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Defiant Teens

What’s My Teenager Thinking: Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 27, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

What’s My Teenager Thinking: Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents

How to avoid conflict with your teen

As the teenage brain rewires, hormones surge, and independence beckons, a perfect storm for family conflict emerges. Parenting just got tougher. But help is at hand.

This uniquely practical parenting book for raising teenagers in today’s world explores the science at work during this period of development, translates teenage behavior, and shows you how you can best respond as a parent – in the moment and the long term.

Taking over 100 everyday scenarios, the book tackles real-world situations head-on – from what to do when your teenager slams their bedroom door in your face to how to handle worries about online safety, peer group pressure, school work, and sex.

Discover how to create a supportive environment and communicate with confidence – to help your teenager manage whatever life brings.

Here’s an example of what you might be going through with your teen:

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1. I’ll clean my room later

Your teen’s room looks as if it’s been hit by a bomb.

What your teen is thinking…

When he was younger, your teenager’s room was a place to sleep and keep his things. Now he’s an adolescent, he sees it as an expression of who he is, as well as a sanctuary to escape to. Having his things around him makes him safe. Tidying up may also involve a level of planning and self-discipline he hasn’t yet developed.

What you’re thinking… You may feel he’s not respecting your home or the things you’ve bought him, and he’s not developing the organizational skills he needs to look after himself.

How to respond... View your teen’s untidiness as part of his transition to adulthood. The outward mess represents some of the reorganization going on inside his brain. Furthermore, when faced with a big job, your teen may not know where to begin.

Limit instructions to one or two at time, like putting rubbish in a bin bag, followed by putting dirty laundry in the basket. Suggest he blitzes his room for five minutes because once he’s started, he’s likely to keep going.

Talk about how it’s in his own interests, as he’ll be able to find things more easily and clothes look better if they’re hung up, so he’ll want to do it for his own reasons. Keep faith that he’ll eventually work out that a neater room is a more pleasant place to be.

Learn more, order What My Teenager is Thinking? by Tanith Carey and Dr. Carl Pickhardt on Amazon today.

 

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Conduct Disorder in Teens: Symptoms and Treatment

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 15, 2020  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

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

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

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

What Are the Symptoms of Conduct Disorder?

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

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

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

What Causes Conduct Disorder?

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

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

How Common Is Conduct Disorder?

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

How Is Conduct Disorder Diagnosed?

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

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

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

How Is Conduct Disorder Treated?

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

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

What Is the Outlook for Children With Conduct Disorder?

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

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

Can Conduct Disorder Be Prevented?

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

Courtesy of WebMD.

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ADHD and Teens: From Adolescence to Adulthood

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 15, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

ADHDTeenBoyAttention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common diagnosis today when it comes to children.

Years ago, kids would be labeled troubled and sometimes even kicked out of school for their behavior that in many cases, they simply were unable to control.

I know this firsthand since my son went through three different schools (and this was in kindergarten) before we had him properly tested and finally diagnosed. I was someone that refused to give into those labels – but when you reach your wit’s end, you need to understand that ADHD is not something that is terminal or even bad, it’s treatable and in reality – once you figure it out, it’s manageable.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that these children are not intelligent, or on the low end of the IQ side.  Quite the contrary. They are typically exceptionally smart. My son is now an Occupational Therapist – had a full academic scholarship through college and has always been extremely intelligent.

Parents assume that if we ask if a child is ADD or ADHD we are asking if they are special needs or handicapped, this is not true.

Today many adults are now recognizing that they have symptoms of ADHD that have been untreated. In our generation, we didn’t know a lot about it. Today we do.

Here’s an interesting infographic – at the end you will see a list of successful people that have ADHD. ADHD is not a bad thing – your child/teen can and will be successful if they are diagnosed with this – they only need to be treated to learn how to manage it.

ADHD: From childhood to adolescence to adulthood
Infographic courtesy of Rawhide.

Is your teen struggling with ADD/ADHD and you’ve exhausted your local resources? Is their behavior escalating into risky actions outside of academic underachieving? Contact us for options and resources.

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Respect: A Word Some Teens Are Not Familiar With Today

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 14, 2015  /   Posted in Entitlement Issue, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

MomTeenRespectA word that needs to come back into this generation of teenagers.

It’s evident we live in a society of entitlement.

As a child approaches adolescence, the natural exploration of boundaries and the need to assert his own independence often leaves his parents feeling as if all respect between them has dissipated. Arguing, defiance and even foul language are normal, though admittedly incredibly frustrating, aspects of parenting a teenager.

While regaining a teen’s respect may seem like an impossible proposition, there are ways that you can restore some semblance of balance and civility to your relationship as he gets older. While patience and a refusal to reward bad behavior are the keys to maintaining a measure of order in your home as the parent of teenagers, there are some methods that can supplement your efforts along the way.

Show Respect
In order to maintain your teenager’s respect, you’ll need to make sure that you show the same measure of respect in return. If you resort to shouting, threats and anger to get your point across, your teen isn’t likely to have much respect for your pleas for civility. Demanding that your adolescent child blindly follows your directions and falls in line with your rules while refusing to show any sort of respect for their own valid feelings and needs is far more likely to backfire than to inspire
rank-and-file obedience.

Set Reasonable Boundaries
Just as younger children need to know what the boundaries of acceptable behavior are in order to stay within them, so will your teen. The difference between them is that your teenager will need a bit of independence to make his own choices. Allowing him a reasonable amount of space to explore the world as he matures will allow your teen to make mistakes that will serve as learning experiences, and not feel as if he’s being stifled by the demands of adults that he views as out of touch with the world. While you certainly don’t want to encourage dangerous experimentation or condone bad decisions that will affect the rest of his life, it is wise to give him ample space to make a few minor mistakes he can learn from.

Maintain an Open Line of Communication
When a teen feels as if you’re completely out of touch and aren’t willing to listen to him, he’s not likely to approach you with his concerns or seek advice from you about difficult situations he faces. Making sure that you establish and maintain an open line of judgment-free communication reinforces the idea that he can still come to you when he’s in trouble, and that you will respect his growing maturity. In return, your teen is more likely to extend the same respect to you.

Try Not to Feel Hurt or Rejected
It’s normal to feel as if you’re being rejected by your teenager when he seems to constantly choose his friends and peers over you, but it’s important to remember that it’s a natural part of growing up. Feeling that pain is understandable and acceptable, but it’s not a good idea to act on your hurt feelings by lashing out or establishing excessively restrictive rules that force him to spend his free time with you. Forced time is not quality time, and will almost certainly end in a showdown.

Realize That “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” is Counter-Productive
The desire to ensure that your child doesn’t make the same mistakes you have or exhibit the same problem personality traits can create an environment in which you expect your child to follow your instructions while you openly flout them. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach isn’t effective when children are young, but it can truly come back to haunt you when a teenager accuses you of hypocrisy and unfairness. Try to model the behavior you want your teen to exhibit to the best of your abilities to avoid these altercations and encourage him to respect you.

TeenMowingGive Them Responsibilities
Kids who have no responsibilities and a sense of entitlement that leads them to feel as if the world owes them everything have no respect for anyone or anything. Making sure that your children have some responsibilities, both financial and in the way of chores or daily tasks, may not seem like a recipe for respect on the surface, however the qualities that having some responsibility instills naturally extend themselves to having a bit more respect than their overindulged peers.

Recognize the Things They Do
While you’re delegating responsibility and setting reasonable boundaries, make sure that you take the time to acknowledge and openly appreciate the things that your teenager does. Feeling as if his efforts to abide by the rules and contribute to the household are completely unnoticed or unappreciated doesn’t inspire your teen to keep meeting expectations that he knows you won’t acknowledge anyway. Take a moment to thank your teen for helping out or behaving well, and let him know that the freedom he is afforded is directly tied to the fact that his good behavior at home indicates to you that he can be trusted.

Is your teen completely out of control? Disrespecting you and your boundaries? Are you feeling like a hostage in your own home? After exhausting your local resources, such as reaching out for help with a counselor, please contact us about information for residential therapy.

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ADHD Teens: Parenting Battles

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 25, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

screaming-teen-boyYears ago before there was the diagnosis of ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) most kids were simply labeled troubled or out-of-controlled kids.

They were banished from classrooms, sometimes humiliated by teachers, scolded by their parents and worse – they were never given an opportunity to make friends or learn since it was difficult for them to focus and control their behavior.

When puberty set in, the next label was/is defiance (ODD).  Now we have the typical teen behavior compounded by ODD (oppositional defiance disorder). Some came up with conduct disorder.

Parents struggled and teens are frustrated — the vicious cycle continued.

Today there are medications to help with ADD/ADHD, however when a child reaches their teenage years, sometimes they refuse to take their medications – or worse, they abuse their medication.

The parenting battle begins.

ADHD teens often need more parenting. The problem is that parents of attention deficit teens often overreact to their sons’ and daughters’ behaviors.  – ADDitude Magazine

Living with a teen that goes off their medication can literally be a nightmare.  The defiant and disrespectful behavior leaves parents living at their wit’s end.

These are highly intelligent children that are spiraling out-of-control, not able to work to their academic potential (underachieving), not making good choices, and are becoming a person that you barely recognize.

It can be frustrating to parent’s when others refer to their ADHD child as being handicapped or less-than, since it’s quite the contrary.  ADHD students are usually have a very high IQ, it is a matter of having them focus (and turn in their homework).

If you are struggling with an out-of-control ADHD teen, and have exhausted all your local resources, contact us for potential options.  Sometimes therapeutic boarding schools can help your teen get back on the right track.

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Disrespectful, Rebellious and Defiant Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 11, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

Disrespectful, Rebellious and Defiant Teens

We live in a culture where sadly teens seem to believe it is their way or no way.  A common theme we hear is the disrespect of authority that a teenager has – especially towards their parents.

When we think of generations prior, we would never consider defying our mother or father.  If they told us to be home by 10:00 pm, we were — no questions asked.  We wouldn’t dream of talking back, if we did, expect that bar of soap.

Today our children know they have the ability to threaten us with many things, including calling the authorities on us.  Frightening isn’t is?  It is almost like parenting or disciplining our children (teens especially) is challenge for fear of consequences.

So how do you handle a teen that is being disrespectful, rebellious and defiant?

During the tumultuous teenage years, these are 10 of ways to avoid fighting with your child.

  1. Establish Rational Boundaries – During adolescence, your teen is revisiting the same mindset of early toddlerhood that leaves her looking for ways to test boundaries as a means of asserting her independence from you. Making sure that she knows some boundaries cannot be challenged lays a foundation for calm, rational interaction. Just be sure before you make those rules that you understand your teen’s need for a reasonable amount of independence, and avoid overly harsh authoritarian rules that leave no room for such expression.
  2. Shift Your Perspective – As an adult parent of a teenager, it can be difficult to remember your own battles during the tender years leading up to adulthood. Before flying off of the proverbial handle, try to remember how you felt as a teen, so that you can see things from your own teenager’s perspective.
  3. Refuse to Escalate the Situation – When you’re standing face to face with a raging, screaming teen that pays no heed to the feelings of anyone around her as she expresses her frustration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of shouting right back at her. By maintaining your composure and refusing to let the situation escalate into a full-on altercation, you’re effectively maintaining control of the confrontation without adding fuel to the fire.
  4. ParentsTalkingTeensPractice Good Listening Skills – Sometimes a teen feels as if he’s not being truly heard and in response will lash out with anger, when all he really wants is to know that his viewpoints and opinions are being listened to. Taking the time to ask your child how he feels and actually listening to the answer he gives can diffuse many arguments before they start.
  5. Create a “No Judgment” Zone for Tricky Discussions – Teenagers face a variety of difficult choices and situations, and those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn for advice due to a fear of parental judgment or punishment can internalize that stress, leading to nasty arguments borne of frustration. Making sure that your child knows she can safely approach you with difficult questions can eliminate that frustration, making for a more peaceful environment within your home.
  6. Know When to Compromise – As a parent, it’s often difficult to admit when you’re being unreasonable and concede an argument, or at least to make compromises when you’ve reached an impasse. Mastering the art of a sane compromise with your teen, however, is the key to keeping a tense discussion from escalating.
  7. Understand When to Walk Away – When you can’t hold on to your temper, it’s okay to walk away. If you ascribe to a philosophy of walking away to let your temper cool, though, it’s essential that you afford your teenager the same respect. Resist the temptation to follow her in order to continue a diatribe; it’ll only lead to an even nastier confrontation.
  8. angry-teen-girlActively Avoid Triggers – There are some subjects that bring out a passionate reaction in everyone, and those triggers differ from one person to the next. Your teenager is no different, and you know the things that will upset her before you discuss them. Avoid the subjects you know will upset your child, especially if there’s no real reason for discussing them.
  9. Refuse to Reward the Silent Treatment – The silent treatment is infuriating for anyone, but it’s important that you not reward that behavior from your teen. Attempting to draw him out with false cheerfulness or prodding him to talk will only blow up in your face, so let him stew without interference for a while.
  10. Avoid Drawing Comparisons – Telling your teenager that you never acted the way he does, or illustrating just how much more tolerant of a parent you are because you don’t punish him the way you would have been punished for behaving in such a manner serves absolutely no productive purpose. Remember that your teen is trying to establish himself as a separate entity from you; drawing comparisons, even when you’re just looking for common ground, can ultimately be counterproductive. 

FamilyDiscussionMaking a concerted effort to foster an open, honest relationship with your teen can make it easier to avoid the worst arguments, but the occasional disagreement is pretty much par for the course. Rather than dwelling on an argument after it happens, try to think about how you could have handled it differently so that you can apply that knowledge the next time negotiations become tense.

If you have tried many ways to have a peaceful home and your teenager is continually causing tension, creating contention among the family – please seek help immediately.  If they refuse to get help, or you have exhausted your local resources, consider residential therapy.  Many families have had tremendous success since when you remove the child from the environment they are better able to focus on where all the negative feelings and behavior are stemming from. Contact us for more information.

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When Your Teen Runaways or Constantly Sneaks Out

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 22, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

RunawayTeenLet’s face it, raising a defiant teenager is not easy and when they become out-of-control and leave your home it is scary.  How long will they be gone?  Have they runaway?  Do they sneak out in the middle of the night?  Was this planned?

The streets are not a place for youth — yet they believe they are wise enough to survive!

One of any parent’s greatest fears is a missing child.

Each year, one million troubled teens from every social class, race and religion run away from home. Unfortunately, for American families, that number continues to rise.

Confused, pressured and highly impressionable teens follow their peers into bad choices.

In most cases, runaway teenagers want to escape the rules and boundaries of their family and household. Disagreements with parents leave them unhappy and frustrated to the point of rebellion. Naiveté leads them to believe they could survive outside the nest; and dreams of a life without parental guidance, rules and punishment seem ideal.

The dangers of a runaway lifestyle are obvious. Afraid and desperate, teens on the street are easy targets for robbery, rape, prostitution, drug addiction and violent crime. While the official Runaway Hotline cites nine out of ten teens return home or are returned home by the police within a month, any amount of time on the street can change a child forever.

Protecting our children from a potential runaway situation is incredibly important; the problem is serious, and the effects are severe.

If your child has runaway, contact your authorities and report it. Then reach out to  National Runaway Safeline for support.  They have a vast amount of resources and information for parents and youth.

TeenRunawayIf you suspect your child is struggling at home, is constantly leaving your home (sneaking out), please don’t hesitate in getting outside help.  If they refuse to attend (local therapy) or it doesn’t seem to be working, consider residential therapy.  Contact us for more information.  Many families have been successful when their teen was running away constantly with residential therapy.

This behavior can be a cry for help.

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