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Teen Help Blog

Teen Vaping Addiction: How to Help a Teen Stop Vaping

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 21, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Teen Vaping Addiction: Tips on How to Help Your Teen Stop Vaping

By Sandra Gordon, Your Teen Magazine

Using e-cigarettes (vaping) is now a teen epidemic. Between 2017 and 2018, e-cigarette use among middle schoolers increased by 48 percent and among high schoolers by 78 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. More than a quarter of all high school students are frequent e-cigarette users, with 28 percent vaping more than 20 times per month.

About a year ago, the trend hit home for Keri Williams, 42, a banking business systems consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s when the mom of five discovered that her children Amias, 16, and Kayla, 15, had been vaping on and off for about a year using a popular device called JUUL.

When Williams found out both of her teens were vaping, she made them keep their bedroom doors open unless they were changing clothes and took away their cellphones and media for one month. “I wanted to ‘go big’ so they understood just how serious this was,” Williams says.

She was right to be concerned. “Almost all e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even those that claim they don’t, because there’s no FDA oversight of the manufacturing,” says Jennifer Hobbs Folkenroth, national senior director, tobacco control at American Lung Association.

Nicotine is highly addictive; it’s what gets users hooked, Folkenroth says. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm a teen’s developing brain. The inhaled aerosol also contains other potentially harmful chemicals, such as acrolein and diacetyl, both of which have been linked to serious lung damage.

How to Get Teenagers to Stop Vaping

Many schools are implementing policies aimed at reducing vaping in school, such as employing bathroom monitors and imposing consequences like suspension or even expulsion. But these measures may not be enough, especially if your teenager is becoming a more frequent—and addicted—user. If you suspect your teen is vaping, there are some things that parents should do.

1. Get your teenager talking.

Vaping is easier to hide because it doesn’t leave a telltale odor of traditional cigarettes or visible secondhand emissions, says Steven Schroeder, M.D., director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California San Francisco.

To figure out what’s up with your teen, create an environment where it’s easier for your teen to talk about it, Dr. Schroeder says. Rather than asking your teen directly (You’re JUULing, aren’t you?), ask nonjudgmental questions, maybe while you’re driving somewhere, such as: I keep hearing about JUULing. Are your friends doing that?; Is it popular at school?; What do you think about it?; and How safe do you think it is?

2. Weave in the facts.

If you get the sense from your conversations that your teen is vaping, even just occasionally, such as at parties, talk about the risks. Be prepared to hear that JUULing isn’t a big deal.

“Many teens know cigarettes are bad for you but think vaping is inconsequential,” Dr. Schroeder says. Many teens don’t realize, for example, that all JUUL pods contain nicotine—as much as a pack of cigarettes.

Also, appeal to your teen’s natural sense of rebellion. “Talk to teens about how the vaping industry is manipulating them,” Folkenroth says—for example, by making JUUL pods in flavors that appeal to young consumers, such as mango, crème, and fruit. (Under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, JUUL recently agreed to eliminate some flavors from retail stores, but they are still available online.)

You might say, for example: “The company is trying to make JUULing cool so you’ll get hooked and buy more JUUL pods. But shouldn’t you be the master of your own body and health? You’re the one who makes the decision about what goes in.”

3. Help your teen get help.

About a month after she banned vaping, text messages on her teens’ phones clued Williams in to the fact that they were vaping again. Determined to stop them, she ordered nicotine urine tests on Amazon and tested each teen daily until they were clean. Since then, she’s been randomly testing them a few times a month.

Parents can feel lost and even a little desperate when it comes to stopping vaping, but the American Lung Association cautions against this kind of screening, instead favoring education, consistent parent-teen communication, positive support, and parents connecting teens with intervention or cessation programs.

This is Quitting is a smoking cessation program developed by Truth Initiative in collaboration with Mayo Clinic that offers a texting program to help quit e-cigarettes. Teens can enroll by texting “QUIT” to 706-222-QUIT. The program delivers tailored messages via text that give age-appropriate quitting advice.

The American Lung Association also offers several programs to help educate teens on e-cigarette use, including Not On Tobacco (a voluntary youth cessation program) and Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health. To learn more, call 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit lung.org.

You may even send your teen to the pediatrician. “We know for combustible cigarettes, if your physician tells you not to smoke, it doubles your chance of quitting,” Dr. Schroeder says. “Just the authority of a pediatrician talking to a teen about not vaping in the absence of his parents might be helpful.”

For more great information on this topic, enroll in the Your Teen Workshop on Vaping, featuring a panel of experts discussing the facts and answering real parents’ questions.

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If you feel your teen is at-risk and you have exhausted all your local resources, contact us for information on residential therapy. Be proactive before a crisis happens.

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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, author Phyllis Fagell

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.

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

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.

Order on Amazon today.

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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, Featured Article, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

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.
  • 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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The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens
Renowned neurologist Dr. Frances E. Jensen offers a revolutionary look at the brains of teenagers, dispelling myths and offering practical advice for teens, parents and teachers.

The Teenage Brain demystifies the teen brain by presenting new findings, dispelling widespread myths and providing practical advice for negotiating this difficult and dynamic life stage for both adults and teens.

Dr. Frances E. Jensen is chair of the department of neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As a mother, teacher, researcher, clinician, and frequent lecturer to parents and teens, she is in a unique position to explain to readers the workings of the teen brain. In The Teenage Brain, Dr. Jensen brings to readers the astonishing findings that previously remained buried in academic journals.

The root myth scientists believed for years was that the adolescent brain was essentially an adult one, only with fewer miles on it. Over the last decade, however, the scientific community has learned that the teen years encompass vitally important stages of brain development.  Samples of some of the most recent findings include:

  • Teens are better learners than adults because their brain cells more readily “build” memories. But this heightened adaptability can be hijacked by addiction, and the adolescent brain can become addicted more strongly and for a longer duration than the adult brain.
  • Studies show that girls’ brains are a full two years more mature than boys’ brains in the mid-teens, possibly explaining differences seen in the classroom and in social behavior.
  • Adolescents may not be as resilient to the effects of drugs as we thought. Recent experimental and human studies show that the occasional use of marijuana, for instance, can cause lingering memory problems even days after smoking, and that long-term use of pot impacts later adulthood IQ.
  • Multi-tasking causes divided attention and has been shown to reduce learning ability in the teenage brain. Multi-tasking also has some addictive qualities, which may result in habitual short attention in teenagers.
  • Emotionally stressful situations may impact the adolescent more than it would affect the adult: stress can have permanent effects on mental health and can to lead to higher risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression.

Dr. Jensen gathers what we’ve discovered about adolescent brain function, wiring, and capacity and explains the science in the contexts of everyday learning and multitasking, stress and memory, sleep, addiction, and decision-making.  In this groundbreaking yet accessible book, these findings also yield practical suggestions that will help adults and teenagers negotiate the mysterious world of adolescent development.

Read an except of The Teenage Brain here.

Order your copy on Amazon today.

Visit our P.U.R.E. Library for more parenting book suggestions.

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What Parents Need To Know About Juuling

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 07, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Keeping up with teens today, it’s not easy.

From vaping to juuling, we’re here to educate you.

Photo credit: YourTeenMag.

By Sandra Gorden, contributor for Your Teen Magazine

While searching for my iPhone earbuds in my 16-year-old daughter’s bedside table, I came across a coin purse with tiny cartridges that look like a computer thumb drive. When Jane got home from school, I asked her what they were. “They’re Penelope’s,” Jane said. “I’m holding them for her.”

That seemed plausible. Penelope is a friend whose mom is very strict. But I still didn’t know what they were, and I thought: This can’t be good.

“What do you do with them?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Jane said.

Slowly, we got to the bottom of it. They were Juul pods, nicotine cartridges for the latest, trendy version of an e-cigarette.

“The whole school does it,” Jane said. “It’s not a big deal.”

In fact, more than 3 million middle school and high school students in the U.S. use e-cigarettes—also known as “vaping.” And the numbers continue to grow every year. Suddenly, I realized that Jane and her friends were among them.

What is Juuling?

E-cigarettes are typically battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (“juice”) that turns into an aerosol that teens inhale into their lungs. Until this point, I thought vaping involved using a vaping pen, a small round device with a mouth piece on the end. But Juuling, as it’s popularly known, is much easier to hide. Juul is a sleek, rectangular vaporizing device that delivers a concentrated form of nicotine. It looks like a USB flash drive, and can even be plugged into a laptop to charge.

According to the Juul website, each cartridge contains 0.7 mL with 5 percent nicotine by weight. One Juul pod is equivalent to smoking one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. But the biggest draw for teens is that the pods come in fun flavors, such as cucumber, mango, and mint, says Koorosh Rassekh, an addiction therapist and founder of Evo Health and Wellness, an outpatient addiction treatment program in Venice, California.

What are the Risks of Vapor Smoking?

While teens may believe that vaping is relatively safe, there are numerous health risks. “You can get addicted to e-cigarettes,” says Bill Blatt, director of Tobacco Programs for the American Lung Association. Like smoking a regular cigarette, the nicotine from Juul or other e-cigarettes gets into teens’ lungs and bloodstream and keeps them coming back for more.

And because the smoke isn’t as noticeable as regular cigarettes, teens can take a draw from their Juul and put it in their pocket without the teacher seeing it. Forget about running to the restroom: “They can smoke in class,” Blatt says.

The FDA has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, so Juul pods and other vaping devices can’t legally be sold to them. But teens still find ways to get them, so parents need to address this trend.

How to Talk to Your Teens about Juuling:

To talk to your teen about Juuling, vaping, or any other substance use, Rassekh offers four helpful tips for having productive conversations.

1. Don’t lecture.

Just saying, Don’t Juul (or vape) because it’s bad for you, doesn’t help. (Guilty!) Lecturing about its harmfulness will only compel your teen to keep it a secret from you, Rassekh says.

2. Be open to the conversation.

Not every teen will be tempted to Juul or vape. But it’s worth having the conversation if you suspect they may be. In my daughter Jane’s case, she may truly be holding the cartridges for Penelope. But I suspect that she too is Juuling because her friends are—and like many teens, Jane lives for her friends. “The risk of being ostracized and the social benefit can motivate teens to Juul and try other substances,” Rassekh says.

3. Try to understand why your teen is Juuling.

Teens can be tempted to Juul for many reasons, including not wanting to be bullied, peer pressure, or getting a break from the rigors of the school day. “To get to the bottom of any substance use, ask yourself, What is impacting my teen’s self-esteem negatively?” Rassekh says.

Once you understand why your teen might be drawn to Juuling or vaping, then you can begin to address your teen’s vulnerabilities and build the resilience to counterbalance it.

4. Get outside help.

If your teen has developed a nicotine habit in any form, it may be time to have a pediatrician or therapist talk with them. You can also call the Center for Disease Control’s national tobacco quit line, 800-784-8669, for more guidance from their professional counselors.

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Sign-up for the parent workshop for more information on vaping.

If you suspect your teen is juuling or their behavior is escalating and you have exhausted your local resources, contact us to discuss if residential therapy might be an option.

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Dead Serious: Breaking The Cycle of Teen Suicide

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 24, 2019  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Featured Book, Mental Health, Residential Therapy, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Teen Suicide Prevention, Troubled Teens

Teen Suicide Rates Are Rising

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics shows over the last 20 years, 1.6 million kids ages 10 to 24 called poison control centers after attempting suicide; using prescription pills, street drugs and other household poisons.

By Jane Mersky Leder

My brother took his own life on his thirtieth birthday. My life has never been the same.

Thirty plus years after publishing the first edition of Dead Serious, this second completely revised and updated edition covers new ground: bullying, social media, LGBTQ teens, suicide prevention programs, and more.

Scores of teens share their stories that are often filled with hurt, disappointment, shame–yet often hope. Written for teens, adults and educators, Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide explores the current cultural and social landscape and how the pressure-filled lives of teens today can lead to anxiety, depression–suicide.

Leder’s own journey of discovery after her brother’s suicide informs her goal of helping to prevent teen suicide by empowering teens who are suffering and teens who can serve as peer leaders and connectors to trusted adults.

The skyrocketing number of teens who take their own lives makes Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide more relevant and important than ever. “Talking about suicide does not make matters worse. What makes matters worse is not talking.”

Order Dead Serious on Amazon today.

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Are you concerned about your teen? Have they been struggling with depression? Becoming withdrawn? Have you exhausted your local resources — local therapy isn’t working? Contact us if you want to learn more about residential therapy.

 

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Mental Health Awareness Month: Teen Suicide Prevention, What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 01, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Teen Suicide Prevention, Troubled Teens

Teen Suicide: Know the Warning Signs

By Mary Helen Berg, Your Teen Magazine

When Clark Flatt’s 16-year-old son killed himself with a .38 caliber pistol nearly two decades ago, no one in his community, school, or church was talking about suicide.

“We talked about drugs; we talked about bullying. No one ever mentioned teen suicide as a threat to my son,“ recalls Flatt, who today is president of the non-profit Jason Foundation, a suicide education and prevention organization. “If I had gone through and learned about the warning signs, I might not have thought ‘suicide,’ but I would have said, ‘I need to get some professional help for him.’”

Parents often think suicide can’t happen in their family and avoid talking about it. But teen suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Only accidents, including car crashes and overdoses, kill more people ages 10 to 24.

“Suicide doesn’t just happen to other people,” Flatt says. “It happens to the football captain, the head of the chess team, and the student body government leader.”

Preventing Teen Suicide

Talk about Suicide

It’s important to be direct when talking about teen suicide. If you have concerns, ask your teen outright if she ever thinks about hurting herself. Don’t worry that you’re “putting ideas in their heads,” advises Dr. David Miller, president of the Association of American Suicidology.

“If an adolescent is already suicidal, talking about it, your words, are not going to make them more suicidal than they already are,” Miller says. “If they are not currently suicidal, then talking about it won’t magically make them so.”

Risk Factors for Suicide

Although we sometimes think of teens as impulsive risk-takers, this trait doesn’t necessarily contribute to more teen suicide attempts, according to Miller.

“In the research I’ve seen, people who are suicidal have often thought about this a great deal,” he notes.

Risk factors for suicide include a family history of suicide and mental health disorders, substance abuse, illness, feelings of isolation, and easy access to guns, medications, or other lethal means, according to the CDC.

A “trigger event” such as bullying, a bad grade, or a breakup can also prompt a vulnerable teen to attempt suicide, explains Flatt, who formed the Jason Foundation in his son’s memory. The Tennessee-based organization now has 92 affiliates across the country, serving an estimated four million people.

Know the Teen Suicide Warning Signs

Most adolescents who attempt suicide—four out of five, according to the Jason Foundation—give some type of warning, including:

  • Suicidal ideation or preoccupation with suicide, ranging from fleeting thoughts to detailed plans
  • Statements such as, “I wish I were dead,” or, “No one would miss me if I were gone”
  • Persistent feelings of depression or hopelessness
  • Behavior that is out of character, such as dramatic changes in grades, hygiene, or mood
  • Giving away prized possessions

Have a Plan to Prevent Teen Suicide

Parents know they should take their kids to the emergency room if they have appendicitis, but they often don’t know what to do if their child is depressed. Here’s what experts recommend:

1. Research mental health resources. “Don’t wait until the critical point,” Flatt warns. “If you wait until there’s actually suicidal ideation, you’ve really reached a very dangerous edge.”

2. Maintain an open dialogue with your teen.

3. If your teen seems depressed, don’t ignore it or assume it’s typical teen moodiness.

4. Store guns, prescription medications, and alcohol in safe locations.

5. Encourage your teen to seek adult help if they notice a friend exhibiting suicidal behaviors. “This is not about being a snitch. This is about helping someone and potentially saving someone’s life,” stresses Miller.

Mary Helen Berg is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, Scary Mommy, and many other publications.

Reprinted with permission by Your Teen Magazine.

Are you struggling with a teen and have exhausted your local resources? Are you concerned that they may be at-risk and considering residential therapy? Contact us today. Since 2001 we’ve been educating parents on the teen help industry and visiting many schools and programs throughout our country.

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iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 25, 2019  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Internet Addiction, Internet Safety, Mental Health, Sexting, Teen Depression, Teen Help

Cell phone are here to stay. The smartphone generation.

By Cathie Ericson of Your Teen Magazine

Many of us parents, given the option, would snap our fingers and make smartphones—and all their complications—go away forever. But smartphones are here to stay, and your teen is now part of the smartphone generation. As you may already be discovering, there’s an inevitability about teens and phones, so we might as well face that reality head-on.

What do we worry about? Too much screen time, too little face-to-face socializing, and the potential pitfalls of social media. As smartphones become ubiquitous, teens have all the pressure associated with always being “on”—but potentially without the maturity to handle it. And that’s troubling.

Smartphone Generation

As reported in Jean Twenge’s new book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, rates of teen depression have skyrocketed—a phenomenon the author links to smartphones. Boys’ depressive symptoms increased by 21 percent from 2012 to 2015, while girls’ increased by 50 percent. Research supports a connection between this shift and smartphone usage, finding that teens who report more screen time are more likely to be unhappy, compared to teens who spend less time than average with their screen.

Given these findings, why do we even allow our teens to have phones? In many cases, it’s almost as though we have no choice. Pew Research reports that three-quarters of teens have a smartphone, and a whopping 92 percent of them say they go online every day.

Your teens are likely to be among these connected teens—so, rather than “just say no,” how can parents set wise limits?

Easy to Love, Hard to Put Down: Setting Limits on Phone Use

Does it seem like your teen is constantly clicking and scrolling? To be fair, we might be, too. A survey from Common Sense Media found that 78 percent of teens reported checking their phone at least hourly, but 69 percent of parents said the same.

“I like to remind parents that they are the models,” says Dodgen-Magee. “If you don’t think they should use their device at night, then you shouldn’t bring yours to bed either.”

Which brings up one of the most important limits that should be set: Encourage good evening habits so the phone doesn’t interrupt their sleep. “If you only do one thing, keep the phone out of their room at night,” says one expert.

Of course, you know they are going to say it’s their alarm clock. Remind them of this novel invention—an actual clock, which you can find for about $10, says Twenge. “Even if the phone is off, it’s still too tempting to have it at the ready while they’re trying to wind down, or if they wake up in the middle of the night.”

Beyond that, the key is to make sure they are balancing their screen time with other activities. Twenge has found a direct correlation between negative teen mental health and the number of hours they spend on their devices, particularly on social media. While more research needs to be done on phones and mental health to determine exactly why these things are correlated, Twenge recommends parents err on the side of caution and look into one of the numerous apps like Freedom or Kidslox that allow you to set daily limits.

However, you probably shouldn’t outright take the phone as a punishment, as they often need it for homework or updates (like when the next soccer practice is). “It’s more productive to have a conversation about when they should unplug and help them develop a healthy balance.”

Order iGen by Jean Twenge today on Amazon.

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