Friday, April 27, 2012

Rebellious Teen: The Defiant Attitude

How many time do I hear from parents how their teen has become someone they barely recognize?  Their attitude. Their defiance. Their blatant disrespect. Clearly they are rebellious and how are we supposed to handle this?

Some great tips are here!

How to Handle Teenage Rebellion

Many parents with teenagers are well aware that raising a teen presents a challenge. A teen’s attitude can fluctuate from being kind and well-behaved to rude and rebellious in a matter of seconds. Many want to know how to handle teenage rebellion, but several are unaware of where to start.

Continue reading to learn how to handle your teenager’s rebellious stage and start establishing the role you’d like in their life.

1. Listen
One thing that many parents have difficulty with is listening to their teen. It’s crucial for both parent and teen to talk and share feelings with one another. In order to communicate effectively,be aware of where your child is coming from and what his/her mindset is. Listening cannot only help our relationship, but also help identify issues that need to be addressed.
2. Enforce Rules & Values
When teens are going through their rebellious period, they break rules. This behavior can be improved by consistently letting your child know what is expected of them. Eventually, behavior will improve. Aside from enforcing rules, discussing values can also aid in improving behavior. Values are a huge part of life and making your teen aware of them can help them through their rebellion and throughout their entire life.
3. Allow Some Distance
Every teen is going to be in a bad mood every now and then. When this occurs, parents need to give them some space. If your teen is neither violent nor destructive, give them some privacy. There is nothing wrong with giving them time to take a walk around the park alone or go in their room and lock the door. Sometimes, a few minutes alone can calm a teenager down.
4. Get to Know Teachers
Getting to know your teen’s teachers and developing a good relationship with them can make it much easier, as well as make both yourself and their teachers aware of behavior problems. This can help build a support system for the child and yourself too.
5. Support Group
Although you may believe that your teen is the issue, there is always room to work on yourself as a parent. A parent support group/parenting classes can teach you how to improve your home environment and inform you of better ways to handle your teen when the rebellion switches into full gear.  Bettering yourself as a parent can benefit your rebellious teen significantly.
6. Family Counseling
Family counseling can help to address the underlying issues that led to the rebellion. Every rebellious period stems from an underlying issue. This can be anything from school to friends or yourself. Once the cause of your teen’s bad behavior is addressed, a family counselor can then give the family tips, strategies and skills to repair these issues.

Overal,l leaning to handle teenage rebellion requires work, patience and determination. Getting involved in their life without being invasive is a great place to start. Aside from that, these tips should be very helpful, because they have proven helpful to me time and again.

Contributor:  Kim Richmonds likes to write about parenting & saving money at www.homeinsurance.org.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Teen Drinking may not be just a phase...

April is Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Though parents shouldn't need a reminder to talk to their kids about the dangers and risks of underage drinking, this is a good time to be sure you find time to set aside and discuss this subject.  Peer pressure can be extremely powerful force - especially in middle school and high school.

1)  At what age would you suggest parents start talking to kids about alcohol? Should parents bring it up independently, or wait for their children to ask before broaching the topic?

Like with any sensitive and serious subject, as soon as a parent believes their child is mature enough to understand the topic (alcohol) is when they should start discussions.  It can start by asking them their thoughts on alcohol, listen to them carefully and remember, never criticize.  Start the discussion at their level and start learning from each other.

Education is the key to prevention and can help your child to better understand the risk and dangers of alcohol from an early age.

Waiting for a crisis to happen, such as living with an alcoholic or having an issue with a family member that has a drinking problem is not the time to start talking to the child.  With this type of situation, the subject should be approached as early as the child can possibly understand alcohol and substance use.

2)  If you’ve had bad experiences with alcohol in the past (ie you or a friend/family member has battled alcoholism or similar issues), should you be open about them with your kid? If so, when is the right age for kids to hear this information? How open should you be?

This is a very tricky question.  On one hand we value honesty, however when a teenager likes to throw it back at you when they decide to experiment and it goes too far is when you realize you may want to pick and choose what stories from your past you want to share.
If you have a family member that has battled with addiction, alcoholism or similar issues, there is nothing like firsthand experiences (especially those people that are related to them) to help them understand how harmful this disease can be and in some cases, deadly.    I think it is very important that your teenager know these stories and how it relates to them – especially as they go into middle school and high school and start feeling the peer pressure from to others to experiment with different substances.

3)  Are there any websites or books that you’d recommend having parents read or showing kids (at any age)? Are certain types of information better for each age group (ie maybe children respond better to broad themes and videos, tweens respond well to anecdotes and stories, and teens respond better to hard facts about drinking and health)?

Ask Listen Learn: Is a fantastic interactive and educational website created by The Century Council For Underage Drinking.  This site if full of facts, resources, videos downloads, games as well as more links that offer extended information.  This site is targeted for all ages from younger kids to teens.
The Cool Spot: This is another great website for tweens and teens.  This deals with information on alcohol and helping teens and young teens resist peer pressure.
Smashed:  Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas – This is an excellent book for both parents and teens of a true story.  It was a NYT’s best seller.  Eye-opening and utterly gripping, Koren Zailckas’s story is that of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics—yet—but who routinely use booze as a shortcut to courage and a stand-in for good judgment.  This book is more for teenagers and parents.

4)  Do you think that schools and/or the media do a good job of warning kids about the dangers of alcohol consumption, or do they receive mixed messages about drinking? How might you incorporate your thoughts about this into a conversation with your child?

Schools and teachers do what they are paid to do, and in most cases, especially with dedicated teachers and employees, will go above their duty and do more.  However it is the parent’s responsibility to continue to talk to their child about the risks and dangers of alcohol, as well as the peer pressure they may face in school and in their community.

Though many parents are busy today, some working two jobs, many are single parents – there are few excuses not to take the time to talk to your kids about these subjects.  Whether it is Internet safety, substance abuse, safe sex, or simply homework – parenting is your priority.  I am not saying this is easy, I know for a fact, it isn’t.  I was a single parent with two teenagers, it was very hard.  I think today is even more challenging since there is more obstacles to contend with than there was even a decade ago.
The good news is the most recent study by The Century Council says that 83% of youth cite parents as the leading influence in their decisions not to drink alcohol.  Another words – our kids are listening and parents are doing their job parenting!

5)  How often should you talk to kids about alcohol, and does it vary by age? (i.e. less frequently for younger children, more frequently for tweens, and most frequently for teenagers?)
As frequently as you have an opportunity.  If there is a reason for it – if there is a conversation about it, expand on it – don’t run from it.  This is for both tweens and teens.  As far as little children are concerned, again it depends on their maturity and what your family dynamics consist of.

 6)  If you drink yourself, is it ever a good idea to allow kids to drink with you (i.e. a glass of wine at dinner) to de-stigmatize alcohol and help them be responsible? Or is it instead better to forbid them from consuming alcohol altogether until they are 21? 

Alcohol is illegal for underage drinkers.  However there are some that believe that a sip of alcohol isn’t be a big deal.  I believe this is a personal decision, but if you have alcoholism that runs in your family, it is something that I would caution you on.
The other side to this is some people believe it would eliminate them from trying it at a friend’s house where they could get into trouble such as drinking and driving.  I think this goes back to being a personal choice on for your family.  It goes back to talking to your teen – communication.  Keep the lines open!

7)  If you suspect your child’s friends are drinking or pressuring him/her to drink, should you stop allowing your child to hang out with them?

Communication.  Talk to your child about these friends.  Find out what is going on and help your child see that maybe the choices he/she is making are not in their best interest.  It is better if your teen comes to the conclusion not to hang out with these friends rather than their parent telling them not to.

8)  Should the discussion be different for a daughter versus a son? How might you talk to the different sexes differently about alcohol (i.e. maybe you’d warn girls more about not having people slip something in their drinks at parties, while you’d warn boys more about alcohol and hazing/pranks.)

I don’t want parents to get confused on gender and alcoholism.  It doesn’t discriminate.  A girl or a boy can be slipped a drug in their drink at a party – just like a girl or boy can be coerced into participating into a mean prank of hazing.  

 With this, whether you have a son or daughter, you need to speak with them about the risks of leaving any drink alone and coming back for it.  Keep in mind, you don’t have to have an alcoholic beverage to put a powdery substance into it (another words even a soda can be spiked).

The important issue is they understand that these things can happen and they can happen to them.

9)  What should you do if you suspect your teenager is drinking against your advice?

Communication.  I know it is easier said than done (and I sound like a broken record), however it is the best tool we have and the most effective.  As hard as it can be, talking with a teenager is difficult, but we have to continue to break down those walls until they talk to us and tell us why they are turning to alcohol.
If you aren’t able to get through, please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you can’t, you are not alone. 

Again, teen years are the most trying times.  Reach out to an adolescent therapist or counselor.  Hopefully your teen will agree to go. If not, may you have a family member or good friend your teen will confide in.  It so important to get your teen to talk about why he/she is drinking.  Don’t give up – whether it is a guidance counselor, sports coach, someone he/she is willing to open up to.

Parents can’t allow this to escalate and only believe it is a phase.  Maybe it is – but maybe it isn’t.  Be proactive.  Don’t wait for it to reach the addiction level. Don’t be a parent in denial.  There is help and you don’t have to be ashamed to ask for it.

There are many typical teens that end up being addicts – don’t let your teenager be one of them.

 10)  Could you offer one specific tip for each age group (elementary school, tween/middle school, and high school) that I may have missed or that people might not think of?

For all ages, parents need to realize how important it is to be a role model.  As I mentioned earlier, 83% of children are listening and are influenced by their parents.  That is a large number.  So continue keeping those lines of communication open – starting early and going into their college years!

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Teen Drug Use to Teen Drug Dealer

Yes, this is a trend I am hearing more and more of - and it is quite disturbing.

Parents fear their teens using drugs - well, some parents even make excuses - "it's just pot, I did it when I was a teen," please understand - this is not the marijuana you did when you were a teen - in most cases marijuana can be laces with other substances that can be addictive or even deadly.

Now phone calls are coming more frequently of teens that are dealing drugs not only to support their habit - but to make money.

A cry for help?  Yes!  Well, no - not according to the teenager, but the parents should wake up and realize they have to intervene before this escalates to major drug trafficking and your child is no just arrested for possession but now is dealing with drug trafficking, selling to minors - and maybe more serious charges.

I recently wrote an article for School Family  - 10 Tips to Help Prevent Teen Drug Addiction

This combined with getting your teen outside help are steps, you, as a parent can take.

Visit www.helpyourteens.com for more information.