Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sue Scheff: Anger Management and Your Teens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more on Examiner.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sue Scheff: Who are your teens hanging with?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more on Examiner.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sue Scheff: Do Mean Girls Grow Up to be Mean Women?

Part 2 with guest Jane Balvanz, educator and Female Friend Expert.

If you missed part 1, go back.

Do Mean Girls Grow Up to Be Mean Women?

I want to answer that question with a resounding, "No," but I can't. I can't answer it affirmatively, either. We humans all try on the roles of Bully, Bystander, and Target like costumes at some point in our lives. We decide what serves us best. No one wants to think herself or himself a bully; some of us are, though. A plethora of literature exists telling us how to deal with adult bullies: bully bosses, difficult people, and abusive partners.

Children Live What They Learn (and They Know More Than We Think)

Adults play a huge role in children's lives, and parents are their most important teachers. Children absorb the parts of us we're proud of as well as the parts we wish not to reveal. If any girls were watching this Twitter war (and I bet some were), they would have witnessed prime examples of grownups bullying.

When we teach our girls to display a certain level of human respect and kindness but don't practice what we preach, they become confused. What if our kids don't actually see us acting incongruous to what we expect from them? They intuit it. If there's one thing I've learned in over twenty-five years of working with kids, it's that they see and hear more than we think. If we live hypocritically, they eventually figure it out.

What Example Do You Want to Set?

As parents or individuals who work with girls, we have to live what we want them to learn. We need to be authentic and demonstrate respect for others. If we want to help our girls avoid earning the label of "mean girl," we need to lead by example. Here are five basic tips for parents and other adults who influence children to keep in mind online or in real life (IRL).

  • Avoid character assassinations. Speak or write of behaviors you find objectionable rather than people you don't like.
  • Watch what you write online. It may be your blog or your tweets, but making disparaging remarks about others is bullying. Sometimes little girls petulantly say, "It's my house, and I can do what I want." We know that tends to be a precursor to upcoming bullying behavior. Some bloggers write, "It's my blog, and I can say what I want." They're right. They can say what they like. Anyone can say what they want when they want, and bullying is still bullying.
  • Think before you speak or write. If you can't say something positive about others, keep quiet and think about it. Think for a long, long time. Keep thinking.
  • Think of your words as toothpaste. Once you squeeze toothpaste out of the tube, it's out. There's no getting it back in. The same can be said about words - once out they can't be unsaid. Once they're online, they're permanent.
  • Apologize when you mess up. We've all said or written things we regret. Girls need to see adults own up to their mistakes. It helps them realize we all make mistakes and are accountable for them online and off. Do what you can to mend the situation.
  • Imagine your legacy. Test your words to see if they represent how you want to be defined. If your words would land you in the principal's office as a kid, posting them online will probably earn you the reputation of Bully or Trash Talker rather the Speaker of Truth or Defender of the First Amendment. How do you want to be remembered?
Thanks to Jane for permission to share this valuable article and information. Learn more about Female Friendships at .

Did you miss part 1? Go back. <<<

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens!

Read more on Examiner.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Sex Games (Rainbow and Snap) - Be an educated parent

This is a sensitive subject and many will be appalled and disgusted, however as a parent, it is about being educated. Knowing what can be happening in your neighborhood, in your schools, or even in your own home - is your responsibility as a parent to stay in touch with your children and their lives.

"Rainbow Party" by Paul Ruditis, is written as fiction, however has a powerful message that many will be shocked to hear about. This rainbow party is not about homosexuals coming out, it is about sex and your teens. It is, in fact, an oral-sex party in which each girl wears a different color lipstick. In theory, after the girls perform oral sex on the boys, they would be left with rainbows around their penises.

Many parents have the sex talk with their kids. Many schools offer sex education. There are also many resources, websites and books that can help educate your teens to be better prepared when they do decide to have sex. But have you talked to your teens about the dangers of games/parties such as "Rainbow Parties?"

Questions that may arise and you will need to answer:

  • Is oral sex real sex?
  • Can you still be a virgin and have oral sex?
  • Why is this game dangerous to your child?
  • If one guy gives oral sex to another, is he gay?
  • How is oral sex fun for girls?
  • Why don't boys ever reciprocate the favor?
  • What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?
  • What is an STD?
  • How do you prevent STD's?
Although many would like to simply discard this article and subject, being an educated parent will make you better prepared and lead to safer and healthier teens.

Parents must watch video and read about SNAP, another game you don't want your teens playing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sue Scheff: Running, walking, jogging, biking - Do it as a family

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

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

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

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

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

Read more on Examiner.

Magnolia Christian School, Due West SC - Lisa Irvine - HelpMyTeen

Learn more about Magnolia Christian School (formerly Carolina Springs Academy - which you may want to Google) since although the name has changed, it is believed the majority of staff has remained. 

Who am I?  I am, what the sales reps for programs like Magnolia Christian School call me - a disgruntled parent.  However what they aren't tell you is I defeated them in a jury trial - proving my story what what happened to my daughter there, as well as many others, was not posted falsely.  Read my story here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sue Scheff: Gossip - Can it be good?

What an interesting article this week on Connect with Kids.  Gossip can be good in some ways and extremely hurtful in other ways.  Where is the balance?  Be an educated parent, read this educational article.

Source: Connect with Kids

Gossip Is Good
“It lets people really know each other, and know about what's going on in their lives. And that enables people to feel safe. It makes them feel a sense of belonging.”

– Wendy Simonds, PhD, sociology

The Tiger Woods scandal sparked discussions about personal image and adultery on news stations and at dinner tables across the country. But are these discussions useful or just gossip? Some experts say they can be both.

"Did you see the outfit she had on?" friends Zuri and Meimi laugh.

It's often irresistible and painful. "[It] ruins friendships, ruins lives, messes people's reputations, hurt's people's feelings," seventeen-year-old Zuri says.

"I'm normally the one who starts and spreads the gossip," says seventeen-year-old Kyle, "so, I mean, I've broken up a lot of good friends over gossip."

And sixteen-year-old Caitlin has been the brunt of it as well, "I've had my fair share of broken friendships that I've kind of had to rekindle because of things that were said or spread around because people didn't know all the facts."

Gossip can hurt, psychologists say, but here's the surprise, "It lets people really know each other, and know what's going on in their lives," explains Wendy Simonds, professor of sociology at Georgia State University, "And that enables people to feel safe. It makes them feel a sense of belonging."

And in a teenager's life it can act as a social road map of right and wrong and as a warning signal, not to befriend the wrong person.

Seventeen-year-old Meimi found out through gossip that a guy she was dating was trouble, "You know, I had to listen and a couple of weeks later I had found out he sold drugs and he had been locked up and a lot of stuff, so I was kind of appreciative of gossip at that point."

Still, experts and kids warn, you have to be careful. "I think it's always a good idea to try to personalize the issue that's being talked about, what if it were me and people were talking about me this way," advises Simonds.

"Gossip is fine, as long as it's not making up complete lies," says sixteen-year-old Lee, "And just being flat out mean, that's not cool."

As hard as it is to believe, the words "sibling" and "gossip" originated from the same word: "Godsibb." The word originally translated to mean "a person related to one in God," or a "godparent." In this circumstance, gossip was used to denote a relationship of trust and friendship. However, in the 1800s, the word "gossip" began to stray from its original roots until it became what it is today – nearly the opposite or what is was originally.

Tips for Parents

Gossip can be extremely harmful, but there are some times when it can be helpful. Dr. Offra Gerstein, a clinical psychologist, gives the following suggestions for parents to share with their children for how to handle gossip in a healthy manner:

■Create healthy ways of connecting with others that do not require negative talk about a third party.
■When you are told about another person, ask for verification of the information. Trusting that what is said is true without challenging its veracity makes you a partner in perpetuating gossip.
■If you hear negative talk, refuse to listen and politely attempt to stop the speaker.
■Ask the "gossipper" to tell you what positive things he/she may relate about the individual being criticized.
■When you are entrusted with a secret, feel honored and never repeat it to anyone. Repeating confidences is like stealing one's dignity.
■Feel free to share positive gossip with others, provided that your facts are correct.
■As enjoyable as it may be to bond with someone temporarily through gossip, the damage to all parties is immeasurable. Resist the momentary temptation for gaining a wholesome sense of self-respect.

■Psychology Today
■Santa Cruz Sentinel
■University Press of Kansas

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens and Money - Teach Your Teens to Budget Now

During these difficult times, many families are struggling to pay their monthly expenses. Some parents have lost their jobs, some families have lost their homes and there are those that are on the edge of both. Living from paycheck to paycheck and raising a family has become more challenging.

What can our teens learn from this? How can they be prepared financially for the future? As savvy as our teens are today with the information highway, called the Internet, many are still clueless about finances, budgeting, and saving money. offers excellent parenting tips and advice.

As parents, we understand the importance of literacy. We sit for hours reading with our children. However, children must be "literate" about money matters, too.

Learning how to think about money and manage it wisely is an equally important life skill. We must patiently help our kids "sound out" the many ways to control money. Our kids will learn by doing. Some lessons will be thrilling. Others will be frustrating, even painful.

In the end, we hope that our children will grow into financially responsible adults. The rewards are life-altering: living within their means, free from the anxieties of debt, and secure in their future.

Tips from

  • Every day, we need to create conversations about money - not lectures, but casual commentaries on situations that arise naturally in our days. The aim? To teach children a) how to think about money and b) make responsible decisions in using it.
  • We must review our own financial habits so that we are modeling responsible financial behavior. Children quietly observe adults, and parents are "modeling" financial behavior all the time - whether or not we mean to.
For more information for parents, teachers and kids, visit .

Be an educated parent, you will have smarter teens!

Read more articles about teens and money here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sue Scheff: How to cope when your kids are growing up so fast

Parenting, parenting and more parenting. As much as we rush through our days to get to all the activities, school, homework and more, it seems like it was only yesterday we were changing diapers or teaching our child to ride a bike. Today's generation has new issues and trying times as well as keeping up with parenting, we have to keep up with technology and so much more.

How to Cope When Your Kids Grow Up So Fast:

It's a tough job being a parent - there are no rules or policies and you have to follow your heart at times and your head at others. And with today's kids, it's very difficult to do the right thing because they don't seem like children at all, even though they've barely lived 10 years. They're growing up faster than they should - not their bodies, but their brains, mentality, and emotional psyche. They know much more than they should, and they're quick to learn and absorb; and even though this is a good thing when it comes to positive aspects like knowledge, technology and learning, when it comes to areas that are shaded in gray like sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, pregnancy and abortion, parents have no clue as to how to deal with the amount of information (some of it that's not right too) that their children know.

We grew up in a different world, one where television and movies were toned down and where there was no Internet. Getting information today is as easy as pie - the Internet tells you just about anything you want to know. Children as young as 10 and 11 want to wear makeup, drink and be sexually active, just because their friends are doing it and they don't want to be left out. And coping with them without alienating them is a tough task, one that parents would find easier if they:

  • Stay in tune with their children's lives: As a parent, you must know what your child is up to, who their friends are, and what's going on in their minds. That's not to say that you must snoop around their stuff or do things behind their back, but it's a good idea to watch their behavior as they grow and check for signs of change as they cross the age of 10. That's when they are likely to be influenced by their peers and tempted to try forbidden things. You certainly don't want your preteen experimenting with sex or drugs just because they think it's cool, with you being left in the dark about it.
  • Can talk to their children openly: Parent-children relationships work better when there's a layer of friendship in between the two. When your child seems on the verge of becoming an adult, both mentally and physically, it's important that they're able to come to you with all their problems and secrets. This is possible only if you keep an open mind and are not quick to judge and condemn. A close friend had sex when she was 13, and later, because she was scared that she was pregnant, she confided in her dad the whole story. He was very understanding and helped her cope with the issue, without once berating or shouting at her. This attitude changed her completely - she became more responsible because of her father's open and understanding behavior, and today, she's a balanced and happy adult.
  • Learn to draw the line somewhere: Kids today live in an entirely different world from the one you grew up in, so they tend to wear trendier clothes and wear makeup long before you were allowed to do so. Rather than denying them all that they ask for and risk them going behind your back, give in a little regarding issues that are relatively trivial. At the same time, it's best not to encourage or turn a blind eye to drinking, sexual activity or anything else that could have long-lasting and serious repercussions just because you don't want conflict with your child.
  • Realize that each child is different: You know your child better than anyone else, so use your judgment to deal with sensitive issues according to their temperament and attitude. Don't follow what your friends or siblings are doing with their children; there's no guarantee that what works for one child will work for another. The better you're able to read your child, the more you'll be able to help them as they grapple with issues that are beyond their understanding.
Children respond better to love and understanding rather than discipline and punishment, so assess each situation and act accordingly instead of blindly following rules.

This guest post is contributed by Nancy Simmons, who writes on the topic of online science degree. She welcomes your comments at her email address: .

Thank you to Nancy Simmons for allowing me to share this important and educational information.

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

Also on Examiner.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Pregnancy Pact

Parenting years ago and having a teen get pregnant was, in many families, humiliating and shameful to the family. Today teens are having babies and some are not considering the consequences, or maybe are considering them however don't realize the "real life" situation rather than what they read.

January 23rd, Saturday night, Lifetime Network will premier, "The Pregnancy Pact" at 9:00pm ET. Inspired by a true story, this movie depicts a fictional pregnancy pact between a group of teenagers. The film explores the costs of teen pregnancy and was prompted by the news reports from June 2008. Time Magazine ran a story about this pregnancy pact in a school where the teen pregnancies rose to 18 girls.

The discussion of birth control is started by the school nurse who tries to convince the school to provide contraception to students to address the pregnancy epidemic but is met with great opposition from the school and community.

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy:

  • Three in 10 girls in the U.S. get pregnant at least once by the age of 20.
  • Six in 10 teens who have had sex say that they wish they had waited.
  • Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned - about 3 million each year.
  • One out of 10 children in the United States is born to a teen mother.

Lifetime Networks is proud to partner with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy among single, young adults.

Additional information and resources are available at .

Parenting teens is challenging today, between the technology and peer pressure, it almost seems impossible to keep up. Teen pregnancy was an issue many years ago, and still is today. The difference is we have much more awareness, education and information to help our teens understand the consequences as well as the dangers of unprotected sex.

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

Watch video and read more on Examiner.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Groundation - Taking Your Punishment to Facebook

In a recent New York Times article, 15 year-old Tess Chapin of Sunnyside, Queens (New York), started a campaign on Facebook to convince her parents to remove her punishment. She was grounded for 5 weeks for missing her curfew by one hour and most importantly, drinking at a party. If you missed the first part, she is only 15 years-old, drinking is illegal for minors. Missing her curfew is blatant disrespect for her parents and their boundaries.

Besides the fact that her parent's were probably worried sick, teenage drinking is prohibited, as well as the fact that Tess is very fortunate something worse didn't happen to her (such has someone putting a drug in her drink). It is commendable that Tess is being diplomatic about her mission, however part of being a responsible parent is considered "parenting" - especially following through with consequences.

Will Tess succeed? It seems unlikely. The fact that this brings more awareness to parents being proactive in sticking to their consequences is empowering. Teenagers need to understand these curfews and rules are put in place for "their" safety. Someday when they become a parent, they will finally get it. Until then, we will watch as some teens will continue to attempt to bolt the parenting system.

Special thanks to New Jersey Family Magazine for sharing this story with me. Follow them on Twitter @NJFamilyMag. Also check out the variety of responses the NYT's Blog has received.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Also on Examiner.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sue Scheff: Should Parents Read Their Teens Emails and Text Messages?

Recently we read about whether parents should read their child's diary or journal. With the advances of technology, we need to take this a step further: Should you read their emails or text messages?

Again we can go back to "when safety trumps privacy."

Our teens deserve to be trusted unless they give us reason to suspect something is wrong. Is their behavior changing? Here is a review of some warning signs (many are the same to determine if you should read their diaries).

  • Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a "gut feeling" something is deeper than a secret, you may have to cross that line.
  • Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Again, teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however when it becomes extreme, it may be time to cross that line.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? And this is not into a better one, however to one that is less than desirable? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
  • Is your teens eating habits changing?
  • Is your teen sleeping a lot? Bloodshot eyes? Do you suspect drug use?
  • Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries?
  • Are they overly protective of their cell phones or computer?
  • Do they hide their cell phones?
  • Are they anxious when at their computer, seem fearful, attempt to hide their incoming emails?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don't recognize?
Like with determining if you should invade their privacy with their journals or diary, unless your teen or tween gives you good reason to read their private text and emails, as parents, we should respect their privacy.

When it comes to younger children, under 10 years old, parents should always be allowed to see what they are doing. Most younger children are usually not as protective as teens or tweens. As a responsible parent, you will know when there are red flags or warning signs and you need to step in.

Keeping an open dialog with your tweens and teens is critical. Letting them know you are there for them as well as talking to them about the issues of sexting, cyberbullying, predators and other areas of concern.

Should you read your child's emails or text messages? Only you can answer that.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer children.

Also on Examiner.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teen Smoking on the Decrease

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

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

Here is a recent article that outlines tips for parents and more indepth look at this new trend.

Fewer Kids Smoking

Source: Connect with Kids

“Maybe because their friends are telling them not to smoke. Maybe its peer pressure in a good way.”

– Caroline, 17 years old

A new government survey finds that more kids are smoking marijuana, abusing prescription drugs and using smokeless tobacco than a decade ago. But there is one area of abuse that is going down dramatically- cigarettes.

For some kids, smoking is hip and cool. For others, like 17-year-old Caroline, “I hate smoking. I think it stinks. I don’t like yellow teeth and I don’t like bad breath.”

Fewer teens, in fact, are picking up the habit. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of 12th graders who smoke cigarettes has dropped nearly 50 percent in the last decade.

What’s working?

“They can’t get it. That’s why they are not smoking,” says 15-year old Penina. “I think the stores are stricter now because they ask for ID and if you don’t have ID you can’t get it.”

Seventeen-year old Jamila says it’s more than that. “People get the hint with all the ads out and all the stuff going around saying how bad it is.”

“Maybe because their friends are telling them not to smoke,” Caroline says. “Maybe it’s peer pressure in a good way.”

Experts cite higher prices, hard hitting media ads, stricter limits on public smoking and changing attitudes about smoking. “It’s not the adults telling youth what to do that’s working,” says Dr. Terry Pechacek, with the Centers for Disease Control’s Office on Smoking and Health. “It’s youth working with youth and changing the way that they act in their social settings.”

But, Dr. Pechacek says, parents still need to send their kids those same messages at home. “We’re asking them to take the time to talk to your children about these issues in a constructive, straight-forward fashion. Not in an authoritative don’t-do-it type message, but rather, ‘I care about you. I would like to discuss the pressures that you’re under.’”

He says the research is clear: parents who make their views clear and listen as well as teach, are far more likely to have kids who have kids who don’t smoke.

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

Approximately 80 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18.
More than 5 million children living today will die prematurely because of a decision they make as adolescents – the decision to smoke cigarettes.
Nearly all first uses of tobacco occur before high school graduation.
Most young people who smoke are addicted to nicotine and report that they want to quit but are unable to do so.
Tobacco is often the first drug used by young people who use alcohol and illegal drugs.
Among young people, those with poorer grades and lower self-image are most likely to begin using tobacco.
Young people who come from low-income families and have fewer than two adults living in their household are especially at risk for becoming smokers.

Tips for Parents

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.
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 its 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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens and Your Neighborhood

Where do you live? Many of us live in places we truly love and most of live where we can financially afford. Sometimes these are good areas, sometimes they are not, but as long as you have your family and make it your priority, the real estate location is not a priority.

A misconception is that more troubled teens come from "bad" neighborhoods, maybe that is true, however that doesn't eliminate the fact there are also troubled teens in very good neighborhoods and A rated schools.

Most important is that you don't become a product of your environment as much as you insure your family is kept together with good morals.

Being an educated parent can help you and your kids have a better life wherever you live. Teach respect, empower your children with dignity and integrity no matter what neighborhood they come from. Teach them responsibility and accountability for their own actions.

Encourage your teens to volunteer, get a job, start a group to help others or simply reach out to your neighbors. Building a child's self esteem is one of the best ways you can guide them into a bright future. Giving back to others can give so much to you. Teach your teens this early on and no matter where you live, your kids will learn how to make the world a better place.

Also on Examiner.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sue Scheff: Do Reform Schools Still Exist?

How many times have we heard a child, usually a troubled teen, will be sent to "reform school?" What exactly is a reform school? Are they still running? Did they ever truly reform a child?

Years ago this expression of "reform school" was used as a threat and in some cases carried out by parents. Today we have learned (or hopefully have learned) that beating a child into submission rarely changes them for the better. This is strictly hypothetically speaking, not literally beating, however making the conditions extremely unbearable.

Programs such as "boot camps" can, in my opinion and what I have discovered, can actually build more anger and resentment within a child. That anger and resentment can be targeted at the person that sent them there: The parent.

If you find you are having difficulties with your teenager, and have discovered it has escalated to a point where you can no longer live with it, consider options that can help your teen, not harm him/her. After exhausting all your local resources such as school counselors, therapists, support groups, even out-patient programs, it may be time to consider residential therapy.

I am not sure reform schools even exist anymore, but I know some people still refer to residential therapy as a reform school. A true residential therapy program, whether it is an Emotional Growth School, Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center should not employ the harsh and punitive treatment we have see in movies such as Sleepers or sadly seen in the news about some boot camps and teen help programs.

Learn more about locating safe alternatives from my own experiences, A Parent's True Story, which is also included in my book, Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-Of-Control-Teen.

Keep in mind, Military Schools are not equipped to handle teens with behavioral issues. They offer structure, but usually are not able to handle a teen that is escalating out of control.

Remember, don't be a parent in denial, get your teen help if they need it. It is a parent's responsibility. It is not about "shipping" a teen off - it is about giving him/her a second chance at a healthy and bright future.

Learn from my experiences, gain from my knowledge.

Also on Examiner and watch video.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sue Scheff: Physical Education and your teens

Let's face it, more and more kids today are engrossed with their computers and cell phones. Less are participating in physical activity. Years ago a game of kick-ball in the neighborhood was a weekly or even daily event afterschool. Today with the fear of our kids being kidnapped or the kids simply more interested in their technology, teens and kids are not getting enough exercise.

Parents it is time to speak up. PE 4 Life is an organization that can help you bring more psychical education into your school district and your community.

Do you realize that schools have devalued and cut physical education to the point that the majority of children get one day of PE per week? Children today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time in one hundred years because of the epidemic of obesity, according to Dr. William Klish, Professor of Pediatrics and Head of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine. Lack of PE at school is a disservice to your child's health. Speak up. Demand that your school offers daily quality physical education.

Use PE4life as a resource partner to enhance your school's PE program. A recent study revealed that 81% of teachers and 85% of parents favor requiring students to take physical education every day at every grade level. As parents, you can rally people in your community to get involved by ordering a PE4life Community Action kit video and show it to the PTA, the school board and other community groups. The next step is to invite PE4life to make a presentation to your school leaders, bring a team of people to train at a PE4life Academy, or invite PE4life to do an in-service for your school staff. As your resource partner, PE4life can provide these and many other services to your school as you work to get children more active and healthy.

PE4life Core Principles

We believe PE should:

  • Be directed to all students, not just the athletically inclined
  • Offer a variety of fitness, sport, leisure and adventure activities
  • Provide a safe and encouraging learning environment
  • Utilize individual assessments
  • Incorporate current technology
  • Extend beyond the walls of the gymnasium
  • Ideally, be offered to every child every day
Today’s “New P.E.,” as exemplified by PE4life, is a health-and-wellness-based approach to physical education that caters to all students, not just the athletically inclined. Students are encouraged to pursue a variety of sports and physical activities (team and individual) – for a lifetime.

Source: PE4LIFE - visit today and learn more!

Watch video and visit Examiner.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sue Scheff: School Safety TV invites champions to reach out worldwide

Global television initiative to be launched at the International School Safety Convention, April 22-23, 2010, in Denver

School Safety TV, a new cause-related television channel, is inviting leaders, innovators and goodwill ambassadors to join a series of public appeals to be broadcast globally to support programs that help protect students, teachers, and schools everywhere.

The series of televised appeals and mini-documentaries will be launched at the International School Safety Convention, April 22-23, 2010, in Denver, Colorado. Television production and editing facilities will be provided free of charge to spokespersons and delegates from the United States and around the world.

Online registration for television participants is now open at  for a limited time.

Also invited are persons of integrity who are widely recognized in the worlds of art, entertainment, sports, science, and literature, and who are interested in drawing attention to programs of their choice and connecting with new audiences.

Throughout the 30 days following the International School Safety Convention, School Safety TV will distribute 4 hours of broadcast video packages to journalists, television news producers, and online and mobile news video providers at more than 25,000 news organizations on all continents.

Participating organizations may include electronic brochures, reports, presentations, and other multi-media with the high-definition video distributions.

To help build a world audience for each program, School Safety TV also offers online social networking tools so that organizations can quickly invite and engage supporters, moderate discussions in multiple languages, create action groups, schedule and promote events, register attendees, and upload media assets throughout the year for instant web distribution.

The Advisory Board for the convention's television campaign is led by the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, Michael Dorn, a noted school safety expert who has provided leadership consulting to states across the country and to nations around the world.

"Our purpose is to bring together comparisons and contrasts so that administrators, leaders, and influencers can learn from one another," Dorn said. Bullying, cyber threats, natural disasters, gangs, major accidents, and school violence are problems found in most parts of the world, according to Dorn. "Problems also vary from country-to-country, but the different solutions we try are relevant to everyone," he explains.

Dorn and the convention organizers point to many examples of horrific school safety issues that deserve international attention:

  • A girl in Afghanistan has acid thrown in her face because she wants to go to school, and her family must face a life of humiliation.
  • A boy in Nepal recruited into armed conflict as a "child soldier" is haunted by his own atrocities when he re-enters civil society.
  • An African boy from a war-torn city tries to adjust to high school life when his family seeks refuge in America.
  • A child in Indonesia who loses her family and her school in a tsunami faces the threat of human trafficking.
  • Teachers are gunned down in Iraq, and the country experiences a "brain drain" when academic leaders flee.
  • A youth gang organizer in California turns to the school playgrounds of Latin America to recruit new members.
  • A tranquil European community is hit by a school shooting rampage, and the survivors' grief remains unresolved.
Reviewing these and many other school-related crises, Dorn said, "We need to build a large community of problem-solvers that is very inclusive."

Other School Safety TV Advisory Board members include former U.S. "Cyber Czar" Andy Purdy, who will review programs that address school cyber threats; John Simmons, chairman of School Safety Partners; and Ross Ellis, founder and CEO of Love Our Children USA. The founding sponsor for the event is SchoolSAFE Communications, and the event host is the Foundation for the Prevention of School Violence, at Johnson & Wales University, College of Business. The International School Safety Convention is the Foundation's 4th annual leadership event on school safety.

Visit  to register online to be considered as a spokesperson or Goodwill Ambassador.

Browse school safety listings at


Education is part of safety, both online and off. Both in school and out. Be an educated parent.

Watch video and also on Examiner.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sue Scheff: The Housewives of Cyber County - Parenting Online

Some people are hooked on the "housewives" series, whether they are in New York, California, New Jersey or Georgia, viewers will tune in to watch these train wrecks (in my opinion).

We need parents, whether they are housewives or house husbands, to take as much time tuning into cyber safety and their children. Imagine there was Cyber County USA - who would be watching? Would you be?

There are many things in life that we can just squeak by doing, but parenting isn't one of them. Parenting today is more challenging than generations prior. We can talk about Penguin Parenting, the contrast from years ago verses today and there are many similarities, however with the arrival of cyberspace, parenting has become a speeding train that we need to keep up with.

SuperMom and SuperDad today are usually both working full-time, and even more children are being raised in a single parent home. This doesn't excuse taking the time to get in touch with your kids both online and off.

Time for a reminder to keep that resolution about learning more about Internet safety. If you didn't make that resolution, it is fine, there wasn't a deadline, start today - before you get hit by that train.

Learn about Chat rooms - Who are your kids mingling with?
Sexting - What is it and how do you prevent it?
Internet things your children should never know.
Cyberbullying - Prevention and Education
Social Networking Safety - Join today, It is free.
Teaching your child to be a safe consumer online.
One Click Away - Be sure your kids travel the right tracks.
Internet Predators - Keep your kids safe, learn more.
Should you read your child's emails?

Reminder: You can employ every safety gadget and computer privacy tool, but unless you talk to your kids about the dangers that lurk online, you are not 100% protected.

Don't just take the time, MAKE the time to be an educated parent and talk to your kids - today.

Be an educated "housewife" and parent, you will have a safer family.

Also on Examiner.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sue Scheff: Should teachers befriend students on social networking sites?

As today's generation is definitely the surf the waves of cyberspace, where do we draw the line? Should teachers befriend their students? Should student befriend their teachers?

With the growth of Facebook while MySpace is still alive more and more people are signing up for social networking. Whether you Twitter or Facebook, chances are you will run into your kids and your kids may run into their teachers - virtually speaking.

As parents should be the monitor for their child's online safety; Should the teacher be part of their off-line - off-campus life?

Although there may be some teachers that are comfortable with befriending their students, many would prefer to keep their private lives just that - private.

Teachers, as well as many others that either own a business or are employed, like to keep their business lives separate. However there are many that prefer the mix. Depending on your personal comfort level, you will know where you fit in. Learning to respect each others space needs to be taught to our children too.

Parents should not encourage their children to befriend a teacher, explain that adults need their personal time and space. We want the child to understand this is not about them personally, it is about allowing people to have their own time and space off work - off-line.

If a teacher has started an online club or organization in respect to a school project, that is completely different, and at that point kids should be encouraged to join into educational conversations and activities.

As always, parents need to remember that their child's safety comes first. Teaching your child Internet Safety starts at home, parents need to take the steps to get in tune technically!

Be an educated parent - you will have safer kids!

Being ONE CLICK AWAY - will it be into a safety room, or a dark hallway?

Also on Examiner.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sue Scheff: Myths of Bullying - Be an educated parent

As school is back in, some kids dread walking the hallways or riding the bus. Bullying is a growing and serious problem among kids and teens. Years ago, the cliché "sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you," couldn't be more wrong.

Words can not only hurt you, they can emotionally scar you for a very long time. Stop BULLYING Now offers a vast amount of information to help educate parents, teachers, and kids about the affects of bullying.

Let's start with the ten myths about bullying:

1. Bullying is the same thing as conflict.

Wrong. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Often, bullying is repeated over time.

Conflict involves antagonism among two or more people. Whereas any two people can have a conflict (or a disagreement or a fight), bullying only occurs where there is a power imbalance-where one child has a hard time defending himself or herself. Why is the difference between bullying and conflict important? Conflict resolution or mediation strategies are sometimes misused to solve bullying problems. These strategies can send the message that both children are "partly right and partly wrong," or that, "We need to work out the conflict between you." These messages are not appropriate messages in cases of bullying (or in any situation where someone is being victimized). The appropriate message to the child who is bullied should be, "Bullying is wrong and no one deserves to be bullied. We are going to do everything we can to stop it."

For more information, see the tip sheet entitled, Misdirections in Bullying Prevention and Intervention.

What does work? Research suggests that the best way to deal with bullying is through comprehensive programs that focus on changing the climate of a school and the social norms of the group. For more information, see the tip sheet entitled, Best Practices in Bullying Prevention and Intervention.

2. Most bullying is physical (involves hitting, shoving, kicking).
Physical bullying may be what first comes to mind when adults think about bullying. However, the most common form of bullying-both for boys and girls-is verbal bullying (e.g., name-calling, rumor spreading). It is also common for youth to bully each other through social isolation (e.g., shunning or leaving a child out on purpose).

3. Bullying isn't serious. It's just a matter of "kids being kids."
Bullying can be extremely serious. Bullying can affect the mental well being, academic work, and physical health of children who are targeted. Children who are bullied are more likely than other children to have lower self-esteem; and higher rates of depression, loneliness, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. They also are more likely to want to avoid attending school and have higher school absenteeism rates. Recent research on the health related effects of bullying indicates that victims of frequent bullying are more likely to experience headaches, sleeping problems, and stomach ailments. Some emotional scars can be long-lasting. Research suggests that adults who were bullied as children are more likely than their non-bullied peers to be depressed and have low self-esteem as adults.

Children who bully are more likely than other children to be engaged in other antisocial, violent, or troubling behaviors. Bullying can negatively affect children who observe bullying going on around them-even if they aren't targeted themselves. For more information, visit Why Should Adults Care About Bullying?

4. Bullying doesn't happen at my child's school.
Bullying is more common at some schools than others, however it can happen anywhere children and youth gather. Studies show that between 15- 25% of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency ("sometimes or more often") while 15- 20% admit that they bully others with some frequency within a school term. The best way to find out about bullying at your child's school is to ask children and youth, themselves. One good way to do this is by administering an anonymous survey about where bullying occurs, when it occurs, and how often it occurs.

5. Bullying is mostly a problem in urban schools.
Bullying occurs in rural, suburban, and urban communities, and among children of every income level, race, and geographic region.

Part 2: 5 more myths: Click here.

Reference: StopBullyingNow adults page

Watch PSA and also read on Examiner.

Watch video and learn why it is so important to learn about bullying.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Are you a parent with an at risk teen, considering a residential treatment center? Maybe a therapeutic boarding school? Do you have a good kid that is making some not so good choices? What do you know about Boot Camps?  Are you at your wit's end? Please read my earlier post on Magnolia Christian School.  Read my story.

Sue Scheff: Troubled Teens - Are you considering residential therapy?

As the school begins back in session in many areas of the country, some parents experienced some difficult times with their teenagers during the holiday break. Many of this behavior only escalated with the extended "free" time, as other parents were hoping and praying things would get better as their teen spends more time with their family.

Some families planned out of town vacations, removing the teen from the environment that they believe is causing the negative behavior. Some parents believed that simply being home and with the festive holidays their teens will slowly come back to their childhood selves.

For those that have reached a point of seeking outside help, this can be one of the most difficult decisions a parent can make. It will come after seeking all local resources, even trying to have your teen live with another family member, however unfortunately, you can change environments, but it usually won't change whatever issue is causing the negative behavior.

Let's assume you have attempted local therapy, support groups, even out-patient therapy (some have even tried 24-72 hour in-patient) determined there is something wrong that possibly a little pill can help. However it has been my experience that in many cases, until you address the internal issues, these short-stop and/or pit-stops are usually band-aids. This is not saying medication won't help if your teen is appropriately diagnosed.

Now we are convinced that residential therapy is our last resort. After getting over the sticker shock, you soon realize the confusion of the Internet. The keen marketing, beautiful websites, and programs so far away! You are at your wit's end, desperate, confused and just want to get your teen help - stop, think, and do your homework!

Here are some helpful tips in searching for the right program for your teenager: Click here.

Watch video and slideshow - click here.

Don't be a parent in denial - you could risk your teen not getting the help they need. If you are thinking about threatening Military School to your teen, think twice. Many parents are under the misconception Military Schools are for at-risk or troubled teens. If your teen is extremely defiant, using drugs (even just experimenting), or simply doesn't want to attend Military School, chances are, he won't be. If your teen gets expelled from a Military School, you will risk forfeiting your $20,000 to $40,000 tuition. Remember, Military Schools are not set-up as a therapeutic setting. They are structured, however usually do not offer the therapy or emotional growth many troubled teens may need. Learn more from our story.

Part 2 - click here. Helpful tips for finding programs to fit your needs.

Also on Examiner.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sue Scheff: 14 year old Making a HUGE Difference - Inspiring teen!

Most 14 year-olds are playing sports, listening to their music, going to movies and simply hanging with their friends. A smaller number of 14 year-olds are thinking about what they want to be when they grow up, or what college they want to attend.

Then there is Jason O'Neill with 14 years of dreaming, creating and succeeding! Yes, at 14 years old Jason already has started his own business and created an organization that gives back! During this past holiday season, Jason O'Neill made it his mission to give 250 bears to children at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, CA. (See photo's in slideshow).

With the support and generosity from people all over the world, not only did Jason meet his goal, he exceeded it by delivering 1800 bears! Did I mention at 14 years-old he already received his first college scholarship? Yes, he was awarded Kohl's Kids Who Care scholarship.

I could go on and on about this young entrepreneur, author, philanthropist and first and foremost, son of Don and Nancy O'Neill, but I will let him speak for himself in this recent interview. (Watch video interview).

1. Tell us about Jason O'Neill?

My name is Jason O'Neill. I am 14 years old, in the 8th grade and live in Temecula with my parents. I don't have any siblings and I like being an only child. I have a 10-year-old dog named Rusty that we rescued when she was about four years old. She's a cocker spaniel mix but we're not sure what the mix part is.

2. What is Pencil Bugs? Why and when did you create it?

Pencil Bugs are colorful, bug-like pencil toppers that come on top of a standard #2 pencil but are still removable so you can put them on another pencil, pen, or marker. Some kids have even used them for finger puppets which is pretty cute. I created Pencil Bugs when I was nine. My mom was painting some wooden doorstoppers to sell at a craft fair. I had the idea that if I offered to help her paint them that she would share her profits with me but she said that I should come up with my own product idea. So I did. I made two dozen Pencil Bugs for the craft fair and they all sold out.

At that point, I still wasn't thinking about starting a business with the idea but when I made more and showed kids at school and they started ordering them, I saw the possibilities and asked my parents to help me set up a legal business. The craft fair was right before Thanksgiving in 2005 and it became a real business about February 2006.

Besides original Pencil Bugs, I also designed bookmarks, greeting cards, and birthday invitations with the Pencil Bugs characters on them. All products are available on my website

3. Tell us about what motivates you? Is there anyone that inspires you?

My parents do a lot to help me and they really inspire me to do what I do, not just in business. Every once in a while they remind me of what my long-term plans are because sometimes it's easy to get sidetracked and want to quit. When I'm older, I would like to be able to work at what I like and not have to work because I need the money. I like that I am able to help others and know that I am affecting someone's life through my charitable donations and also when I give presentations at schools to encourage other kids. I get inspired when people tell me that I inspire them so it's actually is a two-way street a lot of times.

4. You delivered over 1800 Teddy Bears to Rady Children's Hospital this past holiday season. Tell us about this generous fund-raiser you created?

Last Christmas with the help of a few dozen people, I donated toys, games, books, crayons, and of course, my Pencil Bugs to the hospital. In July this year, I started thinking about what to do for Christmas 2009. I wanted it to be even bigger and better so the idea of giving teddy bears made sense. I've never been in the hospital myself so I could only imagine what it would be like, especially during the holidays. I have plenty of stuffed animals from when I was little and I always liked them. I figured that other kids would like getting a stuffed bear to make them feel a little better.

My goal was to donate 250 bears but I had no idea if I would raise enough money to buy even that many. Through friends, family, and social networking, I had enough to buy 400 bears by early November. I was amazed with that amount but figured we would be able to buy at least a few more before Christmas. Then the week of Thanksgiving, KNSD TV in San Diego interviewed me for their news and the next day, MSN ran the story on their home page.

Donations started pouring in and within two days, I had raised enough money to buy 1700 bears. Another few days and the total topped 1800. Then the hard part came when we started tying on donation tags on each bear. I wanted to recognize each person who donated money to help so the tags had their name, company name, and/or website. I also listed their information on my website because it was important to give them credit for their support. I couldn't have done any of this alone so I was very thankful I had so many supporters.

I was surprised at some of the donations we received, everything from $5 to $500 and as far away as Alaska and Japan. Three military soldiers stationed in Iraq even donated money and sent an email telling me how proud they were with what I was doing to help others. A group of 8th grade students from a school in Michigan held a bake sale and donated $119. On the morning we were loading the truck with all the bears, we received a special delivery from Build-A-Bear Workshop with a dozen assorted stuffed animals.

Since this year's project exploded into this amazing success, I'm already thinking about what to do for next Christmas. It might be hard to top this one but I'll probably be starting even earlier. I also do smaller donations to the hospital each quarter.

5. What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have hobbies outside of Pencil Bugs?

One of the things I really like is that even with having a business, I still have lots of time to be a regular kid. I play video games like most kids although I have time limits that I need to stick to. My parents don't want me overloading on electronics. I have a couple of good friends that I do things with. My dad and I play golf when we have time but that's about the only sport I'm into although I've tried others. In the summer, I like to swim.

Interview continues >>> Learn about his new books!

Be sure to come back and watch Jason's interview and check out the slideshow! Go forward to listen to his radio interview - it is fantastic!

Also on Examiner.

Photo above by Debbie Lefever.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sue Scheff: Stop Teenage Smoking

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

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

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

  • Fit in with a peer group
  • Peer pressure
  • It's cool
  • You like it
  • Everyone is doing it
  • It calms you down
  • Etc.....

No matter what the reason is, the fact still remains it is bad for you. Once you have started, quitting becomes very difficult. The good news is, you can quit. Smoking, like many addictions, are not easy to give up.

Quitting Smoking:

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

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

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


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

Also on Examiner.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sue Scheff: INHALE Intelligence on Inhalants - Be an educated parent

The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition Awareness will help you learn about Inhalant Abuse. As 2010 rolls in shortly, start now in being an educated parent on this very serious issue teens are trying.

Did you know:

One on five students in America has used an inhalant to get high by the time he or she reaches the eighth grade. Parents don't know that inhalants, cheap, legal and accessible products, are as popular among middle school students as marijuana. Even fewer know the deadly effects the poisons in these products have on the brain and body when they are inhaled or "huffed." It's like playing Russian Roulette. The user can die the 1st, 10th or 100th time a product is misused as an inhalant. - National Inhalant Prevention Coalition

Inhalant abuse is a serious concern especially since these products are easily accessible as well as common household products. They're all over your house. They're in your child's school. In fact, you probably picked some up the last time you went to the grocery store. Educate yourself. Find out about inhalants before your children do.

What is inhalant use? Inhalant use refers to the intentional breathing of gas or vapors with the purpose of reaching a high. Inhalants are legal, everyday products which have a useful purpose, but can be misused. You're probably familiar with many of these substances -- paint, glue and others. But you probably don't know that there are more than 1,000 products that are very dangerous when inhaled -- things like typewriter correction fluid, air-conditioning refrigerant, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane and even cooking spray. See Products Abused as Inhalants for more details.

Who is at risk? Inhalants are an equal opportunity method of substance abuse. Statistics show that young, white males have the highest usage rates. Hispanic and American Indian populations also show high rates of usage. See Characteristics of Users and Signs of an Inhalant User for more details.

Source: National Inhalant Prevention Coalition

Watch PSA on Examiner.