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Managing and Reducing School Stress for Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 25, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Ways to Help Teenagers Reduce and Manage School Stress

Help Your Teens PexelsTeenStress-300x200 Managing and Reducing School Stress for Teens Middle and high school students are under more stress than ever before. The number of U.S. high school students who experience academic pressure increased by 62 percent over seven years even though performance improved only modestly.

The number of students who spend more than 10 hours per week doing homework rose from 12 percent to 21 percent over three years.

Increasing Concerns About Academic Stress

Some schools are experimenting with turning down the heat on students. A few have taken such measures as eliminating advanced placement classes, reducing the emphasis on textbook learning, and administering fewer tests. However, others worry that such measures are too extreme and will hurt a college-bound student’s chance of competing for spots in the nation’s best colleges.

Many schools and parents are focusing, instead, on giving students the tools for coping with the constant demands of school. This might include more counseling, yoga classes, breathing techniques, or designated homework-free days.

Helping Teenagers Cope with School Stress

All of this increased pressure to perform academically can leave young adults feeling hopeless and parents feeling helpless. However, many experts agree that there are definitive steps parents can take to help their teenagers cope. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, stresses teaching children resilience through such methods building confidence, strengthening family connections, and instilling character.

Here are some specific ways in which parents can help teens become more resilient:

Teaching Organization Skills

Perhaps the only thing more stressful for a student than having to complete homework assignments in several subjects is having to complete the work in an environment full of scattered papers and misplaced supplies. The fact that a child needs special knowledge for advanced mathematics is widely known, but both parents and students often take organization skills for granted.

Just like calculus, the organization is something that has to be learned. Children should be taught as early as elementary school to keep their workspaces and backpacks well-stocked and orderly. However, it is not too late for even the most disorganized teen to learn the basics of organization.

Parents who have not mastered this themselves may face the added challenge of learning along with their teens. Depending on the situation, a teen may need guidance in one or more of the following: removing excess clutter, arranging a desk into a workable space, storing supplies, sorting school papers into folders, or writing organized notes. Some great organization tips can be found in the book Organizing from the Inside Out for Teenagers.

Teaching Time Management Skills

Help Your Teens PexelTimeMgt-300x203 Managing and Reducing School Stress for Teens Time Management skills are a subset of organization skills. However, since time is less tangible than papers in a folder, its management can be a little harder to grasp.

Teen stress due to over-scheduling has often been the subject of discussion in parent circles, but the lack of scheduling can sometimes be a source of even greater pressures. Having multiple assignments, projects, and tests in the works with no study plan can lead to several major stressors, including cramming, late assignments, and poor performance.

Parents can help teens to develop the habit of keeping track of all assignments on a calendar, school planner, chart, or computer. They can also stress the importance of making a checklist of tasks to be completed and demonstrate how to quickly prioritize responsibilities.

Showing teens how to form a schedule for long-term projects or daily study plans for tests can prevent work from piling up and leading to stressful late-night cram sessions. In his book Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens, psychologist Earl Hipp states that learning to set aside time for relaxation is also an important time management skill.

Teaching Relaxation Techniques

The ability to rest seems like something that should be second nature, but many people in today’s busy world simply do not know how to do it. Teaching teens simple breathing or meditation techniques can go a long way to help relieve tense muscles or calm nerves before an oral presentation. Some numerous books and videos describe such simple techniques. Parents can also advise their teens to enroll in a yoga class.

Offering as Much Support as Possible

Comprehensive way parents can help their middle or high school students to relieve stress is to simply offer their full and unwavering support. Understandably, parents want their children to learn independence, but this can be a gradual process as their children build knowledge and self-confidence.

A parent should continue to provide tutoring and emotional support as well as being actively involved in her child’s education well into the adolescent years. Even something as simple as helping a teenager with a regular household chore during final exams can reduce stress.

About the author: Diane H. Wong is a family coach. Besides, she is a research paper writer DoMyWriting so she prefers to spend her spare time working out marketing strategies. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others and keep up with advancing technologies.

If you feel you have exhausted your local resources and your teenager is experiencing extreme levels of stress, anxiety or depression – you may want to consider residential therapy. Contact us to learn more about residential treatment.

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Preventing Teen Drug Use: What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 09, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help

Parent Involvement Key to Stopping Drug Abuse

Parenting Styles Can Help Keep Addiction at Bay

Help Your Teens PexelsDrugs-300x203 Preventing Teen Drug Use: What Parents Need to Know Parents wondering how to best prevent drug use may only need to look in the mirror for their best answer. How parents approach their duties to their teenagers makes a major difference in whether their young teens will experiment, abuse, or become addicted to drugs.

Thomas Dishion in his article “Prevention of Early Adolescent Substance Abuse Among High-Risk Youth” [University of Hawaii, 1998] identifies certain patterns which prove problematic in increasing the risk of teens becoming drug users. Parent interventions and parenting styles have major impacts on these risks.

Parents need to focus on three primary areas. These include setting appropriate rules and guidelines for teen behavior outside of the family, expressing and enforcing appropriate rules with their adolescent in regards to school achievement, and setting strong boundaries by conveying education and limits about drug and alcohol use.

Drugs That Teenagers Commonly Use

Commonly used drugs by teenagers include marijuana, alcohol, ecstasy, cocaine, mushrooms, acid, and amphetamines. Some teenagers are exposed to drugs such as heroin, crack, and ketamine. These drugs all have different effects on the body, but each one can lead to dependency and a complete change in the teen’s behavior.

The Effects of Drugs on the Body

Drugs can have various effects on the body of teenagers. Some serious health effects come from using and abusing drugs. These include severe depression, mood swings, violence, heart problems, seizures, organ damage, anorexia, obesity, and brain damage. Drugs can also lead to overdoses, causing comas or death.

Signs That Your Teen is on Drugs

Signs that a teenager is on drugs vary depending on the drug being used. Signs that a teen is using marijuana include uncontrollable laughter, red or glossy eyes, slow and loud talking, eating large amounts of food, and sleeping a lot.

Signs of alcohol or downers – such as heroin and ketamine – abuse include slurred speech, difficulty standing or walking, anger, uncontrollable crying, vomiting, and passing out. Signs that a teen is on stimulants such as ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines include fast-talking, high energy levels, lack of appetite, weight loss, poor sleep habits, mood swings, anger, and euphoria. Upon signs of drug use in teens, parents should do their research to best help their teenagers get help for the problem.

Establishing Influence on the Behavior of Your Teen Outside the Family

Help Your Teens PexelsFamilyDogtime-300x204 Preventing Teen Drug Use: What Parents Need to Know Parents need to remember their teens will likely carry social skills learned within the family into their lives outside the family.

This means parents need to adopt a priority in helping teens learn to interact with others.

These skills include:

  • The ability to express their opinion clearly.
  • The ability to stand up to peers while feeling good about themselves.
  • The ability to ask for help with questions and situations which confuse the teenager.
  • The ability to find friends with supportive values.

These skills are communicated through everyday activities within the family. Parents may wish to consider specific exercises to increase these skills. Parents must also keep the channels of communication open, responding with empathy and information when a teenager seeks advice.

Encouraging School Achievement

Students’ performance in comparison to their peers seems to have a relation with drug behavior according to Dishion. Parents need to make homework and other school objectives a paramount concern.

Some ideas to focus on homework success include:

  • Setting up specific times for homework and being available to teens during this time.
  • Rewarding successful completion of homework projects.
  • Providing discipline for failing to complete homework or projects.
  • Contacting teachers and principals to clarify and verify assignments.

Setting Clear Limits about Drugs

Parents need to be very clear about their non-tolerance of drug and alcohol use by their teens. Discipline and punishments should be made clear to the teenager. Education about drug effects and dangers should also be reiterated. Many experts agree that education does not increase drug use, but rather may serve to provide teenagers more reasons to say no.

Parents should:

  • Have a no-drug policy at home.
  • Address drug dangers and effects with their teens.
  • Reflect sober living to their teens.
  • React immediately and seriously to any violations of the home’s no drug policy.
  • Provide ongoing education to the teenager about drugs, especially those drugs receiving social or media attention.

Parents hold an incredible ability to influence their teens away from drug and alcohol abuse. By teaching teens to hold onto their values in the face of peer pressure, establishing good classroom habits, and providing clear boundaries on drug use, parents play an essential role in preventing drug abuse.

About the author: Nicholas H. Parker is an essay writer at BuyEssayClub. He used to manage the content team at the company he worked for. Currently, Nicholas writes articles to share his knowledge with others and obtain new skills. Besides, he is highly interested in the psychology sphere.

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How Screen Time Can Impact Your Teen’s Mental Health

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 14, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Internet Addiction, Teen Help

Teens, Technology and Emotional Wellness

Help Your Teens UnSplashTeenScreentime-300x225 How Screen Time Can Impact Your Teen's Mental Health Teenagers today could probably be known as the “iPhone generation”. They never knew a world without technology at their fingertips, and they’ve grown up with screens and digital devices at every turn. So, smartphones, tablets, and computer screens are part of everyday life for most teenagers.

But, is that a good thing?

Parents and scientists alike have shown great interest in the effects of screen time on a teenager’s health. Some studies have argued that too much of it can cause physical health issues.  On the other hand, many teens use technology as a way to stay connected. Taking it away could impact their mental health.

So, what’s the answer? As a parent, that’s up to you. But, it’s important to know what screen time can really do to your teen – especially when it comes to their mental health.

Common Mental Health Concerns

It’s estimated that teenagers spend over seven hours looking at their phones each day. Whether they’re scrolling through Instagram, creating TikToks, or chatting on WhatsApp, it’s easy for teenagers to get lost in the social aspect of being on their phones. Of course, phones and tablets are also used for entertainment, like watching videos and playing games. The options are endless, which makes it easy to waste hours without really thinking about it.

That connection can lead to things like peer pressure, bullying, or even just the desire to “fit in” on different social media platforms. Your teen might feel as though they have to constantly be plugged in just to keep up with their friends.

Unfortunately, that can take a toll on their mental health. One study found that teens who spend at least three or four hours a day looking at a screen have an increased risk of depression, thoughts of self-harm, and even suicide. Another study found that young people who spend at least seven hours in front of a screen each day are more likely to officially be diagnosed with depression or anxiety. It also found that the less screen time a teen had, the better their overall wellbeing.

The mental health issues associated with too much screen time can lead to bigger problems. Depression and anxiety can cause teenagers to:

  • Become fatigued
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Isolating themselves
  • Losing interest in things they love
  • Have lower test scores

It can be difficult to understand teen depression. But, paying attention to these warning signs can alert you that something isn’t right. If you know that your teen spends most of their time in front of a screen, it won’t be hard to connect the dots and find out where their problems are stemming from.

Don’t Overlook the Physical Issues

Help Your Teens PexelSleepingTeen-300x200 How Screen Time Can Impact Your Teen's Mental Health In addition to mental health concerns, spending too much time in front of screens can lead to physical problems, too. For starters, starting at a screen all day can wreak havoc on your eyes. When a teenager spends too long looking at a screen, they can strain their eyes because the constant movement makes it harder to focus.

The light from the screen can also cause the eyes to become tired and lead to vision issues. Some of the common signs of vision problems include:

  • Squinting
  • Head tilting
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Rubbing their eyes
  • Headaches

In addition to damaging the eyes, staring at a digital device all day can cause back and neck problems. It can even lead to poor sleep quality, which could leave your teen feeling tired and make them more prone to getting sick or injured. While feelings of depression and anxiety are important to recognize, don’t ignore the physical problems your teen could have to deal with because of their phones or tablets, either.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Screen Time

As a parent of a teenager, you probably already know it’s not always easy to talk to them – especially about things they don’t want to give up. But, knowing how screen time can impact them, it’s important to set boundaries. That’s especially true if your teen is spending most of their time at home.

Create a schedule that works for everyone, allowing them to use their electronic devices during certain hours of the day and only for a set amount of time. You might get some pushback at first. But, creating a schedule is a great way to be fair. Eventually, your teen will look forward to those times when they have their devices and will know how to handle it when each time is over.

To promote less screen time, encourage your teen to try other things. What are their other interests and hobbies? Or, what’s something you think would love if they tried it? If they have a passion for art, encourage them to create their own art, like a comic book. Do they love music? Suggest an instrument.

Maybe they have gotten into running or strength training. Why not encourage a sport? When your teen really discovers their passion, they’ll be less enamored with their screens. As a result, they can be mentally and physically healthier, and you can take comfort in knowing they aren’t depending on a digital device to find contentment.

If you feel you have exhausted your local resources — and your teen needs more help, contact us about how residential might be able to benefit your family.

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How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 09, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Depression, Teen Help

The Pandemic, Teens and Depression: How You Can Help

Help Your Teens PexelTeenDepression-194x300 How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It Stuck at home for months on end and removed from their normal active social lives, many teens may have fallen into a dark period. Considering these unusual factors, a rise in instances of teen depression during the pandemic may not be unexpected. But by no means does that mean it should be ignored.

Research studies have revealed startling statistic evidence of just how much the pandemic has affected teenagers.

The three biggest mood conditions affecting teenagers between 13 and 18 years old (anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorders) have been shown to have increased by 80% to 90% between the spring of 2020 and the previous year.

Substance abuse levels among teenagers increased by about 65% in March and April of 2020, and instances of intentional self-harm skyrocketed. In the Northeast of the United States, the number of intentional self-harm instances rose to 334% among teenagers in August of 2020 as compared to August of 2019. 

These statistics may be alarming, but that is all the more reason to investigate the causes of these all-too-common problems and search for solutions. In this article, we will take a deeper look at how the pandemic has caused an increase in teen depression. Then we will explore what you can do to help support your teenager.

Effects of the Pandemic on Your Teenager

In general, the teenaged years are already turbulent for most, and levels of anxiety and depression frequently begin during this 13- to 18-year-old age group. The life of a teenager is full of developmental transitions, and life transitions.

The hormonal changes of puberty coupled with the increased pressure of high school social life, applying for college, and impending adulthood can create an intensely pressurized period in any teenager’s life. 

But with the pandemic, not only were the usual pressures and anxieties heightened, but the typical releases were removed. Teenagers accustomed to venting with their friends after school, meeting with a variety of teachers and mentors, exercising during sports practice, and engaging in a variety of activities that stimulated and challenged them were now isolated inside their homes. Social activity, mental stimulation, and school all took place over the internet, and that social isolation coupled with increased time online spelled a recipe for disaster for many susceptible teens. 

Experts have not yet made direct links between the pandemic and increases in youth suicide. They have noted, however, that the pandemic has caused added stress on teenagers, and has left many teenagers feeling hopeless about the future as well. Instead of connecting with others, teens have been confronted with financial fallout and an unceasing flurry of grim news reporting which has left them stewing in negative thoughts that can exacerbate any pre-existing anxiety or depression. 

What You Can Do to Help

Allow Them Space to Breathe

Help Your Teens PexelTeenCell5-1-300x205 How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It Many parents have found that their teenager has become increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative during the pandemic. Even in the face of stony silence, it is important to make clear to your teen that they are not alone. Try creating a designated time to share openly- and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.

Make sure your teen knows that they can trust you, and that you are open to having frank and even difficult conversations with them. 

While they should certainly feel that their parents offer a safe space to communicate, it is also vital for your teens to have some healthy privacy and alone time. Allow them to recoup and retreat into their rooms to listen to music, be creative, read, play, or process through complex thoughts. Give them space to breathe but pay attention to any especially spiky moods and extreme downturns of behavior. You don’t want to smother your teen, but at the same time, you want to make sure they are safe. Try to strike a healthy balance between observation and trust. 

Maintain Social Connections

Particularly for teens going through intense emotional turmoil and facing down uncommon pressures caused by the pandemic, maintaining social connections is vital. Some parents have taken the approach of loosening social media restrictions, with widely beneficial results. Encourage your teens to continue connecting with their peers, even online. 

Just make sure to implement healthy boundaries and restrictions so your teenager isn’t chatting online to the exclusion of everything else- particularly exercise and sleep. Try implementing a nighttime social media curfew, so your teens are not exposed to the glaring blue light of the screen right before bedtime. You may also want to restrict social media usage to age-appropriate platforms. That can help protect your teens from cyber bullies, hackers, spam, or inappropriate content. 

You can also organize family and friend gatherings via video chat. Your teen may be reticent to attend, but these reminders of pre-pandemic life can be helpful for increasing a feeling of social connection and reminding your teen that they are not alone. 

Implement Healthy Routines

Help Your Teens PexelFamilyJogging-300x207 How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It While the last thing your teenager may want to do is participate in family exercise sessions, or follow bedtime guidelines, these are some of the most important tools you can use to try to combat the effects of anxiety and depression. Because anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders have physical bases, encouraging your teenager to get exercise and regular sleep can help ease the underlying disorders. This can be a vicious cycle; the less sleep your teen gets, the worse their mood disorder may become, thus making it harder to sleep or to go to bed at a reasonable hour. 

Try to help your teen create and maintain a regular daily routine that can provide a structure to their days and evenings. One of the most disruptive factors of the pandemic has been the removal of regular routines, which allow teenagers to disregard normal waking hours, school times, and bedtimes. 

Create a shared calendar to demarcate when online learning should happen, when your teens are expected to complete their chores, and even family outings for exercise and a change of scenery. Encouraging regular physical activity can help increase the body’s responses against depression and anxiety and regulate the sleep cycle. 

Bring in a Professional

Help Your Teens bigstock-Female-Psychologist-Working-Wi-237972997-300x200 How the Pandemic Has Increased Teen Depression: What You Can Do About It You may also want to incorporate assistance from a designated mental health professional. Bringing an extra source of support can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety for your teen and can also provide extra support for parents of teenagers struggling with emotional imbalances. 

Talk to your teenager’s teacher or school counselors, and consider trying on internet-based therapist, counselor, or psychologist. You can also look into a variety of online mental health programs that encourage teenagers to engage with their emotions and connect with others, sometimes anonymously. 

Giving your teenager a safe space to vent and process their emotions with an impartial third-party professional can help a huge amount, and can allow them to talk about things they might not feel comfortable sharing with a parent or sibling- particularly when you are all sharing the close quarters of home during the pandemic. 

Connecting with Your Teen

The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, and some of the problems that parents face can sometimes be transferred to their kids accidentally. Remember that your teenager may be able to handle more than you think. Connect with them honestly and openly up to a point, making sure they know that they are heard, seen, and respected. 

Allow them to hide away when they need to, but also make it clear that you are there for them as a strong pillar of support, no matter how difficult it may seem. Let them know that you are available to help them get through whatever they are experiencing, and that together you can help ease some of the pressure that your teen may feel.

Check out our featured book, The Teen Depression Workbook for more resources.

Are you concerned about your teen? Exhausted your local resources? Contact us for a free consultation to find out if residential therapy is right for your family.

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How Social Media Is Emotionally Impacting Your Teen

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 12, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Internet Addiction, Mental Health

The Effects of Social Media on Teens and How to Prevent Them

Help Your Teens PexelGirlOnlineCellPhone-195x300 How Social Media Is Emotionally Impacting Your Teen Social media was created to make people socialize virtually, and that has been possible to some extent. There are multiple other benefits of social media as well, but the question is do the pros outweigh the cons of social media.

If you aren’t wise enough, things can get worse while using social media platforms. Especially with teens, with a lot of free time and the lack of proper guidance, things can go south for them.

Impact of Social Media on Teens

Not Social

We all have heard of so-called “Social Media platforms,” but are they really social? Some people use social media purely for socializing, but not everyone has similar intentions. The internet is harsh, and people with bad intentions make social media not social at all. Social media doesn’t depict real human interaction and doesn’t help with the social skills of teens. People on the internet are narcissists and are there to promote themselves instead of caring about others.

Increased Teen Depression

Social Media has taken many teens with its toxicity. Different studies support the fact about social media causing depressive symptoms in teens or everyone in general.  A study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania found out increased loneliness and depression with the high usage of social media. It’s hard to handle the negativity, racism, body-shaming, and harassment going online. Cyberbullying and fake expectations that are way difficult to meet also contribute to added depression or anxiety in teens. 

Misinformation and Self-harm Content

Social Media being unregulated, carries tons of misinformation and harmful content. Although social media platforms have their guidelines and rules, people still find a way to spread harmful content. The misinformation has been on the internet for a long time, be it about fat loss, height gain, or even the COVID-19 vaccine. Teens are becoming vulnerable and trying to take their lives by getting addicted to the self-destructive content on the internet.

Avoiding adverse impacts of Social Media on Teens

Set Limit and Monitor the usage

Most of the social media problems are caused by the overuse and the addiction of the platforms. While spending more time on social media, we tend to forget the real world and get lost on the internet. A 2019 study suggests that people who spend more than three hours a day on social media might be more at risk of mental health problems. Now, most platforms also have a “your activity” feature where you can check the total time you’re spending there. It can help you keep track of your social media usage.

Encourage more face-to-face and live interactions

Like we said, social media isn’t social, so we encourage you to spend more time on live conversations. That way, you get to socialize and learn more from different people and perspectives. Having face-to-face interactions with people in real life helps you deal with loneliness and reduces the isolation factor from your life.

Follow people who inspire you more on Social Media

Now in the generation of the internet, everything is there at the tip of your finger. You could get the best out of social media by following influencers that inspire you. You can also use social media to learn, as ample pages share informative content that adds value to people’s lives.

The impacts of social media on teens can get horrific, but things can also get better if you get smart and monitor the usage. People have even lost lives due to social media, so be aware of its usage and negative impact.

Read about how removing your teens’ devices doesn’t always work.

Check out our parenting book – Raising Humans In A Digital World, helping you become a smarter digital parent.

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Why Removing Your Teens’ Devices Doesn’t Always Work

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 23, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Internet Addiction, Internet Safety

Do you threaten to remove your teen’s devices?

Parents are struggling with implementing restrictions on technology

Help Your Teens BigstockMomTeenonCell-300x199 Why Removing Your Teens' Devices Doesn't Always Work Most families have implemented boundaries and rules that their kids and teens have to follow when it comes to their devices. When they cross these lines, there will be consequences such as revoking their phone and internet privileges.

As many of us know, this can be devastating to young people. A survey from the Pew Research Center last year revealed that 56 percent of teens feel anxious, lonely or upset when they don’t have their cell phones.

There’s no app for parenting

There’s no app for parenting teens online today—yet according to a 2018 PEW Research Center survey, 95 percent of teenagers have access to a smartphone while almost half, 45 percent, claim they are online constantly.  That’s up significantly from the last survey in 2015 when it was 24 percent that were on almost constantly.

It’s instinct to remove the gadget that they love as a form of punishment, but is it solving the problem? Many teens are resourceful today as they turn to burner phones when their parents enforce the family rules. This can be incredibly frustrating and parents are at their wit’s end.

Parents struggle with digital boundaries

We see many articles on tips for cyber safety, security and online bullying. We also can read a lot about what you should do when you witness abuse online or believe you are a victim of a sextortion or a predator.

What I haven’t read a lot about is what you can do if your teen abuses their internet or cell phone privileges. No matter where our kids and teens are gravitating to online, parenting doesn’t change.

Like growing up offline, it’s never without challenges. However, today it’s compounded with their digital life being as important as their real one. As a matter of fact, most teen’s believe that their online life is their life—period.

Defining digital abuse

Many parents understand that offline communications are key to cyber safety for their children (of all ages). In these chats, it’s important to continually discuss appropriate online behavior as well as what is not acceptable:

  • Posting inappropriate comments, pictures or videos
  • Participating in unsavory chat rooms
  • Purchasing items online without a parent’s permission
  • Over-sharing personal information
  • Cyberbullying, harassing or teasing others online
  • Sending mean text messages or sexting
  • Sending abusive tweets
  • Posting or texting anything with an intent to harm or hurt someone

It’s important to realize that burner phones are not only being used as a way to escape the loss of their own device, but teens are using these phones to secretly post on social media without adults knowing.

“The youngsters don’t only use the burners when their personal device is taken away. Some use them to post on social-media profiles their parents don’t know about—the so-called Finsta, or ‘fake Instagram,’ account,” says Diana Graber, author of Raising Humans In A Digital World in the WSJ.

Managing digital slip-ups

Is there an alternative to removing the devices? In my opinion, as well as that of Digital Media Literacy teacher, Diana Graber, absolutely! It’s all about digital parenting and education. It’s about teaching our kids about the upsides and downsides of technology—opening those lines of communication, probably more often than you are doing now.

If you discover your teen has crossed the family’s online boundaries, it is time to sit down and analyze what happened with your teenager. Hear them out first, then give them the reasons why there will be consequences—explain clearly how they abused their privilege. It is important they understand their missteps so they can learn from them.

Family Safety Evangelist Toni Birdsong wrote an essay, What Should the Consequences Be for a Teens’ Digital Slip-Up? Here are a few of my favorites I want to share:

  • Be clear on the “why.” Explain the risks associated with the behavior and why it’s not allowed. If the topic is sexting then explain the privacy risk of trusting another person as well as the legal risks of possessing or sending sexual photos.
  • Be careful not to shame. The behavior does not define the child. In talking, stay focused on the behavior or action without making general, personal judgments.
  • Write an essay. It sounds old school, but essay writing in this world of impulse clicking has worked in our house. Parenting is all about teachable moments, so use this opportunity to educate. Have your child write a paper on the dangers of the behavior. Be it bullying, sexting, suggestive texting, racism, profanity, or gossip—there are huge lessons to be learned through researching and writing. Remember many tweens and teens are simply naïve to the power of the technology they hold and they simply don’t know what they don’t know.

Being an educated parent helps you to have safer teens online and offline.

How to know if your teen is using a burner phone, read more.

Read how to help your teen develop healthy screen time habits.

Order Raising Humans In A Digital World today – be an educated digital parent!

Contact us for more information.

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How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen Drug Use

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 26, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Drug Use

Prevent Teen and Young Adult Drug Use

How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen & Young Adult Drug Use

Help Your Teens BigstockTeenDrugUse-300x199 How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen Drug Use Figuring out if your child is using substances can be challenging. Many of the signs and symptoms are typical teen or young adult behavior. Many are also symptoms of mental health issues, including depression or anxiety.

If you have reason to suspect use, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution. Prepare to take action and have a conversation during which you can ask direct questions like “Have you been drinking, vaping or using drugs?” No parent wants to hear “yes,” but being prepared for how you would respond can be the starting point for a more positive outcome.

What to look for with shifts in mood & personality:

  • Sullen, withdrawn or depressed
  • Less motivated
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Hostile, angry, uncooperative
  • Deceitful or secretive
  • Unable to focus
  • A sudden loss of inhibitions
  • Hyperactive or unusually elated

Help Your Teens PexelsBoyFrustated-300x231 How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen Drug Use Behavioral changes:

  • Changed relationships with family members or friends
  • Absenteeism or a loss of interest in school, work or other activities
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Locks doors
  • Disappears for long periods of time
  • Goes out often, frequently breaking curfew
  • Secretive with the use of their phone
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Uses chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
  • Often uses over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening or nasal irritation
  • Has cash flow problems
  • Has become unusually clumsy: stumbling, lacking coordination, poor balance
  • Has periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep

Hygiene and appearance:

  • Smell of smoke or other unusual smells on breath or on clothes
  • Messier than usual appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Frequently red or flushed cheeks or face
  • Burns or soot on fingers or lips
  • Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)

Physical health:

  • Frequent sickness
  • Unusually tired and/or lethargic
  • Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred speech or rapid-fire speech
  • Nosebleeds and/or runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Sores, spots around mouth
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Frequent perspiration
  • Seizures and/or vomiting

Being a parent – How and where to look:

Use your nose.

Have a real, face-to-face conversation when child comes home after hanging out with friends. If there has been drinking or smoking, the smell will be on their breath, on clothing and in their hair.

Look them in the eyes.

Pay attention to their eyes, which will be red and heavy-lidded, with constricted pupils if they’ve used marijuana. Pupils will be dilated, and they may have difficulty focusing if they’ve been drinking. In addition, red, flushed color of the face and cheeks can also be a sign of drinking.

Watch their behavior.

How do they act after a night out with friends? Are they particularly loud and obnoxious, or laughing hysterically at nothing? Unusually clumsy to the point of stumbling into furniture and walls, tripping over their own feet and knocking things over? Sullen, withdrawn, and unusually tired and slack-eyed for the hour of night? Do they look queasy and stumble into the bathroom? These are all signs that they could have been drinking or using marijuana or other substances.

Search their spaces.

Help Your Teens PexelsSadGirl-211x300 How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen Drug Use The limits you set with your child don’t stop at the front door or their bedroom door. If you have cause for concern, it’s important to find out what’s going on. Be prepared to explain your reasons for a search though, whether or not you tell them about it beforehand. You can let them know it’s out of concern for their health and safety. Common places to conceal vapes, alcohol, drugs or paraphernalia include:

  • Inside drawers, beneath or between other items
  • In small boxes or cases — think jewelry, makeup or pencil cases, or cases for earbuds
  • Under a bed or other pieces of furniture
  • In a plant, buried in the dirt
  • In between or inside books
  • Under a loose floor board
  • Inside over-the-counter medicine containers (Tylenol, Advil, etc.)
  • Inside empty candy bags such as M&Ms or Skittles
  • In fake soda cans or other fake containers designed to conceal

Don’t overlook your teen’s cell phone or other digital devices. Do you recognize their frequent contacts? Do recent messages or social media posts hint at drug use or contradict what they’ve told you?

If your search turns up evidence of drug use, prepare for the conversation ahead and do not be deterred by the argument of invaded privacy. Stand by your decision to search and the limits you’ve set.

If you discover that your child is not likely to have been drinking or using other substances, this could be a good time to find out if there’s another explanation for any changes in their appearance or behavior that needs to be addressed.

Source: Drugfree.org

If you have a good teen starting to make bad choices and you’ve exhausted your local resources, it may be time to consider residential therapy before it gets out of control. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Teens Are Not Okay: The Crisis Parents Are Facing

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 16, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Depression, Teen Help

One in every four or five U.S. youth meets criteria for a mental disorder

Help Your Teens PexelSadTeen-300x199 Teens Are Not Okay: The Crisis Parents Are Facing The pandemic has been extremely challenging for many people, but especially for parents and students. We have seen a spike in mental health concerns surrounding teens, from depression to defiance to losing their academic motivation.

Teens are most stressed and overwhelmed

American Psychological Association says that teens currently report worse mental health and higher levels of anxiety and depression than all other age groups—including adults.

San Diego State University researchers report that 12- to 17-year-olds experienced a 52 percent increase in major psychological distress, depression, and suicide since the mid-2000s.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry warns that one in every four or five youth in the U.S. now meets criteria for a mental disorder.

When striving isn’t enough

Dr. Michele Borba has been an educational psychologist for over 40 years, but has never been more concerned about kids and teens. In her latest book, THRIVERS: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine shows the urgency in updating current parenting and educational practices to follow science so children will have the potential to thrive and become their personal best.

“They are not okay,” she warns. “In fact, they are less happy and more stressed, lonely, depressed, and suicidal when compared with any previous generation — and those descriptions were identified prior to COVID-19.”

In short, our kids are failing to thrive, and if left as is will have grave consequences on our kids’ futures.

Many teens and kids have hopes and aspirations for their future, maybe college, or even the simpler things such as a family gathering — yet they are emotionally overwhelmed. These are good kids, they have goals and dreams but suddenly are feeling distressed and lonely.

How can we redirect a student that was striving and help them thrive in these challenging times?

Building THRIVERS

Help Your Teens BookThrivers-196x300 Teens Are Not Okay: The Crisis Parents Are Facing Some young people aren’t struggling; they’re thriving. They cope with adversity, develop healthy relationships, and embrace change.

They are ready for whatever the world throws at them, even in uncertain times.  Borba calls these kids Thrivers, and the more she studied them, she wondered, What is their secret? And can it be taught to others?

Through her years of research Borba said:

“Thrivers are made, not born. Yes, the strengths and skills that help our kids thrive can be taught at any age,” she continues. “But in our new uncertain world, it’s a moral mandate that they must be added to our parenting and teaching agendas. Doing so is the best way to raise a generation of strong kids who are ready and able to handle whatever comes their way.”

Dr. Borba combed scientific studies on resilience, spoke to dozens of researchers and experts in the field, and interviewed more than 100 young people from all walks of life. In the end, she found something surprising: The difference between those who struggle and those who succeed comes down not to grades or test scores, but to seven essential character strengths that set Thrivers apart (and set them up for happiness and greater accomplishment later in life):

  • Self-confidence: Healthy identify, using personal strengths to find purpose and meaning.
  • Empathy: Understanding and sharing another’s feelings, and acting compassionately.
  • Self-control: Managing stress, delaying gratification, strengthening focus.
  • Integrity: Valuing and adhering to a strong moral code, ethical thinking to lead a moral life.
  • Curiosity: Having open-mindedness and willingness to try new ideas, take risks, innovate.
  • Perseverance: Exhibiting fortitude, tenacity and resolve to endure so as to bounce back.
  • Optimism: Learning self-advocacy and keeping unrealistic pessimism to encourage hope.

Each of these seven character strengths is like a superpower that helps safeguard kids and teens against the depression and anxiety that threatens to derail them. And when those superpowers are combined, they become even more potent, creating a Multiplier Effect that prepares children to succeed in our fast-paced, ever-changing world.

Yes, they can be taught at any age, says Dr. Borba.

Order THRIVERS on Amazon today.

******************************

Article originally written by Sue Scheff on Psychology Today.

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Tips For Starting A Conversation With Your Teenager

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 21, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

10 Ways to Start A Conversation With Your Teen

Help Your Teens DadSonChat-300x200 Tips For Starting A Conversation With Your Teenager Let’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. Help Your Teens MomDaughterChatting-300x200 Tips For Starting A Conversation With Your Teenager Talk 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.

Bonus tip: Order Fourteen Talks By Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have With Your Kids Before High School.

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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How Would I Know My Teen Is Using Drugs?

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 10, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

15 Warning Signs Your Teen Might Be Using Drugs

Be an educated parent

Help Your Teens BigstockTeenDrugUse-300x199 How Would I Know My Teen Is Using Drugs? Never doubt, no one is immune to being exposed to having their teen use drugs. Most of these kids are very smart (academically), some have great friends and even participate in sports or other activities — you would never expect this behavior.

Good kids, bad choices

Teens are a source of worry for every parent. You look after them for years, and you hope that they end up turning our alright.

While there are hundreds of books and articles on how to raise your kids, few really work that well, and it’s all down to trial and error. Of course, if your kids end up taking drugs and getting caught, they could end up facing a trail for their errors.

Bad puns aside, it’s clear that drug education does a lot for some and little for others. Indeed, government-sponsored drug education programs tend to be somewhat weak. It’s therefore vital that you watch for the common signs of drug use in your kids.

1. Possession of the drug itself is a dead giveaway. While marijuana is fairly distinctive, how do you tell whether a pill has been prescribed or not? The Internet is usually a good resource. Look for the symbol on the pill. Something marked OP will likely be OxyContin, for example. Identify the pill and see what comes up. Alternatively, ask your teen.

2. Odd smells are another sign. It could be a new interest in deodorant or a heady smell of marijuana-laced smoke. If you don’t know what marijuana smells like, it’s time to educate yourself. We don’t suggest smoking it yourself, but you may be able to ask a friendly cop to show you a sample.

3. Paraphernalia for drug taking include roll-ups and tin boxes. For other drugs, it could be syringes and burnt teaspoons. If you see a tin box, open it and take a sniff. If it smells like tobacco, it probably is. If it smells of something else, ask your kid about it.

Help Your Teens BigstockFrustratedTEen-300x200 How Would I Know My Teen Is Using Drugs? 4. Rapidly changing grades are one of the common consequences of drug addiction or use. If you kid goes from being a straight-A student to getting F’s or D’s, something’s changed. Of course, it could be linked to a number of factors, so tread carefully here.

5. Glazed expressions may be a sign of addiction, but with some teens, it’s hard to tell. Teenagers and twenty-somethings tend not to be the most communicative of creatures, but if your kid starts looking stoned all the time and are accompanied by any of the other factors listed, it’s entirely possible he or she is stoned.

6. Abandoning friends is quite common throughout the teenage years, but it could have a more sinister implication. If your kid starts hanging out with a different crowd who smoke and so on, it could be a phase, but it could be linked to drugs.

7. Abandoning social activities is another potential sign of drug abuse. Again, interests change throughout your kid’s formative years, so tread lightly. It might just be related to a change of tastes.

8. Evasive answers to questions of where your kid has been can sometimes be linked to drugs. As a parent, you’ll never know all the aspects of your kid’s life, and sometimes it could be related to your kid’s interest in dating.

9.Help Your Teens PexelsFrustratedTeen-300x201 How Would I Know My Teen Is Using Drugs? Behavioral changes are quite common with kids who take drugs. While the moody teen is a stereotype, it’s one that holds true. If your kid is jittery in the morning and calmer in the evening, he or she could be taking drugs.

10. Memory problems sometimes herald drug use. While everyone forgets stuff, if your kid has problems remembering basic things, you might need to question further. Of course, it could also be a sign of medical issues, such as ADHD.

11.Unexplained injuries can be related to drug or alcohol use. Just as above, however, they could also be related to medical issues or even bullying.

12. Items or money going missing around your house might mean that your kid is stealing to fund a habit. Keep an open mind, however, as it’s just as likely to be a partner or someone else stealing them.

13. Weight changes are a normal part of teen life, but rapid fluctuations could indicate an addiction. Some teens neglect to eat due to drugs or spend lunch money on an addiction rather than eat.

14. Your child is more likely to get ill if he or she takes drugs, as the side effects of some drugs partially suppress the immune system. Inhaled drugs can also lead to respiratory problems.

15. Staying out late is a typical teenage habit, but in combination with things listed above, it’s possible that this could be an indication of drug abuse. Of course, it’s most likely that the drug of choice is alcohol in this case.

Source: American Addiction Centers

Are you concerned about your teen and their behavior? Have you exhausted your local resources? Contact us to find out if residential therapy is right for your teenager.

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