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Parenting Teens

Preventing Risky Behavior in Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 05, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article

Navigating Emotional Maturity to Prevent Risky Behavior in Teens

Let’s face it, teenagers have it rough. They’re taking on new responsibilities, struggling with physical and emotional transitions, and just trying to get their lives figured out. But with all these new challenges, teens might find themselves unprepared to shoulder the emotional burden of being an adult.

Taking more difficult and time-consuming classes in school, learning how to navigate peer pressure with real consequences, and entering the job market in the midst of a pandemic can take a toll on your mental wellbeing. Facing this kind of pressure, teens are prone to depression or engaging in risky, anxiety-driven behavior.

If teens don’t have the skills to process their emotions in a mature and level-headed manner, they might bottle up their emotions, become more aggressive, or even shut down. Luckily, there are several ways to help your teen develop emotional maturity to prevent risky behavior.

Here are four pieces of advice to get them started:

1. Don’t Get Lost in the Worst-Case Scenario

One of the most common ways that teens can get lost in a downward emotional spiral is from anxiety about the future. When they have to grapple with the uncertainty of college applications, finding their place in the world, or even how other people will react to bad news, they might buckle under all this built-up pressure. This often occurs when teens don’t have a strong sense of their own identity and self-worth. They start to think that every outcome is going to be the worst-case scenario. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

You can warn your teen about the dangers of overthinking and why it happens. When they understand where their fears are coming from and how often it happens to others, your child might better understand that their anxiety is really being driven by their imagination. Though it’s important to anticipate negative consequences, they should know that it’s usually always worse in their minds.

For example, if your teenager feels like they’re not going to do well on an exam, they might start to stack up all the negative outcomes until the end of time! The failed test leads to a bad grade, which leads to poor college applications, which leads to not getting into college, which leads to never getting a job, which leads to … etc. But if you talk to your teen about humanizing their fears, knowing that everyone fails sometimes, it can show your teen how to adapt to situations. Because your teen is worried about this exam, you might tell them that if they study hard, it’s more likely they’ll do better, but also that their teachers are there to help them if they can’t get the material down.

You can help your teen avoid the risky behaviors that come with anxiety-driven decisions by practicing mental checks. If you notice your teen is starting to spiral, you can point this out and work through the problems together. Once you have a good understanding of the telltale signs of an anxious meltdown, you can remind your teen that they’re getting into an unnecessary headspace. Soon, your teen will be able to recognize these symptoms on their own and learn to self-regulate; now they’re not putting so much importance on the future, but focusing on the present moment with a level-head.

2. Leave Pettiness to Others, It’s not for You

Pettiness is a signature of childish behavior. Talking back, getting the last word, or exhibiting passive aggressive behavior when they don’t want to outright say what’s on their mind. Nobody likes this kind of attitude and it can really dampen your teen’s reputation among their friends and future peers.

You can help root out this behavior by pointing out how hurtful this behavior can be. Not only is it frustrating for the people on the receiving end of the stick, but it will also hurt your child’s ability to effectively be heard. You want your teen to be able to get over the small stuff and the pettiness of others, so it’s important to point out exactly what it looks like and when it occurs.

Managing pettiness is especially important to do when you’re not both in an argument so that your teen can anticipate the emotions that bring about pettiness. Sure, they might think it’s satisfying to get in that little jab in the moment, but they should understand it’s hurtful to everyone in the long run. It might even get your teen into more immediate trouble if they snap at someone dangerous or in a position of power. You can point out that if your teen really wants to win an argument, they can do it by exhibiting well thought out reasoning, calmness, and superior decision making.

One practice that might help your teen leave pettiness at the door is deep breathing and meditation. When your teen recognizes that urge to get back at someone, they can mentally address the situation, and take three calming breaths. On a physical level, this slows down their heart rate and establishes a more serene mindset, the trademark of an emotionally mature adult.

When they’ve let the moment pass, they’ll be able to respond with something genuinely considered. This will achieve one of two satisfying results for your teen in lieu of a petty comment: 1) they’ll be able to communicate their feelings and solutions to the issue at hand with a mature attitude, resulting in a collaboration with their adversaries, or 2) they’ll be able to communicate their feelings and solutions to the issue at hand with a mature attitude, while their adversaries are left to their own petty squabbles.

3.Be Mindful of Others

Teens that are trying to balance college applications heavy duty classes and struggling to figure out their identity are practically treading water. They’re taking on so much that sometimes they can’t help but only think of themselves and their own wellbeing. As a parent, it takes a lot of patience to deal with their self-centered nature, but understand that it’s a survival tactic that’s going to take some mending.

If your teen shows signs of a short temper or rude behavior, it could mean that your child is having difficult with their tasks or their own self-worth.

This is a common cause of teens trying to amplify their own importance or freaking out about the consequences of their responsibilities. To treat this behavior, you can help your teen become more mindful by demonstrating mindfulness.

When you show that you care about what’s going on in their lives, it could help them let their guard down and open up. It’s a perfect opportunity for you to also share what you’re going through and how teamwork can be a solution for what they’re going through. This can help them understand that it’s important to check in with others and reflect on how they impact their friends and family.

You can also help your teen become more mindful by encouraging them to actively engage in helping others. Volunteer opportunities are a great way to consistently keep others in mind while supporting the community.

If your teen is already stacked with a busy schedule, they could do something as simple as checking in with their friends once a week to share what’s going on in each other’s life. Sometimes, we’re so focused on what we’re doing individually, that we forget to hold space for talking about others. If your child is able to invest in their friend group and address how they impact or help one another, they’re more likely to be normalize collective care. When your teen starts to exhibit risky behavior, they’ll have others to help them out as a result of being mindful in the first place.

4. Take Responsibility for Your Actions

This is the big one. Taking responsibility can be difficult for teens because it involves admitting fault sometimes. That can be really difficult for teens who are trying to look out for their self-image and present their lives as idyllic. But not taking responsibility is the work of a child, not an adult. Adults know when to take credit for their achievements and drawbacks. Whether it’s taking a promotion at work for their efforts or learning from when they’ve missed an assignment or forgotten to do a chore, people with mature emotions own their actions.

As we’ve stated before, challenges are learning opportunities, and the same thing can be said for making mistakes. You can point out to your teen that it’s actually a sign of strength and maturity to admit your mistakes and learn from them.

When you own your actions, not only are you demonstrating security in who you are, but you’re also taking note of what lead to the circumstances in the first place.

For example, if your teen chose to hang out with their friends instead of working on a paper for school and they receive a bad grade, it can be looked at as a learning opportunity.

The next time your child has to choose between spending time with friends or completing an important task for school, you could teach them to say something like, “I’m sorry I can’t hang out this weekend. I didn’t take my last assignment seriously and I want to do better on this next one.Could we can hang out on Monday?”

This can be appealing to your teens for two reasons:

1) they are learning to set priorities and won’t have to be stressed later, and 2) they’ll be acting as a role model for their friends.

When your teen exercises responsibility, they’re showing others that they’re reliable, smart, and mature. Kids don’t often think of responsibility as an attractive quality, but you can show them how it exhibits problem-solving and honesty, qualities that their peers will admire and respect.

Taking responsibility also reduces risky teen behavior by eliminating risky situations in the first place. If your teen understands how to assign importance to their tasks and look at their mistakes as opportunities to grow, they could greatly reduce anxiety and feelings of shame or avoidance in their lives.

You can help your teenager develop responsibility by getting them started with a chore chart, talking over their obligations together and establishing what responsibility means, and recognizing the feelings that accompany discomfort around responsibility.

Author Bio:

Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.

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5 Ways To Teach Your Teenager About Budgeting

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 04, 2020  /   Posted in Parenting Teens

5 Ways to Teach Your Teenager about Budgeting

Credit: Pixabay, Luxstorm

It has never been more critical for parents to teach teenagers the value of money and the skill of budgeting. Since the habits, they learn at home are likely to continue into later life, teaching teenagers how to budget is one of the best ways to ensure they turn into financially responsible adults.

1. Encourage them to Track Incomings and Outgoings

Whether your teen is receiving money from an allowance or wages from a job, they must understand where their money goes. Sitting down with a teenager and creating a tailored budget is one of the best ways to help them stay on top of their finances.

This can be done by taking the total amount of their monthly income then noting down what they usually spend their money on. Once these two figures have been appropriately aligned, the next step is to decide a set amount to be saved each month. Having this written down, or noted in a budgeting app such as mint should help a teenager to visualize their spending habits in context. As Bank of America describes, this should help a teen learn that their spending should not exceed their income and if it does, their parents should sit down with them to decide the areas to cut back spending.

2. Teach them about Loans and Credit Cards

Teaching a teenager, the ins and outs of loans and credit cards will ensure they continue to make informed financial decisions as adults. While it is more likely a teen will be considering a student loan rather than, for example, a Cash Lady payday loan, it is essential they know the principles of interest and repayment plans.

3. Show them the Value of Money

For the majority of modern teenagers, social media is likely to take up a good chunk of their day. For the most part, this is only a problem if they have an addiction, but a new phenomenon is arising due to the presence of influencers. As a social medium act as a form of a social group, if the influencers that your child follows live a much more exuberant life, it can alter their perception of the value of money. It’s important to let them know the value of money by teaching them about general running costs and putting brand prices in perspective with the amount of money that one actually needs to spend on living. 

Credit: Pexels

4. Emphasize the Importance of Saving

As stated in point 1, a teenager’s budget should be split into two sections, save and spend. It is recommended to aim for about 60/70% spending, and the rest should be saved. Encouraging a teenager to put this into a bank account brings two distinctive benefits. Firstly, it ensures that once the month it is up, they can’t easily access the money if a whim to spend comes their way. Secondly, the money will grow with interest.

For parents whose teenagers struggle to save, try incentivizing them with a specific goal such as a car, since picturing the goal makes dedication much easier.  

5. Be Their Role Model

Lastly, it is always worth remembering that the way parents act impacts what their children perceive to be appropriate behavior, so show them the correct way to budget as well as teaching them how to do it on paper.

Read more.

 

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

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 27, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book, Teen Help

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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The Self-Love Workbook for Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 15, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

The Self-Love Workbook for Teens: A Transformative Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Build a Healthy Mindset, and Embrace Your True Self

By Shainna Ali PhD.

Order on Amazon

Discover how to change your attitude, build confidence in who you are, and genuinely love yourself through the guided activities and real-world advice in this easy-to-use, friendly workbook for teens and young adults.

As a teen, life can be stressful, whether from worrying about looks, performance in school, relationships with friends and family, or societal pressures. It is easy for you to lose focus and feel like you’re not good enough.

The Self-Love Workbook for Teens gives you the tools to conquer self-doubt and develop a healthy mindset. It includes fun, creative, and research-backed exercises, lessons, and tips, including:

  • Interactive activities
  • Reflective exercises
  • Journaling prompts
  • Actionable advice

Self-love is a journey, but it is the first step on the path to a happier, more fulfilling life.

About the author:

Shainna Ali is a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate. Dr. Ali is passionate about destigmatizing mental health counseling and helping individuals worldwide recognize the importance of fostering mental wellness. She is the author of The Self-Love Workbook: A Life-Changing Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Recognize Your Worth, and Find Genuine Happiness.

In her Psychology Today-hosted blog, A Modern Mentality, she promotes mental health awareness in an effort to improve mental wellness across the globe. Dr. Ali is also an active blog contributor for the American Counseling Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As a mental health advocate Dr. Ali has been featured in outlets such as ABC, NBC, Yahoo, Bustle, NPR, The Washington Post, and The Insider.

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

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

How to Talk to Teenagers about Hookups and Sex

By Sari Cooper, LSCW

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

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

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

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

Tips for Talking about Sex and Hooking Up:

1. Define hookup.

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

2. Describe normal.

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

3. Understand STIs.

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

4. Use correct terminology.

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

5. Acknowledge the DOUBLE STANDARD for girls.

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

6. Establish appropriate state of mind.

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

7. Explain your family values.

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

8. Set specific ages for sexual activity.

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

9. Stress trust.

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

10. Articulate guidelines.

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

11. Share information.

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

12. Buy condoms.

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

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

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

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

Book recommendation, our featured book, Boys & Sex .

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

 

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Parenting The New Teen In The Age Of Anxiety

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 09, 2019  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Mental Health, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety: A Complete Guide to Your Child’s Stressed, Depressed, Expanded, Amazing Adolescence

By Dr. John Duffy

Parenting is more difficult and complicated than it has ever been. Our kids today are psychologically and emotionally burdened by social media, unreasonable academic and social stressors, and an unprecedented stream of information. They are exposed to the harshest elements of the world much too soon. The upside is that they have this thoughtful, compassionate worldview and sense of justice that we may have lacked. The downside is that our kids are in an undue degree of psychic pain. They suffer far more anxiety, depression, attention issues, and suicidal ideation than any generation preceding them.

More than ever, our kids need us to help them make sense of, and integrate, all they take in, starting at a very early age. To do that, we must know and truly understand their world.

This book is a complete guide to all of the issues that your child, teen and young adult will face.

So when your kid is overwhelmed (and your kid is going to feel overwhelmed), when you kid is exposed to too much (and your kid will be exposed to too much), she will know: I have mom and/or dad, and they are my constant, they are my solid. I can go to them and they are going to hear me out, without judgment. I know that. I know that I can talk to them and they are going to be there for me unequivocally. In their complicated world, with all of this stimuli, with all of this identity traffic, kids need some compass. They need you to be that compass.

Inside Parenting Inside the New Teen In the Age of Anxiety:

Learn about the “New Teen” and how to adjust your parenting approach. Kids are growing up with nearly unlimited access to social media and the internet, and unprecedented academic, social, and familial stressors. Starting as early as eight years old, children are exposed to information, thought, and emotion that they are developmentally unprepared to process. As a result, saving the typical “teen parenting” strategies for thirteen-year-olds is now years too late.

Urgent advice for parents of teens. Dr. John Duffy’s parenting book is a new and necessary guide that addresses this hidden phenomenon of the changing teenage brain. Dr. Duffy, a nationally recognized expert in parenting for nearly twenty-five years, offers this book as a guide for parents raising children who are growing up quickly and dealing with unresolved adolescent issues that can lead to anxiety and depression.

Unprecedented psychological suffering among our young and why it is occurring. A shift has taken place in how and when children develop. Because of the exposure they face, kids are emotionally overwhelmed at a young age, often continuing to search for a sense of self well into their twenties. Paradoxically, Dr. Duffy recognizes the good that comes with these challenges, such as the sense of justice instilled in teenagers starting at a young age.

Readers of this book will:

  • Sort through the overwhelming circumstances of today’s teens and better understand the changing landscape of adolescence
  • Come away with a revised, conscious parenting plan more suited to addressing the current needs of the New Teen
  • Discover the joy in parenting again by reclaiming the role of your teen’s ally, guide, and consultant

Order today on Amazon.

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Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need and How Parents Can Help

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 06, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Book, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School and Beyond–and How Parents Can Help

A counselor and popular Washington Post contributor offers a new take on grades 6-8 as a distinct developmental phase–and the perfect time to set up kids to thrive.

By author Phyllis Fagell

Middle school is its own important, distinct territory, and yet it’s either written off as an uncomfortable rite of passage or lumped in with other developmental phases. Based on her many years working in schools, professional counselor Phyllis Fagell sees these years instead as a critical stage that parents can’t afford to ignore (and though “middle school” includes different grades in various regions, Fagell maintains that the ages make more of a difference than the setting).

Though the transition from childhood to adolescence can be tough for kids, this time of rapid physical, intellectual, moral, social, and emotional change is a unique opportunity to proactively build character and confidence.

Fagell helps parents use the middle school years as a low-stakes training ground to teach kids the key skills they’ll need to thrive now and in the future, including making good friend choices, negotiating conflict, regulating their own emotions, be their own advocates, and more.

To answer parents’ most common questions and struggles with middle school-aged children, Fagell combines her professional and personal expertise with stories and advice from prominent psychologists, doctors, parents, educators, school professionals, and middle schoolers themselves.

Order your copy of Middle School Matters today from Amazon.

 

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2019’s States with the Most At-Risk Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 17, 2019  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Are you struggling with your teenager?

You’re not alone!

Growing up can be hard. Without a stable home, positive role models and tools for success, many young Americans fall behind their peers and experience a rocky transition to adulthood. Today, about one in nine individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.

Such issues not only affect young people later in life, but they also prove harmful to society as a whole. For instance, more than 70 percent of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military because they fail academic, moral or health qualifications. Research shows that when youth grow up in environments with economic problems and a lack of role models, they’re more at risk for poverty, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood.

To determine the places where young Americans are not faring as well as others in the same age group, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 15 key indicators of youth risk. Our data set ranges from share of disconnected youth to labor force participation rate among youth to youth poverty rate.

States with the Most At-Risk Youth States with the Least At-Risk Youth
1 Louisiana 42 Rhode Island
2 District of Columbia 43 Connecticut
3 Mississippi 44 Virginia
4 Arkansas 45 Maryland
5 Nevada 46 Hawaii
6 West Virginia 47 New Hampshire
7 Oregon 48 Utah
8 Wyoming 49 Minnesota
9 Oklahoma 50 Massachusetts
10 New Mexico 51 New Jersey

Key Stats

  • New Mexico, West Virginia and Louisiana have the highest share of disconnected youth, 19.00 percent, which is 3.2 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 6.00 percent.
  • Louisiana has the highest share of youth without a high school diploma, 17.80 percent, which is 2.4 times higher than in Hawaii, the lowest at 7.40 percent.
  • Oklahoma has the highest share of overweight or obese youth, 61.50 percent, which is 1.9 times higher than in Massachusetts, the lowest at 32.10 percent.
  • Vermont has the highest share of youth using drugs in the past month, 40.32 percent, which is 2.5 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 16.18 percent.
  • Nevada has the highest share of homeless youth, 0.56 percent, which is 18.7 times higher than in Mississippi, the lowest at 0.03 percent.

Read the full report for the findings, insight into the future of America’s young population and a description of the methodology.

If you are at your wit’s end with your teenager and have exhausted your local resources, it might be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.

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Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 12, 2019  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Internet Safety, Mental Health, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens

Social Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Ana Homayoun

Over the past decade, the new language created by social media and technology have ostensibly widened the communication divide between generations. Though students have long managed to find distractions, today’s technology innovations present new challenges for students and adults, and many adults struggle to keep up with what their kids are doing online.

With a proactive, practical approach based on over fifteen years of working with students in private practice and in schools, Ana provides simple, implementable solutions focused around the three main tenets of socialization, self-regulation and safety. In the face of our “always on” culture, Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World creates a new conversation around social media wellness — one that encourages tweens and teens to think about their own personal values and daily choices, while emphasizing the importance of parental attitude and a collaborative approach in helping all of us build healthier online habits and create more balanced lives.

Solutions for navigating an ever-changing social media world

Today’s students face a challenging paradox: the digital tools they need to complete their work are often the source of their biggest distractions. Students can quickly become overwhelmed trying to manage the daily confluence of online interactions with schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and family life. Written by noted author and educator Ana Homayoun, Social Media Wellness is the first book to successfully decode the new language of social media for parents and educators and provide pragmatic solutions to help students:

  • Manage distractions
  • Focus and prioritize
  • Improve time-management
  • Become more organized and boost productivity
  • Decrease stress and build empathy

With fresh insights and a solutions-oriented perspective, this crucial guide will help parents, educators and students work together to promote healthy socialization, effective self-regulation, and overall safety and wellness.

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Teens Use Burner Phones To Hide Online Behavior From Parents

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 12, 2019  /   Posted in Digital Parenting

How Your Teen Uses Burner Phones to Hide Online Behavior

Are you a parent that believes taking your teen’s device is a punishment?

Think again! This is one of the reasons burner phones are on the rise among young people.

As a tech-savvy parent, you’ve established rules with your teens about responsible cell phone usage and drawn up a detailed family contract. And by all accounts it seems to be working.

But teenagers can be ingenious about getting around the rules, and many of today’s teens turn to burner phones as a workaround to parental limitations. Here’s how to discover if your child has found this alternative, plus some tips on curbing the habit.

What Is a Burner Phone?

Burner phones are cheap, prepaid mobile phones you can discard once you’re done using them. They offer access to Wi-Fi and a phone number that can’t be traced to the individual using the device.

There are a few good reasons to use a burner phone. If you’re buying or selling something on Craigslist, for instance, having an untraceable number offers a degree of safety when communicating with strangers.

However, their anonymity and low cost make burner phones ideal for teenagers looking for a way to sneak around behind their parents’ backs. And that anonymity can get kids into problematic situations where they don’t have a parental lifeline to keep them safe.

Why Do Teens Turn to These Disposable Devices?

Teens consider cell phones a virtual lifeline, and many experience fear of missing out (FOMO) without them. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found some eye-opening stats about teens and social media:

  • 81% say social media makes them feel more connected.
  • Approximately 2/3 of teens say online friends give them support in difficult times.

 Losing cell phone access as a punishment—and effectively losing access to their online networks—is one reason why teens may acquire a burner phone. But they might also buy second phones to maintain secret social media accounts. A finsta (fake Instagram), for example, is a private account where kids post content that only certain people have access to.

Teens may also turn to burners if they’re engaging in activities they think parents won’t approve of—getting involved in drugs or alcohol, or pursuing romantic relationships.

Some of these habits can be dangerous, putting kids in a place where they can be taken advantage of. Burner phones can also create a space for cyberbullying to go unnoticed, and thus unchecked. 

How Can You Know Your Child Is Using a Burner Phone?

If you’ve ever taken away your teen’s phone, you’re familiar with them pleading to get it back. If they suddenly stop doing so, that’s a hint they may be using a burner phone. Here are a few other ways to discover they’ve gotten a second phone:

  • Look for a dip in data use. Check your wireless carrier for overall data usage and details about specific applications. A decrease in visits to your teen’s favorite social media site may point to use of a burner phone.
  • Monitor your network. Learn how to check your router’s activity log, which shows browser histories and IP addresses that have accessed the internet via your network.
  • Check your child’s other apps. Burner phones aren’t the only way to communicate anonymously; there are multiple apps that let you set up a temporary number. If your child has an app like Burner or Hushed, it’s possible they’re doing something that requires anonymity—which could be a red flag. 

What Can You Do to Manage the Behavior?

  1. Maintain consistent rules of use. If you’ve gone to the trouble of setting ground rules, then stick with them and make sure the consequences for breaking them are fair and applicable to everyone in the family. Consistency equals credibility. 
  1. Help your teen set boundaries. Encourage your child to understand and embrace core values that will drive healthy online interactions. If your child can feel okay about posting online because they always consider how it will reflect upon them first, they’ll have less interest in setting up secret accounts.
  1. Reward honesty. Let your kids know they can come to you when they’ve made a mistake online, such as going to an inappropriate website. Being able to do so without risking punishment will maintain the level of communication that pays dividends in all kinds of parent-child interactions—not just those related to cell phones.

At the end of the day, this burner phone trend is more about behaviors than devices. If you can set clear expectations and have open conversations about smart phone conduct, you’ll see a lot more progress than if you focus solely on managing your kids’ access to a phone.

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Contributor: Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate.

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