Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sue Scheff: Inactive Teens




“Make time for [exercise] because once you get out of it, it’s so hard to get back in.”

– Tori, 16 years old

They run and play and participate in all sorts of sports. But what happens when little kids become teens?

“After a while, you just become like a couch potato,” says Tori, 16.

When she was a cheerleader in middle school, Tori got plenty of exercise. Now she’s 16, and she admits she hasn’t exercised regularly in years.

“I’m not physically fit,” she says. “I mean, I’m skinny, but I guess it’s just because I have a fast metabolism. But physically fit? Noooo!”

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed more than one thousand children aged 9 to 15.

97% were active when they were 9-years-old, but by the time they were 15, only 31% of teens were meeting the recommended sixty minutes of vigorous physical activity during the week. And only 17% met that target on the weekend.

The older they got, the less they exercised!

Experts speculate, for some it’s just laziness, for other, interests change, or they’re simply too busy.

Tori agrees: “School starts to get harder, and you get more homework, and you want to spend more time with your friends and you need more sleep.”

Still, experts warn that teens must find a way to remain active otherwise they risk becoming obese or sick later in life. Parents can help by getting involved in activities with their children.

“Whether it’s running and pulling a kite in the wind or going out throwing a Frisbee or going for a walk with your dog, if you incorporate those things, you’re just gonna have a better quality of life,” says Jon Crosby, an Atlanta-based sports and fitness trainer.

Tori’s advice to fellow teens: “Make time for [exercise] because once you get out of it, it’s so hard to get back in.”

Tips for Parents

Many studies have found similar results to the UC- San Diego study. University of Pittsburgh researchers report that as girls age, they increasingly get less and less exercise. In their study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers evaluated the exercise habits of 1,213 black girls and 1,166 white girls for 10 years, beginning at age 9 or 10. By the time the girls were 16 or 17, nearly 56% of the black girls and nearly 31% of the white girls reported no regular exercise participation at all outside of school.

While this study focused on teenage girls, other research shows that participation in physical activity is decreasing among all American children. The National Association for Sport & Physical Education reports that only 25% of all U.S. kids are physically active. And while most parents believe that their children are getting enough exercise during school hours, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) says that only 17% of middle or junior high schools and 2% of senior high schools require daily physical activity for all students.

As a result of this physical inactivity, more and more children are becoming obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13% of children aged 6 to 11 and 18% of teens aged 12 to 19 are overweight. These same overweight adolescents also have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults and are at an increased risk for developing health problems, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer. In fact, the PCPFS reports that physical inactivity contributes to 300,000 preventable deaths a year in the United States.

Besides preventing the onset of certain diseases, regular physical exercise can also help your child in the following ways, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Helps control weight
Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints
Improves flexibility
Helps burn off stress
Promotes psychological well-being
Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
As a parent, you need to emphasize to your child the importance of physical activity. This can often be a difficult task, as you may encounter some resistance from a child who enjoys sedentary activities like watching television and surfing the Internet. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the following guidelines for easing your child into an active lifestyle:

Don’t just tell your child that exercise is fun; show him or her! Get off the couch and go biking, rock climbing or inline skating with your child. Skip rope or shoot baskets with him or her.
Invite your child to participate in vigorous household tasks, such as tending the garden, washing the car or raking leaves. Demonstrate the value of these chores as quality physical activity.
Plan outings and activities that involve some walking, like a trip to the zoo, a nature hike or even a trip to the mall.
Set an example for your child and treat exercise as something to be done on a regular basis, like brushing your teeth or cleaning your room.
Concentrate on the positive aspects of exercise. It can be a chance for your family to have some fun together. Avoid competition, discipline and embarrassment, which can turn good times into bad times. Praise your child for trying and doing.

Keep in mind that your child is not always naturally limber. His or her muscles may be tight and vulnerable to injury during growth spurts. Be sure to include stretching as part of your child’s fitness activities.

Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. Instead of high-calorie foods and snacks, turn your child on to fruits and low- or non-fat foods.

If you discover that your teen is having trouble staying motivated to exercise, the American Academy of Family Physicians suggests these strategies:

Choose an activity that your child likes to do. Make sure it suits him or her physically, too.
Encourage your child to get a partner. Exercising with a friend can make it more fun.
Tell your child to vary his or her routine. Your child may be less likely to get bored or injured if he or she changes his or her exercise routine. Your child could walk one day and bicycle the next.
Ensure that your child is active during a comfortable time of day. Don’t allow him or her to work out too soon after eating or when it’s too hot or cold outside. And make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to stay hydrated during physical activity.
Remind your child not to get discouraged. It can take weeks or months before he or she notices some of the changes from and benefits of exercise.
Tell your child to forget “no pain, no gain.” While a little soreness is normal after your child first starts exercising, pain isn’t. He or she should stop if hurt.
With a little encouragement and help from you, your child will be up and moving in no time!

References
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Council on Exercise
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Association for Sport & Physical Education
Office of the Surgeon General
President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
The New England Journal of Medicine

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Teen Dating Violence







“I’ve never had one guy come into my life that hasn’t hurt me.”

– Jenny, 18 years old

Jenny, 18, has been hurt as many times as she’s been in love. At age 13, her boyfriend was physically abusive.

“He grabbed me by my neck one time, and I had fingerprints, bruising,” she explains.

Later, Jenny dated Mateo.

“He promised me, he said I promise you, I’ll never hurt you like they did,” Jenny says tearfully.

“And I promised her that, but I didn’t keep my promise,” Mateo, 17, admits. “Verbal abuse, emotional. You name it,” he says.

Research in the Journal of American Medicine finds that 42% of teens have been the victim of dating violence. 17% have been the perpetrator.

“Violent activity and dating violence begins early in adolescence; you know, begins when dating begins,” says psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Ponton, author of a book about the dating lives of teenagers.

She says too often kids are so excited to have their first boyfriend or girlfriend that they rush into a relationship. They become intimate too soon, before they even really get to know each other. By the time they know their partner is abusive, a lot of damage is already done.

Other research shows that girls in violent dating relationships are more likely to experiment with drugs, develop eating disorders and attempt suicide.

Experts say that parents must convince kids to slow down.

“By, I think, by actually setting up structures for kids to participate in where they get to know the people first before they’re off with them privately,” says Dr. David Fenstermaker, a clinical psychologist.

He suggests that group dates are safer. At the bowling alley, the water park or the ice rink, kids can get to know each other, and slowly discover what really lies in the heart of their date.

Tips for Parents



‘Dating violence’ may seem like a vague, murky term, but the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control defines ‘dating violence’ very specifically:

Dating Violence: “The perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship. This violence encompasses any form of sexual assault, physical violence, and verbal or emotional abuse.”

How often does dating violence happen? Estimates vary, but the NCIPC offers these statistics:

24% of 8th and 9th graders have been victims of nonsexual dating violence.



8% of 8th and 9th graders have been victims of sexual dating violence.



Among high school students, the average prevalence rate for nonsexual dating violence is 22%.
Among college students the rate is 32%.



27% of college females have been victims of rape or attempted rape since age 14.



Over half of 1,000 females at a large urban university surveyed said they had experienced some form of “unwanted sex.”



Women are 6 times more likely than men to experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner.



According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, teen dating violence follows a pattern which is similar to adult domestic violence. The major elements of this pattern are:

Violence that affects people from all socio-economic, racial and ethnic groups.



Repeated violence that escalates.



Violence that increases in severity the longer the relationship continues.



Violence and abusive behaviors are interchanged with apologies and promises to change.



Increase danger for the victim when trying to terminate the relationship.



Occurrence in heterosexual and gay and lesbian relationships.



How can you tell if your teenager may be suffering from dating violence? Here are some signs from the Massachusetts Department of Education.



Is your child involved with someone who:

Is overly possessive and demonstrating a real need to control
Is jealous to the extreme point where it becomes an obsession
Is into controlling your child’s everyday events
Is prone to violent outbursts
Is a person who has a history of poor relationships
Is infringing upon your child’s freedom to make choices for himself/herself
Is limiting the time your child spends with other people
Is using external pressure to influence decision making
Is into passing blame and denying their own mistakes
Is in the habit of using put downs or playing mind games
Is not a person who can be disagreed with easily
Is encouraging your child to keep secrets
Is causing your child to become more withdrawn



And for teenagers trying to get out of a violent relationship, the following advice from the Boulder (CO) Police Department:

Tell your parents, a friend, a counselor, a clergyman, or someone else whom you trust and who can help.



The more isolated you are from friends and family, the more control the abuser has over you.
Alert the school counselor or security officer. Keep a daily log of the abuse.



Do not meet your partner alone.
Do not let him or her in your home or car when you are alone.
Avoid being alone at school, your job, on the way to and from places.
Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.
Plan and rehearse what you would do if your partner became abusive.



References
National Center for Injury Protection and Control
Massachusetts Department of Education
Boulder (CO) Police Department
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sue Scheff: Military Schools are opening soon. A Great Opportunity for many Kids!


I hear from many parents at this time of the year that their children are struggling academically and they are considering Military Schools.

As a reminder, Military Schools are an excellent opportunity for boys and girls that need motivation and stimulation, however your child has to have somewhat of a desire to attend.These are not schools for at-risk or troubled kids.

I think Military Schools offer a great sense of responsibility and discipline for children.If you think your child may do well in a Military School take the time to research them. Email me for more information at http://www.helpyourteens.com/ - As a parent, my son attended a Military School and it was an excellent education and experience.

Monday, July 28, 2008

CBS4 Morning Show features Sue Scheff on Wit's End!


This morning I was on the CBS4 Jim and Jade in the Morning talking about my new book, Wit's End! Bringing awareness to parents that are considering residential therapy for their out-of-control teen as well as the giant organization, World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASPS)/Carolina Springs Academy - which I defeated in a jury trial as they attempted to silence me - however I fought back and you can learn from my mistakes and gain from my knowledge.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Parents Need to Take Time to Learn About Inhalant Use Among Teens Today


I know I have Blogged a lot about Inhalant Abuse and I will continue to do so - especially after reading about the recent senseless deaths. Take a moment to read their Blog at http://inhalant-info.blogspot.com/ - Take the time to learn more and you never know when this knowledge will be necessary. http://www.inhalant.org/

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Teen Body Image - How Does it Affect Your Teen?


By Sarah Maria
Sarah Maria is a body-image expert and personal empowerment specialist who helps people love their bodies no matter how they look. She leads workshops internationally and works one-on-one in consulting sessions to assist people in overcoming hatred and dissatisfaction with their bodies using holistic healing and spiritual principles. She’s a certified meditation teacher, Yoga instructor, and Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor. Contact her at sarah@breakfreebeauty.



Be sure to sign up for her Newsletters and Radio Show at http://www.breakfreebeauty/ - you won’t want to miss how you can start believing in yourself and empowering yourself and your teen to feel good about who you are.
Body Image in Teens

If you’re in high school, most of your friends are probably on a diet. A recent study shows that 90% of junior and senior girls are on a diet regularly, even though only 10-15% are actually overweight.

The modeling industry also promotes the idea that you need to diet and exercise religiously. Fashion models are actually thinner than 98% of American women. An average woman stands 5′4″ tall and weighs about 140 lbs, while the average fashion model is a towering 5′11″ tall and weighs under 117 lbs.

In reality no amount of dieting, exercise and discipline can earn you a magazine cover-ready body because those photos have been Photo Shopped, doctored and airbrushed. Don’t waste your time attempting to be what you are not, instead; focus on cultivating who you are!
Body Image TipsAs you progress through puberty and your high school years, your body changes as fast as your favorite ringtones. But learning to appreciate your body and have positive self image is a task that few adults have even mastered. Here are some tips to help you learn to love yourself:

Learn to Cook- It is never too early to learn to cook. In just a few years, you will be on your own and you will be expected to feed and take care of yourself. Get some practice at home by preparing some family meals or meals for just yourself. Try some new foods by looking through cookbooks and online. Impress your friends by having a dinner party. This also helps you understand how food functions within a regular diet. Learn how to cook healthily so you can eat healthily, but don’t spend too much time worrying about food!

Don’t Diet!- Dieting is a great way to ruin your eating habits and your relationship with food and your body. Instead, learn about healthy eating and exercise habits. The healthy habits you learn while you are young will serve you throughout your life!

People Watch- Go to the mall or a public space and people watch. How many are fat or thin? How tall are most women? Men? What do you like or dislike about people’s styles, looks or body type? How much of their appearance is “style” and how much is their actual body types?
Cultivate the ability to see style and beauty in everyone. As you learn to do this, you can be a trend-setter instead of a trend-follower.

Keep it Real- Remember, people only pick the best photos to be on their MySpace or Facebook page. Remind yourself that they all have bad hair days, the occasional zit or an unflattering outfit choice.

Stay Well Rounded- Sign up for activities that you have never tried. Join an intramural sport or speech meet. Build up your college resume by participating in extracurricular activities. It’s a great way to broaden your social circle and prepares you for college or a job.

Be a Trend Setter- Don’t just follow the crowd - create your own crowd by being a trend setter. Find your own style and look by experimenting with your hair, makeup and clothing. What is your look trying to say? Does it match what you want people to think about you? Someone has to set the trends. Why not you?

Learn to meditate- It is never too early to learn to meditate. You will find that this is a skill you can use all your life. By focusing inward, it is easier to distill the truth rather than listening to outside influences. It will also help you manage the stress of your busy life.

Parental Tips
If you are a parent of a teen, you know the challenges of living with an emotional, possibly aloof teenager who begs for guidance but disregards most of what you say. Their alternating moods and attitudes make approaching a touchy subject like body image feels dangerous. The following are some tips to help with a positive body image:

Have an Open Door Policy-You’d like your teen to approach you with any problem she is facing but often you aren’t sure if she’s coming to you, going to her friends or suffering alone.
Encourage regular candid conversation by noticing what times and places your teen is most likely to talk. Is she a night owl? Does she talking on a long drive? Is she more comfortable emailing? Use the time and venue that is most comfortable for her and encourage open sharing.

Limit Harmful Media- Put your teen daughter on a media diet. Don’t feel you need to restrict website, magazine or TV shows entirely. Just be cautious of what mediums she concentrates on. Be especially mindful of any one celebrity that she idolizes or photos that she tears out and stares at repeatedly. Discuss how all magazine photos are airbrushed and doctored.

Compliment Her and Her Friends- Make a point to compliment both your daughter and her friends on a well-put together outfit or a new hair style. Teens are trying on new looks and personalities as their bodies change. Let them know that they have hit on a good look when they experiment in the right direction.

Make sure to compliment them on things not related to their appearance as well. A good grade, a valiant sports effort or kind deed also deserve notice. Try to practice a 90/10% rule. Let 90% of your comments and insights be positive and only 10% should be carefully worded constructive criticism.

Resources:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pot in the Summer




“During the summer, I went out more. And during the school year, I was focused on my homework and stuff, and the summer was mostly just a time for me to relax and just chill out and go party.”

– Angelique, 18

For most teens, the summer brings sun, swimming and maybe some extra time spent on the skateboard. But for others, the season marks the time when they first try pot.

“Beginning of summer, first day of summer, in fact,” says Sarah, who’s 19.

“It was during the summer because then we could stay out later and a lot of other kids were out of school, too,” 18-year-old Angelique adds.

In fact, studies show 40 percent of teens who smoke marijuana first tried the drug during the summer.

“They have a lot of free time. A lot of kids are bored during the summer. They’ve got nothing to do. So the fact that a lot of kids are starting to get into things they shouldn’t and experiment isn’t surprising at all,” says addiction counselor Dr. Robert Margolis, who serves as executive director of Solutions Counseling in Atlanta.

Experts say for that reason, parents should keep their children busy during the summer break.

“I think they ought to ask themselves do they have any plan going into the summer for their kids. What are their kids going to do? Are they going to get a job? Are they going to maybe go study someplace … are they going to have something that’s structured to do?” Dr. Margolis says.

He says that regardless of their own personal experiences when they were young, parents should explain the dangers of marijuana, especially at the beginning of the summer.

“What parents need to understand is that this is a very harmful, addictive drug that ruins people’s lives. And they better be prepared with facts to discuss this with their kids,” Dr. Margolis says.

Talks with her parents, and her doctor, finally convinced Angelique to stop smoking marijuana.

“Like they’re more dangerous than cigarettes and all that stuff. I didn’t know that,” she says.

Tips for Parents

The summer months often bring more freedom to teens. But many of them abuse this freedom, as evidenced by data released by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse that shows 40% of teens first try marijuana during the summer. In fact, about 5,800 teens try marijuana for the first time each day in June and July.

According to the C-D-Cs annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report more than 38% of teens report having use marijuana in their life. Nearly 20% admitted to smoking pot within the past 30 days. 8% of kids tried marijuana prior to turning 13 years of age.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the prevalence of drug use can, in part, be attributed to the overall perceptions and attitudes that drug use – particularly that of marijuana – is not harmful and is insignificant. Yet, those who choose to use this substance do risk developing serious health problems. The NIDA says that marijuana is responsible for the following physical effects in a user:

THC – the main chemical in marijuana – changes the way in which sensory information gets into and is acted on by particular systems in the brain. The system most affected is the limbic system, which is crucial for learning, memory and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. Investigations have shown that THC suppresses neurons in the information-processing system of the brain.
A person who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers develop. The individual may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke.
Regardless of the THC content, the amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers. This may be due to marijuana users inhaling more deeply and holding the smoke in the lungs.
In order for parents to help curb the growing problem of marijuana use among teens, they must first understand the dangers involved in using the drug. The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign cautions parents to be aware of the following points about marijuana use:

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among youth today.
More teens enter treatment for marijuana abuse each year than for all other illicit drugs combined.
Marijuana is addictive.
Marijuana use can lead to a host of significant health, social, learning and behavioral problems at a crucial time in a young person’s development.
Adolescent marijuana users show lower academic achievement compared to non-users.
Even short-term marijuana use has been linked to memory loss and difficulty with problem-solving.
Time and again, kids say that their parents are the single most important influence when it comes to using drugs.
As a parent, how can you determine if your teen is using marijuana? According to the NIDA, you should look for the following symptoms associated with marijuana use:

Appears dizzy and has trouble walking
Seems silly and giggly for no reason
Has very red or blood shot eyes
Has trouble remembering events that have just occurred
Although these symptoms will fade within a few hours of use, other significant behavioral changes – including withdrawl, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends – may signal that your teen is in trouble. If your teen is using drugs, he or she may also experience changes in academic performance, have increased absenteeism, lose interest in sports or other favorite activities and develop different eating or sleeping habits.

Whether or not you suspect your child is using marijuana, it is crucial that you discuss the issue at an early age. The experts at DrugHelp suggest following these steps when discussing tough issues, like drug abuse, with your child:

Create a climate in which your child feels comfortable approaching you and expressing his or her feelings.
Don't shut off communication by responding judgmentally, saying, "You're wrong" or "That's bad."
Give your child an opportunity to talk.
Show your interest by asking appropriate questions.
Listen to what your child has to say before formulating a response.
Focus on what your child has to say, not on language or grammar.
Use probing questions to encourage a shy child to talk.
Identify areas of common experience and agreement.
Leave the door open for future conversations
References
DrugHelp
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why is this Child so Distressed?



By Jane Hersey
Author of "Why My Child Can't Behave"


Many things can lead to the development of behavior problems in children, and there are many ways to address them.

If the reasons for a child's problems stem from a family situation, interaction with peers, events at school, etc., then the place to look for resolution is clearly there. But if the child has always been hard to parent, the answers might be as close as your kitchen pantry. Here are some children whose families have found answers in their kitchen.

Joshua had a history of social and behavior problems and was expelled from several day care centers and private schools. He did not cope well in special classrooms with a ratio of six children and three teachers. His diagnoses included: severe ADHD, ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), Tourette syndrome and mood disorder syndrome. He was angry, aggressive, compulsive, threatening to kill others and himself, and nothing helped. The counseling, drugs, and even the psychiatric facility did not impact on his downward spiral.

Betsy was only 7 years old, but was haunted by thoughts of death; one of the pieces of art work she brought home from school was a black paper with three tombstones, bearing the initials of her parents and herself. She quietly planned on ways that she could end her life, which held no joy for her despite a loving family that desperately tried to help her.

Sean was expelled from preschool for his violent aggression and uncontrollable behavior. His family tried a therapeutic preschool, and he was at risk of being kicked out of a hospital treatment center because even they could not deal with this little boy's behavior. No amount of medicine controlled his “bi-polar behavior” and psychotic episodes, and his parents were told that Sean was “seriously mentally ill” and would require life-long support.

Frank had a history of violent behaviors and at age 17 it was only a matter of time before he would be incarcerated. But he heard about a special diet and decided he wanted to try it. His meeting with the doctor who was using this diet to help children like Frank, Sean, Betsy and Joshua meant flying from Tennessee to California. Because his mother was afraid of him, Frank's older brother accompanied him to visit with the doctor, Ben Feingold, who was chief of allergy at the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in California.

Dr. Feingold discovered that some of the many chemicals routinely added to foods have the ability to affect any system of the body, including the brain. When a child is predisposed to be sensitive to these chemicals, they can wreak havoc. In order for a brain to function well, there are many chemical and electrical processes that must work appropriately; in other words, a lot things have to “go right.” When you add in a potent chemical such as an illicit drug (or even a legal one) our brain chemistry can be dramatically affected. Our bodies handle food additives and drugs in a similar manner.

All of these children described above have stories with happy endings once the offending chemicals were identified and removed. Joshua is an outstanding young man who has won numerous honors in school, in sports, and is a leader in an Air Force program for future officers.

Betsy is a normal, happy girl, Frank is a successful adult and Sean has no remnants of any “permanent mental disorder.” In fact, his mom reports he has recently joined the church choir.

Our bodies are composed of the food we eat; this is where we obtain nutrients of all types, including essential fatty acids, trace minerals and the many vitamins a healthy human body requires. But more and more children are no longer consuming food. Instead they are existing on a diet of synthetic substances that do not deliver the needed components to keep bodies working well and keep our brains operating rationally. These so-called foods might look like real food, fooling our eyes. They might even taste like food, fooling out taste buds. But our bodies are not fooled and when they do not receive the nutrients they need in order to function, things begin to go wrong. In addition to the nutrients they do not receive children today are ingesting a chemical stew of foodless ingredients, many of which are derived from crude oil (petroleum).

Dr. Feingold's experience with troubled children showed that there are a few food additives that appear to be the worst offenders, and removing them brought about significant – often dramatic – changes in behavior, mood, and the ability to focus and learn. These additives include synthetic food dyes (such as Yellow 5 and Red 40); they are created from crude oil, and most of the dyes added to our food start out in petroleum refineries in China. Common preservatives, artificial flavors and even fragrances typically are created from petroleum; rose petals no longer are the source of those pretty scents!

The Feingold diet has been helping families for decades, and the non-profit Feingold Association continues to offer information and support to those who want to learn more. Parent volunteers show others how they can find the foods they enjoy, but minus the unwanted additives; most of them are available at neighborhood supermarkets. See www.feingold.org .

In addition to removing the offensive additives, researchers have found the many benefits of adding supplements to nutrient-starved bodies.

Researchers at Oxford University have shown that the behavior of young male prisoners calmed down when their diet was supplemented with a combination of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (EFAs). Other British research has shown the dramatic benefits of the EFAs, including help for children with ADHD and autism. In the US EFA research has been ongoing at Purdue University for many years.

When nourishing food was given to teens in juvenile detention facilites the improved behavior was documented. And when the Appleton Alternative High School in Wisconsin switched from the usual school food to fresh, healthy food, the behavior problems evaporated and learning improved.

Another risk factor for children with behavior and learning problems.

The drugs that are generally given to children with these problems offer additional concerns. While they may bring about improvements, they are not risk-free. The Food and Drug Administration now requires ADHD drugs to carry warning labels that some children might have reactions that include:

psychotic behavior, depression, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, violence, as well as a host of health effects including cancer, liver damage, strokes and heart attacks.

Risk factors with antidepressants and related drugs

Psychotropic drugs are routinely given to children who are diagnosed as depressed, bi-polar, etc., and these also carry warnings that side effects can include depression and violent behaviors. It can be difficult to sort out whether a behavior is originating within the child or is a side effect of some of the medications he is taking. The fact that all of these drugs are now being given to children who are still infants raises many red flags. Who knows what long-term effects they will have?

While it's comforting to think that only a minority of children experience the most dangerous reactions, the number of children now being medicated means that a minority can be a very large number of children. (It has been estimated that 10% of all 10-year-old boys in the United States are now on drugs for ADHD.)

A new awareness in Europe

The scientific evidence for the harm caused by petroleum-based food dyes is now so compelling that the British government is seeking to ban them and the European Parliament has voted to require warning labels on foods that contain them. While dyes are not the only additives that can cause adverse reactions, they are the most notorious, the easiest to replace, and offer no value to the consumer.

So, for the child whose behavior has gone over the edge, or if you worry that your youngster is on this path, one simple change that you can implement with no risk, very little cost, and relatively small effort, is to replace those mixes, cookies, candies, sodas, and fast food with nearly-identical versions that are free of the worst of the additives. And while you're at it, try eating the good food yourself; every parent needs to have their brain cells working at optimum levels as they deal with that temporary insanity called “adolescence.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

10 Quick Parenting Tips for Parents by Sue Scheff


1. Communication: Keeping the lines of communication of your child should be a priority with all parents. It is important to let your kids know you are always there for them no matter what the subject is. If there is a subject you are not comfortable with, please be sure your child has someone they can open up to. I believe that when kids keep things bottled up, it can be when negative behaviors can start to grow.

2. Knowing your Children’s Friends: This is critical, in my opinion. Who are your kids hanging out with? Doing their homework with? If they are spending a lot of time at a friends house, go out of your way to call the parent introduce yourself. Especially if they are spending the night at a friends house, it important to take time to call the parents or meet them. This can give you a feeling of security knowing where your child is and who they are with.


3. Know your Child’s Teachers – Keep track of their attendance at school: Take time to meet each teacher and be sure they have your contact information and you have theirs if there are any concerns regarding your child. In the same respect, take time to meet your child’s Guidance Counselor.

4. Keep your Child Involved: Whether it is sports, music, drama, dance, and school clubs such as chess, government, school newspaper or different committees such as prom, dances and other school activities. Keeping your child busy can keep them out of trouble. If you can find your child’s passion – whether it is football, soccer, gymnastics, dance, music – that can help keep them focused and hopefully keep them on track in school.


5. Learn about Internet Social Networking: In today’s Cyber generation this has to be a priority. Parents need to help educate their kids on Cyber Safety – think before they post, help them to understand what they put up today, may haunt them tomorrow. Don’t get involved with strangers and especially don’t talk about sex with strangers. Avoid meeting in person the people you meet online without you being there. On the same note – cell phone and texting – don’t allow your child to freely give out their cell numbers and never post them online. Parents should consider ReputationDefender/MyChild www.reputationdefender.com/mychild to further help protect their children online.

6. Encourage your teen to get a job or volunteer: In today’s generation I think we need to instill responsibility and accountability. This can start early by encouraging your teen to either get a job or volunteer, especially during the summer. Again, it is about keeping them busy, however at the same time teaching them responsibility. I always tell parents to try to encourage their teens to get jobs at Summer Camps, Nursing Homes, ASPCA, Humane Society or places where they are giving to others or helping animals. It can truly build self esteem to help others.


7. Make Time for your Child: This sounds very simple and almost obvious, but with today’s busy schedule of usually both parents working full time or single parent households, it is important to put time aside weekly (if not daily at dinner) for one on one time or family time. Today life is all about electronics (cell phones, Ipods, Blackberry’s, computers, etc) that the personal touch of actually being together has diminished.

8. When Safety trumps privacy: If you suspect your teen is using drugs, or other suspicious behaviors (lying, defiance, disrespectful, etc) it is time to start asking questions – and even “snooping” – I know there are two sides to this coin, and that is why I specifically mentioned “if you suspect” things are not right – in these cases – safety for your child takes precedence over invading their privacy. Remember – we are the parent and we are accountable and responsible for our child.


9. Are you considering outside treatment for your child? Residential Therapy is a huge step, and not a step that is taken lightly. Do your homework! When your child’s behavior escalates to a level of belligerence, defiance, substance abuse or God forbid gang relations – it may be time to seek outside help. Don’t be ashamed of this – put your child’s future first and take steps to get the help he/she needs – immediately, but take your time to find the right placement. Read Wit’s End! www.witsendbook.com for more information.

10. Be a parent FIRST: There are parents that want to be their child’s friend and that is great – but remember you are a parent first. Set boundaries – believe it not kids want limits (and most importantly – need them). Never threaten consequences you don’t plan on following through with.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sue Scheff - Defining Gateway Drugs


Kids today have much more societal pressure put upon them than their parents generation did, and the widespread availability of drugs like methamphetamines and the "huffing" trend (which uses common household chemicals as drugs) can turn recreational use of a relatively harmless gateway drug into a severe or fatal addiction without warning.

The danger of gateway drugs increases in combination with many prescription medications taken by teens today. These dangerous side effects may not be addressed by your child's pediatrician if your child is legally too young to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Drugs like Ritalin, Prozac, Adderrall, Strattera, Zoloft and Concerta can be very dangerous when mixed with recreational drugs and alcohol. Combining some prescription medications with other drugs can often negate the prescription drug's effectiveness, or severely increase the side effects of the drug being abused. For example, a 2004 study by Stanford University found that the active chemical in marijuana, THC, frequently acted as a mental depressant as well as a physical depressant. If your child is currently on an anti-depressant medication like Prozac or Zoloft, marijuana use can counterbalance their antidepressant effects.

Other prescription anti depressants and anti psychotics can also become severely dangerous when mixed with alcohol. This is why is imperative that you as a parent must familiarize yourself with any prescription medications your child is taking and educate your child of the dangers of mixing their prescription drugs with other harmful drugs- even if you don't believe your child abuses drugs or alcohol.

Marijuana - Why It is More Dangerous Than You Think
Parents who smoked marijuana as teenagers may see their child's drug use as a harmless rite of passage, but with so many new and dangerous designer drugs making their way into communities across the country, the potential for marijuana to become a gateway to more dangerous drugs for your child should not be taken lightly.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug by both teens and adults. The drug is more commonly smoked, but can also be added to baked goods like cookies or brownies. Marijuana which is ingested orally can be far more potent than marijuana that is smoked, but like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana can cause lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and other chronic conditions of the lungs. Just because it is "all natural" does not make it any safer for your lungs.

Marijuana is also a depressant. This means the drug slows down the body's functions and the messages the body sends to the brain. This is why many people who are under the influence of marijuana (or "stoned") they are often sluggish or unmotivated.

Marijuana can also have psychological side effects, both temporary and permanent. Some common psychological side effects of marijuana are paranoia, confusion, restlessness, hallucinations, panic, anxiety, detachment from reality, and nausea. While these symptoms alone do not sound all that harmful, put in the wrong situation, a teen experiencing any of these feelings may act irrationally or dangerously and can potentially harm themselves or others. In more severe cases, patients who abuse marijuana can develop severe long-term mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Tobacco - Just Because It Is Legal Doesn't Mean It Is Safe
While cigarettes and tobacco are considered "legal", they are not legal for teens to posses or smoke until they are 18. Still, no matter the age of your child, smoking is a habit you should encourage them to avoid, whether they can smoke legally or not.

One of the main problems with cigarettes is their addictive properties. Chemicals like nicotine are added to tobacco to keep the smoker's body craving more, thus insuring customer loyalty. This is extremely dangerous to the smoker, however, as smoking has repeatedly proven to cause a host of ailments, including lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchial infection, asthma and mouth cancer- just to name a few.

In addition to nicotine, cigarettes contain over 4000 other chemicals, including formaldehyde (a poisonous compound used in some nail polishes and to preserve corpses), acetone (used in nail polish remover to dissolve paint) carbon monoxide (responsible for between 5000 to 6000 deaths annually in its "pure" form), arsenic (found in rat poison), tar (found on paved highways and roads), and hydrogen cyanide (used to kill prisoners sentenced to death in "gas chambers").

Cigarettes can also prematurely age you, causing wrinkles and dull skin, and can severely decay and stain teeth.

A new trend in cigarette smoke among young people are "bidi's", Indian cigarettes that are flavored to taste like chocolate, strawberry, mango and other sweets. Bidi's are extremely popular with teens as young as 12 and 13. Their sweet flavors and packaging may lead parents to believe that they aren't "real" cigarettes or as dangerous as brand-name cigarettes, but in many cases bidi's can be worse than brand name cigarettes, because teens become so enamored with the flavor they ingest more smoke than they might with a name brand cigarette.

Another tobacco trend is "hookah's" or hookah bars. A hookah is an ornate silver or glass water pipe with a fabric hoses or hoses used to ingest smoke. Hookahs are popular because many smokers can share one hookah at the same time. However, despite this indirect method of ingesting tobacco smoke through a hose, hookah smoking is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke.

The Sobering Effects of Alcohol on Your Teen
Alcohol is another substance many parents don't think they need to worry about. Many believe that because they don't have alcohol at home or kept their alcohol locked up, their teens have no access to it, and stores or bars will not sell to minors. Unfortunately, this is not true. A recent study showed that approximately two-thirds of all teens who admitted to drinking alcohol said they were able to purchase alcohol themselves. Teens can also get alcohol from friends with parents who do not keep alcohol locked up or who may even provide alcohol to their children.

Alcohol is a substance that many parents also may feel conflicted about. Because purchasing and consuming alcohol is legal for most parents, some parents may not deem it harmful. Some parents believe that allowing their teen to drink while supervised by an adult is a safer alternative than "forcing" their teen to obtain alcohol illegally and drinking it unsupervised. In theory, this does sound logical, but even under adult supervision alcohol consumption is extremely dangerous for growing teens. Dr. John Nelson of the American Medical Association recently testified that even light alcohol consumption in late childhood and adolescence can cause permanent brain damage in teens. Alcohol use in teens is also linked with increased depression, ADD, reduced memory and poor academic performance.

In combination with some common anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, the effects of just one 4 oz glass of wine can be akin to that of multiple glasses, causing the user to become intoxicated much faster than someone not on anti depressants. Furthermore, because of the depressant nature of alcohol, alcohol consumption by patients treated with anti-depressants can actually counteract the anti-depressant effect and cause the patient sudden overwhelming depression while the alcohol is in their bloodstream. This low can continue to plague the patient long after the alcohol has left their system.

Because there are so many different types of alcoholic beverage with varying alcohol concentration, it is often difficult for even of-age drinkers to gauge how much is "too much". For an inexperienced teen, the consequences can be deadly. Binge drinking has made headlines recently due to cases of alcohol poisoning leading to the death of several college students across the nation. But binge drinking isn't restricted to college students. Recent studies have shown teens as young as 13 have begun binge drinking, which can cause both irreparable brain and liver damage.

It is a fact that most teenage deaths are associated with alcohol, and approximately 6000 teens die each year in alcohol related automobile accidents. Indirectly, alcohol consumption can severely alter teens' judgment, leaving them vulnerable to try riskier behaviors like reckless stunts, drugs, or violent behavior. Alcohol and other drugs also slow response time, leaving teenage girls especially in danger of sexual assault. The temporary feeling of being uninhibited can also have damaging future consequences. With the popularity of internet sites like MySpace and Facebook, teens around the country are finding embarrassing and indecent photos of themselves surfacing online. Many of these pictures were taken while the subjects were just joking around, but some were taken while the subjects were drunk or under the influence of drugs. These photos are often incredibly difficult to remove, and can have life altering consequences. Many employers and colleges are now checking networking sites for any reference to potential employees and students, and using them as a basis to accept or decline applicants!

Monday, July 21, 2008

(Sue Scheff) Body Image in Teens by Sarah Maria




If you're in high school, most of your friends are probably on a diet. A recent study shows that 90% of junior and senior girls are on a diet regularly, even though only 10-15% are actually overweight.

The modeling industry also promotes the idea that you need to diet and exercise religiously. Fashion models are actually thinner than 98% of American women. An average woman stands 5'4" tall and weighs about 140 lbs, while the average fashion model is a towering 5'11" tall and weighs under 117 lbs.

In reality no amount of dieting, exercise and discipline can earn you a magazine cover-ready body because those photos have been Photo Shopped, doctored and airbrushed. Don't waste your time attempting to be what you are not, instead; focus on cultivating who you are!

Body Image Tips
As you progress through puberty and your high school years, your body changes as fast as your favorite ringtones. But learning to appreciate your body and have positive self image is a task that few adults have even mastered. Here are some tips to help you learn to love yourself:

Learn to Cook- It is never too early to learn to cook. In just a few years, you will be on your own and you will be expected to feed and take care of yourself. Get some practice at home by preparing some family meals or meals for just yourself. Try some new foods by looking through cookbooks and online. Impress your friends by having a dinner party. This also helps you understand how food functions within a regular diet. Learn how to cook healthily so you can eat healthily, but don't spend too much time worrying about food!

Don't Diet!- Dieting is a great way to ruin your eating habits and your relationship with food and your body. Instead, learn about healthy eating and exercise habits. The healthy habits you learn while you are young will serve you throughout your life!

People Watch- Go to the mall or a public space and people watch. How many are fat or thin? How tall are most women? Men? What do you like or dislike about people's styles, looks or body type? How much of their appearance is "style" and how much is their actual body types? Cultivate the ability to see style and beauty in everyone. As you learn to do this, you can be a trend-setter instead of a trend-follower.

Keep it Real- Remember, people only pick the best photos to be on their MySpace or Facebook page. Remind yourself that they all have bad hair days, the occasional zit or an unflattering outfit choice.

Stay Well Rounded- Sign up for activities that you have never tried. Join an intramural sport or speech meet. Build up your college resume by participating in extracurricular activities. It's a great way to broaden your social circle and prepares you for college or a job.

Be a Trend Setter- Don't just follow the crowd - create your own crowd by being a trend setter. Find your own style and look by experimenting with your hair, makeup and clothing. What is your look trying to say? Does it match what you want people to think about you? Someone has to set the trends. Why not you?

Learn to meditate- It is never too early to learn to meditate. You will find that this is a skill you can use all your life. By focusing inward, it is easier to distill the truth rather than listening to outside influences. It will also help you manage the stress of your busy life.


Parental Tips
If you are a parent of a teen, you know the challenges of living with an emotional, possibly aloof teenager who begs for guidance but disregards most of what you say. Their alternating moods and attitudes make approaching a touchy subject like body image feels dangerous. The following are some tips to help with a positive body image:

Have an Open Door Policy-You'd like your teen to approach you with any problem she is facing but often you aren't sure if she's coming to you, going to her friends or suffering alone. Encourage regular candid conversation by noticing what times and places your teen is most likely to talk. Is she a night owl? Does she talking on a long drive? Is she more comfortable emailing? Use the time and venue that is most comfortable for her and encourage open sharing.

Limit Harmful Media- Put your teen daughter on a media diet. Don't feel you need to restrict website, magazine or TV shows entirely. Just be cautious of what mediums she concentrates on. Be especially mindful of any one celebrity that she idolizes or photos that she tears out and stares at repeatedly. Discuss how all magazine photos are airbrushed and doctored.

Compliment Her and Her Friends- Make a point to compliment both your daughter and her friends on a well-put together outfit or a new hair style. Teens are trying on new looks and personalities as their bodies change. Let them know that they have hit on a good look when they experiment in the right direction.

Make sure to compliment them on things not related to their appearance as well. A good grade, a valiant sports effort or kind deed also deserve notice. Try to practice a 90/10% rule. Let 90% of your comments and insights be positive and only 10% should be carefully worded constructive criticism.

Resources:

Health AtoZ: Is it a Diet or an Eating Disorder?


Eating Disorder Statistics
http://www.freewebs.com/anadeath/statistics.htm

Sunday, July 20, 2008

(Sue Scheff) National Crime Prevention Council - Impact of Cyberbullying


Victims of cyberbullying may experience many of the same effects as children who are bullied in person, such as a drop in grades, low self-esteem, a change in interests or depression. However, cyberbullying can seem more extreme to its victims because of several factors:

Occurs in children’s home. Being bullied at home can take away the place children feel most safe.

Can be harsher. Often kids say things online that they wouldn’t say in person, mainly because they can’t see the other person’s reaction.

Far reaching. Kids can send e-mails making fun of someone to their entire class or school with a few clicks, or post them on a Web site for the whole world to see.

Anonymity. Cyberbullies often hide behind screen names and e-mail addresses that don’t identify who they are. Not knowing who is responsible for bullying messages can add to a victim’s insecurity.

May seem inescapable. It may seem easy to get away from a cyberbully by going offline, but for some kids not going online takes away a major place to socialize.

Source: National Crime Prevention Council.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Daily Routines for Kids


Take the nagging out of parenting!

Find it hard to “Get out the door” on time in the morning? Want to end those bedtime battles? Want your kids to be more independent?

On·Task On·Time for Kids takes the nagging out of parenting. Designed by a mom
of triplets plus one, this unique time management system supplies 52 full-color task
stickers to organize three routines: Morning (getting ready for school), Afternoon
(transitioning from school to home activities), and Evening (getting ready for bed).
Individualized routines are put together by parents and children to fit their life style.

Daily routines are created by applying task stickers to a Routine Disk. The Routine
Disk is inserted onto the On·Task Timer Unit and the child sees what tasks should
be completed, what tasks should be done now, and what tasks are coming up next.

Parents don’t need to remind or nag. The words, “Oops, I forgot!” are a thing of
the past. Turn normally stressful, transition times into self-esteem building
experiences. A reward chart is included to acknowledge success and independence.
On·Task On·Time for Kids is designed for children between the ages of five and
twelve, and is available with girl or boy illustrations.


Visit http://www.timelymatters.com/ for more information. I recently was made aware of this informational website.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Tease Proof Your Preteen with ADHD

Source ADDitude Magazine

By Carol Brady, PhD.

Practicing social skills at home will make school a much friendlier place for your child with ADHD.

During a recent visit to a school, I noticed a student, Danny, roughhousing with a classmate. The boy said, “Stop it,” but Danny laughed and continued, seemingly oblivious to his friend’s irritation. When questioned later about this interchange, Danny responded, “He likes it when we play rough.”

Later that day, Danny was clueless as to why he was teased and called “loser” by his offended friend.

In 2001, the New York University Child Study Center conducted a survey of 507 parents. It found that kids with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) were nearly three times more likely to have difficulty getting along with, and more than twice as likely to get picked on by, peers, compared to children without ADHD.

Danny’s situation provides an illuminating look at why this may be so: Danny thought both he and his friend were having fun. He didn’t notice any nonverbal clues, so he didn’t take his friend’s verbal request to stop seriously.

Danny’s friend, on the other hand, interpreted Danny’s boisterous behavior as intentionally irritating, so he lashed out at him with hurtful words.

You may recall the classic saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The truth of the matter is that words can hurt - deeply. The most heart-wrenching stories I’ve heard from preteen patients relate to their being teased by peers. All children in the “in-between” years are susceptible to bullying by classmates, but kids who have ADHD may receive a disproportionate amount. If a child faces mean words and acts on a regular basis, the effects take their toll on his schoolwork and overall happiness.

Provide social cues
AD/HD behaviors, such as frequent interrupting and lack of standard social etiquette, may be misinterpreted as intentionally hurtful. Other behaviors simply provide easy targets for teasing during the precarious middle-school years. These behaviors may include: poor eye contact, too much activity, both verbal and nonverbal, and failure to notice social cues. Misinterpretation of such behaviors often causes trouble for both the AD/HD child and his schoolmates.

Parents can help their preteens hold back the tide of teasing by teaching social skills at home. Practice maintaining eye contact during short conversations. Emphasize the importance of using transitional expressions when greeting or leaving friends, such as “Hi” and “Bye,” and of saying “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” Ask your child to try counting to five in his head before making any comments or responding during a conversation. This five-second margin will reduce inappropriate verbal blurting and help teach him to become a better listener.

If preteens do not see how they may draw negative attention, they may come away from social interactions feeling that they are hopelessly and inexplicably disliked. Parents may advise their children to “just ignore it,” but this strategy can be difficult for AD/HD students. As you help your child build social skills, continue to listen to her problems. Provide a forum to discuss interactions and help her come up with her own strategies for dealing with the teasers of the world. Involve your child in activities at which he can be successful. Respond to your preteen when he shows what an interesting, loyal, and compassionate person he is becoming. Reinforce connections to his friends who show positive qualities. Tell about your own childhood (or present-day!) encounters with hurtful people and share your solutions.

Promote values of compassion
Young people take cues from those around them. Compassion may not be the strongest suit for many preteens, but school can be an ideal setting for changing this paradigm.

An episode from my ADD daughter’s time in junior high school makes the case for involving administrators and students in maintaining a friendly environment at school. The girls at the lunch table saw a student hiding another girl’s purse. When the girl found that her purse was missing, she began to cry. The principal called all the girls at the table in to her office. Although the offending child confessed to “playing a joke,” the principal asked each one of the girls at the table to perform one act of kindness every day that week for the victim of the teasing. The principal explained that, by doing nothing about an act of unkindness, they were part of the problem.

This intervention made a big impression on the girls, who came to understand that supporting an atmosphere of “compassion” was part of the school’s mission. The secret preteen understanding - “don’t get involved and don’t be a tattletale or you will be next” - was turned on its head. These girls learned that this doesn’t apply when you see targets of teasing.

That “magical, protective shield” that we all wish for our children must be built over time. While no single technique can eliminate the teasing words or actions that hurt feelings, there’s a lot that parents and teachers can do to help.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Teen Smoking Decline Stops


By Connect with Kids

“I don’t know if it’s peer pressure or what, but I do think people are smoking a lot more than they used to.”

– Travis, age 16

After years of dramatic declines in the number of teen smokers, experts say that decline might be reaching a plateau.

“[This change] obviously raises a lot of concern for us,” says Corinne Husten, M.D., the Acting Director with the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A casual survey of teenagers seems to confirm the news.

“Most of my friends smoke,” says 18-year-old Arien.

“More people doing it,” adds Travis, “more people asking you for a cigarette.”

“Everyone I know smokes or whatever,” explains 17-year-old Teri.

In fact, the study finds that 20 percent of teens have smoked a cigarette in the last 30 days. And more than 50 percent have tried smoking.

Experts say a big reason for the change in smoking rates among teenagers is that less money has been spent on anti-smoking campaigns than in recent years – and that many kids aren’t getting that message.

“Right now only four states are funding their tobacco control programs at the minimum level recommended by the CDC,” explains Dr. Husten.

It’s all the more important, she says, that kids hear an anti-smoking message at home.

But often, that’s not the case.

“A lot of time parents I think have a laissez-faire attitude toward tobacco,” says Dr. Husten, “They say ‘well it’s not hard drugs, they’re not drinking and driving’. But actually tobacco is highly addictive; the kids experiment, they’re hooked on it before they even realize that, and then they spend their lives trying to stop.”

She says parents should talk regularly about the dangers of cigarettes, and “reinforcing that by saying we aren’t going to allow smoking in our home, we are going to go to smoke-free restaurants. So it’s not like the parent’s saying, well, this is bad for you but it’s okay for me. It’s saying this is something none of us should be doing.”


Tips for Parents

Research shows that a vast majority of smokers began when they were children or teenagers. While recent legislation has helped reduce smoking, it still remains an important health concern. Consider the following statistics from the U.S. Surgeon General:

Approximately 80 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18.
More than 5 million children living today will die prematurely because of a decision they make as adolescents – the decision to smoke cigarettes.
An estimated 2.1 million people began smoking on a daily basis in 1997. More than half of these new smokers were younger than 18. This boils down to every day, 3,000 young people under the age of 18 becoming regular smokers.

Nearly all first uses of tobacco occur before high school graduation.

Most young people who smoke are addicted to nicotine and report that they want to quit but are unable to do so.

Tobacco is often the first drug used by young people who use alcohol and illegal drugs.

Among young people, those with poorer grades and lower self-image are most likely to begin using tobacco.

Over the past decade, there has been virtually no decline in smoking rates among the general teen population. Among black adolescents, however, smoking has declined dramatically.

Young people who come from low-income families and have fewer than two adults living in their household are especially at risk for becoming smokers.

Encourage your child to join an anti-smoking group and support him/her in kicking the habit. If you are currently a smoker, you should also try to stop. Children look to their parents for support and strength; taking the anti-smoking journey alongside your child can be a huge benefit. In addition to attending the meetings, The Foundation for a Smoke-Free America offers these suggestions:

Develop deep-breathing techniques. Every time you want a cigarette, do the following three times: Inhale the deepest breath of air you can and then, very slowly, exhale. Purse your lips so that the air must come out slowly. As you exhale, close your eyes, and let your chin gradually drop to your chest. Visualize all the tension leaving your body, slowly draining out of your fingers and toes — just flowing on out. This technique will be your greatest weapon during the strong cravings smokers feel during the first few days of quitting.

During the first week, drink lots of water and healthy fluids to flush out the nicotine and other toxins from your body.

Remember that the urge to smoke only lasts a few minutes, and then it will pass. The urges gradually become further and further apart as the days go by.

Do your very best to stay away from alcohol, sugar and coffee the first week (or longer) as these tend to stimulate the desire for a cigarette. Also, avoid fatty foods, as your metabolism may slow down a bit without the nicotine, and you may gain weight even if you eat the same amount as before quitting. Discipline regarding your diet is extra important now.

Nibble on low calorie foods like celery, apples and carrots. Chew gum or suck on cinnamon sticks.
Stretch out your meals. Eat slowly and pause between bites.

After dinner, instead of a cigarette, treat yourself to a cup of mint tea or a peppermint candy. Keep in mind, however, that in one study, while 25 percent of quitters found that an oral substitute was helpful, another 25 percent didn’t like the idea at all – they wanted a clean break with cigarettes. Find what works for you.

Go to a gym, exercise, and/or sit in the steam of a hot shower. Change your normal routine – take a walk or even jog around the block or in a local park. Get a massage. Pamper yourself.
Ask for support from coworkers, friends and family members. Ask for their tolerance. Let them know you’re quitting, and that you might be edgy or grumpy for a few days. If you don’t ask for support, you certainly won’t get any. If you do, you’ll be surprised how much it can help.
Ask friends and family members not to smoke in your presence. Don’t be afraid to ask. This is more important than you may realize.

On your “quit day,” remove all ashtrays and destroy all your cigarettes, so you have nothing to smoke.

If you need someone to talk to, call the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-Quit. Proactive counseling services by trained personnel are provided in sessions both before and after quitting smoking.

Find a chat room online, with people trying to quit smoking. It can be a great source of support, much like a Nicotine Anonymous meeting, but online.

Attend your anti-smoking meetings. If there are no meetings in your city, try calling (800) 642-0666, or check the Nicotine Anonymous website link below. There you can also find out how to start your own meeting. It’s truly therapeutic to see how other quitters are doing as they strive to stop smoking.

Write down ten good things about being a nonsmoker and ten bad things about smoking.
Don’t pretend smoking wasn’t enjoyable. Quitting smoking can be like losing a good friend – and it’s okay to grieve the loss. Feel that grief.

Several times a day, quietly repeat to yourself the affirmation, “I am a nonsmoker.” Many quitters see themselves as smokers who are just not smoking for the moment. They have a self-image as smokers who still want a cigarette. Silently repeating the affirmation “I am a nonsmoker” will help you change your view of yourself. Even if it seems silly to you, this is actually useful.

Here is perhaps the most valuable information among these points: During the period that begins a few weeks after quitting, the urge to smoke will subside considerably. However, it’s vital to understand that from time to time, you will still be suddenly overwhelmed with a desire for “just one cigarette.” This will happen unexpectedly, during moments of stress, whether negative stress or positive (at a party, or on vacation). Be prepared to resist this unexpected urge, because succumbing to that “one cigarette” will lead you directly back to smoking. Remember the following secret: during these surprise attacks, do your deep breathing and hold on for five minutes; the urge will pass.

Do not try to go it alone. Get help, and plenty of it.

References
American Cancer Society
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Foundation for a Smoke-Free America
Nicotine Anonymous

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Feingold Program/Diet - Is It Right For Your Child?


I have always heard of the Feingold Program/Diet and how it truly helps ADD/ADHD children. As a parent of an ADHD son, I know the struggles of debating medications versus diet. However as a single parent of two, it was not fesible for me to consider the Feingold Program at the time. Now with all their new updated information - the program is designed for the parents on the go. Take time to review http://www.feingold.org/ and learn more about how your child’s diet can affect their behavior.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What is Inhalant Abuse? The Dangers...


Inhaled chemicals are rapidly absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream
and quickly distributed to the brain and other organs. Within minutes, the user
experiences intoxication, with symptoms similar to those produced by drinking
alcohol. With Inhalants, however, intoxication lasts only a few minutes, so some
users prolong the “high” by continuing to inhale repeatedly.


Short-term effects include:

headaches, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, severe
mood swings and violent behavior, belligerence, slurred speech, numbness and
tingling of the hands and feet, nausea, hearing loss, visual disturbances, limb
spasms, fatigue, lack of coordination, apathy, impaired judgment, dizziness,
lethargy, depressed reflexes, stupor, and loss of consciousness.
The Inhalant user will initially feel slightly stimulated and, after successive
inhalations, will feel less inhibited and less in control. Hallucinations may
occur and the user can lose consciousness. Worse, he or she, may even die.
Please see Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome below.


Long-term Inhalant users generally suffer from:

weight loss, muscle weakness,
disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability and depression.
Different Inhalants produce different harmful effects, and regular abuse of these
substances can result in serious harm to vital organs. Serious, but potentially
reversible, effects include liver and kidney damage. Harmful irreversible effects
include: hearing loss, limb spasms, bone marrow and central nervous system
(including brain) damage.


Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome:

Children can die the first time, or any time, they try an Inhalant. This is
known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. While it can occur with many
types of Inhalants, it is particularly associated with the abuse of air conditioning
coolant, butane, propane, and the chemicals in some aerosol products. Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome is usually associated with cardiac arrest. The Inhalant causes the heart to beat rapidly and erratically, resulting in cardiac arrest.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Struggling Teens, Troubled Teens, At Risk Teens, by Sue Scheff

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?
• ADD/ADHD/LD/ODD?
• Is your teen involved in legal problems? Have they been arrested?
• Juvenile Delinquent?
• Conduct Disorder?
• Bipolar?
• 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 http://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

http://www.helpyourteens.com/
http://www.witsendbook.com/
http://www.suescheff.com/

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Binge Drinking and Teens by Connect with Kids


“There’s this idea that drinking, getting drunk, being a part of a group … is somehow a part of our growing up, and everybody’s going to do it.”

– Robert Margolis, Ph.D., clinical psychologist

Binge drinking is considered to be a rite of passage for teenagers across the country. “I drank a liter of tequila in an hour, and I went to this pizza place, and I passed out in the parking lot. I woke up the next morning,” remembers Cleophus Randolph, a 22-year-old college student.

Suzanne Graham had a similar experience: “This summer I went kind of crazy, the summer after senior year, I passed out in someone’s backyard. It was not good, and I was throwing up pretty heavily the next day and all that night.”

The consequences can range from sickness to far worse — “where they don’t get a second chance because they get alcohol poisoning. Their heart rate and their body metabolism slows down and, for whatever reason, they don’t recover from it. If you drink enough alcohol you die,” explains Dr. Robert Margolis, clinical psychologist.

His advice is to set clear boundaries for your children. Tell them what to expect, teach them how to say no, and, most of all, start early. He says middle school is the perfect time. “Those are the years when you really need to start talking about those messages, so you can help them form appropriate expectations about drinking, particularly in regard to important issues like, you can be accepted without having to drink.”

Dr. Margolis empathizes with parents who feel they’re standing alone against a part of the culture that believes teenage drinking is inevitable. “There’s this idea that drinking, getting drunk, being a part of a group, that we’re all gonna go out and get drunk, is somehow a part of our growing up, and everybody’s going to do it.”

And, sadly every year some kids die — an estimated 1,400 students die from alcohol related causes. Another 500,000 suffer serious injuries. In fact, getting “wasted” is so common that some kids even think it’s funny, like 18-year-old Jason Morgan: “I’ve had friends just outside the door, heaving. It wasn’t bad, it was a good time for most, and entertaining for the sober people to laugh at them, so it was pretty fun.”

Tips for Parents

Research defines binge drinking as having five or more drinks in a row. Reasons adolescents give for binge drinking include: to get drunk, the status associated with drinking, the culture of drinking on campus, peer pressure and academic stress. Binge drinkers are 21 times more likely to: miss class, fall behind in schoolwork, damage property, injure themselves, engage in unplanned and/or unprotected sex, get in trouble with the police, and drink and drive.

Young people who binge drink could be risking serious damage to their brains now and increasing memory loss later in adulthood. Adolescents may be even more vulnerable to brain damage from excessive drinking than older drinkers. Consider the following:

The average girl takes her first sip of alcohol at age 13. The average boy takes his first sip of alcohol at age 11.

Underage drinking causes over $53 billion in criminal, social and health problems.

Seventy-seven percent of young drinkers get their liquor at home, with or without permission.

Students who are binge drinkers in high school are three times more likely to binge drink in college.

Nearly 25 percent of college students report frequent binge drinking, that is, they binged three or more times in a two-week period.

Autopsies show that patients with a history of chronic alcohol abuse have smaller, less massive and more shrunken brains.

Alcohol abstinence can lead to functional and structural recovery of alcohol-damaged brains.
Alcohol is America’s biggest drug problem. Make sure your child understands that alcohol is a drug and that it can kill him/her. Binge drinking is far more pervasive and dangerous than boutique pills and other illicit substances in the news. About 1,400 students will die of alcohol-related causes this year. An additional 500,000 will suffer injuries.

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that 51 percent of male college students and 40 percent of female college students engaged in binge drinking in the previous two weeks. Half of these drinkers binged frequently (more than three times per week). College students who binge drink report:

Interruptions in sleep or study habits (71 percent).
Caring for an intoxicated student (57 percent).
Being insulted or humiliated (36 percent).
An unwanted sexual experience (23 percent).
A serious argument (23 percent).
Damaging property (16 percent).
Being pushed, hit or assaulted (11 percent).
Being the victim of a sexual advance assault or date rape (1 percent).

Students must arrive on college campuses with the ability to resist peer pressure and knowing how to say no to alcohol. For many youngsters away from home for the first time, it is difficult to find the courage to resist peer pressure and the strength to answer peer pressure with resounding no. Parents should foster such ability in their child's early years and nurture it throughout adolescence. Today’s youth needs constant care from parents and community support to make the best decisions for their wellbeing.

References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Harvard School of Public Health
National Youth Violence Prevention Center

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sue Scheff: Web Friends over Real Friends


“All of these kinds of social worlds helps develop their ability to interact with people, and particularly, to do things like post a comment that might be a little controversial for example, and see what kind of reactions they get.”

– Larry Rosen, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

Like many teens, Matt has tons of friends online. “My buddy list is full. It over 200 people in there. And it’s just all these people that have the same interests as me that I would have never met, if I just, you know, that don’t go to my school. They’re just around the country.”

According to a recent online survey, one in four kids say their internet friendships are equally or more important than friends met in person.

“Yeah, I mean, like. Cause of the internet, I’ve, you know, that’s where I found my social group, and I really kinda found out about myself,” agrees Matt.

But are these relationships healthy?

Experts say, on one hand, they give kids an opportunity to try out different personalities without consequence. “Kids are struggling to find out who they are. And who they are is in a lot of dimensions,” explains Professor of Psychology, Dr. Larry Rosen. “Who they are personally, what their skills are, but mostly it’s who they are in a social context, and that’s why these online social worlds like MySpace, all of these kinds of social worlds helps develop their ability to interact with people, and particularly, to do things like post a comment that might be a little controversial for example, and see what kind of reactions they get.”

But, on the other hand, Rosen says, like most things in life moderation is key.

“Because being in the virtual world, being in front of a screen all day is not sufficient for good teenage socialization. You need to have a combination of a screen life, and a real life,” he explains. “And so a good parent will make some sort of boundaries that say okay, you can have screen time, but after a certain amount of screen time you have to have some real outdoor time. Or some real communication time. And you can’t talk on the phone, it has to be face to face. You have to come talk to me, you have to go outside and hang out with some friends – you have to do something that’s in the real world.”

Tips for Parents

Most adults have an Internet-usage history that dates back no more than ten to fifteen years. But those growing up since the emergence of the Internet potentially could have their entire lives documented online. New parents can post online baby books for under $15 annually. Images once stored on a bookshelf at Grandma’s house can be available to the world without password protection. With Bunk1, the same can be said for memories of summer camp.

It is increasingly common for teens to have their own website. Many of these sites have a “blog”, where the owner can post running thoughts on a daily basis. Although some sites, like MySpace.com and LiveJournal.com, require users to be registered, membership is free and easy to obtain. If your child has a blog, encourage them to protect their blog so that can be read only by the friends and family they approve. Consider the following …

Only 10 percent of families posting their baby’s photos have the site protected with a password.
Many employers and colleges will enter a prospective applicant’s name in an Internet search engine to research their web presence.

Remind your child that not only friends and strangers, but also his or her parents, will be reading the blog.

Regularly monitor your child’s blog and immediately discuss any uncomfortable or inappropriate posts with your child.

It is very important to discuss various aspects of safety with your child, including the Internet and availability of information. Cite modern advances that have changed the world within the child’s lifetime and memory. Explain to your child that while your embarrassing photos and writings might be stored in a closet, an attic or even at Grandma’s home, the electronic versions your child might have will be much more accessible to anyone interested. Also, keep the following in mind:

If you do opt to post family photos online, be sure to place the images on a secure, password-protected site.

Search for names on an Internet search engine with your child to show him/her the possible places his/her information could be found.

Show your child how far e-mails, especially jokes and chain messages, can travel.

Monitor your child’s web usage and posts. An online diary usually does not have the same rights to privacy as a bound, handwritten journal because the online version is accessible to members of the public outside your home.

Know what posts, if any, you are able to delete from your child’s blog.

References
A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety
Pew Internet and American Life Project
Kids Help Phone