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Teen Depression: 10 Common Causes

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage. After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.

  1. Academic Stress – Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional well-being. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. Family Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.

It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional wellbeing, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression. Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor. Your general practitioner or pediatrician should be able to help you determine the best course of action if your child is suffering from depression, including referrals to a specialist or medication.

Source: Babysitting.net

Rebellious Teens: Tips to Avoid Fighting with Your Teen

TeenangerWhen you’re raising a teenager, your house can feel like a war-zone that’s scattered with potential land mines masquerading as casual questions. Every interaction can feel like it has the potential to blow up in your respective faces, leaving parents wondering what the safest course of action is in terms of avoiding an argument.

During the tumultuous teenage years, these are 10 of the most reliable ways to avoid fighting with your child.

  1. Establish Rational Boundaries – During adolescence, your teen is revisiting the same mindset of early toddlerhood that leaves her looking for ways to test boundaries as a means of asserting her independence from you. Making sure that she knows some boundaries cannot be challenged lays a foundation for calm, rational interaction. Just be sure before you make those rules that you understand your teen’s need for a reasonable amount of independence, and avoid overly harsh authoritarian rules that leave no room for such expression.
  2. Shift Your Perspective – As an adult parent of a teenager, it can be difficult to remember your own battles during the tender years leading up to adulthood. Before flying off of the proverbial handle, try to remember how you felt as a teen, so that you can see things from your own teenager’s perspective.
  3. Refuse to Escalate the Situation – When you’re standing face to face with a raging, screaming teen that pays no heed to the feelings of anyone around her as she expresses her frustration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of shouting right back at her. By maintaining your composure and refusing to let the situation escalate into a full-on altercation, you’re effectively maintaining control of the confrontation without adding fuel to the fire.
  4. Practice Good Listening Skills – Sometimes a teen feels as if he’s not being truly heard and in response will lash out with anger, when all he really wants is to know that his viewpoints and opinions are being listened to. Taking the time to ask your child how he feels and actually listening to the answer he gives can diffuse many arguments before they start.
  5. Create a “No Judgment” Zone for Tricky Discussions – Teenagers face a variety of difficult choices and situations, and those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn for advice due to a fear of parental judgment or punishment can internalize that stress, leading to nasty arguments borne of frustration. Making sure that your child knows she can safely approach you with difficult questions can eliminate that frustration, making for a more peaceful environment within your home.
  6. Know When to Compromise – As a parent, it’s often difficult to admit when you’re being unreasonable and concede an argument, or at least to make compromises when you’ve reached an impasse. Mastering the art of a sane compromise with your teen, however, is the key to keeping a tense discussion from escalating.
  7. Understand When to Walk Away – When you can’t hold on to your temper, it’s okay to walk away. If you ascribe to a philosophy of walking away to let your temper cool, though, it’s essential that you afford your teenager the same respect. Resist the temptation to follow her in order to continue a diatribe; it’ll only lead to an even nastier confrontation.
  8. Actively Avoid Triggers – There are some subjects that bring out a passionate reaction in everyone, and those triggers differ from one person to the next. Your teenager is no different, and you know the things that will upset her before you discuss them. Avoid the subjects you know will upset your child, especially if there’s no real reason for discussing them.
  9. Refuse to Reward the Silent Treatment – The silent treatment is infuriating for anyone, but it’s important that you not reward that behavior from your teen. Attempting to draw him out with false cheerfulness or prodding him to talk will only blow up in your face, so let him stew without interference for a while.
  10. Avoid Drawing Comparisons – Telling your teenager that you never acted the way he does, or illustrating just how much more tolerant of a parent you are because you don’t punish him the way you would have been punished for behaving in such a manner serves absolutely no productive purpose. Remember that your teen is trying to establish himself as a separate entity from you; drawing comparisons, even when you’re just looking for common ground, can ultimately be counterproductive. 

Making a concerted effort to foster an open, honest relationship with your teen can make it easier to avoid the worst arguments, but the occasional disagreement is pretty much par for the course. Rather than dwelling on an argument after it happens, try to think about how you could have handled it differently so that you can apply that knowledge the next time negotiations become tense.

Source:  Babysitting.net

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Spring Break: Teen Drinking Facts

TeenDrinking5Spring break is around the corner and unfortunately many teens look forward to getting away and have a few drinks–maybe a few too many!  Not to mention many are underage to be consuming alcohol.

You probably see and hear a lot about alcohol—from TV, movies, music, and your friends. But what are the real facts about underage alcohol use?

Myth Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.
FACT Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.

Myth Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.
FACT Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do (like get into fights).

Myth Drinking alcohol will make me cool.
FACT There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.

Myth All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in.
FACT If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that more than 70 percent of youth age 12 to 20 haven’t had a drink in the past month.1
 
Myth I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.
FACT On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, not even drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”

Myth Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink too.
FACT A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. People who begin drinking by age 15 are five times more likely to abuse or become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking after age 20.2
 
Myth Beer and wine are safer than liquor.
FACT Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!

Myth I can drink alcohol and not have any problems.
FACT If you’re under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It’s illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.

Sources

Teen Dating Violence: What is Sexual Abuse

LoveisRespectFebruary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Parents, teens, educators need to take the time to learn more about teen dating abuse.

Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms.Some examples of sexual assault and abuse are:

  • Unwanted kissing or touching.
  • Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
  • Rape or attempted rape.
  • Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
  • Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
  • Threatening or pressuring someone into unwanted sexual activity.

Keep in Mind

  • Everyone has the right to decide what they do or don’t want to do sexually. Not all sexual assaults are violent “attacks.”
  • Most victims of sexual assault know the assailant.
  • Both men and women can be victims of sexual abuse.
  • Both men and women can be perpetrators of sexual abuse.
  • Sexual abuse can occur in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.
  • Sexual abuse can occur between two people who have been sexual with each other before, including people who are married or dating.

What to Do

If you have been sexually assaulted, first get to a safe place away from the attacker. You may be scared, angry and confused, but remember the abuse was in no way your fault. You have options. You can:

  • Contact Someone You Trust. Many people feel fear, guilt, anger, shame and/or shock after they have been sexually assaulted. Having someone there to support you as you deal with these emotions can make a big difference. It may be helpful to speak with a counselor, someone at a sexual assault hotline or a support group. Get more tips for building a support system.
  • Report What Happened to the Police. If you do decide to report what happened, you will have a stronger case if you do not alter or destroy any evidence. This means don’t shower, wash your hair or body, comb your hair or change your clothes, even if that is hard to do. If you are nervous about going to the police station, it may help to bring a friend with you. There may also be sexual assault advocates in your area who can assist you and answer your questions.
  • Go to an Emergency Room or Health Clinic. It is very important for you to seek health care as soon as you can after being assaulted. You will be treated for any injuries and offered medications to help prevent pregnancy and STIs.

Remember there is always help. For more information or to find out about available resources in your area, chat with a peer advocate.

Source:  Love is Respect

Getting Your Teenager to Talk: Tips To Open the Lines of Communication

TalkingwTeenAt some point, every parent will start to get grunts and nods when asking their kids simple questions, like “How was school today?” or “What would you like to do this afternoon?”

Separating from parents and keeping more and more of their thoughts and feelings to themselves is a natural stage kids go through, but that doesn’t make any less difficult for parents to endure. It also doesn’t have to be the natural progression of the parent/child relationship.

It takes some extra time and effort, but you can stay close to your child. Here are some ways to keep the lines of communication open.

Avoid questions that start with why. It’s often surprising how regularly we question rather than converse with kids. Kids often get defensive as soon as they hear the word “why.” Instead of opening up the lines of communication, asking questions like “Why did you do that?” can make the child feel like there’s a right and wrong answer, even when it’s asked with a genuine interest. Instead, ask questions that will encourage your child to share his thoughts, feelings and motivations.

Ask open ended questions. We often ask questions looking for specific information. Wonderful things can happen when we don’t have a specific agenda and instead welcome wherever the conversation may lead. Questions like “What was the best part of your day?” or “What was the funniest thing that happened today?” make kids think outside the box and often gives you a great jumping off place for a deeper conversation.

Resist the urge to offer advice or solutions. Whenever a parent learns that her child is struggling with a problem, even a small one, her first instinct is to jump in and offer advice and a solution. Even when you offer your child great suggestions, jumping into a problem solving mode often turns the conversation into what feels like a lecture. When your child is facing a problem or struggling with how to handle a tough situation, use that opportunity to connect. Ask her about how she sees things, how she feels about what’s happening, what she sees as her choices, and what she thinks the results of those choices would be. By creating a safe space for your child to work through her thoughts and feelings, you’re strengthening your relationship and helping your child develop valuable critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Talk on their timetable. Sometimes it seems that kids want to talk at the worst possible moments. Your daughter wants to give you all the details of an argument she had with her best friend when you’re trying to finish a big presentation for work. Your son wants to ask you about joining the hockey team when you’re rushing to help your 6th grader finish a science project that’s due the next day. You only have so much time and energy, and often there is just not enough of it to go around. Unfortunately, as children get older the times when they initiate a meaningful conversation get fewer and fewer, so take advantage of the opportunities you’re given whenever possible. If you have to postpone a conversation, let your child know why and pick a specific time to finish the conversation.

Plan time to connect. Your child is much more likely to open up to you when connection and conversation are an integrated part of your relationship. From an early age, spend one on one time with your child on a regular basis. This is a great way to get to know your child outside the hustle and bustle of family life and it gives you the chance to create special memories together. That regular one on one time early on can make it much easier to continue to connect as they get older.

Take advantage of small windows of time. Not every conversation needs to be a sit down, face to face talk. In fact, many of the best conversations won’t be. Take advantage of the time you and your child spend in the car driving to and from activities, getting ready for bed, cooking dinner over the weekend, or shopping for school clothes. Talking while involved in another activity creates a no pressure environment to talk with each other. Of course it’s important to carve out time when you’re focused on each other as well, however, in between those times try to take advantage of the many chances you have every day to connect and talk.

It’s important to both you and your child to connect and talk with each other. Although the parent/child relationship naturally changes as your child gets older, you can still have a close connection through the years.

Source: Babysitting Jobs

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Teen Runaways: Holiday Stress for Parents

TeenRunaway5Being a parent of a teen is hard enough – when the holidays come along sometimes the stress can be overwhelming.  Are they driving you to your wit’s end?

When a teen threatens to runaway or actually does, it can be a parent’s nightmare.  It seems a teenager doesn’t seem to realize that holidays are supposed to be a time of joy.

The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that up to 2.8 million children and teens run away from home each year. Many return home within the first 24 hours, but there are still a staggering number that never make it home.

Here are some tips for parents:

Building the Foundation for a Healthy Teen & Parent Relationship
Building a good foundation increases the potential for a good relationship.
Do’s and Don’ts For Parents With Teenagers
If only it was this simple. Here are some effective tips for dealing with your teenager.
What To Do If Your Child Runs Away From Home
What should I do if my child runs away from home?
More Runaway Prevention Tips For Parents
The more tips the better when it comes to parenting.
Setting Goals & Expectations
Give kids a map and maybe, just maybe they’ll find their way.
What To Do When Your Child Returns Home
What should I do when my child comes back?
The Challenges of Raising a Teen
Normal adolescent rebellion or something more serious?
Basic Parenting Tips
Good parenting is a combination of role modeling, teaching and friendship.
Do as I say AND as I do
Nothing erodes the delicate parent/teen relationship faster than for a child to hear one thing and see another.
Tips for Parents: Have Fun!
Learning life’s lessons doesn’t always have to be serious. Lighten up and have some fun.
Parenting Step-Families
Step-parenting adds another dimension, particularly when your blended family includes biological and step-children.
Parents Matter: Tips for Raising Teenagers
Parents of teenagers may have the toughest job around.
Set Guidelines for Good Behavior
Setting rules and guidelines for the children in your care helps them learn safe, healthy and socially acceptable behavior.
Parent/Teen Talk
Navigating through life isn’t easy, but with parents acting as guideposts the trip is a little easier.
Signs My Teen Might Be Thinking About Running Away From Home
Find out what you should be looking for.
Guidelines for Parents with Kids in Cyberspace
Know what your kids are doing on line. Talk, be open, educate yourself, and check it out.

Courtesy of National Runaway Switchboard.

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Troubled Teens: Making the Difficult Decisions of Residential Treatment Centers

TroubledTeen5When it comes to sending your child to residential therapy it is probably one of the hardest decisions a parent can make.  It just doesn’t seem normal to send your teenager to a behavioral modification program.  Let’s face it – we all know that sending them to college is part of the circle of life, but no one prepares us for the potholes that some families face – residential treatment centers.

As the holidays approach a teenager’s behavior can sometimes escalate and this can leave a parent with a decision that they don’t want to make.  How can they send their child into a teen help program during this time of the year?

As a Parent Advocate and Parent Consultant, I share with parents that you have many years ahead of you to have many wonderful holidays together – however in some cases, it can mean saving your child’s life by removing them from not-so-safe situations – especially if they are involved in drug use or hanging out with unsavory groups of what they consider friends.  With the extra time off from school -it sometimes can add up to more time for trouble.

Are you struggling with your teenager?  Confused about what school or program is best for their needs?  I founded Parent’s Universal Resource Experts, Inc over a decade ago for parents that are at their wit’s end – after I was duped and my daughter abused at a program that mislead us.  Our experiences are only to help educate parents – there are more good programs than there are not so good one.  It is up to you to do your due diligence.

Remember, family is a priority – your child’s welfare comes first.  There will always be more holidays – let’s be sure your child’s safety and security are first and foremost.

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