Friday, March 22, 2013

Peer Pressure: Three Ways to Help Your Teen to Say "No"

Let's face it, our teens want to fit in.  Even as adults we want to be part of a group but we also realize that there are limits and boundaries that we know we have.  Teenagers don't have the years of wisdom that we have to rely on.  Some adults still make mistakes with judgment of others.

How can we help our teens to avoid these pressures when faced with them at school or otherwise?

Here are three very good tips from one of the Five Moms at Stop Medicine Abuse:

  1. Start the conversation by telling teens that you understand it could be difficult for them to say no to their friends in peer pressure situations.
  2. Talk through ways they can handle different scenarios in which their friends are peer pressuring them to engage in risky behaviors such as drug or medicine abuse.
  3. Help them devise an “exit” plan in case they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation with their peers. Come up with a code word that they can text or say over the phone that you will both understand as a call for help.
These are just a few of the many methods you can use to talk with teens about how to avoid risky behaviors and peer-pressured situations such as abusing drugs or medicines. Preparing teens with a variety of methods makes it easier for them to stand up to their peers and “just say no.” In the comments below, share how you teach your teen to say no to peer pressure and risky behaviors such as drug and medicine abuse.

Have you reached your wit's end with your teen?  Considering residential therapy or a summer program?  Visit www.helpyourteens.com.



Friday, March 8, 2013

Teen Help: A Parent's True Story Struggling At Your Wit's End

After experiencing my good teen making some bad choices, I found myself surfing the Internet until I was so confused and stressed that I couldn’t make a decision. One group of specialty schools and behavior modification programs kept popping up wherever I clicked, and I figured they must be good. Then I received their beautiful glossy literature with a video that could make any parent weep.

Once the initial sticker shock wore off, the cost was reasonable in comparison with other programs, or so I thought until I enrolled my child. The hidden costs added up like a grocery bill. I was totally misled by the sales rep and made a rash decision. Mistake number one: being clueless as to whom you are speaking with when reaching out to these toll-free numbers. This is a common mistake for parents in a desperate situation. A swift sales rep is there waiting for you; meeting questions with the answers you want to hear and making promises that convince you they can help your child.

My true nightmare was just beginning.

Impressed by the fancy words and glossy brochures, I enrolled my child with the understanding that they were qualified to help. I am ashamed to say I never did a background check on these programs. I had called their parent references that they gave me (and later found out they were paid to talk to me, some actually receiving a free month’s tuition). I know many of you are thinking I must have been nuts, and you are right. In this stage of my life, I was at my wit’s end and just wanted help for my child.

Long story short, my frenzy and desperation led to my biggest mistake. I was looking for therapy and internalization through the help of professionals, but what I inadvertently ended up with was more of a teen warehousing program. This was not what they had sold me.

In retrospect, red flags went up shortly after I dropped my child off and I asked who the psychologist would be. Guess what? There was none, unless I wanted to pay extra! So who led the group therapy they raved about? There was no group therapy, there was a person, usually another student, who sat in a circle with them as they reflected. Their psychologist was available for another $100 per visit. But their sales reps had told me that there was a licensed therapist “on staff and on site.” I should have pulled my child then, but I thought I was over-reacting since I was in such a state of confusion and frenzy. The staff was very good at convincing me to “trust the program” instead of addressing my concerns.

My child wrote me letters: some good, some bad. According to the program, the good ones were considered manipulation; the bad ones were considered proof that she needed to stay longer. I couldn’t win and neither could my child.

During my child’s entire stay of almost six months, I was never allowed to speak with her. I only spoke with an employee once a week for 15 minutes (in further research, I discovered these employees had no credentials and many weren’t educated beyond High School, including the President of the organization). I later found out it usually takes up to six months to speak with your child, and in most cases up to a year to see them.

It took me months to realize that I had made a big mistake. In order to visit my child it was mandatory to attend some very bizarre seminars; I wrote my withdrawal letter immediately after the second seminar.

I brought my child home suffering from depression and nightmares from her time in a WWASPS program, and fear of being sent back had created suicidal thoughts.  My child went immediately into real counseling where, after almost two years, an excellent psychologist helped us recover from this horrible, traumatic post-WWASP experience. When my child felt confident that I wouldn’t send her back, I heard some unspeakable stories. I have also heard similar stories from many other post-WWASP aka WWASPS students and families suffering from the same post traumatic symptoms. Through this experience I have developed the opinion that fraud and misrepresentation, combined with a vulnerable parent, can lead to danger for a child. I believe in sharing my knowledge of this (very political) industry with as many families as possible.

So who am I? I am a parent that refused to be silenced. In 2001 I posted my story of what we endured. How my child was abused, how I was duped, and how they (in my opinion) continue to dupe others. WWASPS decided to sue me to have my story removed from the Internet. It went to a jury trial, and I won with truth as my defense.  My story is here and is also published in Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen (Health Communications, Inc). I have continued to help families through my organization founded from our experiences, Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc (P.U.R.E.)

As of March 2013, it is believed that WWASP aka WWASPS or Premier Educational Systems has affiliations with the following, click here.

If you are one of the many parents struggling with their teenagers — good kids making bad choices — you are not alone. If you are in need of teen help, residential therapy is an excellent resource.  In reality there are many more good programs than there are not so good; the key is to do your homework. I created a list of tips and questions to ask schools and programs before enrolling your child, as well as other valuable information. Be an educated parent and you will have safer and healthier teens. So ditch your denial and get proactive! Your child deserves a chance at a bright future.

Learn from my mistakes, gain from my knowledge…..
 
Follow me on Twitter and join me on Facebook.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Warnings Signs If Your Teen Is Using Drugs



This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis.  Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not. 

However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.

Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:


  •  Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family.  This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.

  •  Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open.  Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.

  • There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.

  • A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

  •  Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness.  Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.

  •  Lying , usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police. 

  •  Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.

  • Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.


These are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized.   


  •   Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior. 

  • Evaluate the situation.   

  • Talk to your teenager.   

  • Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.   

  •   By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.   

  •  Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.   

  • If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.   


The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded.  Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family.  Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together.  An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.  

Contributor: Shawnda Burns, LCSW

Visit www.helpyourteens.com if you feel you are at your wit's end and have exhausted all your local resources.