5 Things To Discuss Before Your Teen Heads Off To College

talking-with-momCommunication between college students and parents is key. Here are five important things to talk about before your teen leaves home:

The Budget

One of the biggest potential sources of family conflict is the college student budget. Whether you are funding your child’s education, or expecting him to come up with the money himself, your child will need to be on the same page. If your financial assistance will be limited, it’s important to explain what help you can provide and how it will be distributed. Plan to deposit five hundred dollars a month to help out? Say so. Don’t expect your child to intuit your financial plan.

Parents often promise to pay for college in full, but may not define their expectations clearly. Maybe you have been saving since your child was a toddler, but how to you plan to disperse the funds? What if the savings won’t be enough to cover living expenses all four years? Paying for college extends well beyond tuition.

Points to consider:

·      Who will pay living expenses? Will those be paid directly by parents, or will money be deposited in an account for the student to use to pay bills him/herself?

·      How will food, transportation, and clothing be paid for?

·      What about the cell phone?

·      Will parents pay for health care?

·      Who will pay for extras?

The Timeline

College isn’t always four years of coursework. Some students extend time in college because their programs last five or more years. Some change majors. Others take it slowly for the first couple of years.

If your plan is to fund college for your child, does your strategy take these things in to account? Is there a time limit to your financial support? How about your patience? Are you prepared to pull the plug if your child is on the seven-year plan? If so, maybe she needs to hear your thoughts ahead of time, so she can find a part time job or pick up the pace.

Crisis Situations

Medical or mental health crisis: Record numbers of college students are seeking mental health support according to recently published studies. Common mental health related causes for leaving college include: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, excessive drinking, and drug use. Are there medical or psychiatric issues that might prevent your college student from completing school uninterrupted? If so, under what circumstances might you need to bring him home? Does he know when to ask for your help?

Academic Crisis: Do you have a plan for failing college grades? Most paying parents won’t want to continue writing checks unless kids are producing passing grades. Have you discussed your views with your soon to be college student?

Breaks From School

Some parents express frustration when kids arrive back home during college breaks, dump their laundry next to the washing machine, and flop down into bed for the duration of the school break. If your son or daughter is home on break, do you expect him or her to help around the house? Work a summer job? Be up and at ‘em by nine every morning and in bed before midnight? Whatever your expectations, be certain to spell them out before the first academic break begins.

Plan B

Recent statistics estimate that almost half of college enrollees drop out before completing a degree. No parent sends a kid to college hoping she’ll drop out, but with estimated dropout rates so high, all parents and new college students should discuss alternative strategies in case college doesn’t work out.

 

Dr. Melissa Deuter is a psychiatrist in San Antonio, TX who specializes in the care of emerging adults. www.MelissaDeuter.com; @MStenDeut

 

How To Cope With Bullying

by Gail Peterson

Too-Many-Rocks-in-your-Pocket-BullyingThe rise of social media and smartphones has made the impact of school bullying more apparent. A 2012 report from the US Department of Health & Human Services stated that 37% of students reported being bullied in school, and 52% report being cyber bullied.

These statistics are alarming to many, especially parents. As mentors and guardians to our children, we are all looking for tools to make our kids more aware of bullying and better able to handle conflicts with their friends and peers.

The negative feelings associated with being bullied lead to fear and anxiety, as well as a build up of stress. When combined the stress associated with bullying with other stressors (tests, homework, competitive sports, etc.), it becomes difficult for some kids to separate out the causes and find reasonable solutions.

After years of working with stressed and overworked clients and seeing my kids struggle, I came up with a new solution to help kids identify stresses in their life called Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket.

There is a pouch of hand-polished rocks painted with different common stress words that kids experience, such as bully, fear, fitting in, grades, etc.. How it works is by following the instructions to take out the appropriate rock from the bag that best fits the emotion or stress they feel at the time and put that rock in your pocket. Carry that rock around in your pocket for the day. In the case of a younger child, when the parent and kid get home, take the rocks out that have been put in the pocket for the day and open a discussion as to what caused that stress. When as parents we know what causes our kids stress or hurt we are much better equipped to help our kids understand helpful and creative ways to deal with it. What we have found is that children often have a hard time defining emotions such as pressure, fear, fitting-in, etc on their own. The rocks can be a tool to open up a discussion and help find a solution.

Tom Krause, a thirty-year classroom teacher and national motivational speaker in education, said of the rocks, “A wonderful resource for teens to deal with stress is Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket. They are a brilliantly simple and effective tool to help teenagers confront and deal with stress on a daily basis.”

In order for us as parents to effectively use tools such as stress rocks, we must first understand where bullying comes from. I believe, it is safe to say that to some degree our children are products of their environment. a child’s behavior is influenced through family life, school life, social and peer interactions. As a starting point we must first evaluate the home life. Of course the vast majority of us don’t think of ourselves as bullies or abusers, but we must be cautious of the interactions we expose our children to. Do you ever speak disparagingly of a co-worker or relative? Make a joke at someone’s expense? These are the subtle, often innocent behaviors that our children can pick up on and use as a justification to bully someone at school. As far as school and social relationships we as parents have a duty to be involved in our child’s life. Make an effort to talk with teachers in regards to not only grades but classroom interactions. Look for signs of aggressive behavior towards others. Know your child’s friends! Who do they hang out with? Are they positive or negative relationships. Simply put, be involved and know what’s going on when your child is away from home.

As adults it can be easy to blow off the seriousness of bullying. We may think back to when we were kids and say, yeah, I was bullied by a classmate, no big deal it made me build character and I got over it! That was then; the reality today is sadly that teen suicides and school shootings are on the rise, in large part to kids who feel bullied, alienated, stressed, and depressed. As I mentioned earlier, with the much wider availability of electronic communications and social sites it is easier than ever for a child to get ganged up on. Rumors spread in the speed of a click or text to a whole class or school. The days of one on one are gone; imagine being bullied by your whole class! Tom Krause, teacher and motivational speaker say, “Society, in general, has made teenage years more stressful today than it was thirty years ago. Increasing drug usage, suicide attempts, and dropout rates attest to the difficulty many children and teens face.”

I urge all parents to realize the seriousness of bullying and the importance of opening up discussions with their kids, parents of their child’s friends, and teachers. I also urge you to familiarize yourself with your state’s anti-bullying laws. 49 of 50 states have such a law, and there are also federal laws to be aware of. Consider using tools such as Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket to help your kids cope with the stresses of modern life and to help facilitate communication with your child. According to Elizabeth Washburn, a Social Worker and Development Disability Professional, “Tools such as “Too Many Rocks” can assist communication and coping skills because it allows them a verbal prompt that shows the emotion that they are attempting to express. In play therapy, psychologists use similar tools in allowing children to express and identify the target of their pain.” Bullying will never go away, but with consistent and comprehensive involvement by parents, teachers, and others professionals we can help our children develop the skills necessary to appropriately deal with bullying.

Training and Exercise for your Brain
Too Many Rocks In Your Pocket (Kids Series) is designed to help children cope with stress and to open up communication with parents on topics relating to stress and bullying.

How it works: Through research we have found that identifying target words help children open up with adults regarding important issues that may otherwise go unchecked. Through their teenage years – and sometimes beyond – many children lack a firm grasp of the concept of stress and how it affects their lives. When adults use the trigger words on our rocks and ask their children what those words mean to them, it becomes easier for children to recall significant conversations and situations in their lives.

Once you have had a discussion with your child, you are better equipped to help them deal with those stresses. This concept works by allowing children to confront their stresses visually and physically instead of suppressing them or not dealing with them appropriately. It is a tool designed as a step towards identifying stress – not as a solution in and of itself. The concept represents a simple, yet effective approach that practically anyone can learn to use.

Are You Doing Too Much For Your Child?

by Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D

lazy-teenOne of my clients, Katherine, came in yesterday and told me that she was feeling frustrated with her son’s behavior. “Today I asked Evan repeatedly to take out the garbage and he just kept saying, ‘Later, Mom.’ I finally did it myself, but I was so angry and resentful,” she explained. “And it’s not only the trash – it’s more important things, like finishing schoolwork. I do virtually everything for Evan – to the point where sometimes I’m exhausted – and he never seems to take any responsibility himself.”

When I asked Katherine why she continued in this way, she said, “I suppose it’s because I felt my parents never did anything for me…and I don’t want Evan to ever feel that way.”

I replied, “I can see this is hurting you – but do you realize you may be hurting Evan, too?”

Katherine’s overprotective parenting style stems from her own sense of neglect, but there are other reasons parents may overcompensate and feel they must do everything for their child.

Fear of dire consequences can cause a parent to step in, e.g., “If I don’t finish the science project for her, she’ll fail the class and never get into college,” or “If I don’t remind him to get to soccer practice on time every day, he’ll get cut from the team.”

Feelings of anxiety about the world in general can drive parents to take control or indulge their children excessively, in the belief that they can keep their child from ever being hurt or disappointed. For instance, “If I let him walk to his friend’s house alone, he may be kidnapped,” or “If I don’t buy her those expensive jeans, she says she just has to have, the other girls will make fun of her and ostracize her from their crowd.”

Although “do-everything” parents have good intentions, they can actually instill their own anxiety in their child. Parents who hover over and micro-manage their children at school functions or during play dates, because they themselves are uncomfortable in social situations, may create children who will mirror that same unease and apprehension.

Studies have shown that an overprotective parent can harm a child by engendering a lack of self-agency, the feeling that they are the agents that can produce a desired outcome, not the parent. Similarly, overprotective parents impede the development of self-efficacy, the sense that one has the capacity to take effective actions. Individuals with diminished self-efficacy are less resilient to stress and underestimate their own resources.

Children who have everything done for them lose the chance to develop valuable coping skills, to gain self-confidence and to learn to bounce back from failure when necessary.

So, if you catch yourself doing too much for your child, step back and give him or her a chance to learn to be more independent –– perhaps at first with a struggle, but later with ease.  Chances are you’ll both feel better about yourselves.

Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D has been a psychologist in private practice for 30 years. She is the director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, near Detroit. www.anxiety-treatment.com

Could Your Child Be a Cyberbully? Warning Signs and Prevention Tactics

“No, my child would never do that.” Would this be your response if your child were accused of being a cyberbully? If so, you’re not alone. For one thing, no parent wants to believe that his or her child is capable of teasing or harassing other youngsters. For another, cyberbullying is, by its very nature, a relatively easy behavior for youngsters to keep under wraps: With the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger, the evidence disappears. And most concerning of all, it’s easy for kids to get caught up in this destructive behavior without initially realizing how dangerous and hurtful it is.

“Like it or not, the rapidly expanding digital landscape has allowed bullying to spread beyond playgrounds and school hallways to computer screens, smartphones, and more,” says Amy Lupold Bair, author of Raising Digital Families For Dummies® . “Since this is a pressing issue that can affect any family, it’s crucial for parents to be able to recognize the signs that their children may be cyberbullies, and to know how to handle and prevent this behavior.”

Specifically, Lupold Bair says, tweens and teens (and in some instances, even younger kids) who are engaged in cyberbullying often exhibit behavior changes, just as victims do. Watch for the following signs:

• Your child may stop using the computer when you come into the room or quickly change screens or tabs.

• Your child may sharply increase time spent on the computer or on a smartphone.

• Your child may appear stressed or secretive when using these devices, and may become anxious, upset, or excessively angry when you limit or take away access.

• Your child may be spending more time with a new group of friends, or might no longer interact publicly with a long-time friend.

“Regardless of whether your child’s behavior fits into any of these categories, it’s a good idea to proactively bring up the topic of cyberbullying,” Lupold Bair says. “Make sure your kids know what cyberbullying is, why it’s harmful, and what your expectations are for their online conduct. By keeping an ongoing dialog going, you’ll not only gain insight into the digital world in which your kids live, but you may also discover warning signs that your child’s online group is participating in these types of activities.”

Specifically, Lupold Bair recommends discussing the following topics with your children:

• Joking vs. harassment. The line between harmless joking and mean, harassing behaviors can often be a fine one, and younger children especially may have trouble recognizing when they’ve crossed it. Explain to your kids that any online behavior that makes another person feel upset, threatened, hurt, mocked, etc. can be considered bullying. If your child knows that one of his peers is uncomfortable with a specific online interaction—or if a particular online behavior would make your child feel upset if the shoe were on the other foot—it’s best not to participate.

• Appropriate online communication. While it may seem obvious to many adults, kids frequently don’t understand that what they write or share in a digital format can often be forwarded, saved, or accessed by others. On a continuous basis, talk to your kids about what is appropriate to share online and what is not. Put a special emphasis on why it’s important to keep friends’ secrets and personal communications private and where it is and isn’t safe to discuss these things.

• Standing up to bullies. Teach your children how to stand up to their friends to discourage bullying behaviors online, if they’re comfortable doing so. Make sure they understand the importance of not standing by while others are being bullied and help them find the words to tell their friends that they refuse to participate in these bullying actions.

• Limiting contact with bullies. Cyberbullying is often a group occurrence with more than one child playing a role and different participants contributing varying levels of bullying behaviors. Make sure your children know that they can often use blocking features on social media and chat sites to avoid online contact with bullies. Explain why being associated with a cyberbullying incident can have serious consequences, even if your child wasn’t the ringleader or even an active participant.

• Informing adults. Encourage your kids to talk to teachers, coaches, and friends’ parents if they don’t feel comfortable coming to you with concerns about their own online behavior, which may have potentially crossed the line into cyberbullying. Also, encourage them to inform authority figures if they know another child is the victim of cyberbullying. Tell your kids that if they’re uncomfortable coming forward because they don’t want to attract the bully’s attention themselves, an anonymous note left on a coach’s or teacher’s desk, for example, can still be a tremendous help.

“Don’t just assume that your child’s online activities are harmless, even if she’s generally a ‘good kid,’” Lupold Bair concludes. “Be proactive about discussing why cyberbullying is a major issue and how you expect your child to behave on all digital platforms.

“In fact, I recommend creating and having your kids sign a document called a Digital Family Policy,” she adds. “It should include rules and expectations for all technology use. Be sure to include information regarding how you define cyberbullying and what the consequences will be if your child crosses that line.”

Defining Cyberbullying: A Parent’s Guide

From Raising Digital Families For Dummies®
by Amy Lupold Bair

teen-phoneWhen most of today’s parents were growing up, bullying was largely limited to in-person interactions. For that reason, it can be difficult to intuitively and fully understand what our children are facing as they navigate the digital landscape.

In essence, cyberbullying comprises any digital communication, typically from one minor to another minor, with the purpose of frightening, threatening, embarrassing, or harassing a person. The most common form of cyberbullying is sharing a private text message, e-mail, or instant message (IM) with someone else or through a public posting. Cyberbullies’ tools are computers and smartphones and they plague victims via text, e-mail, IM, chat rooms, social media, and blogs.

Examples of cyberbullying behaviors include:

• Using websites to rank or rate peers according to criteria such as looks and popularity

• Publicly blocking someone’s participation in an online group

• Tricking someone into sharing embarrassing information with the purpose of sharing it digitally with others

• Creating a website with the purpose of harassing someone

• Creating a fake social media account to pose as another person and post untrue things about that person

• Sending threatening or mean e-mails, text messages, and IMs in chat rooms

• Posting embarrassing pictures of someone on a social media website

The effects of cyberbullying can be far more devastating for victims than traditional bullying because:

• Cyberbullies often remain anonymous, making victims unsure of how to protect themselves and whom to trust

• Victims often receive bullying messages via their home computer, taking away their feeling of safety within their own home

• Victims may be affected both at school and online, taking away two primary locations where teens socialize and interact

• Cyberbullies can reach a large number of people easily and instantly, making it possible for the entire world to see the behaviors and shared information about the victim

• Because cyberbullies don’t face their victims, the bullying behaviors are often more extreme than traditional bullying

• Cyberbullies can attack their victims frequently on multiple technology platforms

Many states have laws regarding cyberbullying, but current laws vary by state. To see where your state stands regarding cyberbullying legislation, visit www.cyberbullying.us/Bullying_and_Cyberbullying_Laws.pdf.

Warning Signs of Anorexia

By Dr. Ismael Nuño

thin girlMy daughter, Catharine, began her battle with Anorexia Nervosa with a classic presentation at the age of fourteen. Prior to that she was involved in gymnastics in a highly competitive circle in Germany. All the little girls wanted to be number one and they all wanted to compete in the Olympics. When Catharine began high school in America, she and her classmates would get together at lunch and talk about how they all looked fat and they were on a diet and they would compete to see who could lose the most weight. They all got A grades. At home, her mother was a strict middle school teacher and her father (me) was a heart surgeon. She had a younger, loving brother who was caught in the middle of a fight between anguished parents and a daughter who refused to gain weight.

Then, I was suddenly sent to the Middle East to fight Saddam Hussein. TV news hysteria kept announcing that 10,000 US soldiers would die in the first few hours of battle. My daughter Catharine kept watching this horror on TV. I was informed by the American Red Cross one evening during the Gulf War that if I wanted to see my daughter alive, that I should return to the US immediately.  She was very ill. Within an hour I was flying back to Washington, DC. After being in a metabolic unit in Washington, and receiving psychotherapy as an inpatient she then received it as an outpatient. When we moved to Los Angeles she went to UCLA and was achieving top grades. She began to eat normal meals and developed a wide span of friends. One hot and humid afternoon while planting flowers, Catharine fainted momentarily. She told me about it but I thought she was just dehydrated. It happened again at school but when she was taken to the emergency room of the UCLA Medical Center her EKG was normal. One morning, I found her in her bathroom on the floor. She had no pulse and she was not breathing. I gave her CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), I called the paramedics but Catharine could not be brought back. Her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

Young girls with eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa (restrictive caloric intake) or Bulimia (binge/purge) usually have stressful family situations, highly competitive environments, and a genetic pre-disposition for substance abuse or physical or mental disorders. The clinical onset is commonly very insidious. These young girls begin to lose weight, change eating habits and restrict caloric intake. They have a morbid fear of gaining weight. They are very careful in their meal preparation and sometimes even wear gloves so as to not contaminate their food with calories. They prepare non-fat meals, cut up their meal into very small pieces and in my daughter’s case, she would discuss her day with us at the dinner table while moving her food around her plate. Sometimes, they develop moodiness, are withdrawn and act shy. Catherine, like many, had an intense physical activity regiment and would run in the mornings or go up and down the stairs repeatedly after meals. The first warning sign is a change in eating habit, weight loss, dizziness, fainting and fatigue. They go to the bathroom often and always after meals. The way they manage their food at mealtime is a big indicator that something is wrong.

Physical changes are also evident. These patients develop dry skin. They become dehydrated, constipated, and develop abdominal pain or a bloated stomach. They become emaciated, fatigued, develop lanugo (small friable hair), and sometimes even stress fractures. As parents, we just think that they are stressed out because of school and that an increased fluid load and a good meal will resolve their problem.

One of the most threatening and possibly fatal complications of an eating disorder can be a heart rhythm abnormality or delay in the transmittal of electricity, which is why many people suffering from eating disorders have a tendency to faint. The EKG is static and will not show any immediate changes but a Holter Monitor exam must be done to record the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time. Now, these tests have gone from 24 hours to two weeks. If there is a delay in electrical transmission in the heart it will be found. The treatment for that is the insertion of a pacemaker. There is a 3-5% mortality rate in these young girls. Most of it is by cardiovascular abnormalities and sudden ventricular arrhythmias, or sudden cardiac death, and some of it is by suicide. One could argue that a prolonged restriction of calories, emaciation and the resulting complications are a form of suicide.

The best success in controlling an eating disorder is to catch it as soon as possible. Try to become engaged as a family. Seek medical attention from the pediatrician, a metabolic expert and a psychotherapist. Control of these disorders can take years and a lot of love and a lot of patience. What used to be an occasional sick child with an eating disorder is now an epidemic. Many, if not most, of the pediatric units have metabolic teams that will help your daughter on her difficult journey to become well.

Dr. Ismael Nuño is the author of the book The Spirit of the Heart: Stories of Family, Hope, Loss, and Healing. He received his training in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He was Chief of Cardiac Surgery and Chief of Staff Elect/President Elect of the Medical Association at the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, as well as Assistant Professor of Clinical Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine. He is currently Medical Advisor for the Alfred Mann Institute of Bioengineering at USC, and was previously Medical Advisor for the St. Jude Medical Corporation for the Western United States.

Christy’s Four Steps to Help Stop Medicine Abuse

By Christy Crandell

 

medicineTen years ago, one of Christy Crandell’s sons was arrested for armed robbery while high on over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine. Now Christy is an author and one of the Five Moms working to educate other parents about dangerous teen behaviors such as medicine abuse to keep families safe and healthy.

 

One in 20 teens have admitted to using dextromethorphan (DMX), an ingredient found in more than 100 OTC cough medicines, to get high. Yet many parents still believe that it will not happen to their teen. I encourage you to take these four steps to prevent this abuse.

 

Educate yourself on medicine abuse

The first step in helping to stop OTC cough medicine abuse is to educate yourself on the issue and learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms. Start by learning teen’s slang terms for DXM like robo-tripping, skittles, and dex. Additionally, learn about the different side effects and warning signs such as nausea, confusion, and slurred speech. By knowing what to look for, you can help prevent your teens, their friends, and other teens in the community from abusing OTC cough medicine.

 

Talk to your teen

Many parents often find it hard to start conversations about drugs, alcohol, and online behavior with their children. However, as parents, we know that these conversations need to happen. It is a matter of finding the right time, the right place, and the right words. If you are having trouble finding the right words, try using one of these conversation starters to help ease into the conversation.

 

During these types of conversations, I encourage you to talk about how to say no to peer pressure. Explain to your teen that you understand it can be difficult to say no, then practice running through different scenarios with them and provide an exit plan. Agree on a code word that can be used when your teen needs help getting out of a situation with their peers when drugs or alcohol are present. Even if your teen does not seem like they are listening or engaging in the conversation – keep talking. Remember 50 percent of teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are less likely to use them.

 

Monitor your medicine cabinet

Protect your teen from the temptation of medicine abuse by safeguarding the medicines in your home. Monitor and track all the medicines in your cabinet and know how much is left so you’ll notice if anything goes missing.

 

Educate other parents in your community

I believe that the harder the conversation is to start, the more important it is. Many parents do not know where to begin when talking to other parents and community members about medicine abuse. I have found that one of the best ways to start the conversation with other parents is to naturally weave over-the-counter medicine abuse into a conversation about other drugs and alcohol. If you do not usually talk about the topic of drugs or alcohol with parents in your community, another way to start the conversation is to share a personal connection to the issue. Please, do not be embarrassed to share your story, because by sharing your story and starting the conversation about medicine abuse, you could ultimately save the lives of others. If you do not have a personal story to share, I welcome you to use mine or one of the other Five Moms’ stories to help you start the conversation.

 

Encourage parents you know to check out stopmedicineabuse.org to learn about the problem.

10 Steps to Guarantee a Teenager Drops Out of High School

By Ida Byrd-Hill – Urban Economist, Human Relations Expert, President of Uplift, Inc., and Author of “Corporate Gangster – Tapping the entrepreneurial talent of street hustler”

unhappy teenTeenagers dropping out of school, urban or suburban does not happen by accident.

If any of these 10 items occur in your life, your teenager is guaranteed to drop out from high school. The question is,When? If they are moving in that direction, you have the power to change their direction. K.I.S.S. (Kids in Successful Schools) Begins at Home.

10. Withholding Love
Humans have an intense craving to be accepted by others, to be comforted by others, to belong. This craving is the impetus to be loved.

What is love?  American Heritage Dictionary defines love as a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.

“Love is a sanctuary for our spirits, a bath of empathy for our emotions, a tranquil meadow in which to nurture our fond hopes and dreams.” When love is present, the soul is at peace. Chaos and negativity fade away. Kindness and giving become commonplace. Joy and happiness, beyond current circumstances, radiates due to love. Everything becomes better when love touches. It can be a hug or kind word.

9. No Regular Family Time – Meals, Activities
A meal of family activity provides good nutrition and bonding time. It also sets the stage for regular family discussions and the foundation for transmitting family values. People including teenagers tend to talk more over food providing clues to the dilemmas in their lives. Teenagers need attention to shape their thinking process.

8. Living a Life Outside of Your Teenager
Parents have the responsibility to nurture their children from 0 to 18 years of age. Unfortunately when a teenager gets an adult like body at age 12-14 parents leave them to themselves as if they are adults. They may have adult bodies but child-like brains. They need more guidance after the age 12 as they believe they are invincible and do not understand consequences. Away from home 15 hours a day is disastrous if no one is available to supervise teenagers, even if it is to work a second job. Teenagers need some one-to-one quality time.

Parents are to model the behavior they desire for their children to replicate. If parents never spend time with their teenagers, teens are left to model their behavior after someone. That someone can be anybody usually someone who is cool, hip and not law abiding.

7. Embracing Anti-intellectualism
“Minority adolescents ridicule their minority peers for engaging in behaviors perceived to be characteristic of whites such as speaking standard English and enrolling in an Advanced Placement or honors class to wearing clothes from the Gap or Abercrombie & Fitch (instead of Tommy Hilfiger or FUBU) and wearing shorts in winter” according psychologist Angela Neal-Barnett in 1999.  In many ethnic neighborhoods, education is seen as assimilation – losing one’s culture to become white. Education should not been seen as a negative but a positive. If education is not valued, then it will not be completed.

6. Refuse to Oversee or Review Student Homework and Class Work
Teenagers are children, whose mantra in life is folly and play. Without parent intervention and  a road map, they wander from class to class, school to school, playing and trying to find themselves. Their wandering, often, translates into behavior issues, truancy, failed classes, and then low graduation rates. When they finally land at high school graduation, they are 23 years old and forced to get a GED.

Many teenagers drop out of high school due to sheer boredom. Homework provides insight to the content of a class. The class is often boring with no hands-on activities leaving the student disengaged. This problem  can be rectified quickly before student drops out.

5. No Career or Education Goals For Teen
School is like traveling. One must choose a destination and map out a route to get to the destination; otherwise one will end up nowhere frustrated and angry. Urban students are becoming high school dropouts as they lack an ending destination, whether it is high school graduation, college or career” states Ida Byrd-Hill, President of Uplift, Inc.

Ida Byrd-Hill is former Dean of  Hustle & TECHknow Preparatory High School, an alternative high school in Detroit that catered to high school dropouts and adjudicated youth, generated an eighty (80%) graduation rate amongst its high school dropout population by inspiring their entire building to become college prep minded. High school graduation is a must to college admissions.

4. No Dreams or Family Goals/Plans
Chaos is evidence of no planning toward a goal or dream.  Where chaos abounds trouble comes.  Trouble creates stress, depression and a sense of failure.  If your life is full of trouble, take the time to write down your plans and goals for your life. Communicate your goals and dreams to your teenager. Teenagers like to know the direction of their family and how they can participate in its forward movement. Furthermore you provide a behavior of success they can replicate.

3. Set No Boundaries or Discipline
Many of the troubles young people face would be eliminated with the establishment and execution of rules. Rules loudly scream care and concern. Rules provide stability and tradition.

2. Speak Ill To or About a Teen 
The tongue is capable of giving an individual life or death.  Words are powerful. Many teenagers have repeatedly heard negative sayings “you can’t do anything right!” “You are ugly,” “You are stupid” “You will never amount to anything.”  No matter how intelligent they are, every time they are faced with a decision, great or small, their subconscious mind replays those sayings, causing them to  procrastinate in making the decision, hence fulfilling the prophecy a well-meaning adult spoke.

1. Pretending Everything Is Okay
We are in the worse economic recession since the great Depression. Everyone’s life has changed. Our cash accumulation or good credit is gone or leaving quickly. We are all struggling. Some of us are dependent upon unemployment,  food stamps, and food banks. For those lucky few, the affluent lifestyle has been reduced. We, adults, are walking around angry internally. We smile to people outside our house, but at home we are depressed and irritable.

We pretend we are not in a lifestyle funk to everyone but our children.  They are crazy. Their behavior leaves a lot to be desired. They should be mild mannered well behaved young people on track to out perform you educationally, but they are not. Children – teenagers – imitate your behavior. If they are crazy then they are probably reacting to your craziness. Stop pretending and deal with it.

If any of these 10 items occur in your life,  your  teenager is guaranteed to drop out from high school. The question is when? If they are moving in that direction,  you have the power to change their direction. Begin with reading K.I.S.S. (Kids in Successful Schools) Begins at Home.

Cool Convos

by Tim Hoch

boy-teenWhen my son was twelve he was invited on a beach vacation with his best friend’s family. His friend’s mom (we will call her Doris) took my son and hers to the mall to shop for beachwear. They were in the market for a pair of flip-flops. Doris walked into Pac Sun, the boys close behind.

“Can you help me?” Doris tapped one of the teenage sales clerks on the shoulder.

“Yeah, what do you need?” he grunted.

“I’m looking for boys’ thongs” she declared.

Doris’ son tried to slip away unnoticed while my son and the clerk did a poor job stifling their laughter. After a few seconds of mortified silence, Doris persisted:

“My gosh, you act as though you’ve never even heard of thongs for little boys.”

Just before they left for the trip, Doris came by and spoke of the difficulties of raising a young man.

“He hardly even speaks to me. It’s like he’s embarrassed to be associated with me.”

I just smiled. What I wanted to say is: “You’re doing it wrong.”

Lord knows, I’m no expert. I’ve had more than my share of cringe worthy attempts at navigating the teenage discourse dynamic. But I have been able to decipher some hard and fast rules when trying to converse with kids. Here are a few:

Rule number 1: Don’t use outdated cultural references or phrases. No one “talks to the hand.” Nothing you want to discuss is “gnarly” or “rad.” Fo-shizzle.

Rule number 2: Don’t join their conversations unless you’re invited. I was driving my daughter and three of her friends to an eighth grade dance. They were giggling and whispering about some of the boys in their class when I decided to chime in. Bad idea. They don’t want my opinion about whether a certain classmate is a “sweet kid.”

Rule number 3: Don’t interrupt or argue. That is not a conversation. It’s a lecture.

Rule number 4: No nicknames. Even if your son’s friend is named Tony, don’t refer to him as “T-bone.” Your daughter’s friend is “Elizabeth” not “Lizard.”

Rule number 5: Try to have a functional understanding of (and ability to pronounce) things that are important to them. For example, don’t keep referring to twitter as “tweeter” or Instagram as “Instant grams.”

Rule number 6: Conversations are not teaching moments. So don’t make them one. Don’t criticize them or tell them how you would have handled a situation differently. If your child says something that bothers you, hold that thought. You will have time to circle back to it later.

Rule number 7: Don’t dismiss their thoughts as “silly” or “stupid.” My daughter once told me about a difficult day at school. She was in a fight with one of her best friends. It was a silly argument and I told her so. Big mistake. She would come to the same conclusion on her own a few days later. I didn’t need to speed it up for her. I just needed to listen.

Rule number 8: Don’t rely on your kids to fulfill your need for conversation. Develop your own interests, your own “cool” independent of your kids. Show them that you have a life outside of whatever they are doing. They will engage you on it. Trust me.

Rule number 9: Do not use any of the following phrases in conversation: “When I was your age…” or “If I were you…” or “pull my finger.” Just stop.

Rule number 10: Don’t gossip. There is nothing more pathetic than an adult who gossips with kids. And adults who gossip with kids about other kids? They should be paraded through the gates of hell….in boy’s thongs.

Tim Hoch is the author of 50 Rules for Sons. For more information, please visit www.50rulesforsons.com

New Treatment For Eating Disorders

Mandometer, teen eating disorder treatmentNew Treatment For Eating Disorders….Teaching Your Teen To Eat Normally

Any treatment that will help a teen with an eating disorder learn to eat right, deserves a try. A new product, the Mandometer, does just this. It is a mini scale that a patient puts her plate on, which is connected to a device that provides instant feedback during a meal. Patients enter how full they feel before, during and after a meal and it tracks the rate at which the patient is eating. This approach teaches patients what a healthy rate of eating is, reconnecting feelings of hunger and fullness which get destroyed with an eating disorder. “The patient gradually learns to model its disordered pattern of eating to the normal pattern of eating.”

Perhaps one of the best things about this treatment is that it does not require the use of drugs and it can be used outside of a treatment facility. The Mandometer treatment method also includes a special treatment to keep patients warm, restriction of physical activity, and the rebuilding of social skills, all overseen by a personal case manager and physician.

The device has been shown to be effective through randomized clinical trials for the treatment of eating disorders.  Those trials have demonstrated that 75 percent of the patients treated with the Mandometer® method recover and 90 percent remain healthy over five years.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on March 31 that it had cleared Mandometer® for the treatment of patients with eating disorders. As a result of the issue of the FDA clearance, physicians can prescribe therapy by the Mandometer® method.

This breakthrough program was developed by Cecilia Bergh, Ph.D., and Per Södersten, Ph.D., two researchers at the world-renowned Swedish academic health center, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Bergh and Dr. Södersten founded the company Mando Group AB to establish clinics that utilize the Mandometer® method to treat eating disorders. Currently, there are already Mandometer® clinics in Sweden, in Australia and one on East 78th Street in New York.

To learn more about Mandometer® go to  www.mandometer.com or www.mandonyc.com.