Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sue Scheff - Military Schools

As a parent that had a son graduate a very prestigious Military School, I know the firsthand what an honor and privilege he was given. Many parents think of Military Schools as a punishment or where the “troubled” kids go - that is simply a myth. My son was accepted in accordance with his GPA as well as letters of references and interviewing with the school. It is almost as rigid as applying for some colleges. To further my opinion of Military Schools, when my son interviewed and applied to Universities, all the Admissions Directors were extremely impressed with his schooling at a Military School and was accepted to all the colleges he applied to.

Has your child mentioned military academies to you? Have they expressed an interest in attending such a school? If so, you as a parent have an obligation to listen, and more importantly to help them make the right decision. Many ADD/ADHD students do very well in Military Schools.

A military school teaches various ages (middle school, high school, or both) in a manner that includes military traditions and training in military subjects. The military is a prominent force in America today, and with so much press it is very easy for a child to become exposed to this type of education as a viable option in their own lives. While this is perfectly acceptable on its own, like many of life’s choices it needs to be considered fully before a commitment is made. There are many factors that go into choosing the type of schooling that is appropriate for your child, and it is important that you and your child approach the subject together, as the both of you will have to reap the consequences of this decision in the future.

It is advisable to assess honestly the needs of your child, the requirements that will be placed upon them in a military school and what you as a parent bring to the mix. With many students the structure and positive discipline that military schools offer are very beneficial. It not only encourages them to become the best they can be, it enhances them to grow into mature respectable young men and women. Military schools and academies offer a student the opportunity to reach their highest academic potential as well as build up their self-esteem to make better choices in today’s society, within a very rigid and disciplined framework. It is this framework that forms the backbone of the military school experience, and one of the chief distinctions between military educations and those of other schools. It is important to note that this structure will suit some students more than others, and this will largely determine a child’s chances of success in a military school setting. Military schools can give your child the vision to reach their goals and dreams for their future. The high level of academics combined with small class sizes create a strong educational background from which they grow into productive, happy adults.

If you have questions for me, please visit http://www.helpyourteens.com/ - and email or call me. Second semester is starting soon, it is a great opportunity to see if your child is a good candidate for Military School.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sue Scheff - Parenting Teens - What Video Games Are They Playing?

Do you know about the video games your kids just received for the holidays? Be an educated parent - keep informed. Connect with Kids offers great parenting tips to help you.

Source: Connect with Kids www.connectwithkids.com

Violent Video Games

“You can do anything. Just try to kill him.”

– T.J Trimmer, 12-year-old video game player

12-year-old T. J. Trimmer is playing one of his favorite video games- Mortal Kombat.

The goal, he says simply, is to beat your opponent. “You can do anything,” T.J. says, his fingers frantically manipulating dials and buttons. “Just try to kill him. Like right now I’m attacking this guy with, like, punches and kicks. There are all these special moves that you can use…You attack your opponent….it’ll do more damage to him when you have one of (these) weapons.”

But according to new research from Iowa State University, T.J. isn’t just hurting his opponents.

Researchers studies over 1,500 kids and found that the children who played violent video games were more aggressive afterwards than those who did not.

“They’re not just releasing aggression,” says child psychiatrist Dr. Adolph Casal. “They’re practicing aggression. When we practice something, we get good at it. If we don’t practice something, we don’t get good at it. So spending a considerable amount of time in an aggressive, violent situation on a daily basis, is going to improve our aggression skills.”

Of course, T.J. disagrees. “Like this way, you take your anger out on someone else, but you don’t really take it out on someone. You can take it out on this.”

Experts say parents need to set rules about which games they will allow their children to play and for how long.

Tips for Parents
The video-game industry has undergone a dramatic change since the birth of Super Mario, the happy acrobat who once thrilled children for hours as they played with their Nintendo systems. Today, dark and adult-themed games like Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat are outselling kids’ games. Even Nintendo has switched gears by offering games with edgier subjects like the zombies featured in Resident Evil.

Why has the landscape of the video-game industry undergone such drastic change? Consider these statistics from the Entertainment Software Association:

The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 13 years.
The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 40 years old.
Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).
In 2008, 26 percent of Americans over the age of 50 played video games, an increase from nine percent in 1999.
Thirty-six percent of heads of households play games on a wireless device, such as a cell phone or PDA, up from 20 percent in 2002.
In its annual report at the end of 2008, the consumer watchdog organization the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) gave the video-game industry nearly straight-A’s, with particularly high grades in the rating system and retail policies.

Parents, on the other hand, scored an “incomplete” by NIMF, due mainly to their lack of attention to the ratings system and because most don’t use the parental control features on game consoles.

As a parent, how can you prevent your child from becoming exposed to violent or sexually explicit media? You can start by familiarizing yourself with the video game rating system. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates every video and computer game for age appropriateness (located on the front of the packaging) and, when appropriate, labels games with content descriptions. The ESRB’s current rating standard is as follows:

E: Everyone
T: Teens (13 and older)
M: Mature audiences (17 and older)
AO: Adults only
Children Now, a research and action organization, offers these additional tips for helping you to choose the right video games for your child:

Know your child. Different children handle situations differently. Regardless of age, if your child becomes aggressive or unsettled after playing violent video games, don’t buy games with violence in them. Likewise, if your child likes playing games with characters that look like her or him, purchase games with characters that fit the bill.
Read more than the ratings. While the ESRB ratings can be helpful, they do not tell the whole story. Some features that you may consider violent or sexual may not be labeled as such by the ESRB. In addition, the ESRB does not rate games for the positive inclusion of females or characters of color. The language on the packaging may give you a better idea of the amount and significance of violence and sexuality and the presence of gender and racial diversity or stereotypes in the game.
Go online. The ESRB website provides game ratings as well as definitions of the rating system. In addition, you can visit game maker and distributor websites to learn more about the contents of a game. Some have reviews that will provide even more information about the game.
Rent before you buy. Many video rental stores also rent video games and consoles. Take a trial run before you purchase a game.
Talk to other parents. Find out which games other parents like and dislike as well as which games they let your child play when he or she visits their house. This is a good way to learn about the games that your child enjoys and those that other parents approve of, and to let other parents know which games you do not want your child playing.
Play the games with your child. Know what your child is being exposed to and how he or she reacts to different features in the games.
Talk about what you see. If your child discovers material that he or she finds disturbing or that you find inappropriate, talk about it. This is a great opportunity to let your child know what your values are as well as to help him or her deal with images that may be troubling.
Set limits. If you are worried that your child spends too much time playing video games, limit the amount of time or specify the times of day that video games can be played.
Put the games in a public space. Just as with the Internet, keep your game consoles and computers in public family space so that you can be aware of the material your child is viewing.
Contact the game makers. If you find material that you think is offensive or inappropriate, let the people who make and sell the games know about it. Likewise, let game makers know if you think that a game provides healthy messages or images. They do care what you think!
To make your search easier, the NIMF cites the following video games that are either positive for children or contain negative images for children to avoid:

Positive games for your child:

Guitar Hero World Tour
Rock Band 2
Rock Revolution
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
Shaun White Snowboard
Games that are inappropriate for your child:

Blitz: The League II
Dead Space
Fallout 3
Far Cry 2
Gears of War 2
Left 4 Dead
Resistance 2
Saints Row 2
Silent Hill: Homecoming

Children Now
Entertainment Software Rating Board
Federal Trade Commission
Interactive Digital Software Association
Iowa State University
National Institute on Media and the Family

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sue Scheff: More Kids Value Giving

“You don’t get paid, but see that’s not the issue really, the issue is just helping out and you have fun while you do it.”

– Vishnu Kuttappan, 16 years old

For years, Vishnu wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor. But after volunteering at a hospital, he’s not so sure. “It’s kind of a battle,” Vishnu says, “between me, you know, sticking to medicine—and I like medicine a lot—or trying something new.”

Vishnu is part of a new trend among teens who volunteer in order not only to help their community, but also to choose a career.

“If you want to go into medicine,” Vishnu says, “you know, you can learn facts all you want, but until you’re in a hospital, you won’t really experience what it’s like.”

Teens say volunteering also teaches them respect and compassion for others.

“You don’t get paid, but see that’s not the issue really, the issue is just helping out and you have fun while you do it.”

Vishnu’s father, Dr. Muthu Kuttappan says, “I think that’s a very encouraging step and I hope other students follow, get a first hand knowledge of what is the real world.”

Experts add that when teens volunteer they are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and are more apt to do well in school.

Hospital Volunteer Coordinator Susan Esslinger says, “Hopefully when they’re 40, 50, 60, 70 years old, they’ll still have that sense of volunteerism in giving back to the community, whether it’s at a hospital or a soup kitchen or whatever the place may be.”

Tips for Parents
While many adults are convinced of a decline in the values and morals of today’s young people, recent surveys show that many teens are giving of their time to work for causes they believe in and to help those that are less fortunate. Teens find volunteer opportunities through religious organizations, school-based programs and community agencies.

There are several reasons why teens choose to volunteer:

Compassion for people in need
Feeling they can do something for a cause in which they believe
A belief that if they help others, others will help them
In addition, some teens volunteer their time in occupational fields in which they are interested. In addition to being helpful, they are able to use their experiences in deciding on future career choices.

Teens reported benefiting from their volunteer experiences in many ways, including:

Learning to respect others
Learning to be helpful and kind
Learning to understand people who are different from them
Developing leadership skills
Becoming more patient
Gaining a better understanding of good citizenship
Exploring or learning about career options
Developing new career goals
Children learn from their parents. The survey showed teens that reported having positive role models were nearly twice as likely to volunteer as those who did not. Encourage your child to volunteer by setting an example.

Youth Service America provides additional ways to increase teen volunteerism:

Ask them to volunteer.
Encourage youth to get involved at an early age. Volunteering when young creates lifelong adult volunteers.
Encourage children and young adults to participate in community groups, faith-based organizations, student government, and school projects.
Encourage a positive self-image so that young people are able to help others and contribute to their communities.
Be a mentor in your community.
Provide young people with opportunities to take courses that include and even require community service.
The Higher Education Research Institute
The Independent Sector
Youth Service America

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teenage Pregnancy

Every year, approx. 750,000 teenage girls become pregnant in the United States. That is roughly 1/3 of the age group’s population, a startling fact! Worse, more than 2/3 of teens who become mothers will not graduate from high school.

If you are a parent who has recently discovered that your teenage daughter is pregnant or may be pregnant, we understand your fear and pain. This is a difficult and serious time in both yours and your daughters’ life.
Our organization, Parent’s Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.™) works closely with parents and teenagers in many troubling situations, such as unplanned pregnancy. We understand how you feel!

No matter what happens, you and your daughter must work together to make the best choice for her and her unborn child. Your support and guidance is imperative as a mother. You CAN make it through as a family!

We have created this website as a reference for parents dealing with teenage pregnancy in hope that we can help you through the situation and make the best decisions.

Please visit our website, Help Your Teens, for more information as well as support.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sue Scheff - Parenting ADHD

Source: ADDitude Magazine

4 Ways to Be a Better Parent: Raising ADHD Children

Expert advice for parenting your ADHD children -- forging powerful connections and becoming a positive life coach.

by Edward Hallowell, M.D.

Parenting children with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) brings more ups and downs than a roller coaster.
One day you're basking in your child's creativity, the next you're worried about his social isolation and discipline problems at school. You do everything you can think of to help your son or daughter, yet wonder if you could do more.
What does it take to be a good, even great, parent of an ADD child? How can you create an environment that helps your special, wonderful child overcome the obstacles in his path?
Let me suggest four strategies:

1. Forge connections

Once you've taken care of your child's safety and feeding, your top job as a parent is to help her feel connected. By this, I mean creating an environment in which she feels part of something big and warm and benevolent. Reading to your child" is a great way to create connections. Sharing a bedtime story each evening (and doing a little cuddling in the process) lets you create a special, "slowed-down time together, and, of course, it's a great way to build your child's vocabulary.
Don't assume you have to give up this ritual once your child is reading on his own. You can continue it well into his teens.

How else can you create connections? Consider getting a family pet. And encourage contact between your child and his extended family. Frequent visits or calls from relatives extend a net of warmth and caring around your child. One of my favorite research studies showed that the single best predictor of happiness in adulthood is whether a person regularly shared family dinners when growing up.

2. Stay positive

It's too easy for parents to focus only on the problems associated with ADD. Yes, children with ADHD lose things. Yes, they often forget to turn in their homework. Yes, they are easily frustrated. But constantly harping on your child's shortcomings only undermines his self-confidence and optimism.

Try focusing on the positives for a change. What is it that your son does well? What hidden (or not-so-hidden) strengths does your daughter have? One mom I know used to say that her ADD daughter had trouble seeing the fish in the aquarium at the doctor's office - because she was so fascinated by the tiny fish eggs clinging to one leaf of an aquatic plant. Well, that daughter is now hoping to use her ability to see the unusual to launch a career in fashion design.

3. Be a coach

Helping your child grow into a happy, successful adult involves more than giving her medication each day. It means helping her find success and confidence in relationships and activities that she enjoys. Medication can be instrumental in helping her apply the brakes to her racecar brain. But medication alone is never enough.

Certain issues will persist throughout your child's school career - and, in all likelihood, her whole life. I'm talking about practical matters, like getting along with others, planning each day, and staying motivated in the face of setbacks. As a parent, you must be ready to help your child in these areas. Medication is not the whole treatment for ADD. Never was, never will be.

4. Allow time for play

Parents sometimes fear that their child won't "keep up" or develop friendships unless he is signed up for several organized activities - sports, clubs, and so on. But kids need some time for unstructured play. It shows them that they can learn to create joy all by themselves - a skill that will help them preserve the positive energy of childhood into their adult years. So pick a couple of things your child loves, then give him the gift of time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teen Eating Disorders

As the holidays are here, parents should be aware of their teens and tweens concerns with body image. Today’s peer pressure compounded with Internet Images of what a teen should look like, can add stress and frustration to a young teen (both girls and boys).

Eating Disorders can sometimes be hard to recognize. As a parent, it is important to be informed and know the warning signs.

Here is a great article from Connect with Kids from this week’s parenting articles and tips:

“I would never want to look at one. I think that would be really depressing to tell you the truth.”
– Mary Hardin, 14 years old

What Mary doesn’t want to see, to millions others is just a few key words and mouse clicks away.
“Who’s the skinniest and how can they stay the skinniest (or) here’s how you can have only one thing to eat all day or how you can survive on water and gum,” explains Bryna Livingston, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in eating disorders.

Livingston is referring to pro-anorexia websites – where girls are applauded for losing weight and surviving hunger – that are emerging on the Internet. On many such sites, anorexics journal thoughts and feelings and even post pictures of their thin celebrity idols.

“It’s a pseudo-support group, and the problem is you’re not really getting support,” says Livingston. “You’re feeding a competition. You’re feeding a disease, and you’re feeding what you want to hear so you don’t have to make any changes.”

For Mary Hardin, change was hard. She struggled with anorexia for three years. These websites, she says, spell danger. “I think (the websites) could have really made me worse and (made me) fall more into my eating disorder and encouraged me more,” she says. “That’s the last thing I needed was to be encouraged to be in an eating disorder.”

Experts say parents of anorexics have to show tough love, especially if their child is being enticed by these Internet sites. “I’d turn off the computer. I’d get it out of the house,” says Livingston.
Mary’s advice: “Listen to who you trust. Do you trust your family and your friends, or do you trust these people (on the Internet) that you don’t even know that are trying to give you lessons about your life?”
Luckily, Mary avoided the lure of anorexia websites when she was struggling with her illness. After years of therapy and family support, she says she is now healed. “It is possible to recover and to be a healthy girl with a happy life after it all,” she says. “There is hope to get through it.”

Tips for Parents

Many dangerous places exist in cyberspace, especially for those with body image difficulties. A quick, easy Google search can produce a long list of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites – places where those who suffer from eating disorders (ED) support each other and establish a sense of community. There are at least 100 active pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia sites. Some statistics state that several of these sites have accumulated tens of thousands of hits. Many sites treat eating disorders as lifestyle choices, rather than the illnesses they truly are. Most personify anorexia (“Ana”) and bulimia (“Mia”) into companions – individuals one can look to for guidance and strength.

The medical community classifies eating disorders as mental illnesses. Experts say girls with eating disorders focus on their bodies in a misguided bid to resolve deeper psychological issues, believing that they can fix their inner troubles by achieving a perfect outside. Eating disorder specialists say pro-anorexia sites are particularly dangerous since those suffering from the disease are usually in deep denial and cling to the illness to avoid dealing with its psychological underpinnings. Websites that glorify eating disorders make treatment increasingly difficult.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

There are an estimated 7 million females and 1 million males suffering from eating disorders in the United States.

The Harvard Eating Disorders Center estimates that 3 percent of adolescent women and girls have anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorders.

Four-of-five 13-year-old girls have attempted to lose weight.

One study showed that 42 percent of first- through third-grade girls want to be thinner.

About 1 percent of females between 10 and 20 have anorexia nervosa. Between 2 percent and 3 percent of young women develop bulimia nervosa. Almost half of all anorexics will develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.Without treatment, up to 20 percent of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, the mortality rate falls to 2 to 3 percent. The recovery rate with treatment is about 60 percent. Alas, only 10 percent of those with eating disorders receive treatment.

Pro-ED sites are just one reason why parents need to monitor children’s online behavior. In the web journals or logs (blogs) of these sites, users share near-starvation diets, offer tips for coping with hunger and detail ways to avoid the suspicions of family members. They post “thinspiration” – images from the media of their ideal celebrities, such as supermodel Kate Moss and the Olsen twins. They discuss extreme calorie restriction and weight loss through laxatives, diet pills and purging (self-induced vomiting).

Between the ages of 8 and 14, females naturally gain at least 40 pounds.

More than half of teenage girls are – or think they should be – on diets.

Websites were changing the very culture surrounding eating disorders, making them more acceptable to girls on and off the Internet.

Pro-ED sites thrive off the denial aspect of the illnesses while promoting the perceived benefits of having an eating disorder.


Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc.
Harvard Eating Disorders Center
The National Institute of Mental Health
Socialist Voice of Women
South Carolina Department of Mental Health

I also recommend you visit a survivor of Eating Disorders, Lori Hanson’s website at http://www.lori-hanson.com/ and check out her book, It All Started with Pop-Tarts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weston mother helps other parents

Posted on Sun, Dec. 14, 2008
Weston mother helps other parents

When Sue Scheff was at the end of her rope trying to deal with her own out-of-control teenager, she admits she never could have imagined a time when she would become a leading voice in the field of parent advocacy.
Yet the Weston author is rapidly becoming a familiar face in the national spotlight speaking about just that.

''I never went into this to become a national voice or figure, but that is what I have become,'' said Scheff, author of Wit's End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out of Control Teen.

Scheff appeared last month on the Lifetime Network's daily television series The Balancing Act during an episode entitled ``Plain Talk and Straight Answers for Parents with Troubled Teens.''

A taping with the Oprah Winfrey show also is planned.

Wit's End, a 168-page book released earlier this year, is a tool for parents navigating the choices and methods available to help struggling teens.

Scheff, now a full-time parent advocate, said she wrote the book not as an expert or therapist but as a parent who endured a long and painful experience trying to help her daughter, Ashlyn.

Almost a decade ago, she watched her child go from promising athlete to troubled teen, repeatedly running away, being verbally abusive and having serious problems at home and school.

With no experience or help to fall back on, she enrolled Ashlyn in a residential treatment facility that wouldn't allow her contact with her daughter for six months.

She would later learn her daughter endured months of beatings, sexual abuse, starvation and neglect.

''It nearly destroyed her,'' Scheff said. ``It took us two years to deprogram her after what they had done.''

The experience led Scheff to her new purpose. She founded a group called PURE, or Parents Universal Resource Experts, which she said has served thousands as a parent advocacy group.

Through Wit's End, she provides parents with resources to help them sort out and evaluate treatment options, including therapeutic boarding schools and treatment centers.

''You step into an arena of teen help and you are bombarded with a barrage of information,'' she said. ``This is one way to help sort it out.''

In her newfound role as advocate, Scheff also has appeared nationally on the ABC news magazine program 20/20, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet and Rachael Ray, among others.

Ashlyn, now 23, has seemingly rebounded and gone on to coaching gymnastics and becoming a mother herself.

Scheff said she would like their story to provide a light for other families.

''I think any parent out there struggling with a teen right now, you don't see the hope and you don't think you will ever come out of it. I didn't think I would,'' she said. ```But now I look back and see all those dark times have actually helped others.''

For information, visit www.suescheff.net .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Parenting at Your Wit's End

Are you at your wit’s end?

Are you experiencing any of the following situations or feeling at a complete loss or a failure as a parent? You are not alone and by being a proactive parent you are taking the first step towards healing and bringing your family back together.

Is your teen escalating out of control?
Is your teen becoming more and more defiant and disrespectful?
Is your teen manipulative? Running your household?
Are you hostage in your own home by your teen’s negative behavior?
Is your teen angry, violent or rage outbursts?
Is your teen verbally abusive?
Is your teen rebellious, destructive and withdrawn?
Is your teen aggressive towards others or animals?
Is your teen using drugs and/or alcohol?
Does your teen belong to a gang?
Do they frequently runaway or leave home for extended periods of time?
Has their appearance changed – piercing, tattoo’s, inappropriate clothing?
Has your teen stopped participating in sports, clubs, church and family functions? Have they become withdrawn from society?
Is your teen very intelligent yet not working up to their potential? Underachiever? Capable of doing the work yet not interested in education.
Does he/she steal?
Is your teen sexually active?
Teen pregnancy?
Is your teen a good kid but making bad choices?
Undesirable peers? Is your teen a follower or a leader?
Low self esteem and low self worth?
Lack of motivation? Low energy?
Mood Swings? Anxiety?
Teen depression that leads to negative behavior?
Eating Disorders? Weight loss? Weight gain?
Self-Harm or Self Mutilation?
High School drop-out?
Suspended or Expelled from school?
Suicidal thoughts or attempts?
Is your teen involved in legal problems? Have they been arrested?
Juvenile Delinquent?
Conduct Disorder?
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

Does your teen refuse to take accountability and always blame others for their mistakes?

Do you feel hopeless, helpless and powerless over what options you have as a parent? Are you at your wit’s end?

Does any of the above sound familiar? Many parents are at their wit’s end by the time they contact us, but the most important thing many need to know is you are not alone. There is help but the parent needs to be proactive and educate themselves in getting the right help.

Many try local therapy, which is always recommended, but in most cases, this is a very temporary band-aid to a more serious problem. One or two hours a week with a therapist is usually not enough to make the major changes that need to be done.

If you feel you are at your wit’s end and are considering outside resources, please contact us. http://www.helpyourteens.com/free_information.shtml An informed parent is an educated parent and will better prepare to you to make the best decision for your child. It is critical not to place your child out of his/her element. In many cases placing a teen that is just starting to make bad choices into a hard core environment may cause more problems. Be prepared – do your homework.

Many parents are in denial and keep hoping and praying the situation is going to change. Unfortunately in many cases, the problems usually escalate without immediate attention. Don’t be parents in denial; be proactive in getting your teen the appropriate help they may need. Whether it is local therapy or outside the home assistance, be in command of the situation before it spirals out of control and you are at a place of desperation. At wit’s end is not a pleasant place to be, but so many of us have been there.

Finding the best school or program for your child is one of the most important steps a parent does. Remember, your child is not for sale – don’t get drawn into high pressure sales people, learn from my mistakes. Read my story at www.aparentstruestory.com for the mistakes I made that nearly destroyed my daughter.

In searching for schools and programs we look for the following:
· Helping Teens - not Harming them
· Building them up - not Breaking them down
· Positive and Nurturing Environments - not Punitive
· Family Involvement in Programs - not Isolation from the teen
· Protect Children - not Punish them

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sue Scheff: Parenting and The Value of the Internet

As usual, Connect with Kids offers valuable articles for parents. This week they touch on the critical subject of our kids and the Internet. I know first hand the pros and cons of Cyberspace, however the challenge is getting our children to understand how important it is to protect yourself online and know that the Internet has a vast amount of great information but like with many things in life, you need to be aware of the pitfalls that may come with it.

“I wasn’t like other kids, you know, they had the Internet at home and I didn’t, so I felt like I was being deprived of something.”
– Ashley, 16 years old

Sixteen-year-old Ashley has always been a good student, but two years ago, she became a better student.
“In my history class, where we had to do a lot of research, I went from a B to an A,” she says.
What made the difference? Ashley believes it was her increased use of the Internet. She always had Web access at school but not at home.

“I wasn’t like other kids, you know, they had the Internet at home and I didn’t, so I felt like I was being deprived of something,” Ashley says.

Researchers, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, observed over 800 teens and their parents. The study found that, sure enough, parents think that spending hours online is unproductive for kids. But, the study also found that online teenagers are learning- socially, technologically … and academically.

“They are spending more time looking at text, so certainly they are going to be exposed to more reading opportunities,“ says Christine Colborne, an English teacher.

“You have to read through the websites,” Ashley says. “You have to read through the links and everything like that. So it does improve reading skills. And I think it improves vocabulary.”

But some experts warn parents to be cautious. Simply having online access is not a guarantee your child is learning.

“Many students are on the Internet simply in chat rooms. They are on the Internet looking up graphical material. They are looking up websites that are not text intensive where they are purchasing things or they are looking up pictures or downloading pictures,” Colborne says.

Ashley’s parents have set up filters on her computer that limit her access to inappropriate sites. Still, she says having the Internet at her fingertips at school and at home has opened a world of opportunities.
“I’m able to meet new friends, new people … to explore new subjects that I never knew about,” she says.

Tips for Parents

Another study by Michigan State University found that contrary to popular belief, spending time surfing the Internet can actually be beneficial to children. The study, which analyzed the Internet use of 120 parents and 140 children, found no negative effect on users’ social involvement or psychological well-being. In fact, researchers say that Internet use actually increased the children’s grade-point averages and standardized test scores.
As a parent, you are faced with the monumental task of monitoring the activities of your child in a world of virtually unlimited sources of information. One of the most expansive, confusing and frightening sources of information available to children today is the Internet.

You can take a number of steps to communicate the appropriate use of the Internet and other technologies to your child.

The Cyber Citizen Partnership offers these tips for setting Internet limits for your child:
Be aware of your child’s computer skills and interests. Remember that it takes only a little knowledge to wreak a lot of havoc. Often, kids will develop technical skills and look for ways to challenge themselves.
Focus your child’s interests. If you recognize that your child is interested in exploring computer technology, you can reinforce positive behavior and encourage positive applications of this interest. Ideas include encouraging emailing with friends and family to become comfortable with appropriate and respectful online communication; recommending that your child adopt a position of responsibility in school as a computer monitor to assist classmates with computer use; fostering creative computer use by developing a personal or family website; or suggesting participation in school or community programs that teach in-depth technological skills or offer challenging technical opportunities.

Explore the Internet together. Ask your child to teach you about the Internet, visit educational sites, email questions and participate in online discussions together.

Take advantage of teachable moments. ­ When events or activities arise that provide the right time and place to do so, take advantage of these moments to help your child understand the issues involved in good cyber citizenship. For example, take time to read news articles about hacking or cyber crime incidents to your child and discuss the impact it has had on those involved. Use personal situations to frame the context of these discussions (e.g., ask your child how cyber crimes or irresponsible online behavior could affect friends and family). Address cyber ethics messages as your child conducts research online or shares his experiences on computers at school.

Cyber Citizen Partnership
Michigan State University
University of California-Irvine

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sue Scheff: Safe Teen Driving Information

At holiday times - the busy roads can be frustrating for adult drivers, however for the inexperienced teen driver it could be potential dangerous. Parents, take a moment to educate yourself on Safe Teen Driving. Visit http://www.safeteendrivingclub.org/ for valuable, life saving information.

Parents: as your teen begins driving, you are entering the most dangerous phase of your entire child-rearing career.

You might have seen that comment elsewhere on our site. It bears repeating.

Teens are under the control and influence of parents. There is no more important factor that affects a teen's driving behavior than parents. Here are some excellent insights into parenting issues that we hope you'll find helpful.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sue Scheff: Next Generation Parenting - Innovative Parenting

Check out this new innovative parenting website - http://www.nextgenparenting.com/ - which offers great idea, parenting skills, parenting books, Blogs and more!

Parenting today has become more and more challenging. Whether it is Social Networking, Texting or some other new form of communication this New Generation of kids are using - we as parents need to keep informed and up to date!

Check out their NextGenBlog here: http://nextgenparenting.com/blog/

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sue Scheff: Drug Free America

Parenting today has become more challenging than ever. Social Networking is expanding a new area of concern for parents - and today more than ever, parents need to be informed and keep updated about substance abuse, teen drug use, huffing, drinking, inhalant use and other harmful habits. Peer pressure, the need to fit in - combined with kids suffering with low self esteem can lead to negative behavior.

Stay informed - visit http://www.drugfree.org/ to keep yourself educated.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit organization that unites parents, renowned scientists and communications professionals to help families raise healthy children. Best known for its research-based national public education programs, the Partnership motivates and equips parents to prevent their children from using drugs and alcohol, and to find help and treatment for family and friends in trouble. The centerpiece of this effort is an online resource center at drugfree.org, featuring interactive tools that translate the latest science and research on teen behavior, addiction and treatment into easy to understand tips and tools. Research conducted by AP and MTV recently showed that kids see their parents as heroes— at drugfree.org, parents can connect with each other, tap into expert advice for children of all ages, and find the support they want and need in their role as hero to their kids. The Partnership depends on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and other contributors. The Partnership thanks SAG/AFTRA, the advertising industry and our media partners for their ongoing generosity.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teen Peer Pressure

Peer Pressure leads to "Good Teens Making Bad Choices" which is very common today.

Teen Peer Pressure can be extremely damaging to a pre-teen or teen that is desperately trying to fit in somewhere – anywhere in their school. They are not sure what group they belong in, and those that are suffering with low self esteem can end up fitting more comfortably with the less than desirable peers. This can be the beginning of a downward spiral. When a child doesn’t have confidence of who they are or where they belong, it can lead to the place that is easiest to fit in – usually the not the best crowd.

Keeping your child involved in activities such as sports, music and school clubs can help give them a place where they belong. We always encourage parents to find the one thing that truly interests their child, whether it is a musical instrument, swimming, golf, diving, dance, chess club, drama, etc. It is important to find out what their interests are and help them build on it. Encourage them 100%. They don’t need to be the next Tiger Woods, but they need to enjoy what they are doing and keep busy doing it. Staying busy in a constructive way is always beneficial.

It is very common with many parents that contact us that their child has fallen into the wrong crowd and has become a follower rather than a leader. They are making bad choices, choices they know better however the fear of not fitting in with their friends sways them to make the wrong decisions. Low self esteem can attribute to this behavior, and if it has escalated to a point of dangerous situations such as legal issues, substance use, gang related activity, etc. it may be time to seek outside help. Remember, don’t be ashamed of this, it is very common today and you are not alone. So many parents believe others will think it is a reflection of their parenting skills, however with today’s society; the teen peer pressure is stronger than it ever has been. The Internet explosion combined with many teens Entitlement Issues has made today’s generation a difficult one to understand.

It is so important to find the right fit for your child if you are seeking residential treatment. We always encourage *local adolescent counseling prior to any Residential Treatment Programs or Boarding schools, however this is not always necessary. Many parents have an instinct when their child is heading the wrong direction. It is an intuition only a parent can detect. If something doesn't seem right, it usually isn't. If your gut is talking to you, you may want to listen or investigate what your child is doing.

Parents need to understand that teen peer pressure can influence adolescents in negative ways. Do you know who your child’s friends are?