Sunday, August 31, 2008

Academic Pressure

School is open - great tips for parents and their kids with academic stress.

Source: Connect with Kids

“You have to keep things in perspective. Academics are only a part of your life.”

– Zachary, 14

“Well, I’m getting all A’s, so that’s good,” he says.

He has won awards for academic achievement, including one for having the highest grade-point average. But what happens if someday Zachary doesn’t perform well in school?

“Part of me is always worried about that,” says his mother, Jen Yu. “Some day, when he hits that roadblock, is he gonna be able to accept it, or is it gonna be something, you know, that really bothers him a lot?”

While that may not be a problem for Zachary, yet, more and more kids are experiencing anxiety about being perfect in school.

According to the latest State of our Nation’s Youth report, 79 percent of teens say the pressure to get good grades is a problem. That’s up from 62 percent in 2001.

45 percent polled say that pressure is “major”, up from 19 percent.

Experts say, for many teens, even when they do well, they still think they could do better.

“The problem is that they will always be anxious. They will always fail. Even when they have a 4-point average they will always fail in their own eyes and they can’t ever relax,” explains Dr. Allen Carter, a psychologist.

He says parents should help kids understand being perfect isn’t realistic and help them create balance in their lives- beyond academics.

Zachary’s parents encourage him to learn music, play games and simply relax.

“You have to keep things in perspective,“ Zachary says. “Academics are only a part of your life, and they should only stay a part of it and not become your whole life.”

Tips for Parents

Even children who earn high marks at school may be suffering emotional distress and anxiety due to the high expectations they have set for themselves, according to a study from Smith College. In a study of 36 children in third through fifth grades, researchers found that children who rated high on perfectionism exhibited significantly more anxiety and dissatisfaction with their performance on computer tasks than their low-perfectionism peers, even when both groups performed equally well. In fact, the perfectionist kids predicted they would perform less well than the low-perfectionism kids. Lead researcher Patricia DiBartolo says the problem is not that kids are setting high standards; rather, they become too distressed and are not able to accept the mistakes they make in the course of learning.

“Perfectionistic kids get caught in a vicious cycle. When approaching a task or project, they feel less able to succeed, get anxious and then evaluate their performance more negatively than their non-perfectionistic peers,” DiBartolo said.

How big of a problem is perfectionism in childhood? According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, perfectionism is recognized as a “common correlate” of social anxiety disorder. Nationally, 1% (nearly 400,000) of children between the ages of 10 and 18 suffer from a clinical level of social anxiety disorder. Counselors at the University of Dundee associate the following negative feelings, thoughts and beliefs with perfectionism:

Fear of failure: Perfectionists often equate failure to achieve their goals with a lack of personal worth or value.
Fear of making mistakes: Perfectionists often equate mistakes with failure. In orienting their lives around avoiding mistakes, perfectionists miss opportunities to learn and grow.
Fear of disapproval: If they let others see their flaws, perfectionists often fear that they will no longer be accepted. Trying to be perfect is a way of trying to protect themselves from criticism, rejection and disapproval.
All-or-none thinking: Perfectionists frequently believe that they are worthless if their accomplishments are not perfect. Perfectionists have difficulty seeing situations in perspective. For example, a straight A student who receives a B might believe, “I am a total failure."
Overemphasis on “shoulds”: Perfectionists' lives are often structured by an endless list of “shoulds" that serve as rigid rules for how their lives must be led. With such an overemphasis on shoulds, perfectionists rarely take into account their own wants and desires.
Believing that others are easily successful: Perfectionists tend to perceive others as achieving success with a minimum of effort, few errors, emotional stress and maximum self-confidence. At the same time, perfectionists view their own efforts as unending and forever inadequate.
As a parent, how can you determine if your child has problems with perfectionism? Experts at the University of Texas cite the following guidelines comparing a perfectionist to a healthy striver:

Perfectionist
Healthy Striver

Sets standards beyond reach and reason
Is never satisfied by anything less than perfection
Becomes dysfunctionally depressed when experiences failure and disappointment
Is preoccupied with fear of failure and disapproval, which can deplete energy levels
Sees mistakes as evidence of unworthiness
Becomes overly defensive when criticized
Sets high standards but just beyond reach
Enjoys process as well as outcome
Bounces back from failure and disappointment quickly and with energy
Keeps normal anxiety and fear of failure and disapproval within bounds, using them to create energy
Sees mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning
Reacts positively to helpful criticism


The first step in changing your child’s perfectionistic attitudes to healthy striving is to help him or her realize that perfectionism is undesirable. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests teaching your child the following strategies to change the behaviors and thoughts that fuel his or her perfectionism:

Set realistic and reachable goals based on your own wants and needs and what you have accomplished in the past. This step will enable you to achieve and also will lead to a greater sense of self-esteem.
Set subsequent goals in a sequential manner. As you reach a goal, set your next goal one level beyond your present level of accomplishment.
Experiment with your standards for success. Choose any activity and instead of aiming for 100%, try for 90%, 80% or even 60% success. This step will help you to realize that the world does not end when you are not perfect.
Focus on the process of doing an activity not just on the end result. Evaluate your success not only in terms of what you accomplished but also in terms of how much you enjoyed the task. Recognize that value exists in the process of pursuing a goal.
Use feelings of anxiety and depression as opportunities to ask yourself, “Have I set up impossible expectations for myself in this situation?"
Confront the fears that may be behind your perfectionism by asking yourself, “Of what am I afraid? What is the worst thing that could happen?"
Recognize that many positive things can only be learned by making mistakes. When you make a mistake ask, “What can I learn from this experience?" More specifically, think of a recent mistake you have made and list all the things you can learn from it.
References
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans
Smith College
University of Dundee
University of Texas
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Saturday, August 30, 2008

High School Transition

Source: Connect with Kids

“(My sons are) scared and you’re nervous and you want to fit in. And hopefully they’ll come home and talk about it. And I know Kyle was worried about getting beaten up…and that’s the first time he’s mentioned that.”

– Carrie Bickwit, mother

Kyle and grant have spent the summer playing,

But now high school is just a few days away.

“As it gets closer it gets more… it hits me more that it’s that close,” says Kyle, 13.

“I’m a little nervous about all the homework,” admits twin brother Grant, “Everyone’s saying about how it’s going to be twice as much as middle school.”

Kyle worries about fitting in…

“I’m kind of shy,” he says, “And if you’re in with people you don’t really know, you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake and that’ll ruin you.”

Psychologist Nancy McGarrah, Ph.D., says there are plenty of kids who share Kyle and Grant’s concerns. “I hear a lot of headaches and stomach aches this time of year, because they are so anxious about going to school,” she says.

To help a child gear up academically, experts recommend a little extra reading the last several days before school begins.

“We’re actually doing a pre-reading book report and right now it’s taking a while ‘cause it’s summer and my brain’s off,” says Grant.

For a child worried about fitting in…experts suggest find a friend with an older son or daughter who’s been through it all…

“To tell them that this is going to be short lived,” says Dr. McGarrah, “This is going to be somewhat painful but it’s something you adjust to pretty quickly.”

Next, as soon as school starts, join a club, or activity- any small group where you can make friends.

“In a big school it’s even more important, because you really can feel lost in the crowd.”

Finally, whatever their fears or anxieties…

“I think it’s important to reassure them,” says Dr. McGarrah, “To tell them first of all that all kids feel that way. Even the kid that you look at as the most successful, attractive kid is probably feeling that way.”

Tips for Parents

Ninth grade is a time of great change in many students’ lives. They are either the “big men on campus” or else they are on the bottom of the totem pole. As the debate rages on as to whether ninth graders should be in middle or high school, experts have developed advantages and disadvantages to keeping ninth graders in the same school with the sixth, seventh and eight grades.

Advantages:

Ninth graders can have a leadership role that they would not enjoy in a senior high school setting.

The difference in age between age 14 (ninth grade) and age 18 (twelfth grade) is so great that it can be difficult for some ninth graders to adjust.

Some ninth graders are too young and immature to be placed with senior high school students.
The four-year stay in one school facilitates better relationships for students, staff and parents than a shorter stay.
Disadvantages:

Ninth graders are more like tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders because most have gone through puberty.

Separating ninth graders from tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders limits curriculum and extracurricular offerings for them.

The younger children, especially the sixth graders, may want to imitate the ninth graders and grow up too fast.

Ninth graders will experience a variety of new skills and milestones. It is always good for parents to have some idea of what their student is going through, and the following list should help.

Intellectual Skills – Higher expectations coincide with his/her own increasing abilities. He/she will have interests that span farther and wider than ever, in addition to a greater awareness and curiosity about the world around him/her. An example of your teenager’s expanding intellect is his/her newfound skill of deductive reasoning.

Social Skills – Your adolescent is becoming less egocentric in his/her views, and that gives a greater ability to compromise, to stay composed when he/she's in disagreement with someone and to be generally more tolerant and even-tempered. His/her view of the world will settle first on the friends he/she has around him/her.

Emotional changes – While your ninth-grader is less self-conscious than he/she has been in the past couple of years, he/she is most likely still uncertain about how he/she measures up. Physical appearance matters greatly to him/her, as well as how they're developing.
Challenges – Your student will encounter many challenges throughout the ninth grade year, and the most common ones are academic failure, eating too much or too little, struggling with abstinence versus teenage sex and adjusting to a bigger school.

References
U.S. Department of Education
Family Education Network
Parent Soup
Partnership for a Drug Free America

Friday, August 29, 2008

Teens and Peer Pressure by Sue Scheff


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?


Visit http://www.helpyourteens.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Teen Substance Abuse by Sue Scheff


With today's society, kids have access to many different substances that can be addictive and damaging. If you suspect your child is using drugs or drinking alcohol, please seek help for them as soon as possible. Drug testing is helpful, but not always accurate. Teen Drug use and Teen Drinking may escalate to addiction.


We get calls constantly, that a child is only smoking pot. Unfortunately in most cases, marijuana can lead to more severe drugs, and marijuana is considered an illegal drug. Smoking marijuana is damaging to the child's body, brain and behavior. Even though marijuana is not considered a narcotic, most teens are very hooked on it. Many teens that are on prescribed medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera, Concerta, Zoloft, Prozac etc. are more at risk when mixing these medications with street drugs. It is critical you speak with your child about this and learn all the side effects. Educating your child on the potential harm may help them to understand the dangers involved in mixing prescription drugs with street drugs. Awareness is the first step to understanding.


Alcohol is not any different with today's teens. Like adults, some teens use the substances to escape their problems; however they don't realize that it is not an escape but rather a deep dark hole. Some teens use substances to "fit in" with the rest of their peers – teen peer pressure. This is when a child really needs to know that they don't need to "fit in" if it means hurting themselves. Using drug and alcohol is harming them. Especially if a teen is taking prescribed medication (refer to the above paragraph) teen drinking can be harmful. The combination can bring out the worse in a person. Communicating with your teen, as difficult as it can be, is one of the best tools we have. Even if you think they are not listening, we hope eventually they will hear you.


If your teen is experimenting with this, please step in and get proper help through local resources. If it has extended into an addiction, it is probably time for a Residential Placement. If you feel your child is only experimenting, it is wise to start precautions early. An informed parent is an educated parent. This can be your life jacket when and if you need the proper intervention. Always be prepared, it can save you from rash decisions later.


A teen that is just starting to experiment with substance use or starting to become difficult; a solid short term self growth program may be very beneficial for them. However keep in mind, if this behavior has been escalating over a length of time, the short term program may only serve as a temporary band-aid.


Drugs and Alcoholic usage is definitely a sign that your child needs help. Teen Drug Addiction and Teen Drinking is a serious problem in today’s society; if you suspect your child is using substances, especially if they are on prescribed medications, start seeking local help. If the local resources become exhausted, and you are still experiencing difficulties, it may be time for the next step; Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center.


Visit http://www.helpyourteens.com/ for more information.

Monday, August 25, 2008

College Confidence with ADD by Michael Sandler



Everything You Need to Know to Find Success in College and Beyond


While college is a challenge for any student, the increased workload, complexity, freedom and competing demands make it particularly daunting for those students with Attention Deficit Disorder. But you need not be overwhelmed and you can succeed!


College Confidence with ADD will help you turn obstacles into opportunities and overcome social, academic, financial, and personal challenges both in and out of the classroom. Whether your goal is to get into the school of your choice, improve your grades, survive the experience, gain guidance and direction, or springboard into the future of your dreams, this comprehensive and essential guide will help you succeed.


Perfect for ADD students and parents alike.
Ideal for busy lives and whirring minds.


Also available in audiobook format as an immediatedownload.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sue Scheff: Cutting versus Suicide


Parents may initially wonder if their teen is cutting to attempt suicide; after all, some suicide attempts look very similar. Parents who see scars on their teen’s arms before they are aware that their teen is cutting can easily be lead to this conclusion, but typically, teens who cut are not trying to kill themselves. Cuts from self injurers are typically much more superficial than cuts from an attempted suicide. There may be many smaller cuts on a cutter, whereas a suicide attempt would more likely yield fewer deep cuts and fewer scars. Cutters do not typically want to die, just to express their pain in some way other than verbally. Still, cutting has obvious dangers that should not be ignored.

First and foremost there is still the danger your teen can go too far with cutting. A vein or artery can be hit by accident causing major blood loss, which can kill your teen if they cannot stop the bleeding quick enough. Your teen may also develop a serious infection to the site of their cuts, which can in turn infect their bloodstream and weaken their immune system. They can also contract a blood borne illness if they share cutting implements with friends or do not properly clean implements after using them. Cutting among friends may seem like a stretch, but is becoming increasingly common, much like ‘epidemic’ drug use that is shared among friends and peers. Sharing cutting implements increase your teen’s risk of contracting diseases like hepatitis and HIV, which can be a death sentence in themselves. Failure to properly clean instruments used in cutting can lead to the development of tetanus in your teen, which while usually vaccinated for can still develop if vaccinations are not kept up to date, and can even be fatal if not treated in time.

Even if your teen successfully stops cutting, he or she may experience lingering physical affects of the disorder which may continue to complicate life long after the cutting has ended. The most superficial of these complications is scarring. While scars will most likely not cause any future health threats, your teen will have to live with the physical reminder of his or her cutting years every day of his or her life. These scars can complicate any number activities and social experiences, especially when people who are unaware of your teen’s previous cutting notice the scars. Your teen may be faced with uncomfortable questions, and may have trouble answering them. Scars left behind from cutting can often act as a reminder of the pain your teen endured to prompt them to cut in the first place, and while plastic surgery can often hide these scars; there are many cases when it cannot.

There can also be long-term effects of any illnesses that cutters may contract, from sharing implements or not properly cleaning implements used only by your teen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Problem Parents Contribute to Teen Drug Use


Source: LA Times
A survey on substance abuse among teens was released this morning that really lowers the boom on parents. The annual survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University calls out parents for contributing to drug and alcohol use among kids ages 12 to 17. Some parents fail to monitor their children's activities, do not safeguard medications at home that can be used for abuse, and do not set good examples for their kids, the report said. Almost half of the teens surveyed -- a nationally representative sample of 1,002 teens and 312 of their parents -- said they leave the house to hang out with friends on school nights. Among those teens, half who come home after 10 p.m. said they had been drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or doing other drugs. Just under 30% of those who come home between 8 and 10 p.m. said they had been drinking or using drugs. In contrast, only 14% of the parents said their teens leave the house to hang out with friends on school nights.
Who is telling the truth? The report suggests that parents are pretty clueless about their kids' schedules and how they spend their free time.


"Every mother and father should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are doing the parenting essential to help their child negotiate the difficult teen years free of tobacco, alcohol and drugs," said Elizabeth Planet, CASA's director of special projects.


CASA president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph A. Califano said this:


"Preventing substance abuse among teens is primarily a mom and pop operation. It is inexcusable that so many parents fail to appropriately monitor their children, fail to keep dangerous prescription drugs out of the reach of their children and tolerate drug infected schools. The parents who smoke marijuana with children should be considered child abusers. By identifying the characteristics of problem parents we seek to identify the actions that parents can take -- and avoid -- in order to become part of the solution and raise healthy, drug-free children."


No one said parenting was easy, and parents in the survey said overwhelmingly that it's harder today to keep kids safe and raise them with good moral character than it was in previous generations. Resources to help and support parents are available, such as those that can be found on the CASA website. Also, try the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Youth Anti-Drug media campaign for more resources.


It would probably be helpful for all of us who are parents to get our heads out of the sand. Times change, and the culture kids are growing up in today is different from back in our day. For example, the survey also found these hair-raising trends:


For the first time in the survey's 13-year history, more teens said prescription drugs were easier to buy than beer.


42% of the teens said they can buy marijuana in a day or less.


One-quarter of teens said they know a parent of a classmate or friend who uses marijuana and 10% of those teens said this parent smokes marijuana with teens.


Half of the teens ages 16 and 17 said that among their age group smoking marijuana is more common than smoking cigarettes.


Of the teens who drink, almost 30% said their drink of choice was hard liquor mixed with soda or something sweet compared with 16% who said they prefer beer.
-- Shari Roan

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teens Sneaking into R-Rated Movies

Source: Connect with Kids

“I certainly think parents are misled many time by their youngsters.”

– Betsy Gard, Ph.D., Psychologist

Young teens say it is easy to get into R-rated movies.

“Yea, [I] just snuck in,” admits 14-year-old Nik.

“Me and my friends, we always sneak into R-rated movies,” says 14-year-old Rebecca.

Usually no one tries to stop them, but if they do, kids know the secret.

“I got a ticket to a different movie and then I went into the other one five minutes after the movie starts,” said 13-year-old Chantelle Williams.

“There was a huge group of people, and I just got in the middle and we all huddled through,” explains 13-year-old Travis.

Experts worry, saying movies are uniquely engaging. For two hours, kids are held captive in the reality of that movie. That means the R-rated sex and violence have more power than television or video games to change how they think or even act.

“You are really engaged in that movie. You are sort of there,” says Dr. Betsy Gard, psychologist. “Therefore it’s going to have more of an impact.”

“I don’t know because we might think that’s cool and stuff, I don’t know, and start doing that kind of stuff,” says Rebecca.

Gard recommends if you find out your child has seen a movie against your wishes, first see the movie yourself so you can talk to your youngster about why you did not like the movie and why it is not good for them.

“You basically say ‘for a while now you’re not going to be able to go to the movies independently or to the mall’,” says Gard. “I’m going to have to supervise you more carefully so that I can build the trust back in you.”

Tips for Parents

Teens sneak into movies using a variety of different methods. Some create or buy fake IDs, others try to bribe the ticket box office worker (usually a school friend) while others purchase tickets for a G-rated movie, enter the theater and then sneak into the R-rated film of their choice. Often, these schemes work. If they do not, there are no repercussions because there are no laws that punish either teens or theaters. In fact, theaters are under no legal obligation at all to enforce the rating system.

Teens do not have to work very hard to see R-rated movies. Parents or older friends often purchase the tickets for them. So what is the point of this rating system and why was it created in the first place?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences created the ratings system in 1968 as a guide for parents and moviegoers. The system is sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theater Owners to provide parents with advanced information on the films. This allows parents to make informed decisions on whether their child is capable of handling the film.

The movie ratings are decided by parents, part of a committee called the film rating board of the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA). As a group, they view each film and after a group discussion vote on its rating, making an educated estimate as to the rating most American parents would consider the most appropriate. In making their decision, the film board looks at certain criteria such as:

Movie theme
Language
Violence
Nudity
Sex
Drug use
Understanding what the ratings mean can help you determine whether you child should view a specific movie. CARA provides the following explanations for each rating:

G-Rating. General Audience. All ages admitted. This signifies the film rated contains nothing most parents will consider offensive for even their youngest children to see or hear. Nudity, sex scenes and scenes of drug use are absent; violence is minimal; snippets of dialogue may go beyond polite conversation but do not go beyond common everyday expressions.
PG-Rating. Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. This signifies the film rated may contain some material parents might not like to expose to their young children, material that will clearly need to be examined or inquired about before children are allowed to attend the film. Explicit sex scenes and scenes of drug use are absent; nudity, if present, is seen only briefly. Horror and violence do not exceed moderate levels.
PG-13 Rating. Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. This signifies the film rated may be inappropriate for pre-teens. Parents should be especially careful about letting their younger children attend. Rough or persistent violence is absent; sexually-oriented nudity is generally absent; some scenes of drug use may be seen; one use of the harsher sexually derived words may be heard.
R-Rating. Restricted-Under 17. Requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age varies in some locations). This signifies the rating board has concluded the film rated contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their children to see it. An R may be assigned due to, among other things, a film's use of language, theme, violence, sex or its portrayal of drug use.
NC–17 Rating. No One 17 and Under Admitted. This signifies the rating board believes most American parents would feel the film is patently adult and that children age 17 and under should not be admitted to it. The film may contain explicit sex scenes, an accumulation of sexually-oriented language, or scenes of excessive violence. The NC-17 designation does not, however, signify the rated film is obscene or pornographic.
Before allowing your teen to head off to the movies for a night out, it is important you find out as much information as you can about the movie first. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:

Read reviews. Look in the newspaper for a review on the movie
Check the Internet. You can often find sites dedicated to the movie. This will provide you with a little more information on the movie content.
Talk to friends who have seen it. Often the best way to determine if the movie is appropriate is to ask someone who has seen it.
Choose carefully when considering movies with PG-13, PG, or even G ratings. Remember a PG movie that contains some violence or nudity will have a much different effect on a five-year-old child than it would a 12-year-old.
If you are still not sure. See the movie yourself first. You are the best judge as to whether this is appropriate for your child.
References
American Academy of Pediatrics
Classification and Ratings Administration
Dartmouth School of Medicine
Motion Picture Association of America

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sue Scheff: Parents Need To Learn More About Inhalant Abuse


Inhalant abuse refers to the deliberate inhalation or sniffing of common products found in homes and communities with the purpose of "getting high." Inhalants are easily accessible, legal, everyday products. When used as intended, these products have a useful purpose in our lives and enhance the quality of life, but when intentionally misused, they can be deadly. Inhalant Abuse is a lesser recognized form of substance abuse, but it is no less dangerous. Inhalants are addictive and are considered to be "gateway" drugs because children often progress from inhalants to illegal drug and alcohol abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that one in five American teens have used Inhalants to get high.

Inhalation is referred to as huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging and generally occurs through the nose or mouth. Huffing is when a chemically soaked rag is held to the face or stuffed in the mouth and the substance is inhaled. Sniffing can be done directly from containers, plastic bags, clothing or rags saturated with a substance or from the product directly. With Bagging, substances are sprayed or deposited into a plastic or paper bag and the vapors are inhaled. This method can result in suffocation because a bag is placed over the individual's head, cutting off the supply of oxygen.

Other methods used include placing inhalants on sleeves, collars, or other items of clothing that are sniffed over a period of time. Fumes are discharged into soda cans and inhaled from the can or balloons are filled with nitrous oxide and the vapors are inhaled. Heating volatile substances and inhaling the vapors emitted is another form of inhalation. All of these methods are potentially harmful or deadly. Experts estimate that there are several hundred deaths each year from Inhalant Abuse, although under-reporting is still a problem.

What Products Can be Abused?

There are more than a 1,400 products which are potentially dangerous when inhaled, such as typewriter correction fluid, air conditioning coolant, gasoline, propane, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane, cooking spray, paint, and glue. Most are common products that can be found in the home, garage, office, school or as close as the local convenience store. The best advice for consumers is to read the labels before using a product to ensure the proper method is observed. It is also recommended that parents discuss the product labels with their children at age-appropriate times. The following list represents categories of products that are commonly abused.

Learn more at http://www.inhalant.org/

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Adopted Teens - The Primal Wound - Understanding the Adopted Child


It can be hard to separate normal teen problems from those stemming from deep seeded adoption issues. The best way to understand your adopted teen is to simply talk to them. As Sue Scheff™ knows, keeping the lines of teen and parent communications open is the best step to fixing teen troubles.


Unfortunately, most teens feel uncomfortable sharing troubled emotions with their parents, especially when the parents aren’t biologically related. The best thing adopted parents can do is stay informed of some of the issues that could affect their adopted teens. One major teenage adoption issue is the Primal Wound™ phenomenon.


The term Primal Wound™ was coined in 1993 by Nancy Verrier in her revolutionary adoption book, Primal Wound™.


Primal Wound™ refers to the feeling of duality that adopted children must overcome as they transition through their teenage years. An adopted child experiences separation from their natural caregiver, severing a link that will never truly be forgotten. Experts and psychologist agree that the developing fetus is aware of its mother in the womb, understanding their signature smell, sound, and other familiarities. This bond is forged and reinforced over nine months, and lasts throughout the child’s entire life.


It’s clear that in a way, babies understand the identity of their birth mother, even if the mother is detached from the child directly after birth. The primordial attachment is always formed when a child experiences birth and is severed when they are separated, and this Primal Wound must be confronted if an adopted teen is feeling separation problems, because it can lead to unresolved emotions of anger and distress that can catalyze dangerously in a young teenagers hormone ridden life.


The power of Primal Wound™ has been illustrated in various examples, including a story in Verrier’s book about a young girl who was separated from her real mother at birth, but was never told she was adopted. When the little girl was four she had a terrible nightmare, sending her into a screaming fit for her mother. When her adopted mother tried to calm her, the girl looked at her and proclaimed that she wanted her other mother. This little girl had no way of knowing that it was not her original birth mother, but the womb bond formed immediately after birth told her she was not connected to her birthmother, showing the Primal Wound™ in action.
It is clear that the Primal Wound™ exists and can lead to problems for adopted adolescents, but what should parents do to cope with this phenomenon and how do they help their adoptive teens deal with it? Luckily, simply knowing and understanding that the Primal Wound exists is the most important step in healing it.


Adoptive parents have the power to cleanse their child’s Primal Wound™, but they must understand that their teens have experienced a difficult loss, and must carefully validate those young feelings. Teens need to know they are understood; the feeling of isolation, the belief that no one understands, is what drives so many teenage depression or anger problems to develop. By simply listening and providing an avenue for communication and understanding, parents can help their troubled teens heal.


Sue Scheff™ advises parents never to say “Don’t feel that way,” or “What you are feeling is wrong.” Teens can’t help what they feel; they are a bundle of unresolved emotions. What a parent must do is illustrate a proper way to respond to these troublesome feelings, instead of acting destructively. Sue Scheff™ knows that the key to helping teach teenagers deal with their emotions is setting limits. Let your child be angry or express themselves, but don’t let them overstep the boundaries you set as a parent.


By understanding the Primal Wound™ phenomenon parents can help their adopted children work through life separated from their biological parents.


For more information - http://www.helpyourteens.com/adoption/index.html about adopted teens.

Monday, August 18, 2008

(Sue Scheff) Promoting Community Education




One of the most important parts of any community is the local school system, and it’s easy for concerned parents and good citizens to become intimately involved in some important aspects of school decisions. Becoming involved with local schools helps decide the direction of the youth in your community, which is of the upmost importance for the success of any community system.

A simple way to begin your citizen school involvement is by attending school board meetings. School board meetings help decide most of the important aspects of a school’s future, including school curriculum, dress code policy, disciplinary measures, budgeting, hiring teachers, new school buildings, and a variety of other things. This is one the best ways to be a part of local school decision making, and if your school board is elected it allows you to vote on school board members while understanding the types of administrative issues that my affecting your kid. At the very least, attending school board meetings provides you with a better understanding of how to be a productive citizen in both the community and school system.


Many schools also seek volunteer help. This work could include anything from grading papers to providing transportation on school field trips. Most public school systems in this country are overcrowded and underfunded, so any volunteer work is looked upon favorably and can help the schools function better. In the end, maintaining the education of our younger generation is always a major part of a good citizen’s workload.


Another great way to get involved in education is organizing after school programs. Many schools have after school programs that they coordinate with volunteers designed to give kids something productive to do after school. Keeping kids out of trouble after school and stimulating them with meaningful work is an excellent way to promote community involvement and healthy learning. Studies show that kids who participate in afterschool programs and extracurricular activities are much more likely to succeed in school then those who don’t.
http://www.helpyourteens.com/

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Teens Say School Pressure Is Main Reason For Drug Use


Source: digtriad.com, Triad, NC


New York -- A new study reveals a troubling new insight into the reasons why teens use drugs.
The study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-free America shows that of 6,511 teens, 73% report that school stress and pressure is the main reason for drug use.


Ironically, only 7% of parents believe that teens use drugs to cope with stress.


Second on the list was to "feel cool" (73%), which was previously ranked in the first position. Another popular reason teens said they use drugs was to "feel better about themselves"(65%).
Over the past decade, studies have indicated a steady changing trend in what teens perceive as the motivations for using drugs. The "to have fun" rationales are declining, while motivations to use drugs to solve problems are increasing.


On the positive side, the study confirms that overall abuse remains in a steady decline among teens. Marijuana, ecstasy, inhalants, methamphetamine alcohol and cigarette usage continue to decrease.


Additional findings show:


- 1 in 5 teens has abused a prescription medication
- Nearly 1 in 5 teens has already abused a prescription painkiller
- 41% of teens think it's safer to abuse a precription drug than it is to use illegal drugs.


Teens continue to take their lives into their own hands when they intentionally abuse prescribed medications, said Pasierb. "Whether it's to get high or deal with stress, or if they mistakenly believe it will help them perform better in school or sports, teens don't realize that when used without a prescription, these medicines can be every bit as harmful as illegal street drugs."




Saturday, August 16, 2008

ADHD Over-Diagnosed?




Looking at her sitting quietly, reading intently; no one would ever think that ten year old Samantha had attention problems. But last year was a different story. Her grades dropped suddenly. She got distracted in class and she struggled to keep up with all of her 4th grade assignments. Her teacher suggested she get tested for ADHD: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. So her mom took her to a doctor for testing.

“She told me she was borderline ADHD and we were going to go ahead and treat her with 5 milligrams of Adderall,” says Connie Hodges, Samantha’s mother.

Both Samantha and her mom were unhappy with the results. “It was upsetting me because it was like she was drunk. She was moving really slow and just lethargic – just not Samantha,” says Hodges. And Samantha herself agrees. She wasn’t her normal energetic, active self. “It made me just want to sit down in one place,” she says.

So her mom took her to see a specialist for more tests. Dr. Thomas Burns, Director of Neuropsychology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta did the testing himself. “We did full cognitive battery of tests to rule out some of those other areas like learning disabilities or behavior problems. She did very well in testing – performed within the expected range – no evidence of any cognitive impairment. And from what I saw, at least in a one-on-one setting, she was certainly able to hold her attention and perform really well,” he says.

Burns says Samantha doesn’t have ADHD and that often, kids are diagnosed with the disorder when, in fact, their attention problems are symptoms of something else.

“It’s important to rule out the learning problems, the emotional, behavioral issues, adjustment concerns – whether it’s a change to a new school, or there might be changes in the family - divorces, deaths – things like that,” he says.

Samantha was easily distracted and had trouble keeping up with multiple assignments. Dr. Burns and her teachers have taught her how to get organized, focus, and complete tasks one at a time.

Samantha says, “They help me learn how to take the right notes and learn how to study right.”

Her mother adds, “I worked with her teacher and her counselor at school. She has taught Samantha how to organize her – not only her book bag, her desk, but her thoughts.”

And it’s working … without medication.

“I’m me again,” says Samantha.

“She’s not struggling like she was last year. She doesn’t hate school anymore. She’s not even the same child she was last year,” says her mother.

Tips for Parents

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, ADHD occurs in 3 to 5 percent of school age children. The following are given as symptoms of ADHD:

Inattention
Distractibility
Impulsivity
Excessive talking
Impatience
A tendency to interrupt or intrude on others
In addition, researchers found that boys with ADHD move two to three times as much and cover four times as much area as normal boys. Girls with ADHD move as frequently but their movements cover a smaller area.

What Parents Need to Know

Since judging the symptoms of ADHD can be very subjective, some children may be diagnosed with ADHD without actually having the disorder. A recent study suggests that parents’ and physicians’ preconceived notions about children’s behavior may interfere with the identification and diagnosis of ADHD and other disorders.

Because this possibility exists, it is very important to find a good pediatrician who will properly diagnose your child and around whom you and your child will feel very comfortable. Experts at BJC HealthCare and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta suggest keeping the following points in mind when choosing a pediatrician:

Are you more comfortable with a doctor who is no-nonsense and businesslike, or do you need more handholding?
Would you prefer a doctor who sets aside a particular time each day to take phone calls or would you rather contact the office when questions arise and have the doctor return your call between patient visits?
Do you prefer a male or a female pediatrician?
Is age a factor for you? Are you more comfortable dealing with an older or younger doctor?
Are the office hours convenient for you? Do you need evening or weekend hours?
Is the office conveniently located?
How are after-hours calls and emergencies handled?
Do you want a doctor who is board certified or board eligible in pediatrics? (Board eligibility means the doctor has completed training at an accredited medical school and residency program. Board certification in pediatrics means the doctor has completed not only the accredited training but also specialized examinations in pediatric medicine every seven years.)
When you have narrowed down your list of potential pediatricians, you may wish to interview each candidate. This will give you a chance to learn as much as possible about the pediatrician and to evaluate your level of comfort with him/her. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta suggests asking the following questions during your interview:

How many doctors are in your group?
Has the size of your group changed recently?
What are the special interests of the doctors in your group?
Do you use nurse practitioners? If so, what are their roles?
If your office is very busy and my child needs to be seen today, what is your policy? Will I have a primary doctor, or do I see whoever is handling sick patients that day?
How are calls for advice handled during office hours? What about during evening and weekend hours? What is your philosophy of providing care via the telephone?
What are your average waiting times for scheduling a routine visit? What about after arrival at the scheduled time?
What is your philosophy about discipline? Medication use? Antibiotic use?
How do you handle payment for services?
Will you assist me in evaluating doctors recommended by my health plan?
Until what age will you continue to see my child?
Do you refer only to pediatric specialists?
Do all of the doctors in your group participate in my insurance company or managed care plan’s provider network?
Are you still accepting new patients for my managed care plan?
Once you make your decision, you can take several steps to get the most out of your relationship with your new pediatrician. BJC HealthCare suggests following these rules to make your parent-pediatrician relationship a success:

Know your child’s medications and administer them as prescribed.
Come back for a return visit when you are asked to come back.
Make sure your child is up-to-date on all immunizations.
If you have questions, it might be helpful to write them down and take them with you to the next office visit.
Listen to your pediatrician and take notes if necessary.
Ask questions.
References
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
BJC Healthcare
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Friday, August 15, 2008

(Sue Scheff) Parents are you struggling with your young adult?


“My 18 year old is out of control and I am at my wits end! What can I do?” – Anonymous Parent.



18 – 19 year old teens can be the most difficult to address simply because they are considered adults and cannot be forced to get help. As parents, we have limited to no control. Practicing “Tough Love” is easier said than done, many parents cannot let their child reach rock bottom – as parent’s, we see our child suffering – whether it is needing groceries or a roof over their head and it is hard to shut the door on them.



I think this is one of the most important reasons that if you are a parent of a 16-17 year old that is out of control, struggling, defiant, using drugs and alcohol, or other negative behavior – I believe it is time to look for intervention NOW. I am not saying it needs to be a residential treatment center or a program out of the home, but at least start with local resources such as therapists that specialize with adolescents and preferable offer support groups.



It is unfortunate that in most cases the local therapy is very limited how it can help your teen. The one hour once a week or even twice, is usually not enough to make permanent changes. Furthermore getting your defiant teen to attend sessions can sometimes cause more friction and frustrations than is already happening.



This is the time to consider outside help such as a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center. However these parents with the 18-19 year olds have usually missed their opportunity. They were hoping and praying that at 16 – 17 things would change, but unfortunately, if not addressed, the negative behavior usually escalates.



In the past 8+ years I have heard from thousands of parents – and most are hoping to get their child through High School and will be satisfied with a GED. It is truly a sad society of today’s teens when many believe they can simply drop out of school. Starting as early as 14 years old, many teens are thinking this way and we need to be sure they know the consequences of not getting an education. Education in today’s world should be our children’s priority however with today’s peer pressure and entitlement issues, it seems to have drifted from education to defiance – being happy just having fun and not being responsible.



I think there are many parents that debate whether they should take that desperate measure of sending a child to a program and having them escorted there – but in the long run – you need to look at these parents that have 18-19 year olds that don’t have that opportunity. While you have this option, and it is a major decision that needs to be handled with the utmost reality of what will happen if things don’t change. The closer they are to 18 – the more serious issues can become legally. If a 17+ year old gets in trouble with the law, in many states they will be tried as an adult. This can be scary since most of these kids are good kids making very bad choices and don’t deserve to get caught up the system. As a parent I believe it is our responsible not to be selfish and be open to sending the outside of the home. It is important not to view this as a failure as a parent, but as a responsible parent that is willing to sacrifice your personal feelings to get your child the help they need.



At 18, it is unfortunate, these kids are considered adults - and as parents we basically lose control to get them the help they need. In some cases - if the teen knows they have no other alternatives and this is the only option the parents will support, they will agree to get outside help.


Visit www.helpyourteens.com for more information.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Love Our Children USA - Keeping Children Safe and Strengthening Families



Love Our Children USA™ is the national nonprofit leader in breaking the cycle of violence against children. The organization has become 'the Go-To' prevention organization for all forms of violence and neglect against children in the U.S.

Visit www.loveourchildrenusa.org

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Michael Phelps' Mom on How to Raise an ADHD Superstar


Source: http://www.additudemag.com/

Meet the mothers of three ADHD super-achievers — an Olympic record-breaker, a TV heavyweight, and a world-class adventurer — and learn how they helped their kids beat the odds.

What does it take to succeed despite attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD)? It takes hard work, for starters — a willingness to meet challenges head-on. It takes support from family members, teachers, therapists, and coaches. And, of course, it’s hard to overstate the benefits of ADHD medication.

But, of all the ingredients needed to make a happy, successful life, nothing is more important than good parenting. Behind almost every ADHD success story is a devoted parent (or two). In honor of mothers, let’s give credit where credit is due.

The three mothers profiled here helped their sons and daughters achieve great things — more than they could have imagined. Steadfast and resourceful, they saw strength where others saw weakness, and kept looking for ways to help their children after others were ready to give up. Let their stories inspire you!

Read entire article here: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1998.html

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

5 Ways Teens Might Cheat on Drug Tests - and How to Catch Them


5 Ways Teens Might Cheat on Drug Tests—and How to Catch Them

These tricks are out there on the Web, so parents need to be informed

By Lindsay Lyon
Posted August 6, 2008

Google "beat drug test," and the search engine spits out page upon page of ploys and products that can make incriminating urine seem drug free. All it takes is a computer-savvy teen to access them. The ease of cheating, in fact, is one of at least seven reasons parents shouldn't try to test their kids for drug use. Instead, experts say, they should seek out a professional assessment.

Related News
7 Reasons Parents Should Not Test Kids for Drug Use
How to Protect Your Kids From Substance Abuse
The Sheff Family Struggles With Addiction
Video: Life After Meth

"Cheating remains the Achilles' heal of drug urine testing in all settings," says Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health Inc. and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With increasing opportunities for testing—by prospective employers, schools, and parents—experts worry that teens may have more impetus than ever to try. Last week, at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., toxicologist Amitava Dasgupta of University of Texas-Houston medical school demonstrated various ways that employees try to beat workplace drug tests—and how experts foil these schemes in the laboratory. There's nothing to stop kids from using the same tricks, and there's no guarantee that parents will be able to catch them at home.

Here are five ways—some of them downright dangerous—that teens may try to cheat drug tests. They're all described elsewhere on the Internet, so parents should be aware of them.

1. Tampering. A sprinkle of salt or a splash of bleach, vinegar, detergent, or drain cleaner is all that's needed to muck up a urine specimen. These and other household substances are all too often smuggled into the bathroom and used to alter the composition of urine, making the presence of some illegal substances undetectable, says Dasgupta. Same goes for chemical concoctions sold all over the Internet. Sometimes these additives or "adulterants" will cloud or discolor urine, easily casting suspicion on the specimen, but others leave the sample looking normal. Laboratory toxicologists employ simple tests to catch these cheats. For example, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide will turn urine brown if it's been mixed with pyridinium chlorochromate, an otherwise-imperceptible chemical designed to foil drug tests.

2. Water-loading. Gulping fluids before providing urine, a long-standing tactic, is still the most common way that teens try to beat tests, says Sharon Levy, a pediatrician and director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children's Hospital Boston. Whether cheats use salty solutions to induce thirst, flushing agents that increase urine output, or just plain old H20, their aim is to water down drugs so they can't be detected. Some testing facilities may check urine for dilution and deem overly watery samples "unfit for testing." But consuming too much fluid too quickly can occasionally have dire consequences. "Water intoxication" reportedly killed a woman following participation in a radio show's water drinking contest, says Alan Wu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

3. Switching drugs. Perhaps most alarming, says Levy, is that teens bent on defeating drug tests will sometimes switch their drug of choice to an undetectable (or harder to detect) substance that's considerably more hazardous. Inhalants, for example, include numerous types of chemical vapors that typically produce brief, intoxicating effects. "You don't excrete [inhalants] in your urine," says Levy, but "inhaling is acutely more dangerous than marijuana." Indeed, inhalants can trigger the lethal heart problem known as "sudden sniffing death" in otherwise healthy adolescents, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The tragic case of young David Manlove is an example.

4. Popping vitamins. Perhaps it's because niacin (aka vitamin B3) is known to aid metabolism, or perhaps it's because Scientologists are said to take it in excess to flush their bodies of toxins. Whatever the reasons, some teens got the idea that extreme doses of this vitamin would erase any trace of their illicit drug use. Instead, it almost cost them their lives. In two separate incidents, emergency physician Manoj Mittal of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has found adolescents who downed at least 150 times the daily recommended dose of niacin (15 mg) to cheat drug tests. (He described the cases last year in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.) Both kids were vomiting, had low blood sugar, and had "significant" liver toxicity when they arrived at the ER. And the niacin didn't even do what they'd intended; both tested positive for illicit drugs. "People might think that since [niacin] is a vitamin it's harmless," says Mittal. "But these cases suggest that our bodies have limits."

5. Swapping urine samples. Whether they use a friend's clean urine, synthetic pee, or even freeze-dried urine purchased online, some teens try to pass off foreign samples as their own, says Levy. The biggest tip-off is temperature. "Anything significantly lower than body temperature is suspicious," says Dasgupta, which is why some have tried to shuttle samples in armpits or taped to thighs to keep them warm. Possibly the oddest trick of all is a device marketed to those trying to beat witnessed drug collections, says Wu: a sort of prosthetic penis called the "Whizzinator" that claims to come equipped with clean urine "guaranteed" to remain at body temperature for hours, with the help of special heat pads. "Believe it or not, [the prosthesis] comes in different colors," says Wu.

Monday, August 11, 2008

ADHD College Survival Guide - ADDitude Magazine


Visit ADDitude's ADHD College Survival Guide


John Muscarello had no trouble making the transition to college life, despite his severe attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD).


That's because the 20-year-old cultivated good habits while attending high school in Glen Head, New York. "I had an assignment pad where I wrote everything down," he explains. "I also had a big calendar on my bedroom wall. I wrote down upcoming papers and dates, so I always knew what I had going on. I would get home from sports, take a shower, eat dinner, take a pill, and then do all my work."


In high school, John handed in papers before they were due. "Teachers would help me revise them," he says, "and I'd hand them in again, when everyone else did." And he cultivated close relationships with faculty members - a strategy he continues at Pennsylvania's York College by e-mailing his professors at the beginning of each semester to introduce himself and explain his academic "issues." He got this idea from his mother, Mary, who always made it a point to meet with her son's teachers to give them a heads-up.


Of course, laughs Mary, "The fact that we owned a pastry shop and brought stuff to school didn't hurt either."


Things were different for David Burkhart, a 28-year-old graduate student. He had done well at the prep school he attended, where students woke up, ate, studied, and went to bed at prescribed times. Given the order imposed on him, no one even suspected that David had ADD, as well as dysgraphia.


But David's life unraveled as he began his freshman year at Auburn University.


"I got to college and moved into my own apartment. For the first time in my life, I didn't have a bedtime," he says. "I had no clue how to eat or plan my day. I went from having one hour of free time a day to having three hours of class a day - and nobody cared if I didn't show up for those. I 'washed my clothes' by buying new stuff. I bought a new pair of slacks every week."

Within weeks, David had dropped all his classes. He tried to hide the truth from his parents, but his father, the chairman of Auburn's psychology department, and his mother soon found out. David's dad sent him to live with an uncle in Florida, where he spent four grueling months pouring asphalt and considering what he would do differently if he returned to college.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sue Scheff: Talking the Talk



Discussing sex with your tweens and teens can help them make better choices. Here's how.


Temma Ehrenfeld
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 10:28 AM ET Jul 31, 2008


What kids think about sex might surprise you, but what they're doing sexually—and when they're doing it—might surprise you even more. In a study this year of more than a 1,000 tweens (kids between the ages 11 and 14), commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. and loveisrespect.org, nearly half said they'd had a boy- or girlfriend, and one in four said that oral sex or going "all the way" is part of a tween romance. The parents' view? Only 7 percent of parents surveyed in this study think their own child has gone any further than "making out."
The whole subject of sex is so delicate that some parents put off talking to kids about it, believing their child is still too young, or because they're not sure what to say.


They "finally sit down to have the Big Talk," says Dr. Mark Schuster, chief of general pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston, "and it turns out their teen is already having sex." (The average age of first intercourse in the United States is 16, according to the Centers for Disease Control)The good news is that there's plenty of evidence indicating that kids whose parents do discuss sex with them are more cautious than their peers—more likely to put off sex or use contraception. They also have fewer partners. Coaching for parents helps, as well.


Parents who participated in a training program about how to have those difficult conversations, Schuster reports, were six times more likely than a control group to have discussed condoms with their children. So what did the parents learn? Here are nine "talking sex" tips:


1. Find the moment. Instead of saying "it's time to talk about you-know," let the topic arise naturally—say, during a love scene in a video, or while passing a couple on a park bench. It helps to think about opening lines in advance.


2. Don't be vague about your own feelings. You know you don't want your ninth grader getting pregnant, but is oral sex OK? How do you feel about your daughter going steady or dating several boys casually? Consider the messages you want your kids to hear.


3. Anticipate the roadblocks that a teen or tween might set up. If they tend to say "uh huh," try asking open-ended questions or suggesting a variety of possible ways someone might feel in a relevant situation.


4. Be a good listener. Avoid lecturing and don't interrupt once your child opens up. Restate in your own words what you hear and identify feelings.


5. Help your child consider the pros and cons of sexual choices.


6. Relate sex and physical intimacy to love, caring and respect for themselves and their partner.


7. Teach strategies to manage sexual pressure. It may not be obvious to your daughter that she can suggest going to the movies or a restaurant instead of lounging with her boyfriend on a sofa without adult supervision. Or she may not know she can set and stick to a clear rule (such as no touching below the waist). Discuss the fact that "no means no." A simple strategy like getting up and going to the bathroom can give a girl time to regroup.


8. Don't be afraid to get down to specifics. If your teenage daughter or son is spending every afternoon alone with a main squeeze, and you're simply hoping they're using condoms, go ahead and ask whether they are sexually active and using birth control. You can buy a box of condoms and talk about how to use them—practice on a cucumber. A good laugh won't hurt your relationship.


9. Make the conversation ongoing—not a talk that happens once or twice. For more tips on talking to kids about sex and other sensitive issues, visit Children Now, a nonprofit nonpartisan organization's guide to talking to kids of all ages about sexual subjects. Or The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry's "Facts for Families."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Runaways


If you are currently dealing with a runaway, act immediately. Do not waste any time in utilizing every resource you can to find your child.


The list below details a plan of action and tips for finding help.


Tips For Finding a Runaway


Keep an updated phone list with the home and cell numbers of your teen’s friends. Using the phone list, call every one of your teen’s friends. Talk immediately with their parents, not their friends, as teenagers will often stick together and lie for each other. The parent will tell you anything they know, including the last time contact was made between their child and yours. They will also know to keep closer tabs on their own child.


Keep an updated photo of your child on hands at all times. With this photo, create one-page flyers including all information about your teen and where they were last seen. Post these flyers everywhere your teen hangs out, as well as anywhere else teenagers in general hang out. Post anywhere they will allow you to.


Immediately contact your local police. It is advised that you actually visit the office with a copy of the flyer as well as a good number of color photos of your teen. Speak clearly and act rationally, but make sure that they understand how serious the situation is.


Contact the local paper in order to run a missing ad. Also, contact any other printed media available in your area; many will be very willing to help.


Contact your local television stations, as well as those in nearby counties. Most stations will be more than happy to run an alert either in the newscast or through the scrolling alert at the bottom of the screen.


Having a teen runaway is very frightening and it can bring you to your “Wits End”. Remain positive and be creative: try to understand why your teen is acting this way, what they are running from and where they might be running. These are times when parents need to seek help for themselves. Don’t be ashamed to reach out to others. We are all about parents helping parents.


Please visit Sue Scheff™’s Parents Universal Resource Experts™ to find support and professional help with your runaway situation.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Dirt E-Secrets of an Internet Kid



“Get Out Of My Facebook!”


A Translation For Parents: Instant Kids Growing Up in an Online World An Ebook by Vanessa Van PettenYou’re About to Learn Internet SecretsThat Most Adults Will Never Know

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Troubled Teens and Military Schools by Sue Scheff


Some parents may have a teen they feel is in need of special attention needs. Often times parents look at the public school system and realize that it is not fully equipped to handle troubled teenagers. This leads many parents to turn to military schools as an option to discipline and educate their troubled teenagers. Unfortunately, it is a common misconception among many parents that military school can “cure” or somehow transform an unruly child into a model of propriety. Military schools, which seemed headed for extinction in the late 1960s and early '70s, have seen enrollments increase steadily in recent years. Many military schools are jammed to capacity and sport long waiting lists, as anxious parents scramble for slots.

While parents may seek a military school with the hopes that it can provide exactly the discipline they believe their teenager needs, most military schools are seeking motivated candidates that want to be a part of a proud and distinguished institutional history. Many students do not realize they would enjoy military school until they actually visit the campus and understand the honor it is to attend. Typically, traditional military schools will not accept a student who does not want to be there; as such, it is very difficult to find a military school that will accept a teen that has a history of behavioral problems. Parents should realize that attending military school is a privilege and honor for the right candidate, and they are encouraged to emphasize this to their children as well.

The very common misperception of military schools as reforming institutions is a direct result of some states' policies of having chosen to house their child (juvenile) criminal populations in higher-security boarding schools that are run in a manner similar to military boarding schools. These are also called reform schools, and are functionally a combination of school and prison. They attempt to emulate the high standards of established military boarding schools in the hope that a strict structured environment can reform these delinquent children that have often times run afoul of the law. The results of these institutions vary, and successful reform may or may not be the case, depending on the institution and it's “students.” Popular culture sometimes shows parents sending or threatening to send unruly children off to military school, and this reinforces the incorrect, negative stereotype.

However, military programs for troubled teens do exist; these specialized military schools can provide the most effective ways to teach your teenager how to be a respectable, hard-working, and responsible human being. Keep in mind, however, that these military schools, like their counterparts, are not for punishment; they are a time for growth. Many are privately run institutions, though some are public and are run by either a public school system (such as the Chicago Public Schools), or by a state. Regardless, this should not reflect on the long and distinguished history of military schools; their associations are traditionally those of high academic achievement, with solid college preparatory curricula, schooling in the military arts, and considerably esteemed graduates.

Many ADD/ADHD students do very well in a military school or military academy-type setting, due to the structure and positive discipline. Many parents whose children have been diagnosed ADD/ADHD have considered this type of environment, and found it to be beneficial to their child's development. In these instances many times parents will start by enrolling their child in a summer program to determine if their child is a viable candidate for that particular military school. Provided the child responds in a positive manner, they can extend the enrollment to subsequent terms.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Teen Runaways by Sue Scheff - Founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts


Knowing the Difference: Runaway, Missing or Sneaking?


When a teen turns up “missing,” parents must initially decide whether the child is missing, has run away, or simply sneaked out.

There are differences, and those differences are very important. A missing child could have been abducted by someone against his/her will and is being held, possibly threatened. A missing child can also be a child who is simply missing; the child did not return home when expected and may be lost or injured.

Runaway teens and sneaking teens are often confused, as both leave a supervised environment of their own free will. Sneaking teens leave home for a short period of time, with intent to return, most likely during the night or while a parent can be fooled. A runaway teen leaves home or a supervised environment for good, with intent to live separate from his/her parents. Runaway teens will likely have shown symptoms prior to running away.

In most cases, a teen runs away after a frustrating and heated argument with one or both parents. Often times, the runaway will stay with a friend or relative close by to cool off. In more serious cases, a teen may run away often and leave with no notion of where they are going.

Warning Signs your Teen May Become a Runaway

Attempts to communicate with your teen have only resulted in ongoing arguments, yelling, interruptions, hurtful name- calling, bruised feelings and failure to come to an agreement or compromise.

Your teen has become involved in a network of friends or peers who seem often unsupervised, rebellious, defiant, involved with drugs or alcohol or who practice other alarming social behavior.
A noticeable pattern of irrational, impulsive and emotionally abusive behavior by either parent or teen.

The Grass Looks Greener on the Other Side

Often, we hear our teens use “My friend’s parents let her do it!” or, “Everything is better at my friend’s house!” The parents of your teen’s friends may be more lenient, choose later curfew times, allow co-ed events or give higher allowances. While you as parent know all parents work differently, it can be very difficult for your teen to understand.

Motivations of a Runaway

To avoid an emotional experience or consequence that they are expecting as a result of a parental, sibling, friend or romantic relationship/situation.
To escape a recurring or ongoing painful or difficult experience in their home, school or work life.
To keep from losing privileges to activities, relationships, friendships or any other things considered important or worthwhile.
To be with other people such as friends or relatives who are supportive, encouraging and active in ways they feel are missing from their lives.
To find companionship or activity in places that distract them from other problems they are dealing with.

To change or stop what they are doing or about to do.

As parents or guardians we strive to create positive, loving households in order to raise respectful, successful and happy adults. In order to achieve this, rules must be put in place. Teens who run away from home are often crying for attention. Some teens will attempt to run away just once, after an unusually heated argument or situation in the household, and return shortly after. More serious cases, however, happen with teens in extreme emotional turmoil.

Parents also need to be extremely aware of the symptoms, warning signs and dangers of teenage depression. Far too many teens are suffering from this disease and going untreated. Often, runaways feel they have no other choice but to leave their home, and this is in many cases related to their feelings of sadness, anger and frustration due to depression.

Teenage Depression

There are many causes of depression, and every child, regardless of social status, race, age or gender is at risk. Be aware and be understanding. To an adult juggling family and career, it may seem that a young teenager has nothing to be “depressed” about! Work for a mutual communication between the two of you. The more your teenager can confide his/her daily problems and concerns, the more you can have a positive and helpful interaction before the problems overwhelm them.

Preventing Runaways

Communication is Key to Preventing Runaways
Teens who become runaways will have shown symptoms and warning signs prior to running away. Knowing these signs is the first step to prevention; the second is learning how to prevent symptoms all together. Communication is KEY!

Communication: Suggestions for Preventative Conversation

Never use threats or dare your teen to run away, even if you think they wouldn’t do it.
Refrain from using sarcasm or negativity that may come off as disrespect for your teen.
Anger is difficult to subside. However, it is important to never raise your voice or yell/scream at your teen, especially when they are already doing so. A battle of strength doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

Keep a calm demeanor and insist that your teen does as well. Do not respond to their anger, but instead, wait until they are calm.

Always use direct eye contact when speaking.

NEVER interrupt your teenager when they are speaking or trying to explain their feelings or thoughts. Even if you completely disagree, it is important to wait until they have finished. Keep in mind that just listening and using the words “I understand” does not mean that you agree or will do what they want.

Under no circumstances should you use derogatory names, labels or titles such as liar, childish, immature, untrustworthy, cruel, stupid, ignorant, punk, thief or brat.
Continue to be respectful of your teen, even if they have been disrespectful to you.

Talk less, slower, and use fewer words than your teen.

Make sure that you comprehend what your teen is saying, and when you do, let them know.
Simply stating “I understand” can go a long way to making your teen feel as though you are respecting their feelings and thoughts, as well as taking them in to consideration.

Let’s say you are sure you understand your teen’s point of view and they understand you understand. If you still don’t agree with their statement, tell your teen “I think I understand, but I do not agree. I want to think we can understand each other, but we don’t have to agree.”

Keep in mind that it is possible to agree with your teen, without doing whatever they want you to.
For example, you might agree that there are little differences between 17 year-olds and 21 year-olds, but that doesn’t mean you agree with having a party serving alcohol at your house.
When your teen has finished speaking, ask politely if they have anything else they’d like to talk about or share with you.

Take a break if you get too overwhelmed or upset to continue the conversation with a calm attitude.

If your teen is demanding or threatening you, be sure to get professional advice or help from a qualified mental health professional.

If both parents are involved in the conversation, it is very important to take turns, rather than gang up on your teen together. Make sure each parent allows time for your teen to speak in between.

Visit Teen Runaways Website for more information.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Military Schools are Opening Soon - Is your Child A Candidate for this Excellent Academic Opportunity?


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.

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.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teen Truancy - A Growing Concern Among Parents


Truancy is a term used to describe any intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. Children in America today lose over five million days of their education each year through truancy. Often times they do this without the knowledge of their parents or school officials. In common usage the term typically refers to absences caused by students of their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate "excused" absences, such as ones related to a medical condition. It may also refer to students who attend school but do not go to classes.

Because of this confusion many schools have their own definitions, and as such the exact meaning of the term itself will differ from school to school and district to district. In order to avoid or diminish confusion, many schools explicitly define the term and their particular usage thereof in the school's handbook of policies and procedures. In many instances truancy is the term referring to an absence associated with the most brazen student irresponsibility and results in the greatest consequences.

Many educators view truancy as something much more far reaching than the immediate consequence that missed schooling has on a student's education. Truancy may indicate more deeply embedded problems with the student, the education they are receiving, or both. Because of its traditional association with juvenile delinquency, truancy in some schools may result in an ineligibility to graduate or to receive credit for class attended, until the time lost to truancy is made up through a combination of detention, fines, or summer school. This can be especially troubling for a child, as failing school can lead to social impairment if the child is held back, economic impact if the child drops out or cannot continue his or her education, and emotional impact as the cycle of failure diminishes the adolescent's self-esteem.