Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sue Scheff - Parenting Teens - Parenting Tips

Sue Scheff – Founder of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts and Author of Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-Of-Control Teen
Offers 10 Parenting Quick Tips

1. Communication: Keeping the lines of communication of your child should be a priority with all parents. It is important to let your kids know you are always there for them no matter what the subject is. If there is a subject you are not comfortable with, please be sure your child has someone they can open up to. I believe that when kids keep things bottled up, it can be when negative behaviors can start to grow.

2. Knowing your Children’s Friends: This is critical, in my opinion. Who are your kids hanging out with? Doing their homework with? If they are spending a lot of time at a friends house, go out of your way to call the parent introduce yourself. Especially if they are spending the night at a friends house, it important to take time to call the parents or meet them. This can give you a feeling of security knowing where your child is and who they are with.

3. Know your Child’s Teachers – Keep track of their attendance at school: Take time to meet each teacher and be sure they have your contact information and you have theirs if there are any concerns regarding your child. In the same respect, take time to meet your child’s Guidance Counselor.

4. Keep your Child Involved: Whether it is sports, music, drama, dance, and school clubs such as chess, government, school newspaper or different committees such as prom, dances and other school activities. Keeping your child busy can keep them out of trouble. If you can find your child’s passion – whether it is football, soccer, gymnastics, dance, music – that can help keep them focused and hopefully keep them on track in school.

5. Learn about Internet Social Networking: In today’s Cyber generation this has to be a priority. Parents need to help educate their kids on Cyber Safety – think before they post, help them to understand what they put up today, may haunt them tomorrow. Don’t get involved with strangers and especially don’t talk about sex with strangers. Avoid meeting in person the people you meet online without you being there. On the same note – cell phone and texting – don’t allow your child to freely give out their cell numbers and never post them online. Parents should consider ReputationDefender/MyChild to further help protect their children online.

6. Encourage your teen to get a job or volunteer: In today’s generation I think we need to instill responsibility and accountability. This can start early by encouraging your teen to either get a job or volunteer, especially during the summer. Again, it is about keeping them busy, however at the same time teaching them responsibility. I always tell parents to try to encourage their teens to get jobs at Summer Camps, Nursing Homes, ASPCA, Humane Society or places where they are giving to others or helping animals. It can truly build self esteem to help others.

7. Make Time for your Child: This sounds very simple and almost obvious, but with today’s busy schedule of usually both parents working full time or single parent households, it is important to put time aside weekly (if not daily at dinner) for one on one time or family time. Today life is all about electronics (cell phones, Ipods, Blackberry’s, computers, etc) that the personal touch of actually being together has diminished.

8. When Safety trumps privacy: If you suspect your teen is using drugs, or other suspicious behaviors (lying, defiance, disrespectful, etc) it is time to start asking questions – and even “snooping” – I know there are two sides to this coin, and that is why I specifically mentioned “if you suspect” things are not right – in these cases – safety for your child takes precedence over invading their privacy. Remember – we are the parent and we are accountable and responsible for our child.

9. Are you considering outside treatment for your child? Residential Therapy is a huge step, and not a step that is taken lightly. Do your homework! When your child’s behavior escalates to a level of belligerence, defiance, substance abuse or God forbid gang relations – it may be time to seek outside help. Don’t be ashamed of this – put your child’s future first and take steps to get the help he/she needs – immediately, but take your time to find the right placement. Read Wit’s End! for more information.

10. Be a parent FIRST: There are parents that want to be their child’s friend and that is great – but remember you are a parent first. Set boundaries – believe it not kids want limits (and most importantly – need them). Never threaten consequences you don’t plan on following through with.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sue Scheff: Counseling can cut back on Youth Drinking

Source: Connect with Kids

“If it comes from me, I’m the objective observer. I’m interested in the child, and I try to let them know that. I want what’s best for them, but yet it’s not Mom or Dad saying that.”

– Rhonda Jeffries, M.D., Pediatrician

It’s a troubling fact of life: some kids drink.

“Especially the older they get,” says Dr. Rhonda Jeffries, a pediatrician. “And by senior year, 50 percent or more of kids are drinking. And in fact, by 12th grade, usually 80 percent of the kids have tried alcohol.”

But can a doctor persuade kids not to drink? Kids seem to think so.

“I think coming from somebody besides, maybe, just the parents for some people it will help,” says 18-year-old Andrew Scott, a high school senior.

Lars Thrasher, 17, agrees. “I would think it would be more helpful from a doctor,” he says.

And Christine Terrell, calls doctors advice on drinking and other potentially touchy subjects “extremely beneficial.”

According to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, when a physician spends just a few minutes talking to kids about the dangers of alcohol, those kids are 50 percent less likely to drink.

Dr. Jeffries says: “If it comes from me, I’m the objective observer. I’m interested in the child, and I try to let them know that. I want what’s best for them, but yet it’s not Mom or Dad saying that.”

The study reports when kids talked with their doctor, they had 55 percent fewer traffic accidents, 42 percent less emergency room visits and fewer arrests for underage drinking. It seems that when doctors warn kids about alcohol, they listen.

Christine Terrell explains: “They’re not invested in you as their child. They’re invested in you for your health, for your interests, for your sake. And I would definitely listen to a doctor, and I have listened to doctors who have talked to me about subjects like that.”

The study suggests it’s a good idea to ask your doctor to talk with your children about alcohol. Of course, experts add, parents should bring up the subject as well. “They need to be open to discussion and to bringing these issues up with their kids,” says Dr. Jeffries. “And I think that parents who are in touch with their kids and connected to them are really helpful in getting their children though adolescence without negative effects.”

LaShauna Pellman, 17, sums it up best. “If my parents tell me something,” she says, “then I listen to them even more.”

Tips for Parents

Alcohol-related fatalities are a leading cause of death among young adults in the United States. In the United States, 70.8 percent of all deaths among persons aged 10 to 24 result from only four causes – motor-vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.

Should your family doctor take just a few moments to counsel your child about the risks of alcohol, there is great potential for positive outcome. Just a few minutes of a doctor's counseling helped young adults reduce their high-risk drinking and the number of traffic crashes, emergency room visits, and arrests for substance or liquor violations, says a study in the Annals of Family Medicine. Consider the following:

Underage drinking causes over $53 billion in criminal, social and health problems.
Alcohol is a leading factor in the three leading causes of death for 15- to 24-year-olds: automobile crashes, homicide and suicide.

Primary-care doctors should make it a priority to counsel young adults about high-risk drinking. Young adults, ages 18 to 30, who received counseling about reducing their use of alcohol:

Experienced a 40 to 50 percent decrease in alcohol use.
Reported 42 percent fewer visits to the emergency room.
Were involved in 55 percent fewer motor vehicle crashes.

The ways a parent can influence his or her teen’s drinking habits is complex. A universal method regarding what works best in preventing underage drinking may not exist. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that a parent’s attitude toward drinking influences a child's behavior in various ways. One controversial finding was that teens who drank with their parents were less likely than others to have binged or used alcohol at all in recent weeks. Others, of course, argue passionately that parents who drink with their underage children are not only breaking the law but encouraging dangerous behavior that can lead to life-long consequences.

The Journal study also found that strict parenting can curb kids' drinking. Teens who said they feared they would have their privileges taken away if they got caught drinking were half as likely to drink as those who thought their parents would not punish them. In addition, consider the following:

The average girl takes her first sip of alcohol at age 13. The average boy takes his first sip of alcohol at age 11.

Teenagers who said their parents or their friends' parents had provided alcohol for a party during the past year were twice as likely as their peers to have used alcohol or binged during the previous month.

Nearly 75 percent of teens surveyed said they had never used alcohol.
About 25 percent of teens in the study said they'd been at party in the past year where parents supplied alcohol.

Fourteen percent of teens surveyed said they were with their parents the last time they drank.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Focus Adolescent Services
Health Day
National Youth Violence Prevention Center
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
University of California, Irvine