Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Anger, Rage and Learning to Manage it

"I don't care what you say I am doing what I want to do! I hate you and you just don't want me to have fun!"

"All my friends are allowed to stay out late; you are mean and want to ruin my life!"

"You have no idea how I feel and you are only making it worse!"

When a difficult teen is out of control, they only can hear themselves and what they want. It is usually their way or no way! There are so many factors that can contribute to these feelings. The feelings are very real and should be addressed as soon as you see that your child is starting to run the household. Teen anger may lead to teen rage and teen violence which can soon destroy a family.

A local therapist can help your family diagnosis what is causing the negative behavior patterns. Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is some of the many causes to this harmful and stressful behavior. Many times you will find a need for a positive and safe program either local or outside your home are that can help determine where these hurtful outbursts are stemming from.

As difficult as this may seem, it is important that as your teen is expressing these feeling of anger and rage, that you as the parent learn to control your emotions. You don't want to fuel it or feed it which can potentially enrage it.

Here are some tips for parents to learn to help manage their stress level as their teens is spiraling out of control:

  1. Take a 'timeout.' Although it may seem cliché, counting to 10 before reacting really can defuse your temper.
  2. Get some space. Take a break from the person you're angry with until your frustrations subside a bit.
  3. Once you're calm, express your anger. It's healthy to express your frustration in a nonconfrontational way. Stewing about it can make the situation worse.
  4. Get some exercise. Physical activity can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you're about to erupt. Go for a brisk walk or a run, swim, lift weights or shoot baskets.
  5. Think carefully before you say anything. Otherwise, you're likely to say something you'll regret. It can be helpful to write down what you want to say so that you can stick to the issues. When you're angry, it's easy to get sidetracked.
  6. Identify solutions to the situation. Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work with the person who angered you to resolve the issue at hand.
  7. Use 'I' statements when describing the problem. This will help you to avoid criticizing or placing blame, which can make the other person angry or resentful - and increase tension. For instance, say, "I'm upset you didn't help with the housework this evening," instead of, "You should have helped with the housework."
  8. Don't hold a grudge. If you can forgive the other person, it will help you both. It's unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want.
  9. Use humor to release tensions. Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Don't use sarcasm, though - it's can hurt feelings and make things worse.
  10. Practice relaxation skills. Learning skills to relax and de-stress can also help control your temper when it may flare up. Practice deep-breathing exercises, visualize a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase to yourself, such as "Take it easy." Other proven ways to ease anger include listening to music, writing in a journal and doing yoga.
These tips from the Mayo Clinic can also be helpful to your teens. It could benefit you to sit down with your teens and talk about controlling rage and anger before it escalates to the boiling over point.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.
Read more on Examiner.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens Helping Hurting Teens - To Save A Life - Must See Film

TO SAVE A LIFE is now in over 400 screens in theaters nationwide. To Save A Life is a powerful Indie movie about the real-life challenges of teens and their choices. But it's more than just a movie-it's a feature-length film with follow-up opportunities like a youth group curriculum and a teen devotional centered around the biblical concept that we're never more like a Higher Power than when we are reaching out to the hurting and lonely. Watch trailer.

At some point, every teen has to decide: "What's my life going to be about?" To Save A Life dares to bring that question into their world, encouraging them to answer it with boldness and honesty.


An all-star athlete and his girlfriend find their lives spinning out of control when Jake loses a childhood friend. Help comes when he reaches out to others who are hurting, and he realizes some people are just dying to be heard.

The movie asks...

  • How far would you go?
  • How much would you risk?
  • How hard would you fight...TO SAVE A LIFE
To Save A Life has also created a website for resources for parents. Teen depression is very real. Parents need to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms.

There are several symptoms of teen depression. Among them are:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Losing interest in social and extracurricular activities
  • Displaying a lack of energy, Feeling tired most of the time
  • Anxiety, Irritability, Anger,Feelings of sadness for much of the time
  • Significant weight fluctuations
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Physical pains and aches, or sickness, even though there is nothing physically wrong
  • Indifference about the future
  • Uncharacteristic pessimism,Guilty feelings
  • Lowering self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts
There are two main types of teen depression. These include:

  • Major depression: This type of teen depression is of short duration, although it is quite severe. It is possible to have a bout of severe depression, feel fine for a few months (or even years), and then have another bout. For teens, though, even one bout of severe depression can feel as though it will never end and prompt a suicide attempt.
  • Dysthymia: Dysthymia lasts much longer than major depression, and the feelings are not as severe. Some teens have this low level depression plague them for years without having it diagnosed. This type of depression can also lead to teen suicide if the teenager becomes discouraged with never feeling happy.
Another type of teen depression has to do with life changes. It is called adjustment disorder with depressed mood, and it can be the result of the death of a loved one, divorce, moving to a different town, or even changing schools. This, too, can lead to teen suicide if the teenager feels hopeless, and that the feeling will never end.

This film helps educate parents, teachers, and others that work with today's teenagers as well as will bring an awareness to teens and allowing them to know that we do care. Growing up today is not easy; Peer pressure, drug abuse, gangs, trends, sex and more is what many kids are facing on a daily basis.

Currently To Save a Life is playing at Regal Cypress Creek Station 16 in Ft. Lauderdale. For more information and theaters near you, visit .

Watch the trailer. Be an educated parent - you will have safer and healthier teens. Read more on Examiner.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sue Scheff: Help Haiti - We Have We Need - Helping organizing relief

As the world has come together to help with this natural disaster, a group of generous and caring people created a website that will help organize the needs in Haiti.

We Have We Need is a place where relief organizations can quickly post their most urgent needs and have them matched by generous donors during a time of crisis. This site was built by a group of geeky do-gooders who saw this as an opportunity to use technology to help bring people and donations together in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Haiti. If you'd like to participate in the program, please contact them at

They offer a list of categories including food, fuel, medical, shelter, transportation, telecom and other needs as well as haves.

As parents, we need to encourage your children to clean out their closets, go through the garage, take the time to go through their clothes; teach your kids to donate to those in need. Learning at an early age to pay it forward is not only rewarding, it can help build good character into their adult lives.

In South Florida there are drop off boxes at fire departments. Miami Herald reported today about the many compassionate residents in South Florida that are volunteering, donating and much more. This is the time to come together not only as a community, but as a family. You can get your entire family involved in helping those in need.

For more information on donating and volunteering visit the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.

Read more about this topic - click here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sue Scheff: Running as a family

More and more we are seeing people (adults and teens) running, jogging and sweating. Although running is not for everyone, it is a great activity that not only can keep you healthy, it can also be a family activity. Whether you make is a Saturday and Sunday habit, or evening or early morning (before or after school and work), doing it as a family can help promote your relationship with your teen and children.

Starting running can be tough, but stick it out, it will be worth it. In Broward County, Runners Depot Training Team started in 2000 and since then has grown tremendously. More and more people are taking an interest in being and staying healthy. Every Saturday at the Town Center in Weston, as many as 60 runners meet as they venture a 10-20 mile run. Sun-Sentinel recently reported on their group, Early risers on the run in Weston.

Running is beneficial to you in many aspects of your life. Whether it is for your heath, heart, losing weight, stress relief, meeting other people in your community, running for causes and more, but one of the many great reasons is it is also an activity you can do as a family. In today's economy, it is also a cost effective way to have fun as a family.

What are you waiting for, start today! Of course, if you have health issues that prevent you from this activity, maybe you can bike with the family or find some other way to take part in the family activity. Walking as a family is also beneficial! Just do things together - empower your parent-child relationship.

Being an educated parent leads to safer and healthier teens and children.

Learn more on Examiner.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens and Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable. When you hear about it happening with teenagers it is more deplorable. Who is responsible for your teen's safety when they go to their job?

Recently 20/20 ABC News reported on this disturbing subject. Sexual Harassment Policy Expert, Susan Strauss, says the problem is especially prevalent in fast food restaurants where so many teenagers have their first jobs.

"They're vulnerable, they're young, they're new to the workforce," Strauss said of the teenage employees.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual behavior. It may take different forms, including:

  • Physical contact, like grabbing, pinching, touching your breast or butt or other body parts, or kissing you against your will;
  • Sexual comments, like name-calling (slut, whore, fag), starting rumors about you, making sexual jokes at your expense, or making sexual gestures at or about you;
  • Sexual propositions, like asking you for sex or repeatedly asking you out when you have said no;
  • Unwanted communication, like phone calls, letters, or e-mails. These can be mean, nasty, or threatening, or they can seem flattering or nice but still make you uncomfortable.
These are only examples; there may be other forms of behavior that are not listed here but still can be considered sexual harassment.

Both the harasser and the victim can be either male or female, and they do not have to be the opposite sex. The harasser can be another teenager or an adult.

Reference: Teen Victim Project

  • 81 percent of students will experience some form of sexual harassment at some time while they are in school, with 27 percent experiencing it often.
  • 85 percent of students report that students harass other students at their schools.
  • Almost 40 percent of students report that teachers and other school employees sexually harass students in their schools.
Do you suspect your teen is being harassed at their employment? Whether you answer "yes" or "no" you have to take the time to discuss this subject with them. They need to understand even if they are not strong enough to say "no" to sexual advances or afraid to say "no", it is wrong and they can tell someone.

Sexual harassment is not limited to just workplaces, it could be in school, youth groups, or any situation that involves a person that is less than ethical. This information is not to alarm as much as it is to bring an awareness to parents.

According to a recent study in Maine, one in three high school students reported unwanted sexual advances in the workplace.

Be an educated parent, you will have a safer teen.

Watch video and read more about this topic.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sue Scheff: Bad Friends - Who are your teens hanging with?

Last fall Dr. Michele Borba, TODAY Show Contributor, released her largest book ever! The BIG Book of Parenting Solutions - 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.

In a 10 part series on Examiner, I explored only a tiny fraction of what BBPS (BIG Book of Parenting Solutions). Parenting Resolutions with Solutions is a 4 part series that shared 101 topics that are covered in BBPS.

Today the topic is bad friends (social scene section). Turn to page 315 and learn about how your kids are choosing friends and why. Find out the problem, the red flags, and why sometimes change is necessary. You will also find solutions!

Here are some signs and symptoms that your child may be choosing less than a desirable peer group.

  • Secretiveness. Your child becomes very secretive, locks his room, and covers up what he is doing.
  • Changes in appearance. Your child starts wearing "provocative" attire, wants only pricey or name-brand items, has a complete change in hairstyle, or starts wearing gizmos that "just aren't your kid."
  • School problems. Your child's grades drop; he loses interest in school, gets detentions or tardies, doesn't turn in homework; you have received worried calls or notes from his teacher.
  • Changes in activities. Your child pulls away from past friends; sees this kid exclusively; is negative about "former" pals; or quits a team or sport or other activities that he has always loved.
  • Character changes. Your child's integrity and your family values, culture or religious beliefs are affected; he is more withdrawn, moody, or sad.
  • Untrustworthiness. You can no longer count on your child's word; he lies, doesn't keep his promises, isn't where he say he is, misses his curfew, sneaks out.
  • Decline in reputation. Your child's image is negatively affected; teachers, coaches, other parents, or kids pull away or say your kid "has changed" - and not for the better.
  • Tense family relations. You and your child have frequent arguments, and your relationships with your child is strained.
  • Violence. Your child is preoccupied with violence in his drawings, writings, vocabulary, or choice of activities.
Of course any kid could show some of these traits, and they may have nothing to do with the friend he is hanging out with. The trick is to keep a closer eye on your child and this new friend: how many of these symptoms showed up because this kid came into his life? Also, are you sure the other kid is the negative influence---not vice versa?

The entire social scene section of BBPS covers so much more. Cliques, Drinking, Peer Pressure, Sex, Swearing and more.

If you are parenting today or going to be a parent, this book is a must in your library of parenting books. Order today!

Be an educated parent, you will be prepared and that means safer and healthier children!

Watch video and read on Examiner.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sue Scheff: When Teens Say to Parents: "I hate you"

Unfortunately many parents will hear these words when a heated debate comes up and a teenager is not allowed to have or do a specific event/item. Enduring this type of 'tough love" is one of the most common paths parents of struggling teens have to travel, hearing these hateful words.

Many cannot understand or grasp the concept of "not enabling" the child to ruin or run the family unit. Enduring life with a teen that is running the home can result in many uproars, conflicts, arguments, battles, and sometimes psychical and verbal abuse. Tough love is exactly that: Tough. Loving our children is unconditional, but we don't have to like what they are doing or how they are destroying their lives.

There will come a time when a parent realizes enough is enough! This is the time that they need the support from outside sources, such as a support group, along with professional intervention. This does not reflect you as a parent, nor does it place blame on the family, it is the child that is making the bad choices and the family is suffering from it.

Many times tough love is simply letting go. Let the child make their mistakes and they will either learn from them or suffer the consequences. Unfortunately depending on the situation, it is not always feasible to wait until the last minute to intervene. If you see that tough love is not working at home, it may be time to consider residential placement (placement outside the home). Quality residential placements work with the entire family.

While in the whirlwind of confusion, frustration and stress that the child is causing, it is hard to see the actual problem or problems. With time and distance, the healing starts to occur. Tough love is a very painful and stressful avenue, however in some families, very necessary and very rewarding. Tough love if used correctly can be helpful. However if you are the type to give in at the end, all the hard work of standing your ground will be for nothing. Actually, your weakness or giving in could result in deeper and more serious problems. Please confer with professionals or outside help if you feel you are not able to follow through with what you are telling your child you will do. Don't be ashamed to ask for help, you are certainly not alone.

Learn more about residential therapy at .

Be an educated parent, you will have a more peaceful home.

Also on Examiner.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens Smoking Cigarettes on the Decrease

Are we finally seeing peer pressure in a positive direction? A new government survey finds that more kids are smoking marijuana, abusing prescription drugs and using smokeless tobacco than a decade ago. But there is one area of abuse that is going down dramatically- cigarettes. (Connect with Kids)

There can be many factors for this, and it would be nice to know if kids are just telling kids that smoking is not cool. Other reasons could be the accessibility has become more difficult. Either way, it is a good news that smoking cigarettes among kids are decreasing.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
If your teen is smoking, encourage them to join an anti-smoking group. If you are a smoker, you should consider quitting with your teen. Teens want boundaries, even if their actions speak otherwise, our children need boundaries. Talking about why smoking is bad for them, as well as the serious health issues that come with tobacco, it is important that you don't stop reminding them of this. Even if you think they aren't listening, they are.

Reference: Fewer Kids Smoking, Connect with Kids

Florida Quitline - Be proactive in helping your teen quit smoking.

Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens. Also on Examiner.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sue Scheff: Saying 'I Love You' To Your Teenager

With Valentine's Day around the corner, many parents with elementary school children will be purchasing their unique Valentine's box cards depending on your child's interest. Whether it is Disney, Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer or Nascar, children are easy to please for this special day.

What about a teenager? Raising teens is not the easiest job and some teenagers are extremely difficult. Valentine's Day can give a parent an opportunity to let their teen know just how much you do love them, even if they give you stress and angst at times.

  • Plan some time together. Cook their favorite meal or go to their favorite restaurant. The important thing is you are taking the time to spend it with them. What a great opportunity to open those lines of communication.
  • If they have special plans with a girlfriend or boyfriend, be sure to make a date on another night to celebrate. Let your teen know they are important to you, how much you do love them no matter what and you understand that they may want to spend Valentine's Day with their significant other, however you would like a rain check. (Make the plans as near February 14th as possible so the understand it is a special time for parents and teens too).
  • If they do have a significant other they want to take to dinner, you may want to give them a Valentine's card with a gift certificate to a restaurant for them. This way you are showing your teenager you respect their decision and also want to spend them with them after or before they have their date.
We all know it is almost impossible to buy for teens, and Valentine's Day is about expressing love - do it with your time. It is a priceless gift.

Happy Valentine's Day and make it special for your teenager and family.

Also on Examiner.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sue Scheff: Street Proofing your Teens Against Strangers

As part 2 continues in educating our children on how to talk to strangers, The Parent Report offers an excellent segment on Street Proofing your Kids. As mentioned in part one, we can tell our children not to talk to strangers, however it is almost inevitable they will. With this, they need to be educated in how to talk to unknown people, that seem completely innocent.

Telling your children to "never talk to strangers" is only one step in keeping our children safe from sexual predators and child abductors.

As children, how many times were we told to "never talk to strangers"? And how many times have we given our own children the same message? We've all heard the horror stories and because of them we're anxious to street proof our children. But Martha McArthur of the safety program, Block Parents, believes that a pat "never talk to strangers" isn't realistic. Instead, McArthur says "it's important to make your children aware how to interact with strangers. 'Never talk to strangers' just isn't practical because we do find children who get lost and are then afraid to ask for help from a stranger."

McArthur says we should teach our children "that there is a circle of safety, as in a safe distance when talking to strangers. For example if a stranger asks them for directions the child should take a step back, answer them and walk away. If they are afraid, they can turn in the opposite direction and walk quickly away."

As well, it's important to explain to our children that strangers look like normal people, not monsters. And the word stranger should be a little more defined in that a stranger is someone you don't know very well or know at all. In other words, a stranger could be someone you've never met, or an acquaintance of the family who knows you by name.

People who prey on children are very good at getting the interest of a child, so many experts suggest role playing with your child how someone might approach them such as offering candy, asking for help, or if they'd like to come and meet their new puppy. Then you have the opportunity to teach your child to say a firm "no" and to walk away.

If you do role play with your child, keep it matter of fact and calm so as not to overly frighten them, because part of street proofing children is not just pointing out dangers, but teaching them confidence. "That way they're more capable of making a good decision in a bad situation", explains retired staff sergeant, John Andrews. "You want to be able to tell your child about some of the hazards in the world. You want to arm them with the information of things that could happen. You don't want to scare your child. You want to ensure that they'll do the right things. "

Andrews adds that if the worst should happen and "someone is attempting to take your child and grabs them, the child should fall to the ground and start kicking and screaming, to bite if necessary, anything it takes. The child wants to make as much noise and create as much diversion as possible so that other people in the area will want to know what is going on."

Finally, McArthur says one of the best things we can instill in our children is trust in their own instincts. "Children have very good instinct. They should trust that feeling in their gut that tells them if something is safe or not. We describe it as that feeling in your tummy that gives you butterflies if something isn't right."

Be an educated parent, you will have safer children.

Did you miss part 1?Go Back. (Teaching your kids to talk to strangers).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sue Scheff: Wilderness Programs - Are they right for your troubled teen?

What is a "Wilderness Program?" If you are a parent that is struggling with a teenager that is out-of-control, you will surf the Internet and attempt to find help. Many parents first think of boot camps as a resolution - a way to teach our teen a lesson. Then you realize that maybe that is not the best avenue and you are somehow directed to wilderness programs. Not always, but especially if you have hired an Educational Consultant, their first recommendation is commonly Wilderness programs (and many call the EC Shuffle).

There are many very good Wilderness Programs in our country, however the question remains, are they necessary or should you go directly to where most teens eventually end up: Residential Therapy program.

Wilderness programs are mainly designed to break a teen down. Although they are not punitive, in comparison to a boot camp, they are primitive, forcing your teen to appreciate the luxuries he had at home. However, a residential therapy program can do the same thing, since many are not designed by Hilton (TM). Have you also thought about this: Your teen is already broken down, why do we need to continue to break him/her down?

Let's look at the pro's and cons.

  • Wilderness programs can cost you up to $500.00 a day. Yes, a day. Some start as little as $250.00 a day (Yes, as little as). Now multiply that by 30 days or actually 6 weeks, since the average stay in Wilderness is 6-9 weeks. At the low end: A month in the mountains will cost you $7500.00. That is questionable to many, as well as out of the financial means of many more.
  • Wilderness program rarely have academics. Fact is your teen is probably not focused on academics and could care less about them. Working on their emotional stability is the goal here, however it shouldn't be an excuse to delay education. Although your child may not care about their education, you do.
  • Wilderness programs are short term. Short term program, short term results and a lot of money. In most cases they go on to residential programs which will run you about another $5000.00 a month and up for another 10-12 months. Wouldn't it make sense to start and finish at the same place with the same therapist and the consistency of recovery?
  • Wilderness programs are sadly where we hear of the most deaths or accidents in teen help programs. It is true, accidents can happen in any program, however when listening to speakers in congress while attempting to pass a bill to stop abuse in residential programs, it seemed the parents that lost a child in a program were mainly in Wilderness programs.
Some positives:

  • If your teen has not escalated to a point of serious concern, and is just starting to make some poor choices, maybe a 6-9 week wake-up call is all that is needed. As long as you can afford it, and remember, if they decide he/she needs more than the 6-9 weeks, you need to be prepared to go the next step.
  • The teen is removed from their home environment. They are put in a place of isolation and maybe this is just what they need to reflect on their current negative behavior.
  • There are some excellent Wilderness programs with very good and caring staff in our country. Many teens that had a wilderness experience really feel it was very good. Many parents also believe that the Wilderness program helped their child get ready for the next step, residential therapy.
  • Wilderness programs offer a great opportunity for your teen to live outdoors and experience outdoor therapy. With some teens this is very beneficial.
This is a personal decision, and although I am not an advocate of Wilderness programs I can appreciate and respect parents that believe they need this extra step and it has worked for them. It is my philosohy that starting and finishing at the program is part of the consistency of healing. Having to switch programs and therapists (especially) and starting over, can feel like you have fallen back to ground zero. However, each family is different with different needs, so this is an individual decision.

Is Wilderness right for your teen? Only you can answer that.

Order Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen for more information on finding the best placement for your individual needs.

Also on Examiner.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sue Scheff: Are Privileged Teens more Prone to Drug Abuse?

Teen Drug Prevention part 2. Did you miss part 1? Go back.

Assure your teen they can trust you and that you love them and want to help them. Explain harmful side effects of drugs, but assure them it's not too late to get help, and that you will support them. Tell them about any changes you've noticed in their behavior and how those changes make you feel. Let them talk to you, and listen to them. Do not judge them or criticize them.

The first you need to do in order to prevent your teen from abusing drugs, alcohol or tobacco is to take seriously the threat posed by these substances to your child. You have to take seriously the risks posed because this will ultimately be the one catalyst that will allow you to talk to your teen about the problem in a frank and open manner. By taking to heart the importance of the matter at hand, you will be in a better position to urge your teen to do the same. You do not need to be harsh or judgmental with them. It is a better strategy to be as supportive as you can. If you insist on being hostile and angry with your teen, you will likely succeed in pushing them away form you and deeper into possible addiction.

Any treatment plan you decide upon for your teen should be dictated by the substances they abuse and how much they abuse them. For example, to send a child to a strict military-style school because they have tried drugs or alcohol a handful of times is something of an overreaction. Many times if a teen’s experiments with drugs, alcohol and tobacco are minor, a good open talk with them can convey all the information you want, and achieve very positive results in terms of future behavior.

Of course, the story is entirely different if your teen has become addicted to drugs and alcohol. In this instance, a detoxification program may be in order, along with a treatment regimen that helps wean the child off of drugs and replaces that with medicine. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of prescription medicine treatment for substance abuse is greatly enhanced when combined with one-on-one and/or family counseling.

One thing to remember if treatment becomes the order for the day when addressing your child’s substance issues is that relapse after treatment is common. This does not mean that you or your teen have failed any part of the recovery process. Addiction is extremely difficult to overcome and the most important thing to keep in mind is to take things one step at a time.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Watch video and read on Examiner on more teen drug prevention.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Secrets - Should Parents Read Their Teen's Journal?

This is a subject that has many answers and opinions. First and foremost parents need to remember, "When Safety Trumps Privacy!"

Teenagers earn their trust with their parents. Respecting each others privacy should always be priority, however if you fear your teenager is heading down a dark path, and is not willing to talk to you or a third party (therapist, guidance counselor, relative or adult friend), you may have to cross the line of trust.

What are some of the warning signs that may prompt you to cross this line?

  • Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a "gut feeling" something is deeper than a secret, you may have to cross that line.
  • Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Again, teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however when it becomes extreme, it may be time to cross that line.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? And this is not into a better one, however to one that is less than desirable? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
  • Is your teens eating habits changing?
  • Is your teen sleeping a lot? Bloodshot eyes? Do you suspect drug use?
  • Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don't recognize?
When safety trumps privacy you are being a responsible parent. On the flip side, if your teen is not giving you any reason to "snoop" then you should respect their journal and/or diary and not open it.

What happens when you read the journal and find out more than you expected? This can be a very scary and shocking time and the last thing you want to do is explode. If your teen is struggling already, you don't need to add to this and possibly escalate it and/or give them reason to continue the negative behavior.

More importantly, if you are reading that your child is being bullied or suffering with depression (whether it is from low self worth or not fitting in), it is imperative you attempt to open lines of communication. Starting a conversation about yourself and maybe some of the feelings you had at her age could be a great conversation opener.

If you don't feel you are able to do this, please reach out and be sure your teen get the help he/she may need. Teens need to know that we do care about them, we are very much concerned about their happiness and we are not trying to stop them from having fun, however if their safety is jeopardized, we need to be a parent first.

Should you read your teen's diary? That is a personal question only you can answer.

Remember writing can be very healthy for teens (and adults for that matter), so if your teen isn't giving you any valid reasons to "invade their privacy" - respect it.

Also on Examiner.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sue Scheff: Tips in Finding a Safe and Qualified Teen Help Programs and Schools

Did you miss part 1? Go back.

Have you reached your wit's end and now considering residential therapy for your teen? As mentioned in the previous article, you have most likely exhausted all your local resources and have now realized you need outside help, and more than the once a week therapy or daily out-patience programs.

This is a major decision and here are a few helpful hints when you have decided it is "time" for this step.

  • Beware of the Internet. Yes, it is an educational tool and has become our informational highway, but remember, there are few if any, regulations to what people can post online. Websites can be deceptive and not portray what they actually are. With this, I am certainly not saying to use the Internet, in many cases you have to. You just need to be aware of how marketing works and remember - the teen help industry is a business. Is your child for sale?

  • Use caution when dialing all these toll free numbers you are finding. You will be shocked to find many clearing houses for teen help programs and schools. I like to refer to these as "marketing arms" and in my opinion, and over 10 years of working in this field, parents need to use extreme caution. When you start dialing toll free numbers all over the country, it can be quite unsettling. Who are they really? Do they have the best interest of your child? Are they commissioned to "sell you" a program? Just ask - what are their credentials and their interests in your family.

  • Should you employ an Educational Consultant (EC)? That is a personal decision, however I have found that this is an extra $500.00-5000.00 expense that many parents don't realize they can do on their own. Do they really know your child? Who knows your child best? It is usually the parent. My personal issue is the what is called the EC shuffle. After interviewing many parents that paid for an Educational Consultant, the similarities were concerning. It seemed the were always recommended to the same route of recovery. Although I am not speaking for the EC's, I assume they have their reasons.

  • Talk to the Owner/Director or Therapist of any program you are considering. This is something many parents don't think about. The owner of the program has a vested interest in seeing your child succeed - their reputation depends on it. A marketing arm or sales representative is interested in their commission (in my opinion) so be sure to get to someone that will be accountability for your teens progress. Or in some cases, lack of progress, and you can contact them for some reasons why things are not working and what their plans are to improve their treatment plan.

  • Parent references. Always get at least 3 parents references from the programs you are considering. It is best to narrow it down to at least 2-3 programs. Ask for parents that have the same gender, age range and possibly from your own local area or at least state. As with many references, most will only give out good ones, so always ask the question to the parent reference: "If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?" Although it doesn't mean you would exclude the program, it helps you to go in with eyes wide open.

There are many more helpful hints both on Parents' Universal Resource Experts, Inc and in Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen. Learn the differences between Residential Treatment Centers (RTC), Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS), Emotional Growths Programs and more. Another hot topic is the pros and cons of Wilderness Programs. Do you really need them, are they worth the $10,000 - $20,000 for 6-8 weeks?

Being an educated parent will help you find the best school or program for your individual teen. This is a major decision, take the time to do your homework. Learn more from our story.

Did you miss part 1? Go back.

Watch video and slideshow - click here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teenage Smoking - Help them Quit

New Year brings a new law in Florida. A new "fire-safe" cigarette law requires cigarettes to burn out when not in active use. Fires started by cigarettes kill more than 700 people and injure another 3,000 each year.

If you are a parent of a teenager, or younger child, that you suspect is smoking, you may want them to be aware of the new Florida law. This may be a way to open the lines of communication with your kids about smoking and the dangers of it. If you are a parent or an adult that smokes, of course, the new law applies to everyone.

Why do teens smoke? There are a variety of reasons:

  • Fit in with a peer group
  • Peer pressure
  • It's cool
  • You like it
  • Everyone is doing it
  • It calms you down
  • Etc.....
No matter what the reason is, the fact still remains it is bad for you. Once you have started, quitting becomes very difficult. The good news is, you can quit. Smoking, like many addictions, are not easy to give up.

Quitting Smoking:

Quitting smoking is possible. Every year, 2 million Americans stop smoking. But it's not easy. It requires motivation from the smoker and may take several attempts before success is permanent. The average number of attempts is believed to be three.

There is no right way to quit. Many smokers report they can quit abruptly--better known as "cold turkey." Others report quitting gradually by decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked each day. Those who are interested in quitting can talk with their health care provider or, in the United States, call the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 or the American Lung Association at (800) 586-4872 for useful information on how to quit.

If you are thinking about smoking, the only way to avoid getting hooked on cigarettes is never to start in the first place. And with the price of cigarettes as high as they are today, you will have all that extra money if you stop smoking. Yes, you can do it!


Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

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