Parenting My Teen

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Teenagers want parents to be involved in their lives

By: Aurelia Category: Family, Parenting A Teen, Teen Emotional Health, Teen General Health

(BPT) – Today’s changing social environment and confusing messages about drugs and alcohol may be making it even more difficult for teenagers to get their bearings as they move toward adulthood. That is why it is more important than ever for parents to know what is going on in their kids’ lives and have the skills to respond to their teens appropriately.

Specifically, as drugs and alcohol are becoming more accessible and more states are legalizing marijuana, many teens may believe that the use of marijuana or other substances is now okay. Parents should know that legalization of marijuana does not mean it is harmless, and increased availability of other substances does not make them less harmful, either. Marijuana and other substances can cause permanent damage to the teenage brain, and teens can become addicted more quickly than adults.

This is a time when parents need to become involved in their teens’ lives and help them navigate these complex issues. While many parents may think of their teens as grown-ups and able to fully take care of themselves, teenagers have said that this is a time when they need their parents the most. Asking questions and being involved shows teenagers that their parents care.

“Even though teens may sometimes indicate otherwise, through my experience as a psychiatrist to teenagers, I have found that most of them want their parents involved in their lives to provide guidance and support,” says Dr. Thomas Wright, chief medical officer at Rosecrance, one of the country’s leading teen substance abuse treatment centers. “Teens want their parents to actively parent them and provide them guidance they need, including direction around substances.”

Studies have shown that parents who play an active role in the lives of their teens can positively impact their children’s behavior and influence them to cease or abstain from ever using substances. In contrast, research shows that teens whose parents expect them to engage in risky behaviors such as drinking and using drugs are more likely to do so.

“It is critical that parents understand their role and take conscious measures to support their teens in living a healthy and happy life,” Wright says. “Parents should ask what their teens are doing, address the pressures they are facing, act immediately when they suspect their teen is in trouble, and advocate for help if their teen needs it to help them live a healthy life.”

Starting a conversation with a teen about substances can be daunting. It can be even more overwhelming for a parent when their teenage child approaches them with questions before they have had a chance to prepare. For a helpful guide to talking with a teenager about marijuana visit www.rosecrance.org/teens-weed.

Be sure to check out Real Life Guidance Guide to Understanding Your Teen to grab some additional parenting help and help solve the mysteries in understanding your teen.

Responsible Smartphone Use for Teenagers

By: Aurelia Category: Family, Parenting A Teen

Teaching teens how to responsibly use their smartphone technology has become a necessary part of parenting. According to the Pew Research Internet Project Teens and Technology 2013 survey, most teens in the United States own cell phones–and that almost half of these are smartphones. Furthermore, 95 percent of teens are active online, while 25 percent of teens use their smartphones to regularly access the internet.

Teaching teens about responsible smartphone use is equally applicable to other kinds of technology. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, as the skills used for responsible smartphone use apply to any ways that a teen may behave online.

While there are several kinds of behavior to address when talking with teens about responsible smartphone use, below are a few specific tips to help keep adolescents safe when accessing the internet.

Talk At Length About Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a teen issue with far-reaching and often serious consequences. Teens participate in cyberbullying when they send harassing messages via text, email, social media, or anywhere online. These messages can include rumors about the individual being bullied as well as images or video with the intent to humiliate.

It is essential to talk with teens about the signs of cyberbullying as well as the behavior they can engage in that would harass their peers. Adolescents need to know that parents will not allow them to use their smartphones to harass others via text, email, or social media and need to know when their kids receive threatening or uncomfortable messages from others. Parents can also encourage teens to help others who experience cyberbullying.

Address the Porn Issue

A smartphone provides open and unmitigated access to everything online. Many sources of information are helpful, but many more are harmful. Parents can tackle this issue head-on by being upfront with their teens about cell phone monitoring, if this is determined to be necesarry, as well as being aware of the dangers that accompany viewing pornographic material.

No Texting and Driving

The statistics regarding teen texting and driving are sobering. Texting while driving increases the risk of a car crash by almost 25 percent and account for as many as eleven teen deaths every day. Even though the risks are great, almost half the teens surveyed admitted to participating in texting and driving.

Adolescents need to know from parents – through open communication and modeling – that texting while driving is off-limits. There is no situation that cannot wait until teens are out of the car before they text.

Set Up Monitoring

Smartphone monitoring programs are a smart and convenient way for parents to keep track of what their kids are accessing online, whether the activity is with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. With this valuable information, parents can open discussions about their teens’ online behavior, correcting and redirecting when appropriate, and – most importantly – help keep their kids safe.

Creating a Contract for Smartphone Use

A smartphone contract is an excellent idea for parents to open communication with their teens, as well as setting boundaries and expectations for responsible smartphone use. A smartphone contract between parents and teens are simple to customize, and can incorporate a wide range of expectations.

  • Basic Manners – Spell out when teens are allowed to text or access the internet and when the phone needs to be turned off. For example, the contract should state that the teen is to turn the smartphone off during dinner with the family.

 

  • Safety and Privacy – Teens need to alert parents when receiving suspicious or alarming messages and agree to not give out any personal information. It is also a good idea for teens to avoid meeting anyone they have encountered online.

 

  • Calling and Texting – These limits can spell out how many texts, minutes, or data is included in the teen’s phone plan each month, as well as directions for not sending any harassing or hurtful texts to others.

 

  • Monitoring – Incorporating monitoring software can be treated as a fact, as it helps parents keep their children safe. If a teen strongly objects, parents can thoughtfully listen and then invite the teen to not have a smartphone at all.

Parents also need to include any consequences from breaking the rules of responsible smartphone use, including the need for teens to do well in school and participate in chores around the house. These possible consequences can help teens stay focused on using their smartphones responsibly.

 

Amy Williams is a journalist and former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. She believes that, in our digital age, it’s time for parents and educators to make sure parents and students alike are educated about technology and social media use, hoping to inform others through her writing. You can follow her on Twitter.

How to Support Your LGBT Teen

By: Aurelia Category: Family, Parenting A Teen

The sexual orientation of a teenager is important as they are just discovering themselves. Parents should support their LGBT teens. This is aided by the participation of both parents and teens in LGBT counseling programs as well as support groups.

Parents and guardians are usually surprised when they learn that their teenage sons and daughters may be attracted to members of the same sex. Many teenagers at the ages of 13 or 14 are usually trying to identify their sexual orientation. However, at this point they may adapt to the nontraditional LGBT sexual orientation.

It is often difficult for a gay person to interact with others in the society. This leads to many teens skillfully hiding their sexual orientation from other people including their parents thereby leading to an emotional toll due the strain of hiding a major aspect of their identity. LBGT counseling is important to ensure that a teenager is able to deal with the different perceptions and treatment that they will receive from those in their society. This is aided by the parents unequivocal support to the feelings of a teenager. Sometimes parents are uneasy and concerned about the future outlook when they find out that their teenager’s sexual dispensations are unusual. It is important for parents to understand that their child’s feelings may not be changed.

Pittsburgh therapists have been providing LGBT counseling to many teenagers thereby enabling them to achieve their ambitions even in terms of raising families in the future. This is aided by the continued acceptance of the non-conventional sexual orientation in the modern society.

Pittsburgh therapists understand that gay teens are often struggling from isolation and feelings of depression as they are usually the minority in a community and their partners are most of the times fearful of revealing their feelings of sexual and emotional attraction to them. Parents should also participate in the LGBT counseling so as to emotionally support their teenagers while at the same time bring them closer as they show that they understand the path their children have chosen. The acceptance of a parent with regards to the sexual and emotional preferences invigorates the self esteem of their teenagers thereby enabling them to interact with their peers with ease both socially and functionally.

LGBT counseling enlightens a teenager on how to avoid diseases that may be contracted as a result of their association with other partners with a similar orientation. There are often reports in the media indicating that gay teens are more prone to suicide and depression. This is also complicated at times by the intolerant members of the society or intolerant messages that may be posted at institutions like schools and other public places that LGBT teens often visit. This leads the LGBT teens to feel that they are regarded as unnatural and misfits in society.

Pittsburgh therapists ensure that all the facets of the daily life of a teenager with a nontraditional orientation are considered to ensure that they lead a normal life. This includes the enhancement of their self esteem so that they are able to feel that their choice of sex partners is normal whether or not other in their society are particularly supportive of them.

About the Author

Ryan FitzGerald is the Co-Founder of TherapyTribe.com

Signs of Teenage Depression

By: Aurelia Category: Family, Parenting A Teen, Teen Emotional Health

Signs of teenage depression: can you spot them? It is not easy; yet with heightened senses and an open mind, you can see right through your teenager’s heart.

Your teenager is an individual in his own right

Your baby is now grownup; yet not quite. Most of the times your teenage son or daughter disagrees with you. He or she is not anymore allowed to play and act like a child but he or she isn’t allowed yet to do many of the things that are said to be for adults only. Add this fact to peer pressure and hormones and you’ve got a perfect recipe for teenage depression.

Being a teen is not easy, you’ve been there and done the “deeds” that now make you shake your head at the thought. Since you’ve passed the teenage stage uneventfully, you may think that your son or daughter would also do so and react to adversities in the same way as you do. Not quite.

Your teenage son or daughter is a different individual with a temperament that although it may resemble yours, does not make him or her just like you altogether. This means that he or she may react and decide differently with the same stressors that you have faced.

Spotting signs of teenage depression

Below are some actions or behaviors of a teenager that you may think of as just sulkiness normal to any teen, but may be telltale signs of teenage depression:

1. Sudden disregard for appearance or personal hygiene.

When a teenager suddenly looks shabby, doesn’t want to take a shower even if his hair is already sticking to his head, and wears used and soiled clothes for school, it is one of the signs of teenage depression.

It is not that your teenage son or daughter prefers to look shabby; he is not anymore aware of his looks because his thoughts are preoccupied with depressing thoughts and personal hygiene and appearance become the least of his worries.

When this happens too suddenly, it is one of the signs of teenage depression. However, if this happens just once in a while and your teenage son or daughter still dresses up for school, he is just a normal teenager who gets lazy at times.

2. Sudden drop in grades.

Lackluster performance at school is one of the signs of a teenage depression especially if the trend was from up to down in a matter of weeks or a few months. This means that your teenage son or daughter is facing a difficult time, whether at home or at school, and this matter should be discussed with him or her. During a dialogue, don’t go on the offensive since this will push your child away from you. Talk to your teenage son or daughter as though he is an adult and let him do more of the talking.

3. Change in appetite.

A teenager who goes into eating spree or suddenly went anorexic has some deep problems that aren’t surfacing yet. If you notice change in appetite, observe first your teenage son or daughter’s behavior and take the time to talk to him or her about the things that bother him or her.

If he declines, give him the space he needs and leave him alone for a few days. If nothing has changed after a few days, talk to him again and never accept a “no” answer for a dialogue. Ask in a kind way what’s bothering his mind and tell him that no matter what, you are always there to assist him.

4. Deviant or destructive behavior.

If a teenager becomes too destructive to himself and to people around him, it doesn’t mean that he is just a rebellious teenager. This is one of the signs of teenage depression and you should extend a hand for guidance and comfort. Don’t be on the offensive when he sulks. Nor should you be on the defensive when he spites you.

5. Restless or agitated or sluggish.

A depressed teenager may be restless, can not keep himself in one place or is sluggish and prefers to stay home, sleep all day, eat a lot and do nothing. These are signs of teenage depression; and when you see these signs, better talk things out with your teenage son or daughter to understand his wants and needs.

Visit Facts-About-Depression.com for useful information and resources about signs of teenage depression and anti depression medicine.

Real Life Guidance Guide to Understanding Your Teen This toolkit offers parenting help and help solve the mysteries in understanding your teen.

Visit Out of Control Teen to learn more about how you can help a teen that shows signs of trouble.

Tips on Communicating With Teens

By: Aurelia Category: Family, Parenting A Teen

All at once you may discover that you are at a loss for words when it comes to talking to your teen. Just a few years prior, they wanted a bedtime story or a comforting hug to feel that everything was alright. Well, they may decline the former, but the latter is still appreciated even if they say it is not. You just have to time it better during the teenage years.

But, that won’t get you out of the doghouse with your teen all the time. You will have to learn their language too. We’ll get into that in a second. First, here are some tips on how to simply talk to them. A word to parents: You will see a lot of tips in this eBook. They are meant to guide you in the right direction and help relieve anxiety for you.

Listen Actively

This is the number one way to communicate with them. Think about husbands and wives for a second. Wives can always tell when their husbands are not paying attention. It could be the glazing over of the eyes or even the fact that you are not looking at the person directly.

The same applies to you and a conversation with your teen. Conversations are going to get few and far between as they grow more independent of you. Treat each one as precious. Here’s how.

• Make eye contact – Look your child in the face as they talk to you. What they have to say may not be earth-shattering but it is important to them.

• Stop what you are doing – Conversations don’t always happen at convenient times. But, if you are reading the paper or watching a television show, put it down or turn off the set for a few moments and give them your undivided attention.

• Resist the urge to form a response in your head – We’ve all done it before. As soon as the person who is talking to us begins speaking we feel we have the gist of what they are saying. So, we stop listening and concentrate on what we will say when they are finished. A telltale sign is that you begin to nod your head as if in agreement even if they are saying something that to them doesn’t deserve a nod.

• Communicate what you heard – Sometimes what we hear is not exactly what is being said. When your teen finishes speaking, simply repeat back to them what you heard them say so that there is no miscommunication from the start.

Non-Verbal Communication

We touched on this one. What you don’t say is just as important as what you do say. Kids and teenagers are quite astute. They can pick up on your emotional state from how you act. Use your non-verbal skills to put a positive spin on your talks with them.

• Use open non-verbal gestures – When you sit and talk with your teen, keep your arms at your sides or on the arm of the chair. Avoid crossing your legs. Open gestures convey a willingness to listen. Also, try to avoid placing your hands on your hips if you are frustrated or pointing fingers at your teen.

• Be mindful of your facial expression – It is easy to screw up your face when your teen says something that you don’t like. That sends the message to them that you have stopped listening to what they are saying or that they are not getting through to you. For example, if you were telling a friend that you were having plastic surgery and they frowned at you or furrowed their eyebrows, wouldn’t you stop talking? A disapproving look is just like saying “I don’t approve” with your mouth. Instead, try to smile when appropriate or keep your expression neutral. Resist the urge to roll your eyes also.

• Make body contact – Teens are not averse to having their parents hug or touch them (except when friends are around). Sitting away from them can signify that you are standoffish about what they are saying. Sit next to them so that they know they have your attention and that you care. It provides security even though they may act like they don’t need it.

• Keep a positive tone – When your voice drops an octave or two, kids get worried. Either it means that you are mad or not in the mood to talk. Use it sparingly though. Too much happiness in your voice can sound phony to them.

• Mind the noises – This is a funny but serious one. Have you ever sucked your teeth or sighed heavily when your teen says that they want to talk. Before they even open their mouth they may turn and leave after a long sigh. Unconsciously, you could be pushing them away from you and towards the advice of their friends.

Start using these tips today with your teen and see how well it works for you.    Be sure to comment here and let us know how it goes.

Additional Resources For Parents of Teens

Real Life Guidance Guide to Understanding Your Teen This toolkit offers parenting help and help solve the mysteries in understanding your teen.

Real Life Guidance Report to Helping Your Teen With High School offers parenting help and shows you how to help your teen deal with the pressures of high school and also help them to be more independent!