Archive | May 2008

Sue Scheff: Summer Reading for Parents and Teens

Summer is almost here and what a better time to catch up on relaxation and reading!

Go to your local library with your kids or a bookstore and find some educational and fun books to read. Health Communications Inc. offers a wide variety of wonderful books for both parents and kids today.
Also review for great reading!

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) A Cry for Help – Teens Self Cutting

By Connect with Kids

“For some reason, when I’d get depressed, I would just take a razor and I’d cut little slits in my arm. I don’t know why I did it.”


– Melissa, 19


At thirteen, Melissa Gerjoi tried to kill herself.


“I just wanted to do something, something that would just totally stop everything,” Melissa, now 19, recounts.


She later realized she didn’t want to die; she wanted to get rid of the pain.


“For some reason, when I’d get depressed, I would just take a razor and I’d cut little slits in my arm,” she says. “And I don’t know why I did it, and I don’t know why it was any consolation whatsoever.”


It was after her father died in a car crash that Melissa started cutting herself. It was her way of coping.


“Sometimes kids are engaging in this behavior as a way of converting their intense emotional pain into the more tolerable physical pain,” explains Dr. Leslie Apfelbaum, a child psychologist.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, in the year 2005, nearly half a million people were treated in emergency rooms for self-inflicted wounds. More of them were teenagers than any other age group. Experts say most aren’t trying to die, they’re crying out for help.
“We actually call it suicidal gestures,” says Dr. Apfelbaum. “…a way of asking for help without actually doing something too harmful.”


A change in behavior, as well as long sleeves and baggy clothes to hide scars, are clues your child may be hurting themselves. Professional therapy can help unlock the emotional pain.
Family support and time away at boarding school helped Melissa pull her life back together and stop the vicious cycle of self-inflicted pain.


“I sort of stopped my life and went on and started a new one,” she says. “I mean, I totally turned around and changed into a different person.”


Tips for Parents


Self-Injury May Be Path to Suicide
What exactly constitutes self-injury? According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), self-injury is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue – at times to change a way of feeling. Lately it has become a popular among adolescents, and its forms may include the following:
Picking and pulling skin and hair
Head banging
Excessive tattooing
Excessive body piercing


The AACAP says that teens engage in self-mutilation in order to take risks, to rebel, to reject their parents’ values, to state their individuality or merely to be accepted by their peers. Others, however, may injure themselves out of desperation or anger to seek attention, to show their hopelessness and worthlessness or because they have suicidal thoughts. Some young children may resort to self-injurious acts from time to time but often grow out of it. Children with mental retardation and/or autism may also show these behaviors, which may persist into adulthood. And children who have been abused or abandoned may self-mutilate.


The Self-Harm Alliance cites the following factors that may contribute to a teen’s reasons for self-harming:


Loss of a loved one
Physical abuse, such as domestic violence
Sexual abuse, such as rape or child abuse
Verbal abuse, such as bullying
Childhood neglect from one or both parents
Physical Illness or disability
Loss of freedom
Relationship problems


If your child or adolescent is engaging in self-harm, the AACAP says it is important to talk to your child about respecting and valuing his or her body. You can also help your teen to avoid hurting himself or herself by teaching him or her the following skills:
To accept reality and find ways to make the present moment more tolerable
To identify feelings and talk them out rather than acting on them
To distract himself or herself from feelings of self-harm (counting to 10, waiting 15 minutes, saying “NO!” or “STOP!,” practicing breathing exercises, journaling, drawing, thinking about positive images, using ice and rubber bands, etc.)
To stop, think and evaluate the pros and cons of self-injury
To soothe himself or herself in a positive, non-injurious way
To practice positive stress management
To develop better social skills


You should have your child evaluated by a mental health professional to identify and treat the underlying causes of self-injury. A child and adolescent psychiatrist can also diagnose and treat any serious psychiatric disorders that may accompany your child’s self-injurious behavior.
The most severe cases of self-injury result in suicide. The CDC estimates about 32,000 people commit suicide every year in the United States. It is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old. The National Association of School Psychologists cites the following signs indicating that your child’s self-injurious behavior may be escalating to suicide:


Suicide notes: These notes are a very real sign of danger and should be taken seriously.
Threats: Threats may be direct statements (“I want to die” or “I am going to kill myself”) or, unfortunately, indirect comments (“The world would be better without me” and “Nobody will miss me anyway”). Among teens, indirect clues could be offered through joking or through comments in school assignments, particularly creative writing or artwork.


“Masked” depression: Sometimes risk-taking behaviors can include acts of aggression, gunplay and alcohol or substance abuse.


Final arrangements: This behavior may take many forms, such as giving away prized possessions like jewelry, clothing, journals or pictures.


Continued efforts to hurt oneself: Common self-destructive behaviors include running into traffic, jumping from heights and scratching, cutting or marking the body.


Changes in physical habits and appearance: Changes include an inability to sleep or sleeping all of the time, sudden weight gain or loss and disinterest in appearance or hygiene.


If one or more of these signs occurs, talk to your child about your concerns and seek professional help when the concerns persist. With support from family and professional treatment, your child can heal and return to a more healthy path of development.


As a parent, you can help prevent teen suicide in the following ways, according to PROMINA Health System:


Know the warning signs and when to get a professional assessment.


Learn who your child is, how he or she feels and what he or she thinks by being more involved in his or her life.


Improve and enhance adult supervision and socialization and monitor the feelings, thoughts and behaviors of your child.


Emphasize honest communication and sharing.


Emphasize honest cooperation with authority and systems, such as school, church, work or rules at home.


American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Association of School Psychologists
PROMINA Health System
Self-Harm Alliance

Sue Scheff: A Parents Guide to Surviving the Teens Years

You’ve lived through 2 AM feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the but-I-don’t-want-to-go-to-school-today blues. So why is the word “teenager” causing you so much anxiety?

When you consider that the teen years are a period of intense growth, not only physically but morally and intellectually, it’s understandable that it’s a time of confusion and upheaval for many families.

Despite some adults’ negative perceptions about teens, they are often energetic, thoughtful, and idealistic, with a deep interest in what’s fair and right. So, although it can be a period of conflict between parent and child, the teen years are also a time to help children grow into the distinct individuals they will become.

Understanding the Teen Years

So when, exactly, does adolescence start? The message to send your kid is: Everybody’s different. There are early bloomers, late arrivals, speedy developers, and slow-but-steady growers. In other words, there’s a wide range of what’s considered normal.

But it’s important to make a (somewhat artificial) distinction between puberty and adolescence. Most of us think of puberty as the development of adult sexual characteristics: breasts, menstrual periods, pubic hair, and facial hair. These are certainly the most visible signs of impending adulthood, but children between the ages of 10 and 14 (or even younger) can also be going through a bunch of changes that aren’t readily seen from the outside. These are the changes of adolescence.

Many kids announce the onset of adolescence with a dramatic change in behavior around their parents. They’re starting to separate from Mom and Dad and to become more independent. At the same time, kids this age are increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them and they’re desperately trying to fit in.

Kids often start “trying on” different looks and identities, and they become acutely aware of how they differ from their peers, which can result in episodes of distress and conflict with parents.

Butting Heads

One of the common stereotypes of adolescence is the rebellious, wild teen continually at odds with Mom and Dad. Although that extreme may be the case for some kids and this is a time of emotional ups and downs, that stereotype certainly is not representative of most teens.

But the primary goal of the teen years is to achieve independence. For this to occur, teens will start pulling away from their parents – especially the parent whom they’re the closest to. This can come across as teens always seeming to have different opinions than their parents or not wanting to be around their parents in the same way they used to.

Read more here:


Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Behavior Therapy for Children with ADHD

Seven parenting strategies guaranteed to improve the behavior of your child with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD).
The fundamentals of behavior therapy are easy to understand and implement, even without the help of a therapist. Have you ever given your child a time-out for talking back — or a “heads-up” before taking him someplace that is likely to challenge his self-control? Then you already have a sense of how behavior therapy works.
“A lot of behavior modification is just common-sense parenting,” says William Pelham, Jr., Ph.D., director of the Center for Children and Families at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “The problem is that none of us were trained how to be good parents, and none of us expected to have children who needed parents with great parenting skills and patience.”
The basic idea is to set specific rules governing your child’s behavior (nothing vague or too broad), and to enforce your rules consistently, with positive consequences for following them and negative consequences for infractions. Dr. Pelham suggests these seven strategies:
1. Make sure your child understands the rules.
Telling a child to “do this” or to “avoid doing that” is not enough. To ensure that your child knows the rules cold, create lists and post them around the house. For example, you might draw up a list detailing the specific things your child must do to get ready for school.Make sure the rules are worded clearly. Go over the rules to make sure he understands, and review them as necessary. Stick with the routines until your child has them down.

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Safeguarding Teenage Drivers with ADD

Young motorists with ADD need to be extra careful on the road. Here’s how they can drive safely.
Motorists with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) – especially teens – need to be extra careful on the road.
Here’s how to help them minimize distractions and stay safe.
Pick a safe car. Larger cars offer greater protection in the event of an accident.
Help your teen with ADD learn to drive. Practice sessions should cover a variety of situations.
Ask that he drive with an adult for at least his first 500 miles behind the wheel.
Don’t let your teen drive at night. Most fatal crashes involving young drivers occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.
Don’t let your teenager chauffeur other teens.
Remind your teen that he must wear a seat belt at all times …and that he must never drive after drinking or using drugs.
For more on keeping teenagers safe behind the wheel, see AD/HD & Driving: A Guide for Parents of Teens with AD/HD, by J. Marlene Snyder, Ph.D. (Whitefish Consultants, 2001).

Sue Scheff: KidsHealth Educational Partner

KidsHealth offers a comprehensive website of articles, helpful tips for parenting, sound advice for teens and kids. Visit to learn more.

Sue Scheff – Children who Bully

Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Typically, it is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms such as hitting or punching (physical bullying); teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying); intimidation through gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying); and sending insulting messages by e-mail (cyberbullying).

There is no one single cause of bullying among children. Rather, individual, family, peer, school, and community factors can place a child or youth at risk for bullying his or her peers.

Characteristics of children who bully

Children who bully their peers regularly (i.e., those who admit to bullying more than occasionally) tend to:

  • Be impulsive, hot-headed, dominant;
  • Be easily frustrated;
  • Lack empathy;
  • Have difficulty following rules; and
  • View violence in a positive way.

Boys who bully tend to be physically stronger than other children.

Click here for entire article.