Friday, February 25, 2011

Parent Help with Struggling Teens: Good Kids, Bad Choices

Parents of at-risk teens have many common thoughts, here are some of them:

My daughter is so smart, she is highly intelligent.
My son is extremely handsome, very athletic and always had lots of friends.
My daughter is beautiful, was the captain of her cheerleading team etc....
My son has an IQ of 170, yet is failing.
My daughter wants to drop out of high school.
My son wants to get his GED and is not attending school.
My daughter made the varsity team and yet dropped out.
My son was swim captain and now was asked to leave the team. (He was caught with pot, but said it was his friends.
My daughter smokes pot, but it is only recreational.
My son likes to drink beer, but it isn't all the time.

Excuses for parents:

It is the friends he/she is hanging with.
The teacher doesn't like my son/daughter.
The school has zero tolerance.
His father isn't around enough.
The coach expects too much.
If it wasn't for this one neighbor, we wouldn't have these issues.
Okay, these lists could go on for a long time but at the end of the day, week, month, year - it is YOUR son/daughter making the choice to hang with a certain friend, be a part of an undesirable peer group, and smoke that joint with a swig of alcohol! 

Parents that continue to live in this ship of denial will end up with many regrets. 
Parent that believe that sending their teen to a residential therapy program for help is a sign of their (the parent's) failure, are very much mistaken.
Parents that hope and pray things will change - we only wish them the best, in some (very rare) situations, it will get better.
Parents that believe changing schools will make a difference, think twice. 
Parents that literally move and believe things will change with a fresh start, think again.

Like adults that attempt to run from their problems, your teens are no different.  If they are struggling now, chances are very good they will be struggling shortly after the change again.

You are not a failure, this is not your fault - and it is time to stop the blaming and start the healing.  After exhausting all your local resources - it may be time to find outside help, and that can mean residential.

True, you don't want to put your teen in a program that houses hard-core teens, but it is also true you need to find a program that has strong emotional growth (clinical), fully accredited academically (don't miss out on an education), as well as the critical component of enrichment programs.  You need to find the passion in your teen to help stimulate them to a positive direction in life.

Learn more by visiting

Residential Treatment Centers (RTC), Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS), Emotional Growth Programs, Wilderness Programs, State Funded Programs, Programs for Low-Income, Boot Camps, Scared Straight Programs, Tough Love, Summer Camps, Short Term Programs, Traditional Boarding Schools, Military Schools, Reform Schools, JAIL.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Teen Drinking: A Growing Concern for Parents

Talk to your teens about the dangers of drinking
A modest meeting amongst friends on campus can be enhanced immeasurably with the introduction of a fun, buzz-inducing drinking game. Of course, drinking in general is associated with the college experience, in which young adults assert their independence by going buck wild. Such behavior usually comes with the lack of a true understanding of the consequences of alcohol, and thus reckless behavior — albeit fun behavior — ensues. Consequently, some drinking games can turn a lively shindig into a deadly or at least vomit-inducing debacle.

Here are a few to avoid if you value the function of your liver (or eyeball).
  1. Vodka Eyeballing: Originating in the UK, the Vodka Eyeballing craze has spread across the Atlantic Ocean thanks to YouTube, and now it's catching on with numbskull American teens and college students. Unlike other drinking games, the feared repercussion isn't alcohol poisoning; it's the potential of losing eyesight. Vodka eyeballers test their eyeball's strength by pouring vodka directly onto it with the purpose of achieving a quicker buzz. The results can be less than pleasant, however, as the potent liquor causes the removal of eye's protective membrane covering, burning and scarring the cornea.
  2. Power Hour: Partaking in Power Hour is a great way to end the night drowning in a pool of your own vomit. Traditionally, participants in the game take a shot of beer each minute for 60 minutes, ending the hour completely sloshed — if they're not sloshed much earlier. The rate of consumption at which participants are required to drink can be very unhealthy, especially if they're small in size. The rapid increase in blood alcohol content ensures a quicker buzz, thus making the game an extremely difficult one to conquer.
  3. 21 for 21: Power Hour has inspired a couple of offshoot games — 21 for 21 and 60 Seconds, neither of which are any less dangerous. In the case of 21 for 21, it exclusively occurs on a participant's 21st birthday, a night of heavy drinking regardless of whether or not drinking games are involved. At the behest of one of their friends, the birthday boy or girl downs 21 shots of liquor or mixed drinks. It's a way to celebrate a rite of passage, making the most of their first night of legal drinking. But overdoing it can trigger tragic results; there are numerous documented cases of people dying of alcohol poisoning on their 21st birthdays, including one who apparently played 21 for 21.
  4. 60 Seconds: Sixty Seconds is the game of choice for wannabe speed drinkers looking to prove their mettle while in the presence of their drinking buddies. Each player selects a number between one and 60, chugging a pint continuously for a minute when the second hand on the clock passes their number. The game proceeds until there's one person left standing, which usually is the problem. Just like its forerunner Power Hour, 60 Seconds causes each player's blood alcohol content to rise quickly, and as you probably know, rapid consumption can produce dire results.
  5. Edward Fortyhands: When Edward Fortyhands was "in" on college campuses a few years ago, it was met with resistance by opponents of youth alcohol abuse. Notably, the chairman of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Joseph Califano, made it explicitly clear that participants could be rewarded with a trip to the morgue. The game — if you're not already familiar with it — is a race in which each participant strives to finish two forty-ounce bottles of malt liquor that are duct-taped to their hands. The inability of participants to use their hands, particularly when they need to use the bathroom, motivates them to finish fast. In some circles, upon finishing, participants must break the bottles to free themselves. So not only do they face the danger of quickly chugging a beverage with high alcohol content, but, while in their drunken stupors, their hands become recklessly operated weapons equipped with shards of glass.
  6. Beat the Barman: You may notice that most games on this list are simple and to the point. None of them require a lot of thinking — just a lot of booze. Set in your favorite not-so-crowded bar, Beat the Barman involves cash, a cool bartender, quick drinking and that's it. Each participant separately orders a shot from the bartender, pays in more cash than its worth, and finishes it off before the bartender returns with change. The process repeats until a drinker falls over or the bar closes. In other words, there really are no winners; alcohol poisoning is a distinct possibility. Beat the Barman is also dangerous because the participants, in most cases, partake in the game at a bar that?s beyond walking distance from home.
  7. Beer Race: A singe match of Beer Race won't cause major harm to a participant, but nobody plays just one match — and therein lies the problem. Each participant chugs a full pint of beer hoping to finish first, proving their superior manhood or womanhood — usually manhood. The first finisher indicates they're the winner by putting their empty glass on their head, and everyone else must follow by doing the same with their unfinished glasses. In most cases, the competitive spirits of the participants override reason, and they play until they're lying unconscious in a pool of their own vomit — pools of vomit are common parts of these games — ironically stripping them of their manly or womanly pride.
  8. Kill the Keg: Once "Kill the Keg!" is screamed by a fellow partygoer, participation is immediate and mandatory. A few lucky guys and gals line up at the keg and down the remaining beer goodness. Of course, the actual luckiness of the guys and gals is highly dependent on when "Kill the Keg!" is yelled and how many thirsty people are attending the party. If partygoers are called to action at 9 p.m., for example, when just a handful of people are hanging around and the keg is full, then the game is much, much less enjoyable.
  9. Dead Man Walk: If your primary goal is to get messed up as quick as possible, ignoring the process by which you reach that end, then Dead Man Walk is the game for you. The title is self-explanatory: participants take a drink for each step they make, seeing who can walk the farthest without face-planting. Because someone inevitably does faceplant, the game yields painful results. The authors of the game — drinking game authors are always looking out for the greater good — urge participants not to drink spirits, as the use of them "will probably result in a premature death." Sound advice.
  10. Death Ring: Death Ring is a fittingly ominous title. The rules of the game are slightly complicated, so we'll refrain from detailing them here, but they are included in the link. Hopefully, the people dumb enough to partake in it are also too dumb to consistently follow the rules. The game requires a deck of cards and a few cases of beer, which tend to disappear quickly as each player takes about umpteen drinks during each of their turns. If participants escape death, they'll undoubtedly wake up the next day feeling like death.
Special Contributor: Florine Church

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD, formerly Students Against Drunk Driving) has a mission to provide students with the best prevention tools possible to deal with the issues of underage drinking, other drug use, impaired driving and other destructive decisions. (See video)

Read more and visit for more information.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Scared Straight Programs: Do They Really Work?

Breaking a teen down, does it really build them up?
It never ceases to amaze me that parents are still asking for boot camps or scared straight programs.  Although they may make an initial effect on your teen, it is rarely, if ever, long lasting.  They are usually considered a band-aid to a wound that will soon be re-opened.

Many teens that are acting out in a negative way, are usually crying out for help.  Lack of self-esteem, negative peer group and simply feel like they are not important to anyone.

Boot camps and scared straight programs are about breaking your child down - aren't they already there?  In many cases these types of programs can build more anger and resentment which is usually targeted at the parent that sent them there.

Finding a program that helps determine where these negative impulses are coming from and helping your teen work through them can be the best way to get back on a positive road.

Are you ready to get your teen the help they may need?  Visit for resources.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teens Escalating Out-of-Control: When is enough - ENOUGH?

CNN - InSession - TruTV (formerly CourtTV)
Today I was on In Session with Ryan Smith.

An interesting segment about troubled teens and boot camps. It is also a disturbing trial that is almost incomprehensible. 

As a young man is being charged with hiring a hit-man to kill his parents, part of his defense is the horrible time he spent in a specialty program.  This program was actually under the same umbrella of schools and programs that my own daughter attended.

Yes, the program in our experience, was extremely abusive - both physically and emotionally.  Did it create someone to actually kill their parents?  I haven't heard of that yet.  I will share with you these types of stories can sometimes deter parents from getting their teens help.

P.U.R.E. was created to help educate parents on searching and investigating schools and programs for your teen's individual needs.  We warn you to use caution of slick marketing scams - fancy websites and toll free numbers going all over the place.

When you realize you are losing control of your teen and have exhausted all your local resources, it is time to stop - do YOUR homework - and find help for them.

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

Visit for more valuable information.

Watch CNN here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Second Semester and My Teen is Failing!

As second semester is progressing, and faster than we realize, our High School teenagers are not recognizing how important these years are to getting into a good college or university.

It is a fact, not all kids are designed to go to college, some are very good at vocational trades, and that is a great direction too - as long as they have a direction.

However if you see that your once A-B student is barely getting C's and D's it is time to find out what is going on.

  • Talk to your teen
  • Talk to his/her guidance counselor
  • Talk to his/her teachers
  • Who are your teen's friends now? Are they also failing?
  • What has changed?
  • Why are they spiraling to a destructive level?
This list could go on forever, but at the end of the day, it is about getting your teen back on track.  Especially if you have a 16-17 year old, you have limited time to get them back on the positive road.

Have you tried therapy, which in many cases can lead to a dead end since your teen doesn't seem to see the issue - have you tried support groups?  Talked to your member of your church or community or friends that have been there?

Once you have exhausted all local resources it may be time for outside help, residential therapy.  This doesn't mean your teen needs to be in a place where there are hard-core kid - quite the contrary, you need to find a school or program that helps stimulate your teen in a positive direction.  Get them motivated again - but in a good way.
For more resources visit

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Teens: Getting them Motivated

"My teenager is brilliant!  Highly intelligent, has the potential to make all A's but is barely bringing home C's!  Help!"

This is a common complaint we hear about from many of today's parents.  Teens do not recognize the importance of education and what it means to their future.  As a matter of fact, we are seeing more adults going back for a higher education than ever before.  Why?  It is simple- education is the key to your financial future.  Now we need to get our teenagers to understand this.

It is up to parents to set boundaries and set the example.  We are not saying that teens are not allowed to have a social life, of course they are.  We need them to find the balance.

Here are some great tips from Parents and Kids:
  1. Start early on as possible as you can, set up reasonable goals, begin with small tasks and give them time to improve. For example, have the child state the goal, the grade on their upcoming report card for their classes, math, English, science, history, etc.
  2. Tell your child that you love him/her and wish to help him/her to have a bright future, then start the conversation with patience on his/her daily school activities, homework, test, class projects, etc. Prepare to hear some “bad news”, if it did happen, do not be angry with him/her, be calm down and help your child find the problem and try to find a way to help him/her to solve the problem.
  3. In order to build a strong work ethic, need to set some rules and ask your child to follow, be strict and tell him/her why. For example, finish homework before watching TV. Why? Homework is the key to understand and master what teachers taught, which leads to his/her success in school. This rule helps him/her be stronger on self-control as well.
  4. Encourage and praise the child wisely, not too much, otherwise would mislead him/her to think he/she is the best. Namely, let him/her know that the best needs continuous learning, although did a good job today, need do better tomorrow.
  5. Teach your child to have passion for learning new knowledge by showing fun stuff for the project and try to get his/her interest.
  6. Tell your child successful stories. Help them to understand to get a good education and succeed in school is one of the most important things for his/her life.
  7. Tell your child to make friends with those who are successful in school. Do your best to get your child into a good school, because a healthy competition environment challenges the kid and help him/her to develop better.
  8. Introduce some real role models to your kids, who fighting hard with difficulties and succeeded at last, gained people’s respect. Help him/her to learn that if we suffer a set back, we don’t give up. Instead, we try harder.
  9. Just like parenting, motivating your children is a life-long job. Keep investing your time, efforts to motivate your kids no matter how busy you are, because it is the most important investments in your life. Kids are our future!
If you feel your teen has reached a level that is not productive and they are going down a very negative path, contact to find resources that could help you and your family.