Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sue Scheff - Parenting - What your kids are doing shouldn't be a mystery

Offered by Connect with Kids

Who’s pressuring your kids? Who’s offering them alcohol or drugs? Who’s talking to them on the Internet? Whether we’re teachers, parents, counselors…sometimes we just don’t know what’s really going on in a child’s life. If you want to talk to your kids about the challenges they face, but aren’t sure what to say, our programs will help…with real kids sharing their true stories, and advice from experts, educators and parents who have “been there.”

The Secret Life of Kids is a series of award-winning programs giving you an inside look at the pressures children face. Learning and talking with children about these issues is one of the best ways we can help keep them safe. These 30-minute programs are not only educational, they also offer a springboard for discussion — instead of talking “at” your child, you can discuss what you’ve just seen together. Along with this four-program set covering important, real-life issues, you’ll also receive the four accompanying resource guides FREE along with a FREE copy of the show you just watched, Against All Odds. Don’t let your child’s life remain a mystery — let us help you protect them. Order this unique program series now!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sue Scheff Teenage Depression and the Holidays

We hear about many people that are suffering this year with saddness and depression. Whether it is an economy that leaves us frustrated we can’t give our kids what we would like to, or simply the feeling of hopefulessness.

Teens can suffer too. Teen Depression can lead to negative behavior and sometimes worse.
Learn more about Teen Depression.

Teenage depression is more than just bad moods or broken hearts; it is a very serious clinical illness that will affect approximately 20% of teens before they reach adulthood. Left untreated, depression can lead to difficult home situations, problems at school, drug abuse, and worse, violence toward themselves and others.

Certain young teens suffer from depression as result of situations surrounding their social or family life, but many are succeptable to the disease regardless of race, gender, income level or education. It is very important for parents to keep a watch on their teens - and to maintain a strong level of communication. Understanding the causes and warning signs of the illness can help parents prevent their teens from falling in to depression.

Learn more about surviving Teen Depression in Gary E. Nelson’s book, A Relentless Hope: Suviving the Storm of Teen Depression.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - At Wit's End

Are you at your wit’s end?

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sue Scheff - Parents Universal Resource Experts - Parenting Teens

As a parent advocate, I have been hearing from parents weekly that are at their wit's end. After going through a very difficult time with my daughter, I know how it feels to be helpless and not know where to turn.

That is why I created Parents Universal Resource Experts - to help educate parents today's teens and finding healthy resources for them.

Learn from my mistakes - gain from my knowledge. You don't have to make the same falls I did, watch for the warning signs, prepare yourself with information to help you when you are at your wit's end.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sue Scheff Parenting Troubled Teens

It stems back to “children need to have their self-esteem built up to make good decisions.” Today most families are either single parent or both parents are working full time. This is not the fault of the teen, nor is it the fault of the parents. It is today’s world and we must try to find the middle. Troubled teens, rebellious teens, angry teens, problem teens, difficult teens, peer pressure, depressed teens; unfortunately are part of the society of adolescents today.Communication is always the first to go when people get busy. We have seen this over and over again. We have also experienced it and feel that our children shut us out; this can lead to difficult teens and teens with problems. Although we are tired and exhausted, along with the stress of today’s life, we need to stop and take a moment for our kids.

Talk and LISTEN to them. Ask lots of questions, get to know their friends and their friend’s parents, take part in their interests, be supportive if they are having a hard time, even if you can’t understand it; be there for them.This all sounds so easy and so simple, but take it from parents that have walked this path, it is not easy. When a parent works a full day, has stress from the job along with household chores, not to mention the bills, it is hard to find that moment. We are all guilty of neglect at one time or another after all, we are only human and can only do so much. We feel the exhaustion mounting watching our teens grow more out of control, yet we are too tired to address it.

Out of control teens can completely disrupt a family and cause marriages to break up as well as emotional breakdowns.We know many feel it is just a stage, and with some, it may be. However most times it does escalate to where we are today. Researching for help; Parents’ Universal Resource Experts is here for you, as we have been where you are today.

Do you have a difficult teen, struggling teen, defiant teen, out of control teen, rebellious teen, angry teen, depressed teen? Do you feel hopeless, at your wits end?

Visit www.helpyourteens.com.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Teens Stealing

Holiday’s are officially here - malls are crowded - stores are busy with the holiday rush especially today on Black Friday.

It doesn’t matter your economic status, it seems some teens from all financial backgrounds will try their “hand” at shoplifting. Why? Peer pressure? Is it cool? Part of the crowd?

What constitutes shoplifting? It doesn’t have to be only stealing, shoplifting can include changing price tags (which is harder to do now with the bar scans in some stores), consuming food or drink without paying for it, leaving a restaurant without paying, wearing items out of a store (again, hoping there isn’t an alarm tag on them) - this and more will land you in legal trouble if you are caught.

Teens seem to believe it could never happen to them - however more and more I am hearing from parents that have had to deal with this.

To learn more, visit www.stopyourkidsfromshoplifting.com and get some great parenting tips such as:

Why Children Steal and Your Role in Preventing Retail Theft

Very young children sometimes take things they want without understanding why it’s wrong. Elementary school-aged children know better, but may lack enough self-control to stop themselves. Most preteens and teens shoplift as a result of social and personal pressure in their lives. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

• Feel peer pressure to shoplift
• Low self-esteem
• A cry for help or attention
• The na├»ve assumption they won’t get caught
• The belief that teen stealing is “not a big deal”
• Inability to handle temptation when faced with things they want
• The thrill involved
• Defiance or rebelliousness
• Not knowing how to work through feelings of anger, frustration, etc.
• Misconception that stores can afford the losses
• The desire to have the things that will get them “in” with a certain group of kids.
• To support a drug habit.
• To prove themselves to members of a gang.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teen Entitlement Issues


Does your teen have Entitlement Issues?

Does your teen expect more from you than they have earned or deserve?

Many parents only want the best for their children (usually more than they had growing up), but has this actually backfired on families?

In today’s society many teens have major entitlement issues. Many parents feel that giving their teen’s material items will somehow earn them respect. Quite frankly, the opposite occurs in most families. The more we give, the more our children expect and the less they respect us. We literally lose ourselves in buying our children’s love. At the end of the day, no one wins and life is a constant battle of anger, hopelessness, and debt.

While interviewing a young teen, she was recently given a new car – brand new – felt she deserved it since her parents gave her two used ones previously. She is only 17 years old and already controlling her household and believes she was entitled to this car. She shows no appreciation or respect to her parents. Simply, she deserved it. Can you imagine owning 3 cars by the age of 17, yet never buying one? This is an extreme example, but I am sure many parents can relate.

Entitlement issues can lead to serious problems. Teaching your child respect and responsibility should be priority. Although the issues may have started to escalate, as a parent, it is never too late to take control of the situation and say “no” when your teen feels they are entitled to a frivolous item or anything that is considered a privilege.

Life is about responsibility, as parents we need to teach our children responsibility – helping our children comes natural to us, however when it becomes excessive and the child doesn’t appreciate it, it is time to step back and evaluate your situation.
Learn more at www.helpyourteens.com.







Friday, November 14, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff: Teens Skipping School


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.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sue Scheff - Exercise can Improve Grades




“There is a connection between physical activity and learning and it is a positive one - children who are more physically fit do better academically. They concentrate better in the classroom [and] they perform better on math and reading examinations.”

– Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General

In an effort to boost test performance, many schools are taking time away from physical education and using it for more time in class.

But studies now show that rigorous physical activity can actually lead to better grades.

In Broward County, Florida, many schools are getting the message.

Fourth grade teacher Katherine Bennett takes her students out for a five-minute walk after a long lesson.

“I found that when my children start yawning and they start not paying attention, then one way I can refocus those children is to take them out for a brief, little fun walk,” she says. “And by the time we’ve got them back into the room again, they’re ready to study some more.”

In fact, according to new research from the Medical College of Georgia, kids who are active and play hard have higher levels of concentration, better organization skills and are less impulsive than kids who are sedentary.

“The area of the brain that’s involved in cognitive learning is the same area that’s stimulated by physical activity, so the two seem to work hand in hand,” explains Jackie Lund, Ph.D, President of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

Former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher agrees, “Children who are physically fit do better academically. They perform better on standardized examinations, they concentrate better, on the other hand, children who are obese are four times as likely to be depressed, very likely to be absent from school.”

What’s more, many kids say it’s easy to get distracted if you have to sit still, all day long, in school.

“After a while I just get antsy and I want to move around - cause I start to get stiff and it’s like, I want to get up and walk around,” complains 18-year-old Eric DeGreeff. “But in class you can’t really get up and walk around,”

That’s why, experts say, if your child’s school does not provide vigorous physical education, you have to speak up.

“If parents go out and demand quality physical education, where their kids are learning and they’re moving and they’re involved in activities that are going to create the next steps for a life time, then they will be heard,” says Lund.

Tips for Parents

“It is helpful to think of the brain as a muscle,” Dr. John Ratey told colleagues at a conference on “Learning and the Brain” in Boston. Dr. Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says the best way to “maximize the brain” is through exercise and movement. Emerging new research on animals and humans suggests his theory may be correct. In particular, the following two studies indicate that physical exercise may boost brain function, improve mood and increase learning:

A four-year study at Albion College in Michigan shows that children who participated in regular exercise (jumping rope, hopscotch, catching and throwing balls) significantly raised their scores on standardized mathematics tests. Teachers also reported that the exercise program helped improve the students’ social and emotional skills.

Investigators from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have found that running boosts the growth of nerve cells and improves learning and memory in adult mice. According to the study, the brains of mice that exercised had about 2.5 times more new nerve cells than sedentary mice.
Says Dr. Ratey: “Twelve minutes of exercise at 85% of your maximum heart rate is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin in a very holistic manner.”

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) offers the following statistics and recommendations to support that physically active children “learn better”:

Elementary school students should participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate and vigorous activity every day.

Middle and high school students should participate in 30 minutes of physical activity daily.
Play is an essential part of children’s social development.

Children learn how to cooperate, compete constructively, assume leader/follower roles and resolve conflicts by interacting in play.

Only 25% of American children participate in any type of daily physical activity.

More than 300,000 deaths are caused annually by a lack of exercise and a poor diet.

How much exercise does your child need? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a “healthy level” of physical activity requires regular participation in activities that increase heart rates above resting levels. An active child plays sports, participates in physical education classes, performs regular household chores, spends recreational time outdoors and regularly travels by foot or bicycle.

The AHA offers the following guidelines for maintaining healthy physical activity in children:

Encourage regular walking, bicycling, outdoor play, the use of playgrounds and gymnasiums and interaction with other children.

Allow no more than two hours per day to watch television or videotapes.

Promote weekly participation in age-appropriate organized sports, lessons, clubs or sandlot games.

Have your child participate in daily school or day-care physical education that includes at least 20 minutes of coordinated large-muscle exercise.

Make sure your child has access to school buildings and community facilities that enable safe participation in physical activities.

Provide opportunities for physical activities that are fun, increase confidence and involve friends and peers.

Organize regular family outings that involve walking, cycling, swimming or other recreational activities.

Engage in positive role modeling for a physically active lifestyle.
Experts say it is important for parents to remember that physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial.

References
American Heart Association
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Medical College of Georgia
National Association for Sport and Physical Education

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sue Scheff: ADHD Parenting Tips




ADHD Parenting Tips: Be Positive and Calm


What does my style of parenting look like? Let’s say your nine-year-old refuses to comply with a simple request, like “Please pick up your toys.” Don’t repeat your request. Don’t yell or threaten a time-out. Instead, respond with action — firm, calm, quiet, and dramatic.


For instance, you might begin placing the toys into a container. If the child asks what you’re doing, you can say that the toys will remain in your possession until she pays you a small sum or performs certain chores. Your floor will be free of clutter — and your child will be more likely to comply next time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sue Scheff: Safe Teen Driving Club


Are you a parent of a new teenage driver or is your teen about to take the wheel? Be an educated parent - learn more here on this valuable website promoting Safe Teen Driving!
*****************


Our mission is to educate parents and provide them services they can use to keep their teen safe and alive while driving. It's pretty well known that driving crashes are the #1 cause of teen injury and death, taking a back seat to suicide, homocide, drugs, alcohol and all other causes.Feel free to visit our site at http://www.safeteendrivingclub.org/, or our blog at http://safeteendrivingclub.wordpress.com/.


You'll find safety tips, information on our Crash Free America educational program for parents and services and products that are proven to reduce the chances of a crash with your teen.
You can also see a short video about the Club and other media coverage at http://www.safeteendrivingclub.org/stdc_page2.php?page_ID=1193759997.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sue Scheff: Do you know what your kids are putting online about you?


I read this very interesting Blog today on today's kids and what they can put online about not only themselves, but about their parents! Not excluding other family members.


By Eve Tahmincioglu


Are your Internet-crazed kids sabotaging your job search/career?


Who knows things about you that you’d rather not share with the general public? That you drink two or three martinis every night. Maybe you like to call in sick when you’re really not sick to play basketball with the kids. Or maybe you’re prone to punching in walls when you fight with your spouse.


I’ve written a lot about digital dirt lately. You know, the negative information about you on the Internet you don’t want your boss or prospective employers to see.


Well, here’s a minefield you better keep an eye on — Your own digitally savvy kids that seem to spend every waking moment of their lives sending weird things to eachother on Facebook, or MySpace.


The owner of ReputationDefender.com, Michael Fertick, recently told me of a new phenomenon he’s discovered in his quest to help people everywhere protect their online reputations. The company helps individuals by searching the Internet for bad stuff about their customers and then finding ways to get rid of it. Sometimes it’s as simple as calling a blogger and asking that something negative be removed, and in other cases it requires writing lots of good stuff about a client so it drowns out the bad stuff.


The bad stuff usually comes from disgruntled girlfriends or boyfriends; people criticizing something you wrote or a project you worked on; or maybe you got rowdy at a football game and the local paper wrote about you.


But Fertik was surprised when he discovered a new source for the bad stuff — his customers’ own kids.


Turns out some tweens, teens and even 20 somethings out there are writing about private family matters on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, and also sharing their pain on blogs. And they’re naming names.“We’ve seen discussions by kids of parents’ incomes,” he says. For example, ‘Dad makes $75,000 per year’. They also write about their parents’ relationships, “‘Mom and Dad are fighting pretty hard tonight’, of career news ‘Mom didn’t get the promotion she wanted’; and even social habits or qualities, ‘Dad is such a d–k,’ or ‘Dad is a friggin’ alcoholic.’”


Parents shouldn’t be too surprised that their children are sharing this stuff on the Web. Kids have always had to vent about family issues to their friends, but before the Internet, conversations were kept out of the public forum, for the most part.


Fertik’s advice: Talk to your kids and check out their FaceBook accounts now. “Let them know whatever they write is a tattoo that can stain them and you (the parent), possibly forever,” he adds.


We’ve all been so worried lately that our kids may end up writing something about themselves, or sharing suggestive photos of themselves on social networking sites that could end up hurting them when they go out into the job market. None of us thought about what they may be writing about us.


Is there something your kids know that could come back to haunt you?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sue Scheff featured in the Sun Sentinel


'Wit's End' book offers advice to help out-of-control teens


By Liz Doup South Florida Sun-SentinelOctober 8, 2008


A decade ago, when her 14-year-old daughter spiraled out of control, Sue Scheff didn't know where to turn.


As a result, the Weston mom sent Ashlyn to a residential program that harmed rather than helped, she says. It was a drastic move after her daughter had temporarily run away and threatened violence.


In hindsight, Scheff wishes she had looked more closely at schools and asked more questions. To help parents avoid her mistakes, she started researching programs that offer professional treatment in a residential setting. She put what she learned in the recently published book, Wit's End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen (Health Communications Inc.; $14.95). She also created Parents' Universal Resource Experts Inc. (helpyourteens.com).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Drug Use


Defining "Gateway Drugs"


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


The danger of gateway drugs increases in combination with many prescription medications taken by teens today. These dangerous side effects may not be addressed by your child's pediatrician if your child is legally too young to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Drugs like Ritalin, Prozac, Adderrall, Strattera, Zoloft and Concerta can be very dangerous when mixed with recreational drugs and alcohol. Combining some prescription medications with other drugs can often negate the prescription drug's effectiveness, or severely increase the side effects of the drug being abused.


For example, a 2004 study by Stanford University found that the active chemical in marijuana, THC, frequently acted as a mental depressant as well as a physical depressant. If your child is currently on an anti-depressant medication like Prozac or Zoloft, marijuana use can counterbalance their antidepressant effects.


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


Marijuana - Why It is More Dangerous Than You Think


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


Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug by both teens and adults. The drug is more commonly smoked, but can also be added to baked goods like cookies or brownies. Marijuana which is ingested orally can be far more potent than marijuana that is smoked, but like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana can cause lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and other chronic conditions of the lungs. Just because it is "all natural" does not make it any safer for your lungs.
Marijuana is also a depressant. This means the drug slows down the body's functions and the messages the body sends to the brain. This is why many people who are under the influence of marijuana (or "stoned") they are often sluggish or unmotivated.


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


Tobacco - Just Because It Is Legal Doesn't Mean It Is Safe


While cigarettes and tobacco are considered "legal", they are not legal for teens to posses or smoke until they are 18. Still, no matter the age of your child, smoking is a habit you should encourage them to avoid, whether they can smoke legally or not.


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


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


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


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


The Sobering Effects of Alcohol on Your Teen


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


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


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


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


It is a fact that most teenage deaths are associated with alcohol, and approximately 6000 teens die each year in alcohol related automobile accidents. Indirectly, alcohol consumption can severely alter teens' judgment, leaving them vulnerable to try riskier behaviors like reckless stunts, drugs, or violent behavior. Alcohol and other drugs also slow response time, leaving teenage girls especially in danger of sexual assault.


The temporary feeling of being uninhibited can also have damaging future consequences. With the popularity of internet sites like MySpace and Facebook, teens around the country are finding embarrassing and indecent photos of themselves surfacing online. Many of these pictures were taken while the subjects were just joking around, but some were taken while the subjects were drunk or under the influence of drugs. These photos are often incredibly difficult to remove, and can have life altering consequences. Many employers and colleges are now checking networking sites for any reference to potential employees and students, and using them as a basis to accept or decline applicants!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sue Scheff: Middle School Drinking




“We’ve approached parenting as a life-long process and this is just part of it. We’re just starting him, training him, helping him get set for the rest of his life - to make his own decisions.”

– Jon Schlanger, Jake’s father

“I’ve heard in other schools that people have been sneaking drugs into their lockers,” Jake says. He’s only ten years old, and he already knows kids who use drugs.

Experts say that today, children younger than ever are exposed to themes once reserved for adults: sex, violence, profanity - as well as drugs and alcohol.

“I think they’re pushed,” explains educator Kay Scott. “You know, pushed by music, pushed by movies, and pushed in some ways by the media.”

Experts add that parents aren’t teaching their elementary school-age kids about the dangers of alcohol.

As Dr. Michael Fishman, an addiction medicine specialist, explains, “Many of the parents are not getting involved as much with kids around education, around negative experiences they’ve had with drugs and alcohol.”

And that’s why Jake’s parents began that conversation two years ago. His father is a recovering alcoholic.

“That was a part of our life and it is a part of our life, so it was appropriate for this family to have that conversation at the time,” says Jon Schlanger, Jake’s dad.

One specific worry for them is that Jake inherited his dad’s genes.

“If one of the parents has the disease of alcoholism, I think at a minimum it’s 25% more likely [that the child will inherit the disease],” explains Dr. Fishman.

Another concern is his age. “The younger they start drinking, the higher risk they’re going to have for alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence,” he continues.

Which is why, Dr. Fishman says every family needs to start the conversation early: “I think the young people are much more aware and ready than many parents may believe.”

Jake’s dad knows he was ready for it, too. “In one respect it forces me to be honest about it; in another aspect, and this was very important to me, is for him to see that when I had a problem that I would try to face it and work through it.”

Tips for Parents

Alcohol-related fatalities are a leading cause of death among young adults in the United States. In the United States, 70.8 percent of all deaths among persons aged 10 to 24 result from only four causes – motor-vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.

Should your family doctor take just a few moments to counsel your child about the risks of alcohol, there is great potential for positive outcome. Just a few minutes of a doctor's counseling helped young adults reduce their high-risk drinking and the number of traffic crashes, emergency room visits, and arrests for substance or liquor violations, says a study in the Annals of Family Medicine. Consider the following:

Underage drinking causes over $53 billion in criminal, social and health problems.
Alcohol is a leading factor in the three leading causes of death for 15 to 24-year-olds: automobile crashes, homicide and suicide.
Primary-care doctors should make it a priority to counsel young adults about high-risk drinking. Young adults, ages 18 to 30, who received counseling about reducing their use of alcohol:

Experienced a 40 to 50 percent decrease in alcohol use.
Reported 42 percent fewer visits to the emergency room.
Were involved in 55 percent fewer motor vehicle crashes.
The ways a parent can influence his or her teen’s drinking habits is complex. A universal method regarding what works best in preventing underage drinking may not exist. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that a parent’s attitude toward drinking influences a child's behavior in various ways. Researchers found that teens who drank with their parents were less likely than others to have binged or used alcohol at all in recent weeks.

The study also found that strict parenting can curb kids' drinking. Teens who said they feared they would have their privileges taken away if they got caught drinking were half as likely to drink as those who thought their parents would not punish them. In addition, consider the following:

The average girl takes her first sip of alcohol at age 13. The average boy takes his first sip of alcohol at age 11.
Teenagers who said their parents or their friends' parents had provided alcohol for a party over the past year were twice as likely as their peers to have used alcohol or binged during the previous month.
Nearly 75 percent of teens surveyed said they had never used alcohol.
About 25 percent of teens in the study said they'd been at party in the past year where parents supplied alcohol.
Fourteen percent of teens surveyed said they were with their parents the last time they drank.

References
The Centers for Disease Control
Focus Adolescent Services
National Youth Violence Prevention Center
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Surgeon General

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sue Scheff - Founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts - Wit's End!


With peer pressure and social influences at all-time highs, many good teens are making bad choices, placing intense emotional and financial strain on parents and families. Lack of motivation, substance abuse, negative peers and gang affiliation are just some of the common challenges facing kids today.

To help address these and other issues, parent advocate Sue Scheff has announced the release of her new book, “Wit’s End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen.”

Scheff’s book chronicles her painful journey with a struggling teenage daughter and also offers advice, resources and help to mothers and fathers forced to make tough choices regarding their children.

“In the MySpace generation, kids are under more pressure than ever before,” says Scheff, author and founder of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.), an organization that assists families with at-risk children.

“This book will be an invaluable resource and allow parents to learn from my past mistakes,” she adds.

As a single mother in the ‘90s, Scheff struggled to raise her teen daughter, who embraced disturbing friends, beliefs and behaviors. Ultimately, Scheff was forced to utilize a residential treatment facility as a way to instill discipline and structure.

What happened next was chilling -- stories of beatings, sexual abuse, forced starvation and neglect all surfaced from the very facility that was supposed to be protecting and rehabilitating Scheff’s daughter.

In the years following her ordeal, Scheff championed for safe alternatives for at-risk teens and began helping other parents who were facing similar challenges as she once did.

Published by Health Communications, Inc., “Wit’s End” is an extension of the assistance Scheff has been able to provide to families over the years.

“Parents need to know that they’re not alone,” says Scheff. “This book is a much-needed guide to avoid the pitfalls and will ultimately help expedite the healing process.”

For more information, visit http://www.witsendbook.com/.

About the Author
Sue Scheff is the founder of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts (http://www.helpyourteens.com/) and is a sought-after interviewee and speaker on topics such as Internet abuse, struggling teens, cyberbullying and defamation. She has been featured on 20/20, CNN Headline News, ABC News, Fox News, The Rachael Ray Show, Lifetime Television, NPR, BBC Talk Radio and has appeared in the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Miami Herald and San Francisco Chronicle.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sue Scheff: Pitfalls of Popularity




"Part of fitting in and part of being popular is that teenagers who are popular tend to engage in a lot of behaviors that are valued by their peers. Some are good and some are not so good.”

– Marla Shapiro, licensed psychologist

“We didn’t get in until like, really late, so as soon as we got there we went right out,” 18-year-old Candler Reed says, filling her mom in on the details of her weekend.

Candler goes to a lot of parties; she has a lot of friends. For Candler Reed, being popular has its perks. “Having things to do on the weekends, having a very wide circle of friends,” she says.

But it also has its pitfalls. “My social life was first freshman through junior year, that was my first priority, even over my school work.”

She was less likely to do homework, and according to a recent study by the University of Virginia, popular teens, like Candler, are three times more likely to experiment with risky behaviors than their unpopular counterparts.

“Teenagers who are popular tend to engage in a lot of behaviors that are valued by their peers. Some are good and some are not so good,” explains Marla Shapiro, licensed psychologist.

For Candler it was drinking, something her mom was not happy with, “It was disappointing to find out that she was not always where she said she was or doing what she said she was doing.”

Experts say, with popular teens especially, this can be surprising for parents. “We think that oh, our kids are popular, they’re well liked, they get along well with us, they’re doing well, we can relax, these are what you call good kids, and I think the message for parents would be- you can’t ever let your guard down,” explains Shapiro.

Setting a strict curfew, knowing her friends, keeping in constant touch are just a few of the things that worked well for Candler and her mom. “It’s definitely gotten better now, now that we’ve gotten more involved with her life,” explains her mom.

“It’s made me learn, I learned from my mistakes, the mistakes I have made probably trying to be cool and fit in,” says Candler.

Tips for Parents
Many people believe students who are popular set the trends and take the lead in regards to making decisions. However, popular students are just as susceptible to peer pressure as other students – and sometimes more so, because they don’t want to become unpopular or lose their status.

When students – popular or not – are pressured by others to do certain things or go certain places, it can be very stressful. Experts at the Do It Now Foundation suggest the following things to consider to ease the decision-making process:

Identify the problem
Describe possible solutions or alternatives
Evaluate the ideas
Act out a plan
Learn for the future (have reactions in place for certain scenarios)
Being a popular student can be a very enviable position, but for some students it can also be a burden. The possibility of bad influences or advice is increased as more and more people surround an individual. Therefore, it is important for parents of popular children to encourage them to be responsible and develop good decision-making skills, particularly when it comes to comes to deciding what things are more important than others. Experts at Omaha Boys Town Pediatrics suggest the following tips for parents who are concerned with the friends surrounding their children and the influences they have may have on them:

Spend time together – Recent studies indicate that children who feel close to their parents are less likely to be negatively influenced by others.
Use opportunities to teach your children – Some of the time you spend with your children should be used to discuss problems and concerns they might face. These discussions give you an opportunity to offer advice and reinforce your family's morals and values.
Listen carefully to what your children say – Talk with them instead of at them.
Monitor what your children are doing – Keep track of them, watch over them and have them check in and report where they are, who they're with, and what they're doing.
References
Do It Now Foundation
Omaha Boys Town Pediatrics
University of Virginia

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Teens and Steroids


Don’t Be An Asterisk. Whether it is a potential college scholarship or just helping the team win, some teens feel pressure to do whatever it takes to get an “edge”, even if it means taking steroids or other illegal substances.Hopefully the striking video and information available on the official website (link below) will educate teens and their families about performance enhancing drugs.

Check out the 30 second PSA video here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ-DaJvBKuc

For more information on the campaign visit:http://www.dontbeanasterisk.com/

I just received this educational information for parents to be aware of - be sure to take a minute to visit this website and a minute to watch the video. Being an educated parents helps you to help your teen!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stressed Out Students' Guide To Handling Peer Pressure


I was just recommended this dynamic book by Dr. Lisa Medoff and can’t wait to read it! As a Parent Advocate, this can be one of the most trying times for parents as school is opening. Today with issues surrounding social networking, compounded with peer pressure - “Stressed Out Students” are at risk of making not so good choices.

Here is the recent Press Release about “SOS” - which can be purchased on Amazon today!

SOS: STRESSED OUT STUDENT’S

GUIDE TO HANDLING PEER PRESSURE



Lisa Medoff, PhD



In a society overloaded with media that glamorizes sex, drinking, and drugs, and where any outrageous, dangerous, humiliating thing a person does can be caught on a cell phone and posted on the internet for all to see, teens are feeling forced to succumb to peer pressure like never before. As peers become the pseudo “paparazzi,” teens need somewhere to turn for answers that give them the strength to reject the constant pressure to “fit in.”



Now Kaplan - widely respected for helping millions of students prepare for every aspect of academic life - steps outside the classroom to guide teens, parents, and educators on the ever-increasing pressure-cooker of adolescence. Its SOS: Stressed Out Student’s Guide series offers realistic advice written by students, for students, on the topics of most concern to today’s teens. Every book in the motivational series also features advice from Education.com columnist, educator, and psychologist Lisa Medoff, PhD, who works with troubled teens and teachers in high-risk school districts.



SOS: STRESSED OUT STUDENT’S GUIDE TO HANDLING PEER PRESSURE (Kaplan Publishing; September, 2008) hones in on and tackles the scourge of peer pressure and its effects on teenagers. As Dr. Medoff assures readers, “This book will help teens sort out the different influences that peer pressure is having on them. It will show them how peer pressure can manipulate them into making some very bad, life altering decisions about drugs, sex, cheating, stealing, and being cruel to others. They’ll learn to trust themselves and be proud of who they are.”



Featuring frank, realistic language plus an engaging, highly illustrated layout, SOS: STRESSED OUT STUDENT’S GUIDE TO HANDLING PEER PRESSURE is designed to appeal to the modern teenager’s eye, attention span, and need for quick gratification. It is also an imperative handbook for adults who want to understand and open the lines of communication with the adolescents in their lives.



Without preaching, each of the ten easy to read chapters in SOS: STRESSED OUT STUDENT’S GUIDE TO HANDLING PEER PRESSURE is packed with explanations, scenarios, stats, and fascinating facts such as:



· 1 in 4 sexually active teens becomes infected with an STD each year.

· Nationally, 6 out of 10 girls who had sex before the age of 15 report that it was involuntary.

· Teens and juveniles make up 25% of all shoplifters, though not all steal because they want something. Many teens shoplift compulsively because of stress, anxiety, psychological problems, or abuse.

· Teens with a history of habitually ditching school are also found to be at greater risk for involvement with gangs, drugs, alcohol, or violence.



Along with SOS: Stressed Out Student’s Guide to Saying No to Cheating and SOS: Stressed Out Student’s Guide to Dealing With Tests, SOS: STRESS OUT STUDENT’S GUIDE TO HANDLING PEER PRESSURE is one of the exciting books in Kaplan’s new series SOS: Stressed Out Student’s Guides.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Lisa Medoff, PhD holds a B.A. in psychology, a Masters degree in school counseling and a PhD in child and adolescent development. She has taught courses at Stanford University, Santa Clara University, San Jose State University and DeAnza College. She has worked with all types of children including students with special needs, ADHD, learning disabilities, depression, and anxiety. Lisa Medoff, understands the needs and mind-set of modern teenagers, and has mastered the difficult task of appropriately reaching out to them at their tumultuous life stage.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What Is ADHD? Diagnosis and Treatment Information

Source: ADDitude Magazine

An expert on ADHD and learning disabilities talks about the biology behind attention deficit disorder and why it's sometimes so difficult to diagnose and treat ADHD symptoms in children.
by Larry Silver, M.D.

In my 40 years as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I have treated thousands of youngsters. With some children, I am able to make a quick evaluation about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and outline a course of treatment. With others — more often than I care to admit — I have to tell parents that it's not clear what is wrong. It's not that I lack the expertise or diagnostic skills. It's just that psychiatry isn't quite as far along as other medical specialties.

A pediatrician can do a throat culture and tell at once whether a child needs an antibiotic; appropriate treatment follows the diagnosis. In contrast, psychiatrists are often required to initiate a specific treatment and worry about clarifying the diagnosis later on. As I often tell parents, we must "put out the fire and blow the smoke away" before we can figure out what started the fire.

If a child is having problems in school, he may have attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD), but it's also possible that he has a learning disability. Or depression. Or anxiety. Sometimes what looks like ADHD is the result of family tensions.

If ADHD seems to be even a part of such a "mixed clinical picture," I typically prescribe medication. If this solves the problem, terrific. But in many cases, another intervention is needed to address persistent academic, emotional, or family problems. Only weeks or months after treatment has been initiated will the full clinical picture become clear.

I understand parents' concern about medicating their children. My clinical knowledge notwithstanding, I agonized over whether my granddaughter, who has ADHD, should be on meds. (Ultimately, we decided she should.) I have found, however, that parents often feel better about ADHD meds when they understand a bit about neurotransmitters, the remarkable compounds that govern brain function.

How neurotransmitters work
Before I tell you about these special brain chemicals, let me explain a bit about brain anatomy.

There are millions of cells, or neurons, densely packed into various regions of the brain. Each region is responsible for a particular function. Some regions interact with our outside world, interpreting vision, hearing, and other sensory inputs to help us figure out what to do and say. Other regions interact with our internal world — our body — in order to regulate the function of our organs.

For the various regions to do their jobs, they must be linked to one another with extensive "wiring." Of course, there aren't really wires in the brain. Rather, there are myriad "pathways," or neural circuits, that carry information from one brain region to another.

Information is transmitted along these pathways via the action of neurotransmitters (scientists have identified 50 different ones, and there may be as many as 200). Each neuron produces tiny quantities of a specific neurotransmitter, which is released into the microscopic space that exists between neurons (called a synapse), stimulating the next cell in the pathway — and no others.

How does a specific neurotransmitter know precisely which neuron to attach to, when there are so many other neurons nearby? Each neurotransmitter has a unique molecular structure — a "key," if you will — that is able to attach only to a neuron with the corresponding receptor site, or “lock.” When the key finds the neuron bearing the right lock, the neurotransmitter binds to and stimulates that neuron.

Read entire article here: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1572.html

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sue Scheff presents: Becoming a part of your government and getting your teen involved


America may be the world’s most powerful democracy, but even the strongest democratic government only succeeds because of the participation of its citizens. However, the voting participation percentages of Americans are some of the worst in the world for major modern democracies. Due to this alarming fact, one of the most pressing responsibilities of good citizens is participation in the democratic process.


If you wish to become a productive citizen, Democratic participation does not end with simply voting, one must influence others to participate as well. There are many ways to get fellow community members out to the polls to vote. Luckily, the act of voting is one of the best ways to get others to vote. Leading by action is an important tool for good citizens, because we all know actions speak much louder than words.


You can also put an “I voted” sticker on your car or even offer to drive someone to a polling place to promote community voting participation. Simply sharing your knowledge about candidates, as well as times or places to vote will influence greater participation in those around you. Use this poll locator to find polling places around your area and be sure to share that knowledge


An extremely important part of the democratic system is manning the polling places themselves. The importance of this job is extremely underrated and overlooked, but its Democratic necessity is undeniable. The poll workers help maintain the ability for everyone to have an honest and fair place to vote, which is the basic foundation of our political process. Anyone can volunteer to work at a polling place and be a part of the American political system. Working at a polling place puts you on the front lines of the government system, allowing you to become the gate keeper to American Democracy. Working at a local polling area is a classic example of productive citizenship.


Another classic and positive good citizen practice is writing letters to your regional congressional representative when you feel import issues require their attention. Often people have problems in their community but do nothing, when even one letter sent to a state or regional representative can solve the problem or at least bring attention to your community needs. A good citizen becomes a spokesperson for their community, and when problems arise they can lead the charge to solve them. Writing these letters shows other people that you are taking an active role in the government process, and this action is what good citizens stand for.
City council meetings are another great way to become involved in your community. Any member of the community can attend these meetings and have their voice heard by the local government. You can go and say whatever you want and the local government must to listen to your words.


One very simple and small key to good democratic citizenship may at first seem insignificant, but actually provides the foundation for all future political processes. When at dinner, bring up political issues and facilitate family discussions on important political matters. This will get your kids thinking about politics, so they may be more likely to talk about it a school, which will spread this idea of civic thought to other kids. Putting your family in an active and citizenship oriented mindset creates important building blocks to good citizenship because you are ensuring the growth of healthy democratic thought and deliberation to younger generations. Passing political knowledge and good citizen habits down to your children ensures that your legacy as a good citizen continues well into the future.


Learn More - Click Here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Ballad of the Adopted Child by Jeanne Droullard

DOES your teen,

- always seem angry?
- have anger that turns into rage?
- show signs of depression, i.e., withdrawal, slipping grades?
- show disrespect to you or disrespect people in authority?
- self-protect by keeping people at a distance?
- lie, manipulate and steal?
- ever talk about his/her biological parents?
- want to find his/her biological parents?

DO you,

- feel comfortable about your teen's behavior?
- recognize signs of RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder)?
- believe you must be adopted to show signs of RAD?
- understand what is meant by the Primal Wound?
- think it makes a difference at what age a child is adopted?
- understand bonding and how it can be disrupted?
- understand the fear and pain of an adoptee?
- understand adoptee' difficulty in trusting and showing love


It can be difficult to know if your adopted teen's anger is normal and within the range of typical teenage behavior. Most teenagers get angry, especially during the years when their bodies are changing and the hormones can bring quick and severe mood swings. All teenagers are searching the world trying to find out who they are and what they want to become. They all want to know how the world will affect them and how they will affect the world.

If not addressed as a child, an adopted teenager has a duality of conflicts to overcome. Whether adopted as a baby or as an older child, this teenager has had a separation from the birth mother and this is a strong link that is not forgotten. Nancy Verrier calls this the Primal Wound. In the womb, Psychologists now agree that the child is very aware of the mother, how she smells, how she laughs and feels, even how she sounds. The baby has been inside the womb for nine months. This baby even realizes if it was a wanted pregnancy or an unwanted pregnancy - this baby knows. It also has an awareness of the physical, mental and emotional connection with the mother. Bonding begins before physical birth and possibly shortly after conception. Many professionals used to laugh at this idea and thought it impossible for a little baby to know and remember being separated from its birth mother. Alas, the tide has changed and the professionals now believe that this child couldn't help but know the separation from the birth mom that carried it - and this is the primal wound that stays with that child forever.

Read entire article here: http://www.helpyourteens.com/adoption/index.html

Thursday, August 28, 2008

High School Transition by 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

Monday, August 18, 2008

Struggling With Your Young Adult - by Sue Scheff


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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

5 Ways Teens Might Cheat on Drug Tests

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.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

'Bullycide' by Connect with Kids


“They may incorporate that dislike into disliking themselves and then it’s only one or two short steps from disliking one’s self to wanting to harm one’s self.”

– Jim Stark, Ph.D., Forensic Psychologist

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people in the United States.

Marvin Novelo is 17, openly gay - and has tried to kill himself several times.

“Drowning, pills, several other things,” he remembers.

Since the third grade, Marvin says, he has been the victim of bullies at school.

He’s been beaten up, thrown into a dumpster, a trashcan, and into a toilet in the girl’s bathroom.

“But of course, none of it was really as bad as just the verbal harassment,” Marvin says. “Because you couldn’t escape it. You could run away from someone trying to beat you up, but in a classroom there was nowhere to run.”

A new review of studies by Yale University finds that bully victims are two to nine times more likely to report having suicidal thoughts than other kids.

“They may incorporate that dislike into disliking themselves,” says Dr. Jim Stark, who has worked with gay and lesbian teens, “and then it’s only one or two short steps from disliking one’s self to wanting to harm one’s self.”

“I see myself a person that’s not even deserving to live, a person that doesn’t deserve anything in life,” adds Marvin. “I see myself as this -and this is embarrassing, it’s humiliating.”

Psychologists say parents of kids who are depressed or bullied at school should ask their son or daughter if they’ve thought about suicide.

“And if you can present it in a way that you don’t label it as horrible, that someone would consider suicide as a solution, then you give permission for that thought to be there, and more permission to be able to talk about that option and other options,” says Dr. Paul Schenk, a psychologist.

As for Marvin, his goals for the future are simple.

“I want a life where I can actually be at peace,” he says.

Tips for Parents

The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) reports that kids fear violence in school from bullies more than outside terrorist attacks, and it appears that they do so for good reason. The NCPC surveyed more than 500 students aged 12 to 17 and found that six out of 10 U.S. teens witness bullying in school at least once a day. Even among students in lower grade levels, elementary school officials are seeing an increase in assaults and threats to classmates and teachers. In Philadelphia, 22 kindergartners were suspended during the first half of this school year, one for punching a pregnant teacher in the stomach. An 8-year-old in Maryland recently threatened to burn down his school. And a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that at least 10,000 children stay home from school each month out of fear of bullies.

Why is bullying on the rise in U.S. schools? Educators cite various causes, including violent video games, the failing economy and a stressed or abusive home life. Experts say that schools and families often ignore the resulting damage caused by bullying, including a fear of attending school, carrying weapons for protection and committing more violent activity. In fact, the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) found that the long-term effects of frequent bullying often follow victims into adulthood. They say that these adults are at greater risk of suffering from depression, schizophrenia or other mental health problems, and in rare cases, may commit suicide.

Parental involvement is the key to reducing and preventing bullying and the problems it brings. The NCPC offers the following tips to help prevent bullying incidents in your child’s school and community:

Listen to your child. Encourage him or her to talk about school, social events, classmates and the walk or ride to and from school so you can identify any problems he or she may be experiencing.
Take your child’s complaints of bullying seriously. Probing a seemingly minor complaint may uncover more severe grievances.

Watch for symptoms that your child may be a bullying victim. These symptoms include withdrawal, a drop in grades, torn clothes or the need for extra money or supplies.
Tell the school or organization immediately if you think that your child is being bullied. Alerted caregivers can carefully monitor your child’s actions and take steps to ensure his or her safety.
Work with other parents in your neighborhood. This strategy can ensure that children are supervised closely on their way to and from school.

Teach your child nonviolent ways to resolve arguments.

Teach your child self-protection skills. These skills include how to walk confidently, staying alert to what’s going on around him or her and standing up for himself or herself verbally.

Help your child learn the social skills needed to make friends. A confident, resourceful child who has friends is less likely to be bullied or to bully others.

Praise your child’s kindness toward others. Let him or her know that kindness is valued.
Don’t bully your child yourself, physically or verbally. Use nonphysical, consistently enforced discipline measures as opposed to ridiculing, yelling or ignoring your child when he or she misbehaves.

Although anyone can be the target of a bully, victims are often singled out based on psychological traits more than physical traits. The National Resource Center for Safe Schools says that passive loners are the most frequent victims, especially if they cry easily or lack social self-defense skills. Many victims are unable to deflect a conflict with humor and don’t think quickly on their feet. They are usually anxious, insecure and cautious and suffer from low self-esteem. In addition, they rarely defend themselves or retaliate and tend to lack friends, making them easy to isolate. Therefore, it is vital that you instill confidence in your child and empower him or her to become a healthy, socially adjusted adult.

References
Yale University
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Crime Prevention Council
National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
National Resource Center for Safe Schools

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Parents Univesal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Teen Truancy

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.