses that may be present, such as ADHD or major depression.

What Is the Outlook for Children With Conduct Disorder?

If your child is displaying symptoms of conduct disorder, it is very important that you seek help from a qualified doctor. A child or teen with conduct disorder is at risk for developing other mental disorders as an adult if left untreated. These include antisocial and other personality disorders, mood or anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders.

Children with conduct disorder are also at risk for school-related problems, such as failing or dropping out, substance abuse, legal problems, injuries to self or others due to violent behavior, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicide. Treatment outcomes can vary greatly, but early intervention may help to reduce the risk for incarcerations, mood disorders, and the development of other comorbidities such as substance abuse.

Can Conduct Disorder Be Prevented?

Although it may not be possible to prevent conduct disorder, recognizing and acting on symptoms when they appear can minimize distress to the child and family, and prevent many of the problems associated with the condition. In addition, providing a nurturing, supportive, and consistent home environment with a balance of love and discipline may help reduce symptoms and prevent episodes of disturbing behavior.

Courtesy of WebMD.

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Teen Help With Sleep Deprivation

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 06, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

How to Help Your Sleep Deprived Teen Sleep Better

A healthy sleep cycle is essential for everyone, especially for teenagers because of their hectic routines and social life. Most sleep specialists generally recommend 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep for teenagers. But a lot of studies show that teenagers are not getting their required sleep hours. 

According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll, 43% of parents complain that their children are sleep deprived. Many of these parents think it’s mainly due to electronics. Children nowadays are glued to their phones all day and night and are completely oblivious to the outside world. Such an attitude is causing major sleep deprivation.

Constant sleep deprivation is having a huge impact on the lives of teenagers in terms of health risk and academics. If you’re a parent with a sleep deprived teen, here are some tips you can follow to help your child sleep better: 

1. Make their bed comfortable

The best way to help your sleep deprived teen sleep better is by giving them the right bedding to sleep on. People sleep better when they have a cozy mattress to sleep on and a comfortable pillow underneath their head.

When people sleep on a comfortable bed, their quality of sleep instantly increases. Everyone has a different choice of pillows they could use. Some prefer flat pancake pillows, others might prefer super puffy clouds for a peaceful slumber. If you haven’t been able to find the right pillow for your teen yet, you can take this quiz by Pillow Insider which gives you suggestions based on your preferred sleeping position and firmness level.

Changing the bedding is a much easier way to help your teen sleep better instead of constantly bickering over their phone that they might never get rid of. 

2. Make sure their bedroom is a quiet place

As parents you would do every little thing that you can to make your teen get a healthy sleep. So another tip that we have for you is to ensure that your teen’s bedroom is a quiet place with no disruptions. 

Before you put your child to sleep you need to make sure that their computers, laptops or iPads are off and there are absolutely no gadgets in their hands. Listening to music before sleeping also doesn’t help at all so remember to take away their headphones before they sleep.

Your child’s bedroom should be the single most quiet and comfortable spot in the house. Teens can sleep better if there is no noise distracting them again and again and no light leaking from the window. 

3. Help your child become stress-free before going to bed

One of the leading causes behind sleep deprivation is the restlessness due to stress and anxiety. It’s not just about teenagers, nobody can sleep peacefully if they aren’t feeling light headed. 

Today’s teenagers go through a lot of stress, anxiety and depression and most of it is contributed by their high schools. Before your child goes to bed, talk to them and see if they’re okay. You can make all the effort by giving them a comfortable bedding and making their bedroom quiet and peaceful but they can’t sleep if their mind is distracted. 

You can ask your child to meditate, do yoga, or talk it out with you to release the stress. Going to bed with stress and anxiety will decrease their quality of sleep and as parents you need to make their worries go away so they can sleep peacefully. 

4. Give them snacks that would help in sleeping better

According to many nutritionists and dieticians, having high carb snacks before bedtime does the trick. Eating high carb snacks makes you feel warm and sleepy. If your child is having trouble sleeping, you can try these snacks and put them on their bedside.

Also while giving them such snacks make sure that your child doesn’t consume any caffeinated drink before bedtime. Caffeine gives instant energy that will deprive your child of sleepiness and keep him awake all night. Caffeine could be easily available in your child’s favorite bedtime snack or drink.

Make sure that your child monitors his/her caffeine intake. If they want a drink before bedtime, suggest them to drink herbal tea or chamomile tea. These drinks are healthy as well as beneficial for a peaceful sleep. 

5. Discourage daytime naps

Many teenagers have the habit of sleeping in the afternoon after they get back from school or college feeling exhausted. As much as it’s important for them to take a quick power nap, it could also disrupt their night’s sleep.

It is highly advised that if your child is having trouble sleeping at night, make sure they don’t take any afternoon naps because if they go to bed tired at night then chances are that they will fall asleep instantly. Give them some energy drink in the afternoon to keep them awake so they can sleep peacefully at night.

6. Make sure that your child doesn’t procrastinate on school tasks

Apart from getting glued to phones at night, another reason causing your teen’s sleep deprivation could be school tasks. When your child gets back from school, make sure that he/she completes their homework and projects that are due.

It’s only natural that they might want to catch up on some tv or play on their phones but it’s imperative that they complete their work on time so they don’t have to stay up all night. This will also prevent them from having an afternoon nap and they can easily fall asleep at night without any deadlines looming over their head. 

7. Consult a sleep specialist

Even if after trying everything your child is sleep deprived and is facing health problems due to it, it might be beneficial to consult a sleep specialist or a health provider. Your child might be going through something that he/she has trouble opening up about so a consultant could be the best option here.

You can follow these tips to help your child sleep peacefully. These are some of the most effective remedies that will work like a charm. And as concerned parents, you should do anything to help your sleep deprived teen sleep better. 

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Do you think your teen is struggling with depression, sadness? Have you exhausted your local resources? Contact Us to learn more about if residential therapy might be able to help you.

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How Do I Recognize If My Teenager Is Using Drugs Or Alcohol?

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 24, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

How Do I Recognize If My Teenager Is Using Drugs Or Alcohol?

This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis.

By Shawnda P. Burns, LMHC, CAP

Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not.  However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.

Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:

*Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family.  This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.

*Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open.  Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.

*There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.

*A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

*Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness.  Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.

*Lying, usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police.

*Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.

*Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.

These are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized.  Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.

Evaluate the situation.  Talk to your teenager.  Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.  By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.

Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.

If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.  The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded.  Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family.

Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together.  An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.

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If you have exhausted your local resources, such as therapists, out-patient and possible short-term in-patient, and still find that your teenager is struggling with behavior issues, it might be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.

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Parenting Teens In A Hookup and Sex Culture: How to start a conversation

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 12, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Sexting, Teen Help

How to Talk to Teenagers about Hookups and Sex

By Sari Cooper, LSCW

As a certified sex therapist, speaker and mom, I understand the anxieties around teen sexuality and the topic of hooking up. Most parents are worried. Does a teen have the maturity to walk through the emotional, psychological, and medical consequences of engaging in oral sex or intercourse?

The definition of “hooking up” is ambiguous and can change with each situation, from making out to having sexual intercourse. And whether it is bragging or shaming will also fluctuate.

Biology accounts for teen sexuality. Hormones during puberty are responsible for boys’ erections and the tingling feelings in girls’ genitals and breasts. The biological basis is set, but the peer community establishes the norms.

It is important to  talk to your teen about sex and hookups.

Tips for Talking about Sex and Hooking Up:

1. Define hookup.

Ask your teen what their friends mean when they use “hookup.” If your teen is willing to talk, ask them about what their peers have done sexually at which ages. It’s easier for teens to talk about other kids than to talk about themselves.

2. Describe normal.

Describe the actual physical feelings that are normal for this age. Clarify that it is normal to crave the pleasure associated with making out with someone you’re attracted to. Use the word masturbation when describing the natural way boys AND GIRLS can take care of those longings in private. Masturbation is the SAFEST SEX, yet most parents are too embarrassed to talk about it.

3. Understand STIs.

Educate yourself about the most common STIs (sexually transmitted infections): how they are transferred (some can be passed by rubbing without penetration or through oral sex) and the best ways to protect oneself from them. Oral Herpes can be passed through oral sex without a barrier, like a condom or dental dam.

4. Use correct terminology.

Girls should get to know their own genitalia. Use the term “clitoris” (not vagina, since the nerve endings and pleasure are primarily focused in the clitoris).

5. Acknowledge the DOUBLE STANDARD for girls.

This is not a bitter exclamation, rather an explanation of reality. A girl involved in oral sex or sexual intercourse may be labeled as easy, a slut or a whore.

6. Establish appropriate state of mind.

Use the words “conscious,” “responsible” and “authentic” to describe the state of mind that is necessary before making these decisions. “Sober” and “smart” also work. However, your teen might experiment without feeling emotionally crushed afterwards. This part may be hard for parents to accept.

7. Explain your family values.

Be very clear about your family values. Let your teen know what you feel is the healthiest situation to experiment with his or her feelings and with whom. Let them know that real life is different than movies. Real sexual hookups might not be physically or emotionally wonderful.

8. Set specific ages for sexual activity.

Most parents will say something vague like, “When you meet someone you love or when you get married, you will be glad you waited.” This is too vague for most teens. Like the age for a driver’s license, let your teen know when you think your teen would be emotionally prepared to have oral sex and intercourse. (Then add two more years. Adding two years anticipates their need to rebel and try it sooner.)

9. Stress trust.

Stress the importance of trusting their partner. Ask, “If you do choose to engage in some sexual behavior, will your partner keep the information private or spread it around online or at school?”

10. Articulate guidelines.

If you agree with certain behaviors at certain ages, let them know what they are, and ask them to do it with a person they trust and in a private place beyond the phones of others who can shoot a photo and upload it on social media sites without their permission.

11. Share information.

Sexual education books and videos can help teens understand their bodies and the many ways to feel pleasure and prevent STIs.

12. Buy condoms.

Show your teen how to put a condom on a cucumber. This ensures that they know how to use them safely to prevent the transfer of herpes or other STIs. Do the same with dental dams or saran wrap when oral sex is given to women.

Saying no is one type of empowerment, but having the tools to say yes safely is a more realistic type of empowerment. You wouldn’t let your teen drive the car without getting driving lessons first. Don’t let your teens out the door without a full sex education.

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Article republished with permission from  Your Teen for Parents. Visit them for more educational articles on parenting teens today.

Also read: Sex Hasn’t Changed It’s Our Culture Giving it a Bad Rap

Book recommendation, our featured book, Boys & Sex .

Also check-out Peggy Orenstein’s book, Girls & Sex.

 

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5 Things Parents Need to Know About Teen Vaping

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 09, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Marijuana E-Cigarettes

By Jane Parent, Your Teen Magazine

Susan was in her 16-year-old son’s room recently. She discovered a weird looking sort of pen on his dresser. She didn’t know what it was, but she did a little digging and discovered it was a vape pen. “I was shocked to learn that my son could be using this pen to smoke any number of substances, says Susan.” “There was no smell or smoke in his bedroom while I was in the next room. I had no idea.”

Electronic cigarettes in the form of vape pens and cartridges are more popular than ever, especially among high school students. E-cigarette use among teenagers has been rapidly increasing nationally, with more than 32% of 10th graders reporting vaping in the past year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The good news is that middle and high school kids understand the health risks of smoking cigarettes,” says Dr. Laura Offutt, founder of online teen health resource Real Talk with Dr. Offutt. “Unfortunately, they’ve also absorbed the marketing message that e-cigarettes are a safer, healthier alternative.”

Marijuana E-Cigarette: Vaping THC To Get High

And teens use vaping devices to do more than just vape nicotine. According to the Yale study, nearly one in five users has also used e-cigarettes for marijuana. Law enforcement officials warn parents that teens are also using these devices looking to experiment with drugs. Beware that e-cigs can be used to vaporize opiates, synthetic substances like flakka (an amphetamine-like drug similar to bath salts), and designer forms of “synthetic  weed” such as K2 and Spice.

How are teens using e-cigarettes for marijuana? E-cigarettes are powered by batteries that activate a heating element when inhaled. The heat vaporizes a liquid nicotine solution contained in a small tube. Hash oil can be substituted for the nicotine solution. Some vendors sell hash oil cartridges. More worrisome, kids are also learning to make their own. “Some kids are dissolving hash oil or THC in glycerin or vegetable oil. Or they steep the leaves in the liquid (like making tea with tea leaves), and then vaporizing that liquid” says Offutt. “Numerous social media outlets have extensive discussion about how to do this. The information is available and accessible online.”

5 Things to Know and Look Out For:

Here are 5 things parents should know about vape pens and signs of vaping weed.

1. Vape pens are a discreet way to use drugs.

“These devices like a ballpoint pen, a USB memory stick, or a stylus,” says Offutt. “And they’re easy to conceal. Some are specifically designed to disguise what they are. Kids can casually use them on the school bus or even in class. And you won’t know they’re getting high because they are smokeless and odorless.” Parents should familiarize themselves with vape pens.

2. Inhaling pot from a vape pen intensifies the user’s “high.”

THC is used in vape pens to get high. THC is the active compound in marijuana responsible for the sensation of being “high.” Studies have found these liquids can be thirty times more concentrated than dry marijuana leaves. “Today’s pot is also much stronger than the pot that parents may have smoked when they were young. And now marijuana plants are specifically bred for higher THC concentration,” says Offutt. “Vaping may deliver a far more potent form of whatever drug is being used. Your teen might not anticipate the intensified side effects and the increased risk of addiction.”

3. Vape pens are easy to acquire.

Federal regulations make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to children under 18. But these regulations don’t prevent teens from buying the devices online. Regardless of age, kids can order a wide selection of vaping and legal weed paraphernalia. The illegal purchase will be conveniently delivered, no questions asked. “If your son is suddenly getting packages delivered at home and is very enthusiastic about getting the mail,” warns Offutt. “This should be a red flag to investigate what he’s buying.”

4. Marijuana is addictive and harmful for developing brains.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, marijuana use interferes with brain development. Usage can cause short-term memory loss, slow learning, decreased sperm count, and lung damage. “It continually amazes me to discover parents who give their blessing to their kid’s pot use. Like it’s no big deal,” says Offutt. “Marijuana is addictive. And today’s marijuana is far more potent and poses a higher risk of addiction, particularly for kids with a family history of addiction.”

5. Watch for physiological symptoms of drug use.

If your teen is using e-cigarettes for pot and has an abuse problem, you may observe side effects. Your teen can experience nosebleeds, dry mouth syndrome, red eyes, and increased appetite. There may also be behavior changes. Red flags include suddenly becoming withdrawn, seclusion beyond what is normal, a different friend group, or erratic behavior.

If parents observe any of the above signs, they may have good reason to suspect that their teen is vaping drugs. In that instance, connect your child with treatment resources for help—before it’s potentially too late.

**This article was republished with permission from Your Teen Magazine.

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If you believe your teen is struggling with substance use, and you have exhausted your local resources, contact us to find out if residential therapy is your next step.

Also check out the parent vaping workshop offered by Your Teen for Parents.

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