Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Teen Help and Residential Therapy: Good Teens Making Bad Choices ~ Parent's Making The Right Decision

Is your teen withdrawing from the family?
Summer is here and some parents will be considering summer camps while others are in the midst of hoping their teenager passed the school year, or had enough credits to graduate. If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with school and acting out, it can drive you to your wit's end. 

Maybe your once fun-loving teenager who is good looking, intelligent, and has lots of good friends is now talking back to you, staying out late or sneaking out, defiant, and possibly sexually active? On the flip side, your once sweet child might be a teenage misfit who is acting out because of bullying, or is experimenting with sex, drugs, and/or alcohol in a desperate attempt to find acceptance.

What happens when you have a teenager that decides they don't want to finish high school when they are more than capable? Perhaps they were consistently getting excellent grades and now they are just getting by or failing completely.  From an overachiever to an underachiever.  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school--suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.

Is this typical teen behavior?

Possible, but how do you know when it is and when you need to intervene?

As the school year is coming to an end, it is a good time for parents to evaluate where their teen is at both emotionally and academically--especially if they are in High School. These are your final years to make a significant difference in their lives, and get them on a positive road towards their futures. When a child is crying out for help by using illegal substances,  running away, flunking in school, becoming secretive, possibly affiliating with a gang, or displaying other negative behavior it is a parent's responsibility to get involved, as painful as that is, and seek treatment. 

When adolescents reach the point of rebelliousness, many parents will try therapy, and this is a good place to start. But the success of local treatment will depend on the child and how far their behavior has escalated. Unfortunately many parents I have spoken to have reported that the one-hour session once a week--or even twice a week--rarely makes a difference in their teen's behavior. For many parents there comes a time when residential therapy is taken under serious consideration--especially if drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. It is important to seek outside help, and removing a teen from their environment can be critical in getting them the help they need to heal. This is particularly true when a teen needs to be separated from undesirable peers that are instigating or perpetuating their negative behavior.

Though the majority of teens are unwilling to attend residential treatment, most of them are professionally transported by experts in the field. Parents spend a lot of time and stress about this part of the decision, but hiring a professional in this field can lessen the worries. They are trained to work with at-risk youth and will ask you all about your child before they arrive. In speaking with many parents and teens that have successfully used transports, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. 

At the end of the day, your teen truly wants to feel good about themselves again, too. They want to be that happy child that you remember. Remember, they were once that a good kid, and they can become that good person again.  Being a teenager isn't easy, and parenting that child when you have reached your wit's end is a challenge. Knowing you are not alone helps!

Take away tips for parents:

When seeking residential treatment, I always encourage parents to look for three key components that I call the ACE factor:

·        Accredited Academics (Ask to see their accreditation): Education is important, some programs actually don't offer it.
·        Clinical (Credentialed therapists on staff): Please note--on staff. 
·        Enrichment Programs (Animal assisted programs, culinary, fine arts, sports etc): Enrichment Programs are crucial to your child's program. They will help build self-esteem and stimulate them in a positive direction. Find a program with something your teen is passionate about or used to be passionate prior their path in a negative direction.

I also encourage parents to avoid three red flags:

·        Marketing arms and sales reps (All those toll-free numbers, be careful of who you are really speaking to and what is in the best interest of your child.)
·        Short term programs (Wilderness programs or otherwise, rarely is there a quick fix. Short term program are usually short term results. They usually will then convince you to go into a longer term program after you are there a few weeks--why not just start with one? Consistency is key in recovery. An average program is 6-9-12 months, depending on your child's needs and the program.)
·        Statistics that show their success rate (I have yet to see any program or school have a third party--objective survey--perform a true statistical report on a program's success. Success is an individual's opinion. You have to do your own due diligence and call parent references.)

For more information about researching residential therapy and helpful tips, visit and don't forget to review the list of questions for schools and programs so you can make an educated decision.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Red River Academy, Youth Foundation Inc, Teen Help Programs Sales Reps

Don't get scammed because you are desperate for help.
You are searching for a program for your struggling teen.  You have reached your wit's end and bumped into websites that seem to promise to help you.  After being stunned by the sticker shock, you start surfing the web a bit and suddenly realize everything isn't want it seems.

Yes, River View Academy (Utah), River River Academy, Youth Foundation, Cross Creek, and even those sales people.


And who am I.

Well, if you ask these teen help "sales reps" they will tell you that I am a disgruntled parent that attempted to manipulate their referral system.  Okay, funny a jury trial didn't find that.  There has been many lawsuits filed against this organization, though many have been settled quietly, mine was the only one to go to a jury trial - in Salt Lake City.  I was not taking this sitting down.

The Internet is a very deceptive place.  You see, there is Internet fact and Internet fiction.

The Internet can be an educational tool, as well as a lethal weapon.

Fact:  WWASPS (and whatever names they want to use now, and personally I find it very hard to keep up with all these name changes, and claims they are not part of WWASPS -- though many of the employees seem to stay the same) lost their case against me in a jury trial proving that my story - A Parent's True Story can remain online since I obviously had truth on my side.  Yes, truth that my daughter was harmed in one of their programs (now closed) and I was duped by them (those people are still working there - including Lisa Irvin).

Funny, they originally were telling parents - the jury made a mistake.  I think the majority of parents could see through this.

Now we come to phase two:

Let's ruin Sue Scheff with the keyboard and get some trolls - because you know there are many people that don't like any programs out there.  The next thing we know there is an all out slim online campaign against me - and I am the target of cyber-bullets.  Again in a legal arena, I take this court and win an astounding landmark case, when many had never heard of Internet Defamation, I fought to prove this is what was happening to me!

So now parents when these "sales reps" like Lezlee and Lisa send parents slanderous links about me it is all part of their marketing plan, in my opinion.

You don't have to believe me or them.  I only ask you do your due diligence to find safe and quality help for your teenager.

I believe in residential therapy, I also know there are many excellent programs in our country.  Be an educated parent---you will find safe and healthy programs for your at-risk teenager.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dealing with Peer Pressure in Middle School

Teens and preteens are very susceptible to the desire to feel as though they belong and are accepted among their peers. However, peer pressure can often have a very negative influence on how they behave, and, even more importantly, how they feel about themselves. As your child enters middle school, peer pressure can escalate as classmates begin pushing the boundaries set by both parents and schools.

As parents, you are still the largest influence in your kids’ lives, giving you an opportunity to help them cope with this peer pressure.

Here are ten ways you can help.
  • Be Proactive – Don’t wait for problems or topics to arise to discuss them with your middle school child. Instead, be proactive and have the hard conversations about drugs, alcohol, tobacco and sex with her. Let her know your point of view and the hard truths about these subjects that they will face one way or another.
  • Speak Up – When you notice a certain friend or group of friends seems to be a poor influence, speak up, but don’t actively criticize the friend. Instead, approach it from an observational point of view, letting him know you are aware. State that you are concerned with what happens when he is with this friend or group, pointing out poor behavior or problems. Be careful to state that it is the behavior you do not like, not the friends as people.
  • Keep Lines of Communication Open – Communicating with young adults can be difficult, as they strive to gain independence and find their own way. However, as the parent, it is up to you to make the effort to talk to your kids and get them to talk to you. Even though it may seem like many conversations may be one-sided, your child will still feel that you are there to talk to when they need it.
  • Be the Bad Guy – One way you can help a child is by giving them the option to make you the bad guy. Let her know that it is perfectly fine with you if she blames you when she doesn’t want to do something. Since it is the truth in most cases, as you would not want your child doing anything that a classmate is pressuring her to do, it is a good way to ease the pressure of saying no.
  • Encourage His Opinions – Part of becoming a strong individual is having and asserting your personal opinion. Encourage your middle school child to express his opinion and defend his position. While he may not always be right, listen and be respectful of his thoughts. By learning to defend his opinion with you, he can also learn to defend his own opinions with other kids his own age.
  • Build Confidence – The more confidence your child has, the better off she will be when it comes to handling peer pressure. Encourage her to explore sports, hobbies and other activities she enjoys. Everyone has something that they enjoy and do well; it’s just a matter of finding what appeals to her. Learning new skills will build her confidence and expand her horizons.
  • Support Her Friend or Group Choices – Even though you may want your preteen daughter to be part of a certain group, you need to support her decision not to if that is what she decides. It is important that you let her make her own choices and exercise her right to stand up to you and others about why she made that choice. This will help her be strong in making other choices as well.
  • Talk to Him About Peer Pressure – Let your child know that you understand that they are facing many pressures at school, and that you are there to help when he needs it. Just hearing you say that you are aware of his struggles and are available can make a difference. Knowing you are on his side is always important.
  • Role Play – Teaching your child how to say no when pressured takes practice. Try role playing with her and having her ask you to do something she would not want to do, such as smoking or drinking. Have her be the one that does the pressuring, and show her how to say “no.” If she says she would not be able to do what you did, then that is a good opener to discuss why she would have trouble and how to work on being stronger.
  • Let Him Make Mistakes – One of the best ways to help a young man learn to cope with peer pressure is to let him make mistakes and be held accountable for them. Regardless of whether he was pressured into doing something he was not supposed to do, he still needs to feel the consequences of his choice. Once those consequences have been resolved, he also must be allowed to make that same decision again, hopefully with better results.
The preteen and early teen years can be the most trying time, both for the child and the parents. Peer pressure will not stop, but by nurturing your child to be strong and independent, you’re ensuring that she has a better chance of making the right choices and will cope better through the middle school years.

Source:  Babysitting Jobs

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Preparing for Summer With Teens

By Amity Chandler, former DFCC Executive Director

At a recent community presentation of primarily retired individuals, I mentioned that we like to remind parents that have students at home during the summer to throw out the leftover liquor bottles from holiday celebrations. The retired individuals promptly noted that they would take those "donations," as their children were already raised and out of the home. Whether you "donate" your lingering supply to a teen-free neighbor, or simply dump it, here are some tips to navigate summer with your teen:

 First, let's debunk summer. There is nothing magical about it, except that teens tend to have more free time and there is a strong correlation between free time and risk-taking among teens. This could mean riding their bike into the pool, walking through the drive-thru, or an all-nighter of the Jersey Shore.  It could also mean the temptation to experiment with alcohol, marijuana or sexual activity. Short of locking them up, there is no silver bullet to prevent any of the above, and I often joke with my friends that as parents of teens, we have a 100% chance of something going awry. It does not however, have to be as a result of a lack of planning.

 Plan 1. Throw out the leftover liquor bottles that are sitting around from the holiday parties. Bigger is not better in this case, and your teens weren't hatched yesterday. If they're going to experiment, it will be with the stuff you're least likely to look at or touch. This also means old prescriptions and the cigarettes you might have quit a month ago. Also consider most Florida teens say when they drink they do so at another friend's home. There is a parent somewhere that hasn't gotten the's time for us to start talking to the parents of our friends and asking direct questions, such as, does my teen have access to alcohol in your home? Worst-case scenario is you'll embarrass your teen. Let's just say it won't be the first or last time.

 Plan 2. Prepare for boredom. Actually, don't fall victim to the "I'm bored" routine. Before you know it, they'll be calling you on the phone while you're at work asking to go to place A, with friend B, whom you've actually never met, but is a friend of friend C, whom you know quite well. And oh by the way, they'll be home before you get home, and they'll keep their cell phone on. Don't get me wrong, I believe most teens are inherently honest and good - I am their biggest cheerleader. But I've noticed they can smell weakness. If they can get their otherwise logical parent who normally would insist on all facts and details with 24-hour notice to budge in this one moment, the door is open for compromise. Work with your teen to make plans in advance and stick with the 24-hour notice rule for activity outside of the home. If friend B is really that important to your teen, they'll make plans within your guidelines.

 Plan 3. A summer job is not a barrier to experimentation. In fact, in can be a gateway. Summer jobs are great for teaching responsibility, earning money and other life lessons. Summer jobs can also result in relationships between your teen and older, legal drinking-age individuals. Plan on talking to your teen about work relationships, new friends and your expectations of them while they are working for the summer, including curfews and work hours.

 Plan 4. Plan for fun and down time. Endless surveys of teenagers show that they are often more worried, more stressed and more over-extended than any other teen generation that has come before them. Sleeping a few days away is not going to be the end of your bright-eyed sassy teenager. Hanging aimlessly at the beach with an approved list of friends may be just what they need to decompress and refocus. Plan in advance for ways that you and your teenager can do just that - relax.

There is no need for summer vacation to be any more onerous than any other period should be while raising teens. At the end of the day, we're still a parent, and they're still a teenager. Have a safe, well-planned summer.