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Teen Help

Teen Help: Benefits of Family Camping

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 18, 2021  /   Posted in Teen Help

Healing Your Family In The Outdoors

Adventure, Challenge & Growth In The Mountains

We humans have long sought solace in the mountains, the woods, and in other natural spaces.

But, did you know that getting outside can help your teen deal with difficult social, emotional, and physical challenges?

In fact, new research shows that spending time in the great outdoors can have long-lasting benefits for people of all ages. For teens, in particular, regular outdoor recreation can help young people learn essential social and emotional skills that they can use to rise above any challenges that they might face.

Up next, we’ll discuss some of the latest research on the power of the outdoors to do wonders for struggling teens. We’ll even offer up some quick and simple ways to help your teenager get outside, so they can start taking advantage of the healing powers of the outdoors.

The Benefits Of Outdoor Recreation

Researchers have long understood that outdoor recreation provides a number of important benefits for our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. 

Indeed, a 2018 US-based study found that getting outside and hiking is particularly beneficial, not just for our physical health, but for our ability to handle challenging mental and emotional situations. Furthermore, a 2016 study from the University of Maryland even found that outdoor recreation can help individuals struggling with various mental health issues.

What about teenagers, you might ask?

Well, researchers from Poland and the Czech Republic found that adolescents who spent more time recreating outside through activities like cycling, skiing, and swimming, reported higher levels of well-being than those who didn’t. At the same time, a 2020 Canadian study also found a link between outdoor physical activity and social connectedness among young people.

Of course, everyone responds differently to spending time outdoors and it’s not a solution for all teens. But, the academic research strongly suggests that teens can gain a number of important emotional, physical, and mental benefits from venturing into the mountains.

How To Get Outside With Your Teen

Although there’s a clear link between teens’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being and time spent outside, these benefits are hard to come by if you’re struggling to find a way to introduce your teenager to the great outdoors.

To get you started, here are a few great ways to help your teen enjoy the wonders of the natural world:

1. Plan A Family Camping Trip

If you’re looking to help your teen get outside and if you want to spend more time together as a family, there’s nothing better than a family camping trip. 

A camping trip into the great outdoors without phones and other electronics can help everyone unplug, relax, and reconnect with nature. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life on a camping trip can also give your teen a chance to enjoy hanging out with their family without the external peer pressures that might otherwise sour the experience.

If this is your first family camping trip, consider starting small. A quick overnight adventure to a local campground where there are trails, watersports, and other fun activities can be a great way to help a struggling teen unwind. 

Then, as everyone in your family gets more comfortable in the outdoors, you could plan a longer trip during school vacation. As an added bonus, you could let your teen choose the adventure destination and your activities to help them feel more of a sense of ownership over their experiences.

2. Set An Outdoor Adventure Goal

For teens that are lacking a sense of direction or for young people that are struggling to stay motivated at school or sports, helping them set an outdoor adventure goal might be a solid choice.

After organizing a few family day hikes or camping trips, you could encourage your teen to think of an outdoor-related goal that they’d like to achieve. For example, this could include hiking Mount Whitney—the tallest peak in the contiguous US—or it could be more of a local challenge to climb the 10 highest mountains in your state.

Achieving these sorts of goals usually requires a bit of training, pre-planning, and commitment. So they can be a perfect way to help your teen find purpose, meaning, and direction in their life, all while working toward something that’s fun and exciting.

3. Offer Kayaking, Skiing, Or Climbing Lessons

Although hiking and camping are popular pastimes, some teens have more of an eye for adventure. If you notice that your teen is interested in more technical pursuits like whitewater kayaking, skiing, or rock climbing, it could be worth investing in lessons with a qualified guiding service or outdoor education center.

Of course, these sorts of lessons can be pricey, so they’re not financially possible for everyone. But, if you’re able to do so, investing in a few lessons or even a week-long summer camp-style course could help encourage your teen’s interest in the outdoors. Plus, encouraging your teen’s interest in these sorts of activities could help your young adult find passion and motivation in their life. 

Many outdoor education centers also offer group lessons, so they can be a nice way for your teen to make like-minded friends from outside school. For teens that struggle to stay motivated or make friends in more of a formal education environment, these informal, fun classes can make all the difference.

4. Consider An Organized Expedition

If your teen is having difficulty with their self-confidence or their interpersonal skills, enrolling them on an organized outdoor education expedition might be a solid option.

Organized outdoor expeditions often take young people between the ages of 13 and 18 out into the wilderness for a few weeks to months at a time. These expeditions often focus on developing leadership and interpersonal skills as well as self-awareness, self-esteem, and communication strategies within a communal group setting in the outdoors.

Furthermore, these expeditions are a great way to set a teenager up with all of the skills they need to go out on their own future adventures. Indeed, they provide a nice mix of challenge and activity to help struggling teens find themselves and their passion in life through nature.

Do note, however, that teens usually get the most out of these organized expeditions when it’s something that they’re personally interested in. Therefore, it’s usually best not to force them into these experiences, but rather to encourage them to strongly consider signing up for one during school vacation.

Getting Your Teen Outside

Whether you’re interested in planning a family camping trip or you’re interested in enrolling your teen on an outdoor education expedition, there are plenty of great ways to help your young adult reap the benefits of being outside. The key is to find an activity and adventure style that works for your teen so they can make the most of their time in nature.

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Helping Teens With Self-Esteem

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 12, 2021  /   Posted in Teen Help

Help! My teen is hanging with the wrong crowd!

Good kids, starting to make bad choices — many times parents will point to the choice of friends.

Your teen’s self-esteem is an important part of their self-image. It helps them feel  worthwhile and more confident in making better choices – especially when it pertains to peer groups or even deciding to skip school.

A healthy self-esteem doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that is nurtured and grown throughout a lifetime, and something that the important people in their life have a chance to help cultivate.

Here are some tips for boosting your teen’s self-esteem:

Avoid generic praise. Parents want kids to feel good about the things they do and to encourage them to repeat the types of behavior they value. So parents often say things like “Great job!” after everything from finishing vegetables at dinner to putting socks on in the morning to going down the slide at the park.

While generic congratulations feel good to a child for a short time, after too many times it becomes meaningless. In fact, congratulating a child for things that don’t require real effort can make a child lose trust in the parent’s honesty. Obviously this is an example for younger children – however the New York Time’s best seller by Jessica Lahey, The Gift of Failure, is an excellent example of over-praising a child and especially a teenager can actually hinder them, rather than help them.

Use specific praise generously. It’s helpful to a child’s self-esteem to hear from parents and other adults about their accomplishments, both big and small. Instead of using generic praise, let your child know how much you admire and appreciate his specific behavior. Phrases like “I appreciate your help with the housework. It means we have more time to go to the mall this weekend.” or “I’m so proud of how you tried new activities at school. It’s a great way to find out what your passionate about.” Will help your teen feel good about his abilities and choices.

Avoid negative labels. Most of the way we communicate with others is based in lifelong habits. Unfortunately some unhealthy habits may find their way into your parenting or care giving vocabulary. Labeling a child as being mean, lazy, uncoordinated or hyperactive, or calling him a whiner, liar or babyish can negatively affect his self-esteem. Children are sensitive to what the people they love think about them and words can have a huge effect. Choose your words carefully and talk about challenging behaviors or traits in positive terms.

Become a great listener. Giving your child your full attention and truly listening to what he is saying and how he feels is an immediate self-esteem booster.

When you turn off your phone, the TV and the computer and fully engage with your child it shows him that you really care about him and that you’re interested in what he has to say. That kind of undivided attention is rarer than it should be these days and will make your child feel valued and loved.  In the same way – your teen need to turn off their phone and electronics to listen to you too.

Model healthy self-esteem. Your child looks to you for clues about how to think, act and feel. Make sure you’re sending the right message. Invest in developing your own healthy self-esteem and you’ll be on your way to helping your child develop it too. Have a positive body image, be confident about your abilities, and don’t let petty criticisms from the outside world make you feel bad about yourself and your choices.

If you struggle with esteem issues, talk about them with your child in an age appropriate way and show him the steps you’re taking to develop a healthy self-esteem. Showing your child that you’re not perfect, but that you’re working towards being better, gives him the freedom to accept his flaws too.

Teach problem solving skills. Teaching your child how to objectively assess a situation, brainstorm solutions, and put a plan into action is a proactive way of building self-esteem. Children who feel able to handle challenging situations, who recognize that when they get knocked down they can get right back up and try again, and who are confident that every problem has a solution have a strong sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an important part of a child’s healthy emotional development. It acts like a suit of armor for your child, protecting him from many of the bumps and bruises that come with everyday life. It also gives him a strong foundation to build life skills on.

TeensOnBeach11 Facts about teens and self esteem are listed on DoSomething.org and are very interesting including:

  1. Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views him/herself as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view permeates every thought, producing faulty assumptions and ongoing self-defeating behavior.
  2. Among high school students, 44% of girls and 15% of guys are attempting to lose weight.
  3. Over 70% of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks. Brighten someone’s day by posting encouraging messages on your school’s bathroom mirrors. Sign up for Mirror Messages.
  4. More than 40% of boys in middle school and high school regularly exercise with the goal of increasing muscle mass.
  5. 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating. This compares to 25% of girls with high self-esteem.
  6. About 20% of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  7. Teen girls that have a negative view of themselves are 4 times more likely to take part in activities with boys that they’ve ended up regretting later.
  8. The top wish among all teen girls is for their parents to communicate better with them. This includes frequent and more open conversations.
  9. 38% of boys in middle school and high school reported using protein supplements and nearly 6% admitted to experimenting with steroids.
  10. 7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.
  11. A girl’s self-esteem is more strongly related to how she views her own body shape and body weight, than how much she actually weighs.
Do you feel your tween or teen is struggling with low self-worth, starting to go down a negative path. Don’t let it escalate.

Be proactive and reach out for help. Finding a local adolescent therapist can sometimes help. If it has gone too far, you may have come to a point where residential therapy is the answer. Contact us for more information.

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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

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

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.

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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

DadSonChatLet’s face it, we all know that raising teens today is not easy and experts all agree, communication is key to having a good relationship.

However sometimes simply talking to a teenager is not so easy.  They can be very challenging when they turn us off.

Here are some ideas for ways to get teens talking:

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

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

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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Teaching My Teen To Handle Disappointment

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 14, 2021  /   Posted in Teen Help

Helping Teens Handle With Disappointment

Learning to deal with disappointment

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

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

Hear Them Out

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

Help Them Take Responsibility

Once you’ve heard everything your teen has to say about the situation, you can start asking some questions. For example, if she didn’t pass her driving test, ask her why she thinks that happened. Many teens’ first reaction is to start pointing fingers, such as at the driving instructor, but steer her away from this negative reaction to something she can control.

If she says the test was unfair because the questions were too hard, you can ask her if she studied her driver’s permit booklet enough. Ask if those same questions were on the practice tests and if she could have prepared more. Gently explain that the test may not have been unfair but a consequence of her not being ready, and then help her come up with a plan to do better next time.

Come up With a Plan

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

For example, you could sign your son up for a local basketball league where he can get a lot of playing time. Have him work with a private trainer or coach to work on his skills, and set aside time for him to practice on his own.

For your daughter, help her study for the written part of her driving test with practice tests online and create a schedule for driving on your local streets, on the highway and in parking lots. While you can help your teens come up with this plan, make sure they know that they are responsible for following through and working hard to achieve success.

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

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Teens Skipping School: Youth Truancy

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 13, 2021  /   Posted in Teen Help

Teens Skipping School and Youth Truancy

Is your teen skipping classes or not attending school at all?

Do you have a smart teen making not good choices? 

Truancy is a term used to describe any intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. Children in America today lose over five million days of their education each year through truancy.

Often times they do this without the knowledge of their parents or school officials. In common usage the term typically refers to absences caused by students of their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate “excused” absences, such as ones related to a medical condition. It may also refer to students who attend school but do not go to classes.

Because of this confusion many schools have their own definitions, and as such the exact meaning of the term itself will differ from school to school and district to district. In order to avoid or diminish confusion, many schools explicitly define the term and their particular usage thereof in the school’s handbook of policies and procedures. In many instances truancy is the term referring to an absence associated with the most brazen student irresponsibility and results in the greatest consequences.

Many educators view truancy as something much more far reaching than the immediate consequence that missed schooling has on a student’s education. Truancy may indicate more deeply embedded problems with the student, the education they are receiving, or both.

Because of its traditional association with juvenile delinquency, truancy in some schools may result in an ineligibility to graduate or to receive credit for class attended, until the time lost to truancy is made up through a combination of detention, fines, or summer school.

This can be especially troubling for a child, as failing school can lead to social impairment if the child is held back, economic impact if the child drops out or cannot continue his or her education, and emotional impact as the cycle of failure diminishes the adolescent’s self-esteem.

What causes truancy?

The reason a student misses school will for different depending on the age and circumstances of each student. Sometimes a student will skip school because they feel unsafe at school or on their way to or from school. Other students may miss school because of family issues, financial demands, substance abuse, or mental health problems.

Factors contributing to truancy commonly stem from three core areas: school, family and community. Innate student characteristics and their experiences within all these areas will have a heavy impact on truancy rates.

Bad Influences

One of the common causes of truancy and disruptive behavior in children is the influence of friends and peers.

Many times these peers are seen encouraging truancy as a status-seeking activity or as a way of joining in or blending in.

The child’s natural instinct to want to be a part of a larger crowd or group dynamic will take over, even if they are taught better habits. Often times this same dynamic is prevalent in the face of any resistance the child may put forth, prompting teasing or goading the child into truanting.

School

What is classed as truancy can depend largely on the school’s attitude to the ‘truant’ or their problems. Relationships with teachers, seen as lacking respect/fairness, play a large factor in truancy rates among children. Often times this inability to get along with teachers and/or students will result in disciplinary problems which may lead to suspension, or expulsion.

Of course, being away from the school either voluntarily or at the school’s demand can have an adverse affect on the student’s academic performance, resulting in not being able to keep up with school work, getting poor grades, or even failing. A school may also be remiss in not notifying parents/guardians of absences.

This feeds into the larger school category as a whole, encompassing not only relationships with teachers and issues of fair treatment but also the content and delivery of the curriculum, seen as lacking in relevance and stimulus.

At this point the factors coming together are often times consolidated into the “standard” excuse from children regarding school and truancy, namely that they don’t like school in general or that they don’t like the particular school they are attending.

Compounding the problem is the ease with which some pupils slip away unnoticed and how their school systems do not have in place a method to deter them. For example inconsistent and ineffective school attendance policies, in conjunction with poor record keeping, may cause a school to inadequately identify a child’s special education needs.

bullying_20120929090829_320_240Bullying

Closely related to the issue of a child’s relationship with school is the matter of bullying. Bullying is a prime component in the making of an unsafe school environment; if a child does not feel safe at school, or on the way to/from school, they are much more likely to become truant.

Bullying occurs for many reasons and it goes beyond the one isolated instance of harassment either because of teachers’ inability to control, or problems arising from the child’s own personality or learning abilities. A parent might say they’re keeping their child off school because they’re being bullied. The school might call it truancy.

Personal Matters

Individual (personal) factors related to child truancy include: lack of self-esteem/social skills/confidence; poor peer relations; lack of academic ability; special needs; and lack of concentration/self-management skills.

Professionals have identified that many chronically truant children had a job, had a family to support, or had trouble managing both school and work, thus forcing them to make a choice between personal life and school.

For sure when a child gets married, gets pregnant and/or becomes a parent the risk of truancy increases. Often times the risky behaviors are further instigated if the child develops or has already developed an alcohol or drug problem.

Family factors that contribute to truancy in students are innately personal in nature. Parentally condoned absence is especially influential, as it reinforces the lack of consequences for irresponsible/unwanted behavior on the part of the child.

Parental attitudes to education are crucial to schools success in keeping children in school; often times a parent’s condonation of truancy (albeit overt or tacit) is construed as the parent’s not valuing education.

It is worth noting that many parents indiscriminately sanction an absence by sending a note or making a call. Schools should be able to enlist the support of parents when it comes to tackling truancy.

When a parent doesn’t value education, wants their child to help them out at home or believes their child has good reasons for staying away, the task is altogether more challenging.

Many educators point to the prevalence of so-called ‘tourist truants’: like children who stay two weeks in the French Alps missing vital parts of their school curriculum. These kinds of trips give as negative a message to a child as a note for a fortnight off school for a mild cold.

Many schools will only exceptionally agree to a child missing more than 10 school days for a family holiday or other reason during one year. Some schools may refuse to authorize any absence for holidays.

Does it matter?

Children who play truant from school very often select the classes they want to miss. Usually the subjects they skip are ones the student finds difficult or boring, possibly a clash with the teacher is to blame.

One common pattern is for truants to attend school for morning and afternoon head counts, but somehow sneak out during most of the day. Missing lessons is bad news for any young person and truancy is likely to have a negative impact on their overall education and job prospects.

Children who constantly turn up late for lessons are disruptive to other students and the school’s learning environment, and truanting has a negative effect on school morale. It should also be noted that children who are truanting could be in physical danger or at risk from being drawn into criminal activity.

GavelWhen The Law Gets Involved

Truancy, known simply as skipping school in some areas, is defined by all states as unexcused absences from school without the knowledge of a parent or guardian.

The fact is, juveniles who are school-aged are required by all states to attend school, whether that school is public, private, parochial, or some other educational forum.

Truancy is, therefore, a status offense as it only applies to people of a certain age. The school age of a juvenile varies from state to state, with most states requiring attendance either from age six to age 17 or from age five to 18. There are a number of exceptions, such as Pennsylvania, which denotes school age as between eight and 17 and Illinois which denotes school age as between seven and 16.

Most local education authorities employ education welfare officers (EWOs), sometimes called education social workers, to monitor attendance and help parents fulfill their responsibilities under the law.

Welfare officers often visit families whose children fail to attend school regularly. These visits are the start of a process which may, in the worst cases, end with the family being taken to court. Parents and care givers have a duty in law to ensure their registered school age children are educated.

The local education authority may institute legal proceedings against parents whose children do not regularly attend school (unless the parents can prove they’re being successfully educated at home).

Is your teen unmotivated? Underachieving? Learn more.

Is your teen missing or skipping many of their classes?  Have you tried to talked with them and they are shutting you down? Maybe exhausted your local resources or tried having them speak with your friends or relatives?

If your teen is on the verge of suspension or expulsion and you have reached your wit’s end, please contact us for more information on residential therapy.

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Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy

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

Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy 

By David Sheff

A myth-shattering look at drug abuse and addiction treatment, based on cutting-edge research

Addiction is a preventable, treatable disease, not a moral failing. As with other illnesses, the approaches most likely to work are based on science — not on faith, tradition, contrition, or wishful thinking. 

These facts are the foundation of Clean. The existing addiction treatments, including Twelve Step programs and rehabs, have helped some, but they have failed to help many more.

To discover why, David Sheff spent time with scores of scientists, doctors, counselors, and addicts and their families, and explored the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, and medicine. In Clean, he reveals how addiction really works, and how we can combat it.

Order Clean today.

15 Warning signs your teen might be using drugs.

Also read David Sheff’s NYT’s best seller, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction

When parents question their parenting?

What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery.

Before Nic became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets.

David Sheff traces the first warning signs: the denial, the three a.m. phone calls—is it Nic? the police? the hospital? His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every treatment that might save his son. And he refused to give up on Nic.

Order Beautiful Boy today.

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

Both books are a must read for any parent with a child that you suspect is making bad choices. No matter how smart or talented they are, or if you believe it’s just a phase — don’t be a parent in denial. Be proactive. You could be saving their life.

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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

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.

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. 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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How To Talk To Your Teen About Dating Violence

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 01, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

Teen Dating Violence

Tips to talk to your teen about dating abuse

In the U.S., nearly 26% of women and 15% of men experience intimate partner violence for the first time before they turn 18. In hopes of shedding light on the experiences of teenagers in abusive relationships and preventing other teens from falling into future abusive cycles, Congress declared February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

While it can be difficult addressing scary topics like teen dating violence and abuse with your child, it’s incredibly important that teens are able to identify what abuse looks like and how they can avoid abusive situations.

Teen dating violence is a broad term that is generally defined as abusive practices occurring between 13-22 year olds. These abusive practices can include emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Ensuring that teens as young as 13 can identify these forms of abuse may seem extreme, but for many young teenagers their first relationship may be with someone older and more experienced.

As seen in cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by students at boarding schools, teens without proper supervision or knowledge of healthy relationship dynamics can be victimized by older classmates who prey on the inexperience and excitement of their younger partners. Naivete has also played a role in the abuse perpetrated by adults who target socially isolated, vulnerable individuals who may not understand how they are being groomed for abuse.

Start the talk about dating abuse

Regardless of the abuser’s age, abuse is a method of control. Though most victims of abuse will recognize physical violence and sexual violence as clear efforts by their partner to control and intimidate them, it’s also important to educate your child on psychological aggression and stalking as a means of teenage dating violence and abuse. These forms of abuse can damage a child’s fledgling self-image and self-worth, while enabling an abuser to exert more control over all areas of their partner’s life.

Psychological aggression is when partners use verbal and non-verbal communication to harm another person mentally or emotionally. This can include constant criticism, name-calling, and even “ghosting,” which occurs when partners cut off communication as a form of punishment.

This kind of abuse begins tearing down the self-esteem of the victim, convincing them that they are failing their partner and need to change to make their partner happy. Psychological aggression also isolates and intimidates the victim, oftentimes in private, which can result in the victim feeling unable to seek help from their friends or parents.

Stalking is another tool used in teen dating violence and abuse. The repeated, unwanted attention or contact by an abusive partner is another way the abuser controls and dominates their partner. It’s especially important to discuss stalking with your child as it can often be misinterpreted by teens as another form of passion or romance.

Every year, millions of teenagers struggle in unhealthy, abusive relationships. Discussing teenage dating violence and the signs of abuse with your child before it happens is one of your only resources in protecting your child from a potentially dangerous situation.

It’s also critical to establish an open dialogue with your child about unhealthy, abusive behaviors so they will feel comfortable seeking out your support and advice in all areas of their lives.

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Are You Running Out Of Options for Your Troubled Teen?

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 15, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Help

How do you know if your teen needs residential therapy?

Are you running out of options for your troubled teenager?

Many parents are extremely concerned today about their teen’s today. We are witnessing higher rates of depression, stress, anxiety, self-harm and sadly — suicide ideation among our young people.

If you’re one of these parents, you are certainly not alone.

Are you experiencing the following:

  • Poor grades even though they are intelligent
  • Disengaged and apathetic about school, skipping classes, truancy
  • Anger or rage (explosive) at home – but seems to handle it okay in other settings
  • Low work ethic
  • Authority issues
  • Poor decision making
  • Abuse of technology – (Video game addiction, porn use, screen addiction)
  • Psychiatric Struggles – Depression, ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, Mood disorders, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)
  • Poor social skills
  • Low self-image and self-worth
  • Entitled attitude – feels they deserves or are “owed” stuff but not willing to put in the effort
  • Substance abuse, vaping
  • Self-harm, suicide ideation
  • Running away, sneaking out
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
  • Family conflict, withdrawing from family
  • Dropping out of their favorite activities (sports, dance, cheerleading)
  • Conduct disorder
  • Shoplifting, stealing (usually from parents)
  • Legal issues

Have you tried these things to help:

  • Switching schools, moving
  • School counselors, therapists
  • Taking away technology, removing cell-phones
  • Lectures, pleading
  • Tutors
  • Mentors, teen coaches
  • Short-term in-patient or out-patient services
  • Living with a relative

There are few things more frustrating than trying to help someone who doesn’t want help. They don’t see any reason to change their behavior because it isn’t causing enough pain and frustration now.

But if they don’t get help. . . then they are going to experience a very challenging life.  They are unlikely to complete high-school let alone be able to obtain and hold a job.  It is unlikely that they will have the opportunities that you want for them.  They will struggle.

They need more help than you can offer. . . but it isn’t too late.

Residential therapy can be extremely beneficial where local resources have failed.

Removing your teen from the influences of negative peer groups or sometimes even family conflict can help them reflect more on what is creating their negative behavior.

These programs (therapeutic boarding schools/residential treatment centers) continue with your son’s education, have therapists to work on your son’s emotional wellbeing to help him develop coping and communication skills as well as building motivation and setting goals for his (now) bright future.

This is a major emotional and financial decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s why we help educate parents on schools and programs that would best fit their individual teen’s needs. We know how confusing the internet can be — and you don’t want to make a rash decision while you’re in crisis. Learn from our mistakes, gain from our knowledge. Read more about the founders story.

Contact us today for a free consultant about teen help programs.

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