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Teen Help Blog

Why Removing Your Teens’ Devices Doesn’t Always Work

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 23, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Internet Addiction, Internet Safety

Do you threaten to remove your teen’s devices?

Parents are struggling with implementing restrictions on technology

Most families have implemented boundaries and rules that their kids and teens have to follow when it comes to their devices. When they cross these lines, there will be consequences such as revoking their phone and internet privileges.

As many of us know, this can be devastating to young people. A survey from the Pew Research Center last year revealed that 56 percent of teens feel anxious, lonely or upset when they don’t have their cell phones.

There’s no app for parenting

There’s no app for parenting teens online today—yet according to a 2018 PEW Research Center survey, 95 percent of teenagers have access to a smartphone while almost half, 45 percent, claim they are online constantly.  That’s up significantly from the last survey in 2015 when it was 24 percent that were on almost constantly.

It’s instinct to remove the gadget that they love as a form of punishment, but is it solving the problem? Many teens are resourceful today as they turn to burner phones when their parents enforce the family rules. This can be incredibly frustrating and parents are at their wit’s end.

Parents struggle with digital boundaries

We see many articles on tips for cyber safety, security and online bullying. We also can read a lot about what you should do when you witness abuse online or believe you are a victim of a sextortion or a predator.

What I haven’t read a lot about is what you can do if your teen abuses their internet or cell phone privileges. No matter where our kids and teens are gravitating to online, parenting doesn’t change.

Like growing up offline, it’s never without challenges. However, today it’s compounded with their digital life being as important as their real one. As a matter of fact, most teen’s believe that their online life is their life—period.

Defining digital abuse

Many parents understand that offline communications are key to cyber safety for their children (of all ages). In these chats, it’s important to continually discuss appropriate online behavior as well as what is not acceptable:

  • Posting inappropriate comments, pictures or videos
  • Participating in unsavory chat rooms
  • Purchasing items online without a parent’s permission
  • Over-sharing personal information
  • Cyberbullying, harassing or teasing others online
  • Sending mean text messages or sexting
  • Sending abusive tweets
  • Posting or texting anything with an intent to harm or hurt someone

It’s important to realize that burner phones are not only being used as a way to escape the loss of their own device, but teens are using these phones to secretly post on social media without adults knowing.

“The youngsters don’t only use the burners when their personal device is taken away. Some use them to post on social-media profiles their parents don’t know about—the so-called Finsta, or ‘fake Instagram,’ account,” says Diana Graber, author of Raising Humans In A Digital World in the WSJ.

Managing digital slip-ups

Is there an alternative to removing the devices? In my opinion, as well as that of Digital Media Literacy teacher, Diana Graber, absolutely! It’s all about digital parenting and education. It’s about teaching our kids about the upsides and downsides of technology—opening those lines of communication, probably more often than you are doing now.

If you discover your teen has crossed the family’s online boundaries, it is time to sit down and analyze what happened with your teenager. Hear them out first, then give them the reasons why there will be consequences—explain clearly how they abused their privilege. It is important they understand their missteps so they can learn from them.

Family Safety Evangelist Toni Birdsong wrote an essay, What Should the Consequences Be for a Teens’ Digital Slip-Up? Here are a few of my favorites I want to share:

  • Be clear on the “why.” Explain the risks associated with the behavior and why it’s not allowed. If the topic is sexting then explain the privacy risk of trusting another person as well as the legal risks of possessing or sending sexual photos.
  • Be careful not to shame. The behavior does not define the child. In talking, stay focused on the behavior or action without making general, personal judgments.
  • Write an essay. It sounds old school, but essay writing in this world of impulse clicking has worked in our house. Parenting is all about teachable moments, so use this opportunity to educate. Have your child write a paper on the dangers of the behavior. Be it bullying, sexting, suggestive texting, racism, profanity, or gossip—there are huge lessons to be learned through researching and writing. Remember many tweens and teens are simply naïve to the power of the technology they hold and they simply don’t know what they don’t know.

Being an educated parent helps you to have safer teens online and offline.

Order Raising Humans In A Digital World today – be an educated digital parent!

Contact us for more information.

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Raising Humans In A Digital World

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 22, 2021  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Internet Addiction, Internet Safety, Parenting Books

Raising Humans In A Digital World

Helping Teens Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology

Sexting, cyberbullying, revenge porn, online predators… all of these potential threats can tempt parents to snatch the smartphone or tablet right out of their children’s hands.

While avoidance might eliminate the dangers, that approach also means your child misses out on technology’s many benefits and opportunities.

Raising Humans in a Digital World (Harper Collins 2019) is a must read for all parents of connected tweens and teens.

Cybercivics teacher and author, Diana Graber, brilliantly shares with her readers how digital kids (tweens and teens) must learn to navigate through today’s online environment:

  • developing social-emotional skills
  • balancing virtual and real life
  • building safe and healthy relationships
  • avoiding cyberbullies and online predators
  • protecting personal information
  • identifying and avoiding fake news and questionable content
  • becoming positive role models and leaders.

This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine.

Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for—a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

Order your copy today wherever books are sold.

Diana Graber on the Today Show.

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Teen Help: Benefits of Family Camping

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

Healing Your Family In The Outdoors

Adventure, Challenge & Growth In The Mountains

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

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

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

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

The Benefits Of Outdoor Recreation

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

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

What about teenagers, you might ask?

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

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

How To Get Outside With Your Teen

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

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

1. Plan A Family Camping Trip

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

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

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

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

2. Set An Outdoor Adventure Goal

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

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

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

3. Offer Kayaking, Skiing, Or Climbing Lessons

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

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

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

4. Consider An Organized Expedition

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

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

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

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

Getting Your Teen Outside

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

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Helping Teens With Self-Esteem

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

Help! My teen is hanging with the wrong crowd!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 26, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Book, Teen Drug Use

FEATURED BOOK

The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence

Author Jessica Lahey

This is one of the most timely and important books for parents today, especially those raising tweens and teenagers. So many are concerned about their child’s future as it pertains to substance use – here is how you can become a proactive parent starting now.

In this supportive, life-saving resource, the New York Times bestselling author of The Gift of Failure helps parents and educators understand the roots of substance abuse and identify who is most at risk for addiction, and offers practical steps for prevention.

Jessica Lahey was born into a family with a long history of alcoholism and drug abuse. Despite her desire to thwart her genetic legacy, she became an alcoholic and didn’t find her way out until her early forties. Jessica has worked as a teacher in substance abuse programs for teens, and was determined to inoculate her two adolescent sons against their most dangerous inheritance. All children, regardless of their genetics, are at some risk for substance abuse.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, teen drug addiction is the nation’s largest preventable and costly health problem. Despite the existence of proven preventive strategies, nine out of ten adults with substance use disorder report they began drinking and taking drugs before age eighteen.

The Addiction Inoculation is a comprehensive resource parents and educators can use to prevent substance abuse in children. Based on research in child welfare, psychology, substance abuse, and developmental neuroscience, this essential guide provides evidence-based strategies and practical tools adults need to understand, support, and educate resilient, addiction-resistant children.

The guidelines are age-appropriate and actionable—from navigating a child’s risk for addiction, to interpreting signs of early abuse, to advice for broaching difficult conversations with children.

The Addiction Inoculation is an empathetic, accessible resource for anyone who plays a vital role in children’s lives—parents, teachers, coaches, or pediatricians—to help them raise kids who will grow up healthy, happy, and addiction-free.

Last month’s featured book: Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen (Must read!)

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How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen Drug Use

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 26, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Drug Use

Prevent Teen and Young Adult Drug Use

How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Teen & Young Adult Drug Use

Figuring out if your child is using substances can be challenging. Many of the signs and symptoms are typical teen or young adult behavior. Many are also symptoms of mental health issues, including depression or anxiety.

If you have reason to suspect use, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution. Prepare to take action and have a conversation during which you can ask direct questions like “Have you been drinking, vaping or using drugs?” No parent wants to hear “yes,” but being prepared for how you would respond can be the starting point for a more positive outcome.

What to look for with shifts in mood & personality:

  • Sullen, withdrawn or depressed
  • Less motivated
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Hostile, angry, uncooperative
  • Deceitful or secretive
  • Unable to focus
  • A sudden loss of inhibitions
  • Hyperactive or unusually elated

Behavioral changes:

  • Changed relationships with family members or friends
  • Absenteeism or a loss of interest in school, work or other activities
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Locks doors
  • Disappears for long periods of time
  • Goes out often, frequently breaking curfew
  • Secretive with the use of their phone
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Uses chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
  • Often uses over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening or nasal irritation
  • Has cash flow problems
  • Has become unusually clumsy: stumbling, lacking coordination, poor balance
  • Has periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep

Hygiene and appearance:

  • Smell of smoke or other unusual smells on breath or on clothes
  • Messier than usual appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Frequently red or flushed cheeks or face
  • Burns or soot on fingers or lips
  • Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)

Physical health:

  • Frequent sickness
  • Unusually tired and/or lethargic
  • Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred speech or rapid-fire speech
  • Nosebleeds and/or runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Sores, spots around mouth
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Frequent perspiration
  • Seizures and/or vomiting

Being a parent – How and where to look:

Use your nose.

Have a real, face-to-face conversation when child comes home after hanging out with friends. If there has been drinking or smoking, the smell will be on their breath, on clothing and in their hair.

Look them in the eyes.

Pay attention to their eyes, which will be red and heavy-lidded, with constricted pupils if they’ve used marijuana. Pupils will be dilated, and they may have difficulty focusing if they’ve been drinking. In addition, red, flushed color of the face and cheeks can also be a sign of drinking.

Watch their behavior.

How do they act after a night out with friends? Are they particularly loud and obnoxious, or laughing hysterically at nothing? Unusually clumsy to the point of stumbling into furniture and walls, tripping over their own feet and knocking things over? Sullen, withdrawn, and unusually tired and slack-eyed for the hour of night? Do they look queasy and stumble into the bathroom? These are all signs that they could have been drinking or using marijuana or other substances.

Search their spaces.

The limits you set with your child don’t stop at the front door or their bedroom door. If you have cause for concern, it’s important to find out what’s going on. Be prepared to explain your reasons for a search though, whether or not you tell them about it beforehand. You can let them know it’s out of concern for their health and safety. Common places to conceal vapes, alcohol, drugs or paraphernalia include:

  • Inside drawers, beneath or between other items
  • In small boxes or cases — think jewelry, makeup or pencil cases, or cases for earbuds
  • Under a bed or other pieces of furniture
  • In a plant, buried in the dirt
  • In between or inside books
  • Under a loose floor board
  • Inside over-the-counter medicine containers (Tylenol, Advil, etc.)
  • Inside empty candy bags such as M&Ms or Skittles
  • In fake soda cans or other fake containers designed to conceal

Don’t overlook your teen’s cell phone or other digital devices. Do you recognize their frequent contacts? Do recent messages or social media posts hint at drug use or contradict what they’ve told you?

If your search turns up evidence of drug use, prepare for the conversation ahead and do not be deterred by the argument of invaded privacy. Stand by your decision to search and the limits you’ve set.

If you discover that your child is not likely to have been drinking or using other substances, this could be a good time to find out if there’s another explanation for any changes in their appearance or behavior that needs to be addressed.

Source: Drugfree.org

If you have a good teen starting to make bad choices and you’ve exhausted your local resources, it may be time to consider residential therapy before it gets out of control. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Teens Are Not Okay: The Crisis Parents Are Facing

Posted by Sue Scheff on March 16, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Teen Depression, Teen Help

One in every four or five U.S. youth meets criteria for a mental disorder

The pandemic has been extremely challenging for many people, but especially for parents and students. We have seen a spike in mental health concerns surrounding teens, from depression to defiance to losing their academic motivation.

Teens are most stressed and overwhelmed

American Psychological Association says that teens currently report worse mental health and higher levels of anxiety and depression than all other age groups—including adults.

San Diego State University researchers report that 12- to 17-year-olds experienced a 52 percent increase in major psychological distress, depression, and suicide since the mid-2000s.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry warns that one in every four or five youth in the U.S. now meets criteria for a mental disorder.

When striving isn’t enough

Dr. Michele Borba has been an educational psychologist for over 40 years, but has never been more concerned about kids and teens. In her latest book, THRIVERS: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine shows the urgency in updating current parenting and educational practices to follow science so children will have the potential to thrive and become their personal best.

“They are not okay,” she warns. “In fact, they are less happy and more stressed, lonely, depressed, and suicidal when compared with any previous generation — and those descriptions were identified prior to COVID-19.”

In short, our kids are failing to thrive, and if left as is will have grave consequences on our kids’ futures.

Many teens and kids have hopes and aspirations for their future, maybe college, or even the simpler things such as a family gathering — yet they are emotionally overwhelmed. These are good kids, they have goals and dreams but suddenly are feeling distressed and lonely.

How can we redirect a student that was striving and help them thrive in these challenging times?

Building THRIVERS

Some young people aren’t struggling; they’re thriving. They cope with adversity, develop healthy relationships, and embrace change.

They are ready for whatever the world throws at them, even in uncertain times.  Borba calls these kids Thrivers, and the more she studied them, she wondered, What is their secret? And can it be taught to others?

Through her years of research Borba said:

“Thrivers are made, not born. Yes, the strengths and skills that help our kids thrive can be taught at any age,” she continues. “But in our new uncertain world, it’s a moral mandate that they must be added to our parenting and teaching agendas. Doing so is the best way to raise a generation of strong kids who are ready and able to handle whatever comes their way.”

Dr. Borba combed scientific studies on resilience, spoke to dozens of researchers and experts in the field, and interviewed more than 100 young people from all walks of life. In the end, she found something surprising: The difference between those who struggle and those who succeed comes down not to grades or test scores, but to seven essential character strengths that set Thrivers apart (and set them up for happiness and greater accomplishment later in life):

  • Self-confidence: Healthy identify, using personal strengths to find purpose and meaning.
  • Empathy: Understanding and sharing another’s feelings, and acting compassionately.
  • Self-control: Managing stress, delaying gratification, strengthening focus.
  • Integrity: Valuing and adhering to a strong moral code, ethical thinking to lead a moral life.
  • Curiosity: Having open-mindedness and willingness to try new ideas, take risks, innovate.
  • Perseverance: Exhibiting fortitude, tenacity and resolve to endure so as to bounce back.
  • Optimism: Learning self-advocacy and keeping unrealistic pessimism to encourage hope.

Each of these seven character strengths is like a superpower that helps safeguard kids and teens against the depression and anxiety that threatens to derail them. And when those superpowers are combined, they become even more potent, creating a Multiplier Effect that prepares children to succeed in our fast-paced, ever-changing world.

Yes, they can be taught at any age, says Dr. Borba.

Order THRIVERS on Amazon today.

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Article originally written by Sue Scheff on Psychology Today.

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New Release: Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 22, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Book

Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School

An excellent guide for helping teens navigate the challenging times we are all facing today.

By Michelle Icard

Order on Amazon

Trying to convince a middle schooler to listen to you can be exasperating. Indeed, it can feel like the best option is not to talk! But keeping kids safe—and prepared for all the times when you can’t be the angel on their shoulder—is about having the right conversations at the right time.

From a brain growth and emotional readiness perspective, there is no better time for this than their tween years, right up to when they enter high school.

Distilling Michelle Icard’s decades of experience working with families, Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen focuses on big, thorny topics such as friendship, sexuality, impulsivity, and technology, as well as unexpected conversations about creativity, hygiene, money, privilege, and contributing to the family. Icard outlines a simple, memorable, and family-tested formula for the best approach to these essential talks, the BRIEF Model:

Begin peacefully
Relate to your child
Interview to collect information
Echo what you’re hearing, and give
Feedback

With wit and compassion, she also helps you get over the most common hurdles in talking to tweens, including:

• What phrases invite connection and which irritate kids or scare them off
• The best places, times, and situations in which to initiate talks
• How to keep kids interested, open, and engaged in conversation
• How to exit these chats in a way that keeps kids wanting more

Like a Rosetta Stone for your tween’s confounding language, Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen is an essential communication guide to helping your child through the emotional, physical, and social challenges ahead and, ultimately, toward teenage success.

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Check out our Library of Parenting Books for teens, parents and more.

Also tips for starting conversations with your teen.

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Tips For Starting A Conversation With Your Teenager

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 21, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Help

10 Ways to Start A Conversation With Your Teen

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

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

Here are some ideas for ways to get teens talking:

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

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

Bonus tip: Order Fourteen Talks By Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have With Your Kids Before High School.

If you feel your teen is shutting you out completely and you have exhausted all your resources, seek help from outside sources such as possible a friend or family member they respect.  You may have to then reach out to an adolescent therapist.

If you are still struggling, please contact us for information on residential therapy.  Sometimes removing them from their environment can help them reflect on what they are having difficulties with.

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Teaching My Teen To Handle Disappointment

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

Helping Teens Handle With Disappointment

Learning to deal with disappointment

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

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

Hear Them Out

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

Help Them Take Responsibility

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

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

Come up With a Plan

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

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

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

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

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