Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sue Scheff: Pre-teens and Peer Pressure

When your preteen first starts middle school they may be facing real peer pressure for the first time. Experimenting with smoking, drugs and skipping school does start at this age. This is because these recently elementary school graduates want to fit in with the older crowd. Here are some things you can do to help your preteen be prepare for when they are asked to do something that they normally wouldn't do.

Be the first to say something. If you haven't talked to your preteen about drugs, smoking or anything else they could be facing because they haven't had to face that problem yet, talk to them now! Don't avoid it until it becomes a problem or you start to see "signs". Be proactive with your preteen.

Role play. Let your preteen be the one who offers you a cigarette. This will be an eye opening experience. Say no and keep saying no. When you preteen says, "I couldn't say that", ask them what they could say or do. Then role play with your preteen saying no. Practice until your preteen feels comfortable enough to do it on his own with his friends. Learn how to role play here.

Being rude is sometimes okay. Let your teenager know it is okay to avoid people who are trying to get him to do something he does not want to do, even if it is an old friend.
Let them make you the scape-goat. Tell your preteen that there is nothing wrong with using you as an excuse. Saying, "My mom would be so mad!" to a friend who is trying to get them to smoke is a perfectly good enough excuse to get out of the situation.

Be available. Be ready and available should they need to come to you with questions or thoughts on a situation. Even if your teen didn't make the right choices, you can help them come up with a better solution the next time the situation arises.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: ADHD and Drug Abuse

As a parent that has an ADHD child, I know firsthand the pros and cons of RX meds for children. It was a major decision for us to choose medication, however it was the best choice for my son. Each child and family are different. I believe it is best to have a second opinion, like I said, making this decision is major.

Since I speak with parents I know that many have concerns with their teens abusing this medication - selling it at school or even purchasing it to get a high. Be an educated parent - learn more about the medications used for ADD/ADHD.

Source: Connect with Kids

“In a way that athletes have used steroids and other medications in the past to enhance their athletic performance, Adderall is actually being used to kind of pseudo-enhance their academic performance.”

– Heather Hayes, M.Ed., Counselor.

Nineteen-year-old Marisa McCorkle has been using Adderall for two years.

“I use it for various reasons,” she says, “like tests, it helps me on tests. [And it] helps me stay awake, and [with] studying.”

It sounds like a wonder drug. Adderall – an amphetamine commonly used to treat ADHD. But, studies show it’s being abused more and more.

“In a way that athletes have used steroids and other medications in the past to enhance their athletic performance, Adderall is actually being used to kind of pseudo-enhance their academic performance,” states Heather Hayes, a licensed professional counselor.

One of the biggest problems with using the drug recreationally is that most teens are unaware of its dangers.

Twenty-year-old “Dave,” a college student, says, “I think it’s pretty safe unless you’re taking five at a time.”

But experts say even in small doses, the dangers of taking Adderall can range from headaches, increased heart rate and insomnia to things far worse.

“Any amphetamine has the potential to give someone an amphetamine psychosis,” warns Hayes. “So when you take a lot of amphetamines and you’re not sleeping, then you will literally hallucinate. … [You] will absolutely leave reality and become delusional and paranoid.”

Hayes says parents need to make the dangers of taking Adderall clear to teens. Otherwise, they may continue to believe it’s a cheap and easily available drug that helps them study. Marisa and Dave are examples of students with this belief.

“I get it for free, but I know people who will give … maybe two to five dollars [per pill],” says Marisa.

“Actually, I’m gonna go to my doctor and, uh, try to get a prescription next semester,” says Dave, “’cause I think it’s a really effective way to get good grades. I wouldn’t think it was that hard to, uh, fake having ADD.”

But others say Adderall fools you – that it only seems like it’s helping kids study. Amanda Mattison, 17, has seen first-hand what can happen.

“[Students taking Adderall] can focus when they’re taking it, and they study and they cram for five or six hours and they’re good-to-go for the exam,” she says, “but by the time the exam rolls around, they’re either too worn out or … it’s lost it’s effect.”

“Bottom line,” says Hayes, “Adderall is as dangerous of a drug when unsupervised as any other medication. It’s addictive and it is dangerous.”

Tips for Parents

Adderall, manufactured by Shire Pharmaceuticals Group of the United Kingdom, is a stimulant prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Shire states, “Adderall isn't intended to enhance test scores and should only be used under medical supervision.”

Adderall is a fast-acting mixture of amphetamines. Amphetamines act on the brain by mimicking the neurotransmitter dopamine, which increases alertness and concentration. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health in the late 1970s found that low-dose stimulants increase concentration and alertness in everyone, not just people with attention disorders. Here are some things to know about ADHD:

ADHD is a medical condition linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Doctors believe it stems from biological, not environmental, conditions.

Generally, people with ADHD have trouble focusing on tasks or subjects, and they may act impulsively and often get in trouble.

Approximately 3 to 7 percent of school-age children and 4 percent of adults suffer from ADHD.
Adderall is one of a handful of stimulants prescribed for ADHD.

Side effects of Adderall can include loss of appetite, insomnia and weight loss.

During late-night study marathons, students from grade school to med school have long relied on stimulants– which include everything from caffeine to cocaine. But with Adderall, and other similar prescription drugs, some high school and college students are hoping to improve scores on standardized (and even classroom) tests. Other students are turning to alternative medicine, such as hypnosis or herbal supplements, for an extra edge.

The concern with Adderall is not from a single use. One pill won’t kill you. But one pill is likely to lead to a second pill, then a third and a subsequent snowball effect where physical damage can occur. Also, Adderall is relatively easy to obtain. Overall, prescriptions for stimulants have risen from 1.6 million in 2000 to 2.6 million a month in 2004. Adderall XR, a once-a-day, extended-release form of the drug, is the leader in its class, capturing about a third of the market. Consider the following:

Prescription drug use was once rare, but it has now crossed into the mainstream.
Prescriptive amphetamines have figured prominently in calls to emergency departments and poison control centers.

Kids, and even their parents, are desperate for any available academic edge and willing to go to the extreme to obtain it.

Some students feel extra pressure because they feel they are not just failing themselves, but also failing their parents and other family members.

The College Board, the nonprofit administrator of the SAT, has no rules explicitly prohibiting drug use. Spokeswoman Chiara Coletti says, "We certainly do not recommend that students take any drugs or stimulants in hopes of affecting their scores."

Some kids taking Adderall have valid prescriptions, but not all. Under federal law, it's illegal to knowingly possess a "schedule II" drug (like Adderall) without a prescription. But prosecutions for possession are rare.

Many schools would suspend or expel a student caught using marijuana or other street drugs but might not punish students taking prescription drugs to help with test taking.

ADHD Support and Resources from Eli Lily
National Institutes of Health
Nature Magazine
Shire Pharmaceuticals Group
The Wall Street Journal

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sue Scheff - Teen Obesity, Bullying, Family, Friendship and Grumble Bluff

I just read the most lovely and educational book called Grumble Bluff by Karen Bessey Pease. This tale tells of two young girls in that difficult and awkward stage of tweens - one is overweight and one has a horrific and painful situation she is living with. Both are bullied and teased relentlessly. Even reading how some kids are so mean made me feel so sad and angry on the inside.

If you are a parent of a teen or tween - buy this book today - read it and have your child read it. You will feel warm inside at the end and then anxious for the second book. Kathy and Greta (characters) will become part of your family too - and what a great way to open lines of communication between you and your kids.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Crash Taxes? Safe Teen Driving January 2009 Newsletter is Here!

The January Safe Teen Driving Newsletter January 2009 is here!

Here's Where You'll Find Answers:

How to Keep Your Teen DriverSafe, Secure & Protected

There's an epidemic in the US that's taking the lives of our youngsters. Driving fatalities are the number one cause of death among youngsters age 15 to 20. Driving crashes surpass suicide, homicide and all other causes. Over 300,000 teens are admitted to hospital ER's each year -- many with life-changing injuries. Among licensed drivers, young people have the highest fatal crash rate of any age group. What's more distressing, teens at age 16 are twice as likely to die in fatal car crashes as 18 to 19 year old teens. This is largely due to their youth and lack of experience behind the wheel.

We know your life is busy. We're here to give you the support, help, information and services you need to keep your youngster a quick, easy-to-use format.

Parents tell us they're concerned about issues like these... Read more:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sue Scheff - Prevent CyberBullying

Vanessa Van Petten continues to bring valuable information for parents with today’s teens. This week she has dedicated to helping prevent cyberbullying.

Thank you to everyone who is already offered to join and spread the word about our anti-cyberbullying campaign here at On Teens Today:
Angeline of MomStyleNews
Vivien Bruss of Cool Moms Rule

Brenda Preston of Safewave
Sue Scheff of Help Your Teens
Myrna of
Tara Paterson of the Mom’s Choice Awards and Just for Mom
Karen Pease

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Drug Prevention - D.A.R.E.

D.A.R.E. - Drug Abuse Resistance Education has been known for many years and has helped been part of many schools in helping children learn the dangers of drug abuse. As a parent, take some time to review their newly updated information and website. It is important that parents and educators work together to help prevent drug use.

This year millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence.

D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of our nation’s school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world.

D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Depressed Teens and New Years Resolution by Author Gary Nelson

Teens suffering from depression and related illnesses like anxiety and bipolar disorder find it very difficult to even make New Year’s resolutions, let alone keep them. Depression and its relatives very quickly tend to overwhelm teens. When faced with the idea of change depressed teens often see a mountain so huge that it seemingly can never be climbed or chiseled slowly into a molehill. They quickly feel overwhelmed and often respond with some thought or statement like, “It’s too big. I’ll never be able to do it… so why bother to even try.” The teen then falls deeper into their pit of despair. One of the first things that the depression “steals” from the depressed teen is their ability to take large, seemingly impossible tasks and break them into smaller, manageable pieces. Most of us take this ability for granted and practice this making of mountains into manageable molehills everyday. Depressed teens want to change. They want healing. They just don’t see a way over the mountain. The depression has them hog-tied, leaving the teens looking like they’re just lazy and don’t “want” to try. These depressed teens need help, not judgement. They need hope. For more information on this and other aspects of teen depression check out my new book, A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression. If you have a teen who is struggling you might also want to check out Sue Scheff’s new book, Wit’s End.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Mom Blogs - Parents Helping Parents

Recently I am noticing more and more parents are stepping up and talking about their issues, concerns, frustrations as well as sharing ideas and tips they have used in raising their children. All in all, it is about parents helping parents.

Years ago when I struggled with my daughter, I felt so alone - and it was such a hush hush mentality. We were all so determined to prove our kids were nearly perfect! Oh, so smart and athletic or gifted and talented in some way. In today's generation of raising children it is become more challenging.

Here are a few Blogs on Parenting that could help you help your child:

Van's Mom - Exploring and dealing with an ADHD and ODD daughter.

Tangerine Times - Myrna's parenting tips on the sweet and sour times of teens.

Phil's Blog - Why physical education is so critical to children today in highly techy times.

Inhalant Abuse Blog - Parents educate other parents on the dangers of many home products.

Love Our Children Blog - Helping keep today's children safe.

Sarah Maria's Blog - Learning to increase your self image to make better choices. (For parents and teens!)

Lori Hanson's Blog - Holistic solutions for a eating disorders.

ADD/ADHD Blog - ADDitude Magazine offers many parent Blogs on ADD/ADHD and more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sue Scheff - New Parenting Teens Today Website

O-kay, I am in Florida and have a soft spot for oranges and tangerines, but when I discovered a new Parenting Website that promotes today’s teen issues and parents concerns, I had to share it with you. Tangerine Times, created by Myrna Lantzsch, offers a variety of Parenting Tips, Articles, Blogs and more. Her motto: The Sweet and Sour Life with Teens.

Recently Myrna wrote about Teens and Texting while Driving - and this is huge concern for many of us. We are hearing more and more how car accidents due to cell phone use are increasing, and we need to educate our teens of the dangers of using their phones while driving.

In an effort to provide additional information and updates on the subject of “Texting While Driving” post - I discovered this story on

In the article, they discuss other technologies to aide with the “disabling” of a cell phone for texting purposes. Both of the companies discussed, (WQN, Inc. and Aegis Mobility) both utilize the car’s Global Positioning System to disable the cell phone.

I still think the best approach is to turn off texting at certain times (especially when the teenager is just beginning to drive) and/or have them leave the phone at home. I know this is unheard of anymore, no one thinks they can do without a cell phone around. But, I’m beginning to think that the temptation to text or use the phone can be very tempting. And, it is even more of a distraction than loud music or maybe, even, another teen in the car.

I’m still researching this subject and will continue to supply updates. As usual, I am particularly interested in hearing from you readers…what do you think? What have you tried?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Inauguration Day 2009 - Teens and Politics

What an exciting week we have ahead of us! It is amazing how today’s youths are getting involved in politics and taking the initiative to learn all they can. This is not only a historical time for our country, there is a feeling of unity among all people of all ages. This can also a great time to spend with your kids and explain the importance of this upcoming week. How do you feel? Do your kids truly understand the history of this moment? This is a perfect opportunity to have family time and excitement as well as creating lasting memories.

Below is an article Connect with Kids posted back in June outlining how teens really took part in this past election. Again, an exciting time in history!

Source: Connect with Kids

“When parents talk about politics with their kids, when they participate themselves — this leads to a higher level of interest in politics among their children,”

– Dr. Alan Abramowitz, Political Science Professor, Emory University

Nineteen-year-old Will Kelly is pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and talking to voters.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Hartley is answering phones, making copies and filing news clips.

She is a die-hard Democrat, and he is a faithful Republican. Both teenagers have a passion for politics and for getting involved.

“To be honest,” Will says of his volunteer work, “because I care about what’s going on and it troubles me to see how so many people become apathetic with what they do have in this country – that we take so much for granted.”

“At 17, I can’t vote yet, I don’t pay taxes, but within a year I’m going to have to know enough about leaders – not only national, but local and state – to be able to say who I want running things,” says Amelia of her involvement.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, young voters are turning up in record numbers this presidential election.

One reason, experts say, their parents.

“There has been quite a bit of research that shows that when parents talk about politics with their kids, when they participate themselves, when they take their kids to vote with them, that all this leads to a higher level of interest in politics among the children,” says Dr. Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University.

It is a level of interest, Dr. Abramowitz adds, that persists over time. “Even many years later, those who were raised in families that were politically active and where the parents talked about politics remain more active themselves.”

Amelia and Will say they’ve been invigorated by the hard work of politics. And, in fact, it’s sparked an interest.

“Is there a future in politics for me?” Will ponders. “Well that’s a question I seem to ask myself a lot. We’ll have to see.”

“There are a lot of career paths I’m considering,” says Amelia, “and politics is definitely one of them.”

Tips for Parents
The polls are showing teens are lining up in record numbers to have their say in this year’s election. Consider these statistics from a recent poll by Time Magazine, among 18-29 year olds:

70% said they are paying attention to the race
53% said Barack Obama was the candidate best described as ‘inspirational’
83% said this election will have a great impact on the country
A majority (54%) say the US was wrong to go to war in Iraq
80% of young people rate the economic conditions in this country as only fair or poor
Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they feel the country is headed down the wrong track
Affordable health care (62%), the Iraq War (59%), and being able to find a stable, good paying job (58%) are the top issues a majority of young people worry about the most.
More than 6.5 million young people under the age of 30 participated in the 2008 primaries and caucuses. In fact, Obama’s margin of victory in Iowa came almost entirely from voters under 25 years old. In New Hampshire, his edge among young voters was 3 to 1; in Nevada, it was 2 to 1; and in Michigan, nearly 50,000 under-30s voted “Uncommitted” because Clinton’s name was the only one on the ballot.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, getting kids involved in a civics or government class is a great way to get them more interested in the elections. From the 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Report, young people who report that they recently choose to take a civics or government class are more likely than other young people to say that:

they helped solve a community problem,
they can make a difference in their community,
they have volunteered recently,
they trust other people and the government,
they have made consumer decisions for ethical or political reasons,
they believe in the importance of voting, and
they are registered to vote.
Parents are also one of the greatest influences on young voters.

Start with the basics. Make sure your 18-year-old knows when and where to vote.
Getting your 18-year-old to the polls could pay big dividends. People who have been motivated to vote once are more likely to become repeat voters.
Acquire and fill out voter registration forms with your teen. If your teen meets age requirements, you should each fill out a voter registration form.
If your teen meets age requirements on Election Day, go to your polling place together to cast your ballots.
If your teen doesn’t meet age requirements for the 2008 election, but will turn 18 before the 2012 election, involve them in the current election as preparation for the next election.
Consider taking teens between 14 and 17 to the polling place with you. Even if they are not permitted inside for security reasons, the visit will demystify the voting process.
Remind your child that the November election is the result of many local primaries and that Americans are able to vote for their national, state and local leaders.
Kids who are not old enough to vote can still have an impact on elections. Encourage kids to get involved in the political process. They can go door-to-door in support of candidates or help with fundraising efforts.
It can seem daunting to research candidates, because information on the different races is not centralized in one place. Parents can share news articles with their kids. The key is to engage students with issues they will find relevant to their lives.

Time Magazine
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sue Scheff - Parents Universal Resource Experts - Teen Truancy

As second semester is open, the phones are ringing and the parents have a common thread, their teens are not going to school! Skipping classes and already talking about dropping out.

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.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sue Scheff - Paying for Your Teen's Boarding School

With today’s economic situation, it is becoming more difficult for parents to secure finances to assist with the high fees of residential therapy. Here is a list of some possible avenues. Many banks have raised their standards for qualifications (requiring a higher FICO score) among other requests. Some banks have literally stopped participating in Educational Loans.

Financial Options

Have you recently discovered the high costs of Boarding Schools, Military Schools, Therapeutic Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment Centers, Wilderness Programs and other avenues of academic and emotional growth assistance?

For the average middle class family the fees can be staggering. Even people of means can have sticker price shock at the tuition of these programs. Due to the extensive costs of operating these specialty schools with the appropriate licenses, credentialed staff as well as certified educational accreditations, it is extremely expensive.

The average cost of private Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Programs is about $4000.00 per month, usually all inclusive. There is usually a processing fee that is separate from the tuition that can range from $1500.00 - $2500.00. This fee usually includes insurances, administrative costs, and other various costs such as uniforms, haircuts, toilettes, field trips etc. Other programs will have an additional fee for uniforms. When choosing a program, be sure to ask specifically what is included and what extra fees can be expected. If a private program is less than $3000.00 per month, please be sure to do your research.

Many programs offer a discount if your full tuition is paid up front. This is an individual decision, depending on your financial circumstances as well as your family’s needs.

Educational Loans:

Financing these programs can be available to you in a variety of ways. The Educational Loan is one that is typically used by many families. There is usually no application fee and allows the family to have a reasonable monthly fee within their financial means. It is very similar to a college loan. Key Bank, Sallie Mae, Chase Bank, Clark Custom Loans and PrepGate are the most common used lenders for Educational Loans.

College Fund Option:

If a child has a college fund, it may be a good time to use it. Although we expect our children to go to college, when the time comes and he/she is ready for that step, and you have exhausted your college fund, there are always grants and scholarships to a wide variety of colleges that you could apply for. Getting your teen the help he needs to ensure he makes it to college is what you are concerned with at this time.

Individual Educational Plan (IEP):

Does your child have an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) through your local school district? In some cases this may defer some of your tuition costs in respect to the academic component of a Boarding School or Program. If you have an IEP in place for your child, it is important to ask the school or program you are considering if they work with IEP’s and discuss the reimbursement process. For more information on IEP’s click here

Credit Line/Home Equity:

Another popular alternative to financing a program is a Home Equity Credit Line. This can be beneficial to you in a few ways. Not only is a convenient way to access money that is needed, it can also be a tax deduction in regards to the interest payments. Please keep in mind, in some cases the program you are sending your child to can also be a tax deduction in regards to medical expenses. Usually the therapeutic and medical portion of the tuition can be deducted. Check with your Tax Preparer or Accountant for more information.

Credit Cards:

Credit Cards, although they usually have a high interest rate, may be able to provide you with the initial monies to enroll your child until you are able to access an Educational Loan, Credit Line, or other means of payment. Many parents will use a Credit Card that accumulates Airline Miles or other beneficial services, and then pay the credit card off within the 28-30 days with their credit line or other financial means. This prevents you from being charged the finance charges. It can be a way to earn airline travel that can help when it comes time to visit your child if they are out of state.

Medical Insurance:

Contact your Medical Insurance Provider to see if they cover residential placement. Some will cover the first 30 days or possibly the therapeutic portion of your child’s stay which is usually one third of the tuition. PPO’s are typically more likely to cover some costs, however it never hurts to check with your insurance company. In searching for programs, you may want to ask the program if they accept your insurance or have experience with how much you could expect from your specific insurance company.

Family, Church, or Employer:

Many families will borrow from relatives or in some cases; employers have been known to contribute to the family. In some cases this could also be a tax deduction for a relative or employer. Some churches will have specific funds to help families within their parish. If you are a member of a church or other faith based organization, it can’t hurt to ask.


Don’t be afraid to ask the program if they have scholarships, some do have limited financial aid, so it is important to ask.

My Blog on Financing keeps up with new lenders as they become available. Always remember your local United Way and see what resources they have available.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: Challenging School Dropouts

Years ago, most of us would never consider dropping out of high school. Today more and more teens are anxious to reach 16 years old (age of majority in most states to withdraw from high school). Parents should be concerned about this, many more teens are getting GED’s and diploma’s are not their priority. Years ago, GED’s were frowned upon - and only those with extreme exceptions would get a GED. Now it seems more and more are falling back on this option. Take a moment to read this article with parenting tips to help your teen graduate from High School with a diploma.

Source: Connect with Kids

Expectations are a very important tool in trying to improve performance. If you don’t set goals, you won’t feel bad, but neither will you achieve high goals.”

– Randall Flanery, Ph.D., psychologist

Nationally, 70 percent of students graduate on time with a high school diploma. That leaves 30 percent struggling to finish and often dropping out of school. Many school districts have found innovative ways to keep these kids in class.

Kids fall behind in school for lots of reasons.

“I was never paying attention in class because I was just distracted, hanging around with friends,” says Jose, 17.

“More than half the time I’d still be stuck, like ‘wait a minute, I still don’t’ understand this.’ And when I’d go home and do the homework I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t understand the material,” says Jennifer Smith, 18.

If they fall too far behind, some kids will just give up.

“I was just waiting to turn 16, get out of high school, and I don’t know from there,” says Jose.

A study from Columbia University has confirmed an idea that many school districts have been experimenting with for years: if you challenge potential dropouts with tougher class work, they’re not only more likely to graduate, but to go on to college as well. Experts say it’s all about setting expectations.

“Expectations are a very important tool in trying to improve performance. If you don’t set goals, you won’t feel bad, but neither will you achieve high goals,” says Randall Flanery, Ph.D., psychologist.

“It does not take a long time before these kids see they are making good grades, they’re going on college field trips. You see a lot of incentives there. They are doing fun things so it is okay to be smart. They have the potential and they just really need that boost,” says Barbara Smith, eastern division director, AVID Program.

Expectations and incentives give students who really want it a second chance.

“Now I’m actually trying to graduate, to go to college — at least a technical school … and get a little degree in something,” says Jose.

“Just keep at it. Like the old saying, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,’” says Smith.

Tips for Parents
Schools need to establish relationships with various health and social agencies in their communities so students with disciplinary problems who require assistance are readily referred and communication lines between these agencies and schools are established. (The American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP)

Students and their families should be encouraged by school staff members to access health care and social services.

A full assessment for social, medical, and mental health problems by a pediatrician (or other providers of care for children and youth) is recommended for all school-referred students who have been suspended or expelled. The evaluation should be designed to ascertain factors that may underlie the student’s behaviors and health risks and to provide a recommendation on how a child may better adapt to his or her school environment. (AAP)

Matters related to safety and supervision should be explored with parents whenever their child is barred from attending school. This includes but is not limited to screening parents by history for presence of household guns. (AAP)

Pediatricians should advocate to the local school district on behalf of the child so that he or she is reintroduced into a supportive and supervised school environment. (AAP)

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sue Scheff - Teens Smoking

As many parents are concerned about their kids smoking cigarettes, and in reality, most will at least try it. We can lecture them endlessly, and we should in a constructive manner, but being proactive in getting them educated on the harm it can cause their body, not to mention it can lead to addiction of nicotine should be our goal.

Connect with Kids recently released an article on Anti-Smoking Advocacy with great parenting tips to help deal with your child if they have decided to start smoking. Even if your child is not smoking or experimenting, take the time to learn more. Today’s peer pressure can be very difficult for kids trying to fit into certain crowds.

Anti-Smoking Advocacy

“It’s bad for your health and if you smoke, you’re going to get lung cancer. I doubt that there’s 5 percent of kids out there who haven’t already heard that message. That in and of itself is not enough to influence or change their behavior.”
– Andy Lord, American Cancer Society

Two years ago, when Ashley was 17, her mother discovered cigarettes in her daughter’s coat pocket.

“My reaction of course was total shock,” says Ashley’s mother, Sylvia Haney.
Ashley recalls, “And she’s like, ‘What is this? Cigarettes!’ And she’s like, ‘Why are you smoking?’”

But instead of giving her daughter a long lecture, Haney had her join an anti-smoking program called “Youth in Charge.”

“It’s a youth empowerment group [that] lets other youth know the dangers of big tobacco companies, and the manipulation and lies of the big tobacco companies,” says Ashley.
Research has shown that teen smokers who get involved in an anti-smoking program like the one Ashley joined are nearly 40 percent more likely to quit, compared to teens who only received lectures.

“You can lecture, but I can guarantee you it’s going to go in one ear and out the other,” says Ashley.

Experts say the key is to have kids do their own research, find out on their own about the dangers of tobacco, so they learn it firsthand and can tell other kids.

And when they do that, “they draw their own conclusions,” says Andy Lord, with the American Cancer Society. “And at the end of the day when kids draw their own conclusions, they do have ownership of that information. They do feel a revelation, and they do in turn want to go and share that with other folks.”

Ashley adds, “Smoking or using tobacco can kill more than AIDS and HIV, auto accidents, illicit drugs, murders, rapes and suicides combined. I don’t know why you’d want to do it.”

Experts say parents can contact their branch of the American Cancer Society to find a youth anti-tobacco program in their area. For many teens, it is worth discovering. The group’s effect on Ashley was profound.

“Most definitely I will not pick up another cigarette,” she says.

Tips for Parents

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

Approximately 80 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18.
More than 5 million children living today will die prematurely because of a decision they make as adolescents – the decision to smoke cigarettes.

An estimated 2.1 million people began smoking on a daily basis in 1997. More than half of these new smokers were younger than 18. This boils down to every day, 3,000 young people under the age of 18 becoming regular smokers.

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

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

Tobacco is often the first drug used by young people who use alcohol and illegal drugs.
Among young people, those with poorer grades and lower self-image are most likely to begin using tobacco.

Over the past decade, there has been virtually no decline in smoking rates among the general teen population. Among black adolescents, however, smoking has declined dramatically.
Young people who come from low-income families and have fewer than two adults living in their household are especially at risk for becoming smokers.

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

Develop deep-breathing techniques. Every time you want a cigarette, do the following three times: Inhale the deepest breath of air you can and then, very slowly, exhale. Purse your lips so that the air must come out slowly.

As you exhale, close your eyes, and let your chin gradually drop to your chest. Visualize all the tension leaving your body, slowly draining out of your fingers and toes — just flowing on out.

This technique will be your greatest weapon during the strong cravings smokers feel during the first few days of quitting.

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

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

Do your very best to stay away from alcohol, sugar and coffee the first week (or longer) as these tend to stimulate the desire for a cigarette.

Also, avoid fatty foods, as your metabolism may slow down a bit without the nicotine, and you may gain weight even if you eat the same amount as before quitting. Discipline regarding your diet is extra important now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is perhaps the most valuable information among these points: During the period that begins a few weeks after quitting, the urge to smoke will subside considerably. However, it’s vital to understand that from time to time, you will still be suddenly overwhelmed with a desire for “just one cigarette.” This will happen unexpectedly, during moments of stress, whether negative stress or positive (at a party, or on vacation). Be prepared to resist this unexpected urge, because succumbing to that “one cigarette” will lead you directly back to smoking. Remember the following secret: during these surprise attacks, do your deep breathing and hold on for five minutes; the urge will pass.
Do not try to go it alone. Get help, and plenty of it.

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

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Difficult 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, 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; P.U.R.E. 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 If you feel your teen is in need of further Boarding School, Military School or Program Options, please complete our Information Request Form.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sue Scheff: Reputation Defender Growing In Demand As The Internet Expands

As a victim and survivor of the wicked web (at times), I was vindicated at a jury trial for damages when I was awarded over $11M for the defamatory comments posted about me.

I credit my attorney, David Pollack, for successfully proving to the jury how I was damaged (defamed) online. Remember, free speech does not condone defamation.

What happens after the jury goes home and I have my $11.3M judgment? Well, you get a lot of media attention, new stalkers arrive, you become a Limited Public Figure (something I was not prior this major victory), and before you know it - you are the face of Internet Defamation Survivor. However what it doesn’t do is erase the ugliness the perpetrator did to you online.
For that, I sought out the services of Reputation Defender. O-kay, so you can’t literally erase all the unflattering online statements - but you can start filling the web with who you really are - and what you believe in.

I used ReputationDefender MyEdge - which is a priceless service for anyone that owns a business or has a reputation to protect. You can have a 20 year old reputable company literally destroyed within 20 minutes with a few keystrokes!

Here are some articles to help you find out more about how Reputation Defender can help you.
As a parent advocate, I always recommend MyChild - which helps parents monitor where their child’s name is being used! Remember, kids think that applying for colleges and filling out employment applications is far away - in a child’s mind, 2-4 years seems like a lifetime - but in reality - what goes online today - can haunt them tomorrow and years from tomorrow.

My Good Name Protector ReputationDefender Raises $2.6M In 1st Round
VentureBeat on Reputation Defender
ReputationDefender Official Blog
Teacher Fired Over MySpace Photo
Mahalo on Reputation Defender
Reputation Defender Official MySpace - Delete Your Bad Web Rep on Reputation Defender
Fast Company on Reputation Defender
CyberLaw - - Reputation Defender Article
Reputation Defender Turnstile
WRAL - Local Tech Wire
TradeVibes - Reputation Defender

There are many more…. I receive many emails from people all over the country and world that are being harmed online - many cannot afford the high costs of litigation. I always recommend Reputation Defender as an alternative or in combination with the legal route.

I am not a spokesperson for Reputation Defender, nor do I receive money or referral fees from them - I simply am a very satisfied client and want others to know there is such a service out there as Internet Gossip can be viewed as FACT. In many cases, that can hurt a persons’ reputation.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sue Scheff - ADHD and ODD: Parenting the Defiant Teen

As a mother of an ADHD son, I know the struggles and difficulties adolescents can bring. ADDitude Magazine has some great parenting tips, ideas and information to help you today.

ADHD behavior issues often partner with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) -- making discipline a challenge. Try these strategies for parents of ADD kids.

Every parent of a child with attention deficit disorder knows what it's like to deal with ADHD behavior problems -- sometimes a child lashes out or refuses to comply with even the most benign request. But about half of all parents who have children with live with severe behavior problems and discipline challenges on an almost daily basis.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sue Scheff - Parenting Teens - Self Injury and Self Abuse

Self abuse (or self mutilation) can come in many forms; most commonly it is associated with cutting, hair pulling or bone breaking, but it can also manifest itself as eating disorders like bulimia, and/or anorexia. This site will focus mainly on cutting, which is the most common form of self abuse, with 72% of all self injurers choosing to do so by cutting themselves, and hair pulling. Cutting is exactly as it sounds; when your teen cuts him or herself as a physical expression to feel emotional pain. There are many reasons why teens injure themselves, but many people assume it’s just ‘for attention’. Often this can be an element of why your teen may be abusing him or her self, but just as often it can be something your teen does privately to express the emotional pain they feel inside. And while self injury is a taboo subject, it is estimated that 3 to 6 million Americans self injure themselves in some way, and that number is on the increase- in fact, its already doubled in the past three years.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sue Scheff - Parenting Teens and Inhalant Abuse

As the new year has started, parents need to become more educated and informed about today's teens and the issues they face.

Many parents know about substance abuse, and teach our kids to say no to drugs - but do you know about Inhalants? Ordinary household items that can be lethal to teens looking for a quick and inexpensive high? More importantly, sometimes deadly high.

Parent learn more about Inhalant Abuse.

Here is a great "talking tips" page from The Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE) - take the time to learn more today. You could save a child's life.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sue Scheff - A Parent's True Story Still Helping Many Families

Are you a parent struggling with a teen today? Are you at your wit's end? Troubled by the defiance and negative behavior your teen is displaying? Lack respect for authority - for YOU -the parent?Know you are not alone!

Almost a decade ago I went the very same feelings of isolation, hostage to my own home and watching my good teen turn into a person I hardly recognized! Read the online story of A Parent's True Story.

I created P.U.R.E. (Parents' Universal Resource Experts, Inc.) in hopes of helping other parents learn from my mistakes and gain from my knowledge. I was almost silenced when the massive organization (WWASPS/Carolina Springs Academy) sued me - but I fought back and the truth prevailed. I won all legal actions!

When they lost on all counts including in the Supreme Court (I had a jury trial victory) my next hurdle was defeating the negative Internet Slander and Defamation. You see, when you can't defeat someone legally - the Internet has become the next legal lethal weapon.Again, I fought back - only this time I won an unprecedented jury verdict of damages for over $11M!

So, when you see ugly postings about me - twisted truths and outright lies, understand I will always have critics that don't agree with me as well as those that want to silence me or discredit me, but I continued to fight back and continued to be victorious on all counts.

Read Wit's End and look for my new book coming out in the fall of 2009 which will focus on this new legal lethal weapon.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sue Scheff 2009 Quick Parenting Tips

Sue Scheff – Founder of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts and Author of Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-Of-Control Teen
Offers 10 Parenting Quick Tips for 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Are you considering outside treatment for your child? Residential Therapy is a huge step, and not a step that is taken lightly. Do your homework! When your child’s behavior escalates to a level of belligerence, defiance, substance abuse or God forbid gang relations – it may be time to seek outside help. Don’t be ashamed of this – put your child’s future first and take steps to get the help he/she needs – immediately, but take your time to find the right placement. Read Wit’s End! for more information. Take a moment to read a recent News Articles from the Miami Herald on Wit’s End and Sun-Sentinel - Rescuing Your Troubled Teens.

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