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Parenting Teens

Conduct Disorder in Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 16, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

ParentsTeensWhat is conduct disorder?

We hear so many labels these days with teenagers, ADD, ADHD, ODD, bipolar – there is always family conflict and I frequently am asked about conduct disorder.

Conduct disorder is a set of ongoing emotional and behavioral problems that occurs in children and teens. Problems may involve defiant or impulsive behavior, drug use, or criminal activity.

What causes conduct disorder?

Conduct disorder has been linked to:

  • Child abuse
  • Drug or alcohol abuse in the parents
  • Family conflicts
  • Genetic defects
  • Poverty

The diagnosis is more common among boys.

It is hard to know how common the disorder is. This is because many of the qualities for diagnosis, such as “defiance” and “rule breaking,” are hard to define. For a diagnosis of conduct disorder, the behavior must be much more extreme than is socially acceptable.

Conduct disorder is often linked to attention-deficit disorder. Conduct disorder also can be an early sign of depression or bipolar disorder.

ConductDisorderWhat are some of the symptoms?

Children with conduct disorder tend to be impulsive, hard to control, and not concerned about the feelings of other people.

Symptoms may include:

  • Breaking rules without clear reason
  • Cruel or aggressive behavior toward people or animals (for example: bullying, fighting, using dangerous weapons, forcing sexual activity, and stealing)
  • Not going to school (truancy — beginning before age 13)
  • Heavy drinking and/or heavy drug abuse
  • Intentionally setting fires
  • Lying to get a favor or avoid things they have to do
  • Running away
  • Vandalizing or destroying property

These children often make no effort to hide their aggressive behaviors. They may have a hard time making real friends.

How can parents treat conduct disorder?

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 to treat some of its distressing symptoms, as well as any other mental illnesses that may be present, such as ADHD or major depression.

Sources: A.D.A.M. Health, WedMD

If you feel you have exhausted your local resources, your teen is shutting down in therapy, out-patient isn’t working, please contact us for information regarding quality residential therapy.

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Does My Teen Need Residential Therapy?

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 02, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

 

we_are_parents_tooAs I share with parents, residential therapy is a major decision not to be taken lightly.  It’s not about teaching your child a lesson, it’s not about punishing your teen or scaring them straight — residential therapy is a huge financial and emotional decision that is made after you have exhausted all your local resources.

Residential therapy is a choice made out of love to give your child a second chance at a bright future.

Usually a parent has reached their wit’s end; they have been to local therapy, some have even tried having their teen stay with a relative.  Some have been through extensive out-patient programs but it isn’t until you remove (residential therapy) the teen from their environment that they will be able to heal and gain an objective view on what is the root of the issues.

In the majority of families that contact us, these are not bad kids, these are kids that come from good families – raised with morals and taught right from wrong, however making very bad decisions.  Whether they have fallen into a negative peer group or struggling with self-worth issues, they are definitely going down a dark path that needs to be addressed.

In many situations we see today’s teen as the spoiled rotten brat syndrome.  Don’t be ashamed of that – that is our culture today.  It’s not right, but that’s how parents of this generation have raised their kids — they get just about anything they want without earning it.  This leads to generation entitlement teenager.

When they feel they are being boxed in or suddenly things aren’t as easy as they used to be, as middle school and high school can tend to become more difficult to fit in, rebellion and defiance (in combination with puberty) can strike.

canstockphoto13240726This behavior can escalate into not only a nasty attitude, but soon you watch their grades declining, maybe they quit (or asked to leave) their once-favorite sport, and suddenly you discover they are using illegal substances and drinking.  The spiral continues.

Their outbursts at home and anger towards the parents become unbearable.  Worse some teens will get into trouble with the law, maybe shoplifting things they can well-afford to purchase.

Parents soon feel hostage in their own home.  No one is immune to this.

How To Know When It’s Time to Try Residential Therapy

  • You have read most parenting books and behavioral strategy — removing privileges, instilling consequences that are being broken,  to behavioral contracts to one-on-one behavioral support in the home — and your teen still doesn’t get better.
  • Your child had been given numerous psychiatric diagnoses, none of which totally fit. He/she has been on different medications, but none result in long-term changes.
  • Your house is a war zone every day. Your child is routinely explosive and scares younger siblings and you. You are exhausted and the stress of managing daily crises is taking a toll on your marriage, your job, your personal life and you  have reached your wit’s end.
  • Your child has been expelled from school (or on the verge of  being expelled), is addicted to video games, using drugs or alcohol, and has had multiple run-ins with the law.
  • Your child engages in self-injury, threatens to hurt others or kill himself.
  • Your child has had a psychiatric hospitalization.
  • You have finally exhausted all your local resources.  This is not an easy decision and one that comes out of love.  It is time to give your son or daughter a second opportunity for a bright future – finding a residential therapy setting for 6-10 months out of their lifetime is a small price to pay considering the alternative road they are on.

How Residential Treatment (RTC) or Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS) Helps, When Nothing Else Does

  • RTC or TBS focus on helping the child take personal accountability. Through intensive individual, group and family therapy, residential staff work on shifting the child from blaming others for his problems to acknowledging that he is where he is because he made poor choices.
  • RTC or TBS remove your child from their negative environment.  Whether is a contentious home situation or a negative peer group, it is an opportunity to be in an objective placement to open up and speak freely to others that may have his/her same feelings.
  • RTC or TBS have level systems so children learn the consequences of their actions. If they make poor choices or don’t do their levels work, they don’t gain privileges. The levels system incentivizes children to change their behavior.
  • RTC or TBS provide structure and containment that is impossible to achieve at home. Most RTC or TBS are in remote areas where there is nowhere to run. Therapists, behavioral staff and a levels program provide intensive scaffolding to support the child as he learns coping skills that he can then use to regulate himself. When a child can utilize coping skills, he feels in control and begins to make better choices.
  • RTC or TBS are particularly skilled at helping parents recognize the ways they are unwittingly colluding with their child’s behavior, and learn tools to change their own behaviors. Parent workshops and family therapy (usually via phone and visits) are essential for the child to return home successfully.
  • When selecting an RTC or TBS, it is important for a parent to find one that has accredited academics, qualified therapists and enrichment programs.  This is part of doing your due diligence when researching for programs for your teenager.

teens parentsThe hardest part is finding the right program/school for your teenager.  There are many choices in our country.  Take your time (within reason) and do your due diligence.  We offer helpful tips and questions to ask schools and programs on our site.  Be sure the program is licensed, accredited and has enrichment programs to stimulate your child in a positive direction.

There are also red flags, when programs frequently have to change their name, sometimes the Christian programs don’t have to meet the regulations as traditional TBS or RTC, it’s all about doing your research.  We aren’t purchasing a car – we securing your child’s emotional growth.

If you feel you are ready to consider residential therapy, please contact us for a free consultation.  I have walked in your shoes over a decade ago.  Although we had  a bad experience, I believe there are many good programs – it’s all about educating you to learn to find what is best for your family.  Learn from my mistakes – gain from my knowledge.

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Teens, Entitlement Issues and Summer Jobs

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2015  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Parenting Teens

Is your teen spoiled?

In today’s society, kids seem to expect parents to provide expensive gadgets and designer clothes without a thought as to who or how they will be paid for.  Some parents will go into debt to be sure their teen is keeping up with their peers, while others might be able to afford — and of course there are those that simply just can’t afford this lifestyle.  They might be the lucky ones. Why? They are in a position where they will learn the lessons of accountability and responsibility.

What happened to old fashioned work ethic?

With shows like “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” not to mention the “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” that glorify teens that have extravagant lives and demanding over the top birthday parties we’ve become inundated with the idea that our teens need to be pampered and spoiled beyond reason.

This mindset has led to teens believing that they deserve the most expensive clothes, cars, and cell phones, and that these things should just be handed to them on demand. The reality of it, though, is that our teenagers should be learning the importance of working hard for what they want, and one way to impart this lesson and have them reap the benefits of it is by having them work a part-time job.

There are numerous lessons and values teens will learn from working:

  1. Time management:  Having to balance school and work will teach teens early on the importance of prioritizing responsibilities and managing their time. The sooner they learn how to do this the better off they’ll be when they leave for college and eventually branch out into the real world of full-time jobs and responsibilities.
  2. Help build a resume:  Being able to list work experience on a resume will help your teen get ahead of the crowd when it comes time to apply for college or find a full-time job. It will show prospective colleges and employers that your teen is a motivated, hard-working individual and will set them above the people who have no prior work experience.
  3. Financial independence:  There’s a certain satisfaction that is brought about by being able to buy something you want with your own hard-earned money, and having a job that brings in a paycheck will allow teens to learn how to effectively manage their money and rely on themselves and not their parents for different purchases. Learning to manage money is a life skill that everyone needs to have, so learning it early on will only benefit your teenager.
  4. Develop indispensable life skills:  Your teen will learn very quickly the importance of working as a team and having solid communication skills, two talents that are transferrable into almost any industry or experience. The experiences that they have, both good and bad, from a part-time job will help them to become better-rounded as an individual.
  5. Learn the value of hard work:  Unfortunately hard work is becoming more under-valued these days, especially with teens, and it’s important to teach our kids that hard work is a trait to be admired and respected. Learning to work for what you want is an advantageous tool to have.

While your teens may complain about having to get a job initially, it’s likely that they’ll end up thanking you for it in the long run. The lessons they’ll learn from having to work a part-time job are irreplaceable.

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