Thursday, July 16, 2015

Teens and Dating: What They Need To Know

It's a right of passage, going on their first date.  Are they ready? Are you?

One day, your little one is skipping down the sidewalk with her hair in pigtails and a firm grip on a teddy bear. The next, it seems like, she’s bouncing down the stairs on her way to greet her first date. Watching kids grow and mature, especially during the teenage years, can be a bittersweet experience. It can also be the harbinger of the most difficult period of your parenting career. Preparing your child for the world of adult interactions, romantic entanglements and independence isn’t always easy, especially when you’d much rather they stayed small forever. Just as you can’t keep a child from growing into an adult, neither can you stem the tide of romantic attraction and the desire to date. All you can do is hope that you’ve instilled the values that you set out to, and that you’ve adequately prepared your teenager for the complicated and sometimes painful world of dating.

The Friendship Code
There are certain rules that come along with both dating and mature friendships, and they largely go unspoken until one of them is broken. One of the most pervasive and important rules for your teen to know before he starts dating is that the “friendship code” shouldn’t be broken. This code entails everything from dating a friend’s ex to trying to date a friend’s current girlfriend, and everything in between. While you’re trying to instill an inherent respect for the opposite gender, be sure that you also discuss the ways that dating and friendship can become messy, and how certain decisions can have far-reaching implications when it comes to both friendships and romantic relationships.

The Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship
No parent wants to think about their child being the victim of dating violence, but the sobering statistics show that this is one conversation that parents simply must have with their teens before dating becomes an issue. A study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations shows that as many as one in three seventh grade students have experienced “psychological dating violence,” and that up to one in six have been the victim of physical dating violence. A different study, headed up by the Liz Claiborne corporation, also shows that less than 25% of teenagers have discussed the subject with their parents. Both teen boys and teen girls need to know that dating violence or emotional abuse is never acceptable and should be aware of the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Once a pattern of accepting abuse is established, it can be a difficult and painful cycle to break. Make sure that your teen starts off on the right foot by ensuring that he’s educated and aware of the issues surrounding teen dating violence and abuse.

The Importance of Boundaries and Respect
Parenting comes with its fair share of awkward conversations and embarrassing situations, but it’s far better to weather that momentary discomfort to educate your teen about boundaries and the importance of respecting them than to send them off into the world of dating with no clear understanding of them. Teens need to know that “no” means no, and that pressuring their significant other into anything they’d rather not do is completely unacceptable behavior. They need to know that anyone who subjects them to such pressure is not a good friend or someone that truly cares about their feelings, and that there’s nothing wrong with breaking off a relationship if their boundaries aren’t being respected.

Popularity is Not a Sound Reason for Dating
At no other time in life is the prospect of popularity or gaining entrance into the “cool crowd” more valued or desperately sought than during the teenage years. Teens may date someone that they have little in common with or little regard for simply to maintain or achieve a position of power in their social circle. Conversely, teens often choose not to date people that they are compatible with and attracted to due to a perceived social stigma attached to dating outside of their circle. Before dating even becomes an issue in your child’s life, be sure that she knows just how irrelevant popularity will be to her in five years, and how much she could potentially miss out on if she’s dating someone solely because they’re popular and capable of affecting her social standing.

Your Expectations and Their Responsibilities
While you may think that your expectations and your teen’s dating responsibilities go without saying, it’s important to realize that your teen only knows what you tell him. Don’t assume that your teenager knows what you expect of him as he starts dating, or what his responsibilities are to both you and his significant other. Communicate the rules and what you expect clearly and concisely, so that there’s no confusion or pleas of ignorance later.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Teens and Drug Use: 10 Tips for Prevention and Awareness

As we are in the summer months it can lead to more time for experimentation of substances.  Maybe your teen wants to fit in with a different peer group or maybe they have been using drugs and want to try new ones.

It is important for parents not to be in denial.  The best of kids can make bad decisions.  Think of your own childhood - we all learn from mistakes.  Sadly today drugs are much more dangerous and deadly than they were generations earlier.

10 Tips for Prevention and Awareness of Drug Use:

1. Communication is the key to prevention. Whenever an opportunity to talk about the risks of drinking and driving or the dangers of using drugs presents itself, take it and start a conversation.
2. Have a conversation not a confrontation. If you suspect your teen is using drugs, talk to her. Don't judge her; instead, talk to her about facts behind the dangers of substance abuse. If your teen isn't opening up to you, be sure you find an adolescent therapist who can help. 
3. Addict in the family. Do you have an addict in your family? Sadly many families have been affected by someone who has allowed drugs to take over his or her life. With this, it is a reminder to your teen that you want him to have a bright future filled with happiness. The last thing you want for them is to end up like [name of addicted relative].
4. Don't be a parent in denial. There is no teenager who is immune to drug abuse. No matter how smart your teen is, or athletic she is, she’s at risk if she starts using. I firmly believe that keeping your teen constructively busy, whether through sports, music or other hobbies, will put her at less risk to want to experiment. However don't be in the dark thinking that because your teen is pulling a 4.0 GPA and is on the varsity football team that he couldn't be dragged down by peer pressure. Go back to my number one tip—talk, talk, talk. Remind your teen how proud you are of him, and let him know that you’re always available if he’s being pressured to do or try something he don't want to.
5. Do you even know what your teen is saying? Listen, or watch on text messages or emails, for code words for medicaiton being abused or specific drug activity: skittling; tussing; skittles; robo-tripping; red devils; velvet; triple C; C-C-C-; and robotard are just some of the names kids use for cough and cold medication abuse. Weed; pot; ganja; mary jane; grass; chronic; buds; blunt; hootch; jive stick; ace; spliff; skunk; smoke; dubie; flower; and zig zag are all slang for marijuana.
6. Leftovers. Are there empty medicine bottles or wrappers in your teen’s room or car (if they own one)? Does she have burn marks on her clothes or her bedroom rug, and ashes or a general stench in her room or car? Be sure to check all pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, and under beds, etc., for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use. Where do you keep your prescription drugs?  Have you counted them lately? Teens and tweens often ingest several pills at once or smash them so that all of the drug’s affect is released at once.
7. Body language. Tune into changes in your teen’s behavior. Are his peer groups changing? Is he altering his physical appearance or suddenly lack hygiene? Are his eating and/or sleeping patterns changing? Does he display a hostile, uncooperative, or defiant attitude, and is he sneaking out of the house? Are you missing money or other valuables from your home?
8. Access to alcohol. Look around your home—are alcoholic beverages (liquor, beer, or wine) easily accessible? Teens typically admit that getting alcohol is easy, and that the easiest place to get it is in their own homes. Be aware of what you have in the house and if you suspect your teen is drinking, lock it up! Talk to them about the risks of drinking, especially if they are driving. 
9. Seal the deal. Have your teen sign a contract stating that she promises never to drink and drive. The organization Students Against Destructive Decisions (formerly known as Students Against Drunk Driving), www.saddonline.com provides a free online contract you can download. It may help her pause just the second she needs, to not get behind that wheel.
10. Set the example, be the example. What many parents don't realize is that they are the leading role model for their teen. If your teen sees you smoking or drinking frequently, what is the message you are sending? At the same time, many adults enjoy a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, and the teen needs to understand that they are adults and there’s a reason the legal drinking age is 21.

A very important piece of advice I share on a daily basis, which I learned the hard way, is that you have to be a parent first, even if it means your teen hates you. The hate is temporary. Your teen’s future, health, and safety depend on your parenting. Friendship will come later—and it does!


If you suspect your teen is using drugs, take immediate steps to get them help.  If they refuse local treatment, consider residential therapy.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Internet Safety and CyberParenting

June is Internet Safety Month and cyber-parenting is another aspect of parenting that we have to consider when raising teens today.

As if parenting wasn't challenging enough, now we have the added fun of technology and the digital world.

The Web offers a plethora of fun and educational things for kids to do, plus all the social networking that is huge for tweens and teens. But along with that comes plenty of places for danger. Just as parents need to talk to their kids about safety in the everyday real world, they also must discuss safety precautions related to the Internet, and make sure their kids get it.
What can parents do? How do they start the conversation? It is important to cover the dangers – all of them – in age-appropriate language to help kids understand the dangers of giving away information online.
Talk, Talk, Talk
The most important thing parents can do is talk to their kids, tweens, and teens. Make sure they know the dangers that are prevalent online, whether sexual predators, those that want to steal identities and financial information, and any other type of cybercriminal. Make sure to keep lines of communication open so kids feel comfortable talking about anything relating to the Internet that bothers them.
Set Clear Internet Rules
Depending on the kids’ ages, parents may have different rules. Young children should never even give out their name. Once kids get older and more into social media, reinforce the importance of careful posting and sharing – what goes on the Internet is there forever! Nothing personal should be posted or shared, like address, phone number, or credit card information.
Identity Theft
When it comes to personal information, it’s easier than most think to get other’s information. If a site looks fishy, it probably is. Parents need to make sure their kids understand to never give out personal information like credit card numbers, bank accounts, or social security numbers without parental permission, even if they are buying something.
If a child sees something like “accepts credit cards” or “enter information here,” he needs to let a parent know and stop what he’s doing. Once credit card information or other personal numbers are in the hands of others, it’s tough to reverse the damage. The best rule is never give it out.
How to Start This Conversation
Start talking about Internet safety when kids are young. Keep the computer in family areas so activity can be monitored. As kids get older, reinforce these topics. Let them know age-appropriate instances of what can happen if things like cyberbullying or credit card theft happen. Parents need to let children know that they are always available, even if mistakes are made, so they can solve things together.
The bottom line is: Don’t give out information! Whether it’s social, personal, or financial, kids need to keep this to themselves. Parents should stay tuned in to not only what goes in the world of online security, but also what their kids are doing online. Awareness is key. And, parents, keep reinforcing how important it is to your kids!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Jobs for Teenagers

Is your teen ready for a summer job?

Let's face it, not every family can afford the luxury of summer camps.  Some teens, no matter what financial background they come from, want to earn their own money.  This is fantastic!

There are many great summer opportunities for teen's today.  Here are a few to consider:

1.  Babysitter
2.  Server
3.  Busser or Dishwasher
4.  Camp Counselor
5.  Tutor
6.  Movie Attendant
7.  Lifeguard (must get certified - contact your local Red Cross)
8.  Pet Sitter (dog walker)
9.  Retail Work
10. Internships (specifically in a field your teen is interested in)


Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer Programs For Struggling Teens

It is the time of year when many parents will contact us and ask about summer programs.
Depending on your teenager, sometimes a good summer program can be the answer you are looking for, but let’s talk about some things to consider.
If your teen has been making these bad choices for a while, chances are good it will take longer than 6-9 weeks to undo this negative behavior.  Remember, first the program need to fit the root of them issues – then work through them and help your teen start to make the better choices.
Many youths when they reach this point are usually failing or on the edge of failing in school.  Most summer programs, especially Wilderness, don’t offer a grade recovery program.  Finding a sound residential therapy or summer grade recovery program with emotional growth might be a better option.  There are exceptions if you are dealing with a teen that is an addict, has an eating disorder or a mental disorder that is more serious.
Summer programs can be excellent if they are attached to a longer term program.
Another words, your teen can attend the summer program and if they are doing well three things can happen.
1.  They come home and go back to school in the fall.
2.  They continue with the residential therapy educational program.
3.  They come home, go back to school – things don’t go so well, and you know you he/she can go back to that program and finish it.
Summer programs can be a win-win situation if you select the right one.
Contact us at www.helpyourteens.com for more information.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Teens and Distracted Driving

Proms, Memorial Day, Summer-Break.....

All of these mean more teen drivers on the roads.  

Sure, our teens know they shouldn’t text and drive – and we have preached forever about drinking and driving – but are they listening?
Most teenagers still believe accidents won’t happen to them – they are immune to bad things happening – they actually believe that looking at that that text for a second or worse, responding to one, won’t make a difference.
It’s imperative that parents get the message across to them that not only is buzzed driving considered drunk driving, but only seconds of distraction is dangerous not only for them, but for others with them and those on the road.
TALK TO YOUR TEENS FREQUENTLY about distracted driving.
The conversation is not one time discussion.  It is an ongoing chat – a daily reminder of the importance of being aware and alert of others on the road as well as respecting your passengers safety and yourself.
One of the most important things you can do for your teen is lead by example.  You are the greatest influence and role model.  If they are watching you text and drive – this leaves a huge gap for them to do the same thing.
When you use the excuse that you are more experienced, it doesn't register with their brains – they are not mature enough to accept that.  They believe they are invincible – remember, they believe it can’t happen to them.

Start the conversations now – stop your own texting and driving.
Share this video – the average text is only 5 seconds. Does it matter? You decide.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Good Teens Making Bad Choices: It's Not My Teen Syndrome

Parent's Universal Resource Experts, Inc launched their new website today.  It still has several glitches - links not active, but overall it is up and running.  We hope you like it.  It has been years since it had a face-lift.

In addition to being mobile ready, we have added a 3-minute video.  Take time to learn more about us and how we have helped many families since 2001.  If you need help with an at-risk teen, please feel free to contact us at www.helpyourteens.com.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teens, Fitness and Summer Camps

As summer is approaching many parents are searching for places for their children to actively spend their time - especially if they are overweight.  The last thing you want is for them to be digitally connected all summer.

There are options.

Most families believe summer is a time when their kids will be outside and more active, participating in sports and other healthy activities. From speaking with tens of thousands of parents of overweight children, adolescents and young adults, Wellspring admissions counselors know that most families with overweight kids believe that summer is a time when their kids are likely to be more active and to lose weight.
Wouldn’t  it be helpful to study this? That’s what Dr. Paul von Hippel and colleagues from Ohio State University and Indiana University thought. So they put together a study of 5,380 children from 310 schools to determine which version of summer is more prevalent:
  • Weight Loss: more daylight and warmer weather => more active; happier; less stressed; greater availability of the best tasting fruits and vegetables…
  • Weight Gain: less structure; greater availability of snacks; more time to spend on computers, playing video games, watch movies and other sedentary behaviors.
Dr. Paul von Hippel and his colleagues found that the Weight Gain scenario happens much more often. In fact, the average child gains significantly more weight during the summer than during the school year. This was true for all children, but especially so for overweight children.
To read the article from the American Journal of Public Health, please click here.
For parents of overweight young people, these findings suggest that the time to take action is now. Wellspring offers the most effective programs for weight loss and long-term weight control. Consider enrolling your child or teenager in one of Wellspring’s eleven summer programs, including:
  1. Wellspring New York (young women ages 12-24)
  2. Wellspring La Jolla (boys and girls 11-18)
  3. Wellspring Hawaii (boys and girls 13-18)
  4. Wellspring Texas (boys and girls 12-17)
  5. Wellspring Wisconsin (boys and girls 12-18)
  6. Wellspring UK (boys and girls 12-18)
  7. Wellspring Adventure Camp North Carolina
    (boys and girls 11-17)
  8. Wellspring Family Camp at Pinehurst Resort
    (boys and girls 5-14, with their parents)
  9. Summer session at Academy of the Sierras California
    (young men and women 13-24)
  10. Wellspring Australia (boys and girls 12-18)