Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Gambling Addiction

“I think if someone had asked me if I had wanted to go out with a beautiful girl or sit at home and play poker, I probably would have said I'd play poker.”

– Daniel Gushue, 22 years old

Recent studies show that a growing number of young people are compulsive gamblers, particularly obsessed with gambling on the Internet. And now, Canadian researchers say that you may be able to discover who will become an addict one day by studying the behavior of kindergartners. How can you prevent your teen from getting hooked?

Daniel was a compulsive gambler.

Over the course of two years he racked up 18 thousand dollars of credit card debt.

“So on a typical night, my gambling at its worst, say here Oct. 25th,” Daniel says looking at his bank statement, “I deposited $50, I deposited another 50, another 50, a 100, another 100, 50, and then 200. So all-in-all that’s 6- $600.”

But was he an impulsive child years ago?

Researchers at the University of Montreal say there is a direct correlation: the more impulsive kids are, the more likely they will become gambling addicts.

And, experts say, because of the Internet, addiction is a greater problem today than ever.

“So whereas 15-20 years ago you have to get into a car, drive to a casino, might take you an hour or two hours or three hours to get there, now you can just pick up your cell phone and be gambling while you are waiting in the doctor’s office, or while you’re waiting at the bus stop,” explains Dr. Timothy Fong, Addiction Psychiatrist.

That’s why, experts say, parents need to be proactive.

According to psychologist Dr. Larry Rosen that means, “Familiarize yourself with what potential problems your kids might come up against, and sit them down and talk to them.”

Daniel doesn’t play online poker anymore, but he does gamble on sports.

That makes his girlfriend, Carlee Schaper, nervous. “When it comes to watching him online, sports betting and things like that, I don’t like to see him doing that, because I feel like it’s a slippery slope, and, um, it’s possible for him to go back to his old ways.”

“Should I be gambling?” says Daniel, “Probably not. But for the time being I’m in a good place.”

Tips for Parents
Three-quarters of a million teens have a serious gambling problem, according to research from the University of Buffalo. That includes stealing money to gamble, gambling more money then initially planned, or selling possessions to gamble more. Another 11 percent of teens admit to gambling at least twice a week. Evidence shows that individuals who begin gambling at an early age run a much higher lifetime risk of developing a gambling problem.

Some individuals and organizations support teaching poker to adolescents as a real-life means of instructing on critical reasoning, mathematics and probability. They say teaching the probability of winning is the most important aspect of the game and that the mathematics behind the reasoning that will show kids they won’t win in the long run.

The legal gambling age in the United States is 21. Poker sites enable minors to play by clicking a box to verify that they are the legal age and entering a credit card number. Age is verified further only if suspicions are raised.

Some researchers call gambling the fastest-growing teenage addiction. Teens are especially vulnerable to gambling because of the excitement, the risk and their belief that skill is involved. The Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling and the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling lists the following warning signs that a teen may be struggling with a gambling problem:

■Unexplained need for money: Valuables missing from the home and frequently borrowing money
■Withdrawal from the family: Changes in personality, impatience, criticism, sarcasm, increased hostility, irritability, making late-night calls, fewer outside activities, a drop in grades and unaccountable time away from home
■Interest in sports teams with no prior allegiance: Watching televised sports excessively, exhibiting an unusual interest in sports reports, viewing multiple games at one time, running up charges to 900 sports phone numbers and showing hostility over the outcome of a game
■Gambling paraphernalia: Betting slips, IOUs, lottery tickets, frequent card and dice games at home and the overuse of gambling language, such as “bet,” in conversation
■Coming to parents to pay gambling debts
■Using lunch or bus money to gamble
Ask yourself the following questions if you suspect your child has a gambling addiction:

■Is your child out of the house or confined to a room with a computer for long, unexplained periods of time?
■Does your child miss work, school or extra-curricular activities?
■Can your child be trusted with money?
■Does your child borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
■Does your child hide his or her money?
■Have you noticed a personality change in your child?
■Does your child consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?

Compulsive gambling is an illness, progressive in nature. There is no cure, but with help the addiction can be suppressed. Many who gamble live in a dream world to satisfy emotional needs. The gambler dreams of a life filled with friends, new cars, furs, penthouses, yachts, etc. However, a gambler usually will return to win more, so no amount of winning is sufficient to reach these dreams.

The compulsion to gamble can easily lead to self-destructive behavior, especially for teens. If you are concerned that a young person you care about has a gambling problem, encourage him or her to contact a gambling help line in your area or to seek professional help at a gambling treatment facility.

■American Family Association
■Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling
■Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling
■National Gambling Impact Study Commission
■Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
■University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teenage Love - Something to take serious?

By Richard Hills

I was 17 when I had my first “real” girlfriend (yes, yes, I was a late bloomer). But in fairness that is not to say that I hadn’t fallen in love before that; what many would have called ‘crushes’. Now, as a father, I get to watch this all unfolding in front of me again with my three daughters.
To prepare writing this article I was looking for some background data on teenage love, or relationships, and while there is a ton of information out there, it was not the sort of thing I want to address here.

The scenario: I’m in the car to pick up my teenage daughter from middle school. When she gets into the car, she’s simply beaming. “How did your day go?” I ask, “Ohhhh daddy, I met this boy today and …” 30 minutes later as we arrive at home she’s still talking about him. Teenage love; do we take it seriously?

According to all the information out there on the internet, we’d better take it seriously; STD’s, teen abuse, teen sex, teen pregnancy – a plethora of information to make any father lock up his daughter in the top room of the tower and throw away the key!

But these are not the issues I wanted to talk about today. Not that they are not worthy of discussion, they are. I’ve talk about some of them already in past articles and I’ll discuss others later. But today I just wanted to talk about the feelings of love. When your son or daughter comes to you with that silly doe-eyed expression talking about love, what is our first reaction as parents? I’m sure the issues listed above come into mind, but often I think the thought of “puppy-love” comes into mind. “Oh darling, you’re too young to know what real love is”. If you are thinking that let me recommend to you that those words NEVER leave your mouth in front of your child.

Childhood love is an expression of Self. It is a display of much needed independence and moral growth at this age of development. We as parents should not minimize this in the eyes of our youth, in fact I believe it should be encouraged. David Richo, noted psychologist and author often writes about the 5 A’s (attention, affection, appreciation, acceptance, and allowing). These are attributes that we need fulfilled from a very early age. These later, in healthy relationships become the attributes that we desire to give. But we’ll never be able to give them if we never got them from our parents. So, when your teen comes to you in love, don’t dismiss those feelings as ‘puppylove’, or “you’re too young to understand” – trust me, to your teen, YOU don’t know what you are talking about.

In my research I did find an interesting article / study about teenage relationships. This study found our teenage boys have much more feelings then they are normally given credit for. I shouldn’t be surprised (having been one of those boys) – but I am a father of daughters now and the perspective is very different. If we take away our children’s love when they are young, what exactly will they have when they are older adults? It is real love, and should be treated as such. In our experience we know, just as she came bouncing to the car expressing her love, one day she will come running to the car in sorrow and pain over a lost love. Let us, as parents be there both times; first to celebrate… then to commiserate with our child’s healthy growth.
For more info: David Richo

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sue Scheff: Encouraging Your Child to Success

In today’s economy, this is an encouraging website for teens, tweens and parents. Encouraging your kids to reach for their goals and dreams. This website has great employment tips for all age of teens up to college kids. I am so amazed at the wealth of ideas for kids and being successful!

Want to Raise Successful, Self-Made, Sharing Millionaire Kids?


Do your kids think money grows on trees?

Do you worry your kids may end up in debt when they grow up?

And do you want them to become a doctor or lawyer so they’ll make a high salary and live comfortably?

If so, you’re not alone.

Sadly, most kids don’t have a clue how to handle money…and will most likely make costly mistakes…no matter how high their salary is…that will cause them years of struggle and stress.

Sadly, most kids don’t have a clue how to handle money…and will most likely make costly mistakes…no matter how high their salary is…that will cause them years of struggle and stress.

That’s why it’s SO important for you to teach your kids how to develop smart money habits.
So they don’t end up stuck working at a dead end job because they need the money…or working for a boss they hate.

My name is Sonja Mishek and I have a BA in Commercial Economics and have been a tax preparer, a credit analyst, a small business owner, and real estate investor for over 20 some years now.

But more importantly, I’m a proud parent just like you.

And I want the very best for my four kids…Rachel (17), Tony (15), Matthew (13), and Maria (11).

I want my kids to be…




and of course, Financially Secure…

And that’s what this website is all about…tips and techniques on how to teach your kids smart money habits so they can become self-made, self-sufficient, successful millionaires.

Read more on the above link to the website.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: ADHD and Aniexty

Is ADHD causing your child’s anxiety? Or could an anxiety disorder be to blame? Symptom and treatment information.

Free ADHD handout from ADDitude Magazine

Moderate anxiety - when taking a test or performing in a school play - is normal and healthy. But if your child’s anxiety is more severe and commonplace, you may fear that an anxiety disorder is to blame. ADDitude has made it easier to understand anxiety with this quick comparison sheet that will help you understand the symptoms and treatment of anxiety disorder vs. ADHD. Contents include…

Common symptoms of anxiety disorder in childrenAn explanation of primary vs. secondary anxiety in children with ADHDEffective treatment options for children with primary or secondary anxiety

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I was asked by caring parents and individuals to give people encouraging news. StopMedicineAbuse is making a difference in creating awareness in parents and helping open up the lines of communication with their teens and tweens today.

Although almost two-thirds parents have talked to their teens about cough medicine abuse, a large number still have not had this critical conversation. To help alert these parents, many OTC cough medicines will now feature the Stop Medicine Abuse educational icon on the packaging. The icon, which also can be viewed online (see above), is a key reminder for parents that teen medicine abuse is an issue that they need to be aware of.

How can you help?

More Parents Talking with Their Teens about Cough Medicine Abuse
Posted by Five Mom, Christy Crandell , on Monday, May 11, 2009

Our efforts to educate parents about medicine abuse have reached thousands of families in the United States. With your help, more parents than ever are learning about this risky teen substance abuse behavior and are talking with their teens. According to the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 65 percent of parents have talked to their teens about the dangers of abusing OTC cold and cough medicine to get high-an 18 percent increase in the number of parents who talked to their teens in 2007.
My fellow Five Moms and I are excited to share this promising news with you, but there is still much work ahead. Although nearly two-thirds of parents have talked with their teens, 35 percent of parents said that they have not had this important conversation.

We know that when parents talk to their teens about the risks of substance abuse, their teens are up to fifty percent less likely to abuse substances. If you have not already talked with your teens about the dangers of cough medicine abuse, visit our talk page for some helpful ideas on how to have this discussion.

It is also critical that we share this information with our friends and communities as well. Too many parents are still unaware that some teens are abusing OTC cough medicine to get high, and it is important that we talk with them about this behavior. By talking with other parents, we can make sure that every family has the knowledge and tools to help keep teens safe and healthy.

Sharing information about cough medicine abuse is easy. It only takes a moment to start a conversation, and thanks to Stop Medicine Abuse, you can Tell-A-Friend through e-mail or post the Stop Medicine Abuse widget to your blog or web site. The more parents are aware of cough medicine abuse, the better we can prevent this behavior from happening in our communities.

Have you talked with other parents about cough medicine abuse? Share your advice about having this conversation at the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page

Friday, May 15, 2009

As a Parent Advocate, I always find the some of the best parenting tips and articles on continues to bring many parents, educators and others working with today children up-to-date and timely articles to help us better understand help us raise our kids in today’s society. Summer is around the corner and here are some great parenting tips that can help motivate your kids in a positive direction.

Positive Parenting Tips for Summer
by Trish Hatch, Ph.D Source: American School Counselor Association
Topics: Communicating With Children of All Ages, more…
Summer Safety

For 180 days a year, school counselors work with students on how to express their feelings in appropriate ways, how to deal with their anger and how to cope with stressful situations. But what happens when school is not in session, especially during the extended summer break? As a parent, you are the most influential person in your children’s lives, and how you work through family issues can have a positive influence on behavior throughout the family as well as the school. Following are some parenting tips to work on throughout the summer months.

Sibling conflicts: Stay on the sidelines of sibling arguments (unless there is bloodshed) and help your children learn to appropriately express their negative feelings. At my school, students learn to use the “magic sentence.” The sentence includes phrases such as “I feel…because,”"I want you to…” and “I am willing to…” Example: “I feel angry because you called me a name and I want you to stop. I am willing to stop calling you names.”

Using the magic sentence requires practice and parental guidance. It may feel contrived at first, but if your children and you get into the habit of thinking and stating your feelings rather than acting out, you’ll find it opens up the lines of communication and decreases outbursts.

Encourage your children to listen to other people’s magic sentences and then repeat back to them what they understand they heard. If they think they heard, “You said you don’t want me calling you a frog face - even though you really are one. And you want me to stop, but I won’t until you do,” then they may have to listen (or repeat it again) until they get it right.

Discipline: Children develop security, increased self-esteem and have fewer behavioral problems when in an environment that provides consistency, rules, consequences, praise and positive acclamations. Consistency means your behavior as a parent is absolutely predictable; this is key. To a child this means, “Every time I throw a fit in the store, Mom or Dad will leave the store” If you give in once, it’s like a slot machine that pays off. Winning once is addicting. If the slot never paid, no one would ever put money in.

Having rules in print is important. When the child breaks a rule, the parent can point to a printed sheet and ask, “What is the rule?” This takes the heat off the parent as the bad guy and places it on the “rule.” Rules must be clearly stated and reasonable for the child’s age, developmental level and emotional stability. In some situations, the rules can be created with the child, which creates buy-in. For example: The rule might read: “Marie’s bed time is 8 p.m.” When Marie tries to negotiate for a later time, the parent asks the child, “What is the rule?”and the answer is clear.

Also choose consequences that fit when rules are broken. Coming home late from a friend’s house should result in your child not being able to see the friend for a few days. Missing a trip to the amusement park as punishment does not fit this offense. Praise is also important. Look for the good in your child and praise it. Sometimes parents must look hard to find something to praise, but you still should look for it. Also work to build your child’s self-esteem through positive acclamations, such as “You know Billy, I love you because you’re my son, but I really like you because you’re you.” Messages like these really help in building self-esteem, especially when they are unearned and spontaneous. Your child always will appreciate them.

Parental conflicts: Two wonderful words can be used when your child wants to engage in an unending argument with you or chooses to defy your authority. They are “nevertheless” and “regardless.” For example:

Parent: John, please pick up your room and then feed the dog.Child: But Mom, Sarah never has to do any chores.Parent: Nevertheless, I want you to pick up your room and feed the dog.
By using these simple argument deflectors you can avoid the confrontation and negotiation and keep the child’s focus on the issue. These deflectors can be used to avoid arguments in almost any situation. In resolving conflicts at home, especially those regarding how thoroughly your children have accomplished their chores, it helps to specify the task while being direct and to the point. In this way, there is no confusion. You will have the greatest success if you keep the statements short and direct, and you child will feel more successful upon completion. As always, don’t forget to praise a job well done.

Family meetings: At least one night a week should be set aside for family meetings. These should be open forum in that everyone should have an opportunity to tell how they feel. A family meeting isn’t the time to punish or discipline but rather to listen to your children’s feelings and concerns and to ask them to listen to yours. Only through open, honest communication can a family increase its positive relationships and grow together.

Parenting is hard work. There is no instruction manual for children when they are born. Therefore, we must try new things, hone our skills, learn from and support each other and give ourselves a break when we have rough days. It helps to have a positive attitude.

Remember these two phrases from Janet Lane and Henry Chester. Lane says, “Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.”Chester says, “Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world. It beats money, power and influence.”

Trish Hatch, Ph.D., is assistant principal, Moreno Valley High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. She can be reached at

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sue Scheff: Middle School Sex

“I wanted to be in the 'in' crowd and my friends. And I wanted to be able to say 'yes, I've had sex before,'”

– Katelyn, Age 13

Katelyn is now 16, but when she was only 13, “I started skipping school,” she says. “Having sex.”

“I wanted to be in the ‘in’ crowd and my friends,” Katelyn explains, “and I wanted to be able to say ‘yes, I’ve had sex before’.”

According to a new study by the University of Texas, 12 percent of 7th graders have had sex. Nearly 8 percent have had oral sex. What’s more, nearly a third aren’t using protection.

Experts say one problem is instead of getting information about sex from their parents and other adults, kids are getting it from other kids.

“And a lot of the information that they are getting from each other is poor information, its misinformation, and it’s not good,” says sex educator, Sheena Pope-Holland.

And in a time when sexual messages are everywhere, parents need to have lots of conversations about sex and they need to begin when the kids are young.

“What they can expect to face in terms of pressures from their friends,” explains teen counselor Marie Mitchell, “In terms of what these new feelings will mean in their lives, what the consequences of acting on those feelings might be.”

She says parents also need to be pro-active: Get to know your child's friends. Know what they’re doing and where they're going and when they’re supposed to return.

And make sure your rules are age appropriate.

“You don't allow a 13-year-older to go out on a date by herself, because she's not mature enough to handle those situations,” says Mitchell.

Katelyn has been abstinent for over a year. What convinced her were conversations with teenage mothers.

“That was I think the biggest slap in the face to me…for somebody outside of my family to tell me ‘you’re dumb, you’re stupid, look where I am, I have nothing, I have absolutely nothing…do you want to be like this when you’re my age?’”

Tips for Parents
The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested that portrayals of sex on entertainment television may contribute to precocious adolescent sex. Approximately two-thirds of television programs contain sexual content, and adolescents who viewed more sexual content were more likely to initiate intercourse and progress to more advanced non-coital sexual activities. Youths in the top 10th percentile of television sex viewing were twice as likely to have sex as those youths who were in the bottom 10th percentile of viewing.

Adolescence is a key period of sexual exploration and development. This is the time when teens begin to consider which sexual behaviors are enjoyable, moral and appropriate for their age group. Many teens become sexually active during this period; currently, 46 percent of high school students in the United States admit to having had sexual intercourse. Consider the following:

By ninth grade, 34 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse. By 12th grade, this figure increases to 60 percent.
On average, teens watch three hours of television every day.
Watching a program that talked about sex was associated with the same risks as exposure to a program that depicted sexual behavior.
Approximately one in seven television programs includes a portrayal of sexual intercourse.
Television programs with sexual content have an average of 4.4 scenes per hour containing sexually related material.
Youths who watched more depictions of sexual risks or safety were less likely to initiate intercourse.
Watching sex on television predicts and may hasten adolescent sexual initiation. Reducing the amount of sexual content in entertainment programming, reducing adolescent exposure to this content, or increasing references to and depictions of the possible negative consequences of sexual activity could delay when teens embark on sexual activities. A quarter of all sexually active teens will contract a sexually transmitted disease each year. According to 57 percent of adults and 72 percent of teens, the media has given "more attention" to teen pregnancy prevention in recent years.

Remember that as a parent you may be able to reduce the effects of sexual content in the media by watching television with your teenagers and discussing your own beliefs about sex and the behaviors being portrayed. Most parents say they have discussed sex with their teenagers, but far fewer teenagers say they had such talks with their parents. Sixty-nine percent of teens report that it would be "much easier" to postpone sexual activity if they could have "more open, honest conversations" about sex with their parents. In addition:

About 60 percent of teens have a television in their bedroom. The only way to keep parental control of television viewing is to not let your teen have a television in the bedroom.
Unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are more common among those who begin sexual activity earlier.
Two-thirds of sexually experienced teens wish they had waited longer to have intercourse.
Seventy-nine percent of teenage virgins are not embarrassed to tell others they have not had sex.
Youngsters who receive little parental supervision may have more time and freedom to watch sexually based programming and more opportunities to engage in sexual activity.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Medical News Today
Rand Corporation
Talk With Your Kids
USA Today

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Texting, Sexting and Teens

Love Our Children USA is an organization that educates you on protecting our children. I was privileged to be introduced to their Cyberbullying Spokesperson while on The Rachael Ray Show. This non-profit organization continually helps many families by not only reaching out to them, but keeping parents up to date on how to keep your children safe and keeping you informed of today’s adolescents and these new activities such as texting and sexting. Well, semi-new activities - to many of us, texting is still foreign, however these kids have their fingers going a mile a minute.

THE ISSUE:Every year over 3 million children are victims of violence and almost 1.8million are abducted. Nearly 600,000 children live in foster care. Every day1 out of 7 kids and teens are approached online by predators, 1 out of 4kids are bullied and 42% of kids are cyberbullied.

THE SOLUTION: PREVENTION! Getting to the root of the cause through education and changing behaviorsand attitudes. Loving and nurturing children. Stopping Violence BEFORE itstarts — creating happy and healthy children … Keeping Children Safe


Are You a Potential Victim of Cell Phone Danger?
Who is text messaging you? If your friends, family and parents are the only ones sending you text messages — than that’s cool! They should be the only people who are texting you!
To be safe, you should not give anyone but your close friends and family your cell number. Do not give out personal identifiable information, such as real full name, addresses, phone numbers, photos, descriptive information from which this information could easily be found (like a picture of you in front of a recognizable place, or a photo referring to your sports team by name or by wearing something with identifying information in a photo.)

If you text message people other than your family and close friends, you could be texting people who can cause you harm.

And, it’s not uncommon for bullies to use cell phones to harass other kids and, tragically, it’s not unheard of for kids to be contacted on their cell phone by adult predators.
You wouldn’t text a stranger and give them all of your information and let them know what school you go to — would you?

By using common sense and maintaining your privacy when using your cell phone and text messaging you stay safe from online predators and cyber bullies.

What To Do If Strangers Or Bullies Text You?

REPORT IT immediately! To your parents, a trusted teacher and the police!
No one has the right to bully you! And no stranger has the right to text you!
For more information click to read:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sue Scheff: Tattoo's and Teens

Source: TeensHealth

It seems like everyone has a tattoo these days. What used to be the property of sailors, outlaws, and biker gangs is now a popular body decoration for many people. And it's not just anchors, skulls, and battleships anymore — from school emblems to Celtic designs to personalized symbols, people have found many ways to express themselves with their tattoos. Maybe you've thought about getting one. But before you head down to the nearest tattoo shop and roll up your sleeve, there are a few things you need to know.


A tattoo is a puncture wound, made deep in your skin, that's filled with ink. It's made by penetrating your skin with a needle and injecting ink into the area, usually creating some sort of design. What makes tattoos so long-lasting is they're so deep — the ink isn't injected into the epidermis (the top layer of skin that you continue to produce and shed throughout your lifetime). Instead, the ink is injected into the dermis, which is the second, deeper layer of skin. Dermis cells are very stable, so the tattoo is practically permanent.

Tattoos used to be done manually — that is, the tattoo artist would puncture the skin with a needle and inject the ink by hand. Though this process is still used in some parts of the world, most tattoo shops use a tattoo machine these days. A tattoo machine is a handheld electric instrument that uses a tube and needle system. On one end is a sterilized needle, which is attached to tubes that contain ink. A foot switch is used to turn on the machine, which moves the needle in and out while driving the ink about 1/8 inch (about 3 millimeters) into your skin.Most tattoo artists know how deep to drive the needle into your skin, but not going deep enough will produce a ragged tattoo, and going too deep can cause bleeding and intense pain. Getting a tattoo can take several hours, depending on the size and design chosen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Drug Use

Building Blocks for a Healthy Future Building Blocks for a Healthy Future is an early childhood substance abuse prevention program developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that educates parents and caregivers about the basics of prevention in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. Designed for parents and caregivers of children ages 3 to 6, Building Blocks will help you open up the lines of communication with young children—and make it easier to keep those lines of communication open as they grow older.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Depression

As I saw on the news last night, experts are saying that parents with children between the ages of 12-18 should have them screened for depression. It is not about promoting medication, it is about helping to understand if there are areas in their lives that can be causing stress and anxiety that can leave to making negative choices such has experimenting with substance abuse, hanging with a less than desirable peer group, feelings of low self worth, etc. Like adults, children can be prone to depression and stress and not mature enough to understand these feelings. With this, acting out in a negative way can follow. Take time to learn more.

Source: USA Today

Experts: Doctors should screen teens for depression.

If you have teens or tweens, government-appointed experts have a message: U.S. adolescents should be routinely screened for major depression by their primary care doctors. The benefits of screening kids 12 to 18 years old outweigh any risks if doctors can assure an accurate diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, says the independent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.It’s a change from the group’s 2002 report concluding there wasn’t enough evidence to support or oppose screening for teens. The task force, though, says there’s still insufficient proof about the benefits and harms of screening children 7 to 11 years old.

Depression strikes about 1 out of 20 teens, and it’s been linked to lower grades, more physical illness and drug use, as well as early pregnancy.

Questionnaires can accurately identify teens prone to depression, plus there’s new evidence that therapy and/or some antidepressants can benefit them, the expert panel says in a report in today’s Pediatrics . But careful monitoring is vital since there’s “convincing evidence” that antidepressants can increase suicidal behavior in teens, the report says.

Accompanying the task force advisory in Pediatrics is a research review saying there have been few studies on the accuracy of depression screening tests, but the tests “have performed fairly well” among adolescents. Treatment can knock down symptoms of depression, say the reviewers from Kaiser Permanente and the Oregon Evidence-Based Practice Center in Portland, Ore.

In a “show me the money” volley back, pediatricians also weigh in on the topic in today’s issue of their journal. Insurance plans and managed care companies that stiff or under-pay pediatricians for mental health services throw up barriers to mental health care in doctors’ offices, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kids’ doctors should be compensated for screenings, as well as consults with mental health specialists and parents, AAP recommends.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Stop Bullying Today!

Kids today, both teens and pre-teens, can be extremely mean and cause emotional issues to their target. What can parents do? Read more about how you can help stop bullying.
Source: Stop Bullying Now!

What Can Adults Do?

Welcome to the Take a Stand. Lend a Hand. Stop Bullying Now! adult pages. As an adult, one of best ways you can help stop or prevent bullying is to be educated about, and sensitive to, the issue. Bullying is NOT a rite of passage - an undesirable, but sometimes unavoidable, reality of growing up. Rather, bullying is a serious public health issue that affects countless young people everyday. Further, research shows that the effects of bullying can last well into adulthood. Whether you are a concerned parent, an educator or school employee, a health and safety professional, or someone else who works with children, there are many things you can do to help.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: Which Battles Should You Pick with your Kids?

Doesn’t this sound familiar? I always remember when my kids were teens my friend would say to me, you have to pick and choose your battles - some issues are just not worth the battle. Years later, Connect with Kids offers some great parenting tips on doing exactly that!

Source: Connect with Kids

“I love shocking [people], because I’m something somebody will remember.”

– Sara Jackson, 16 years old

Teenagers are freedom seekers, risk-takers and rule breakers. Pushing limits is just what teenagers do. “I love the rush. I love the freedom,” says 17-year-old Alan Oliver.

Sixteen-year-old Sara Jackson agrees that breaking rules and taking chances is a rush. “It’s something I take great pride in. I love shocking [people], because I’m something somebody will remember.”

When kids become teens, they start breaking away, trying new things and taking chances. For Sara, that means wearing funky clothes and crazy hairdos. People, especially adults, notice Sara’s wild style.

“They come up to me and say you’re looking kind of crazy today. What’s going on with the whole style thing?” she says.

But some kids find other, more dangerous ways to show their independence. They take risks. Dan O’brien got involved in drugs and alcohol. “I mean, every time I drank, I drank to get drunk,” he says.

Ed Drury, age 17, gets his rush from speeding. Standing around with friends at his favorite Friday night hangout, Ed admits why he likes to come here. “There’s always a lot of racing, a lot of speeding.”

Experts confirm what most of us already know. Teenagers oftentimes don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Says Dr. Nancy Macgarrah: “It’s this whole sense of invulnerability tied with the lack of maturity. “

Since we know teenagers are going to take chances, experts say it’s wise to be strict on the issues that reallymatter.

“You know, it’s not so much … is your hair orange or purple or do you have two earrings or three earrings. I mean, those aren’t life-ending decisions, but whether you wear seatbelts or not, whether you drink and drive or not, you know whether you drive 20 miles over the speed limit. And those all can be life-ending decisions,” Dr. Macgarrah says.

For kids like Sara, dressing funky, doing wild things with their hair and just being a little different all satisfy the need for independence.

“When I spike my hair, it makes me feel good about myself. I like it. It’s something different. It lets people know what kind of person I am,” Sara says.

Tips for Parents
The most difficult challenges many parents face, according to the American Psychological Association, come during their children’s teenage years. Teenagers, dealing with a complex world and hormonal changes, may feel that no one can understand their feelings, least of all their parents. Teens and parents alike may be left feeling angry, frustrated and confused. The APA says methods of discipline that worked well in earlier years no longer seem to be effective. As a result, the teen years are “ripe” for producing conflict in the family. Typical areas of conflict may include:

Disputes over curfew
Choice of friends
Spending time with family instead of friends
School and work performance
Cars and driving privileges
Dating and sexuality
Clothing, hair styles and makeup
Self-destructive behaviors, such as smoking, drinking and using drugs
The teen years are tough, but most families seem to be successful at helping their children accomplish their developmental goals: reducing dependence on parents while becoming increasingly responsible and independent. However, the APA does list some warning signs that things are not going well and that the family may want to seek outside help:

Aggressive behavior or violence by the teen
Drug or alcohol abuse
School truancy
Brushes with the law or runaway behavior
Parents resorting to hitting or other violence in an attempt to maintain discipline
There are different styles and approaches to parenting. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, research shows that effective parents raise well-adjusted children who are more self-reliant, self-controlled and positively curious than children raised by parents who are punitive, overly strict (authoritarian) or permissive. Effective parents demonstrate the following behaviors:

Believe that both the child and the parents have certain rights and that the needs of both are important
Rule out the use physical force to discipline the child
Set clear rules and explain why these rules are important
Reason with the child and consider the child’s point of view even though they may not agree with it
Tips for effective discipline:

Trust your child to do the right thing within the limits of your child’s age and stage of development.
Make sure what you ask for is reasonable.
Speak to your child as you would want to be spoken to if someone were reprimanding you. Don’t resort to name-calling, yelling or other disrespectful behavior.
Be clear about what you mean. Be firm and specific.
Model positive behavior. “Do as I say, not as I do” seldom works.
Allow for negotiation and flexibility, which can help build your child’s social skills.
Let your child experience the consequences of his or her behavior.
Whenever possible, consequences should be delivered immediately, should relate to the rule broken and be short enough in duration that you can move on again to emphasize the positives.
Consequences should be fair and appropriate to the situation and the child’s age.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Psychological Association
Temple University

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: Kidfluence

Check out this fantastic and informational website offering webcasts, TV Show, articles and more about today’s teens and all kids. Up to date content on what your kids are doing online and how to understand it all! Yes - all confusing and all ever changing.

Source: Kidfluence

Kidfluence is a brand created to strengthen youth development and education. Through its many programs such as Kidfluence TV, Teen Talk and Teen Screen, Kidfluence aims to be a leading advocate on teen issues.

The heart of the brand is an exciting new television show, Kidfluence TV, that discusses issues, events, and conflicts that affect our youth today.

A diverse group of opinionated personalities ranging from parents, coaches, teachers, professionals, advocates, and of course, tweens and teenagers will contribute to very candid discussions. With so many issues affecting our youth today, everyone has a point of view on what should be done, how matters should be handled.

Kidfluence is a television program that allows everyone to be an influential and a loyal supporter of tackling youth issues head on.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sue Scheff: Talking to Your Teens About Inhalant Abuse

• Ask your pre-teen or teenager if he or she knows about Inhalant Abuse or
is aware of other kids abusing products.

• Reinforce peer resistance skills. Tell him or her that sniffing products to get
high is not the way to fit in. Inhalants are harmful: the “high” comes with
high cost.

• Encourage your child to come to you if he or she has any questions about

• Tell your child that the consequences of Inhalant Abuse are as dangerous as
those from abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs. Be absolutely clear
— emphasize that unsafe actions and risky behavior have serious consequences.

• Monitor your teen’s activities — set boundaries, ask questions. Be firm,
know his or her friends and his or her friends’ parents, know where they
meet to “hang out.”

• Educate your child about the dangers, but don’t mention specific
substances unless your child brings them up. While many youngsters know
kids are sniffing some substances, they may not know the full range of
products that can be abused; and you don’t want to give them suggestions.

• Tell your children that you love them and that their safety is your number
one priority. Tell them again…and again…and again.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: ADHD and Drug Abuse

Source: Connect with Kids

“In a way that athletes have used steroids and other medications in the past to enhance their athletic performance, Adderall is actually being used to kind of pseudo-enhance their academic performance.”

– Heather Hayes, M.Ed., Counselor.

Nineteen-year-old Marisa McCorkle has been using Adderall for two years.

“I use it for various reasons,” she says, “like tests, it helps me on tests. [And it] helps me stay awake, and [with] studying.”

It sounds like a wonder drug. Adderall – an amphetamine commonly used to treat ADHD. But, studies show it’s being abused more and more.

“In a way that athletes have used steroids and other medications in the past to enhance their athletic performance, Adderall is actually being used to kind of pseudo-enhance their academic performance,” states Heather Hayes, a licensed professional counselor.

One of the biggest problems with using the drug recreationally is that most teens are unaware of its dangers.

Twenty-year-old “Dave,” a college student, says, “I think it’s pretty safe unless you’re taking five at a time.”

But experts say even in small doses, the dangers of taking Adderall can range from headaches, increased heart rate and insomnia to things far worse.

“Any amphetamine has the potential to give someone an amphetamine psychosis,” warns Hayes. “So when you take a lot of amphetamines and you’re not sleeping, then you will literally hallucinate. … [You] will absolutely leave reality and become delusional and paranoid.”

Hayes says parents need to make the dangers of taking Adderall clear to teens. Otherwise, they may continue to believe it’s a cheap and easily available drug that helps them study. Marisa and Dave are examples of students with this belief.

“I get it for free, but I know people who will give … maybe two to five dollars [per pill],” says Marisa.

“Actually, I’m gonna go to my doctor and, uh, try to get a prescription next semester,” says Dave, “’cause I think it’s a really effective way to get good grades. I wouldn’t think it was that hard to, uh, fake having ADD.”

But others say Adderall fools you – that it only seems like it’s helping kids study. Amanda Mattison, 17, has seen first-hand what can happen.

“[Students taking Adderall] can focus when they’re taking it, and they study and they cram for five or six hours and they’re good-to-go for the exam,” she says, “but by the time the exam rolls around, they’re either too worn out or … it’s lost it’s effect.”

“Bottom line,” says Hayes, “Adderall is as dangerous of a drug when unsupervised as any other medication. It’s addictive and it is dangerous.”

Tips for Parents

Adderall, manufactured by Shire Pharmaceuticals Group of the United Kingdom, is a stimulant prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Shire states, “Adderall isn't intended to enhance test scores and should only be used under medical supervision.”

Adderall is a fast-acting mixture of amphetamines. Amphetamines act on the brain by mimicking the neurotransmitter dopamine, which increases alertness and concentration. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health in the late 1970s found that low-dose stimulants increase concentration and alertness in everyone, not just people with attention disorders. Here are some things to know about ADHD:

ADHD is a medical condition linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Doctors believe it stems from biological, not environmental, conditions.
Generally, people with ADHD have trouble focusing on tasks or subjects, and they may act impulsively and often get in trouble.
Approximately 3 to 7 percent of school-age children and 4 percent of adults suffer from ADHD.
Adderall is one of a handful of stimulants prescribed for ADHD.
Side effects of Adderall can include loss of appetite, insomnia and weight loss.
During late-night study marathons, students from grade school to med school have long relied on stimulants– which include everything from caffeine to cocaine. But with Adderall, and other similar prescription drugs, some high school and college students are hoping to improve scores on standardized (and even classroom) tests. Other students are turning to alternative medicine, such as hypnosis or herbal supplements, for an extra edge.

The concern with Adderall is not from a single use. One pill won’t kill you. But one pill is likely to lead to a second pill, then a third and a subsequent snowball effect where physical damage can occur. Also, Adderall is relatively easy to obtain. Overall, prescriptions for stimulants have risen from 1.6 million in 2000 to 2.6 million a month in 2004. Adderall XR, a once-a-day, extended-release form of the drug, is the leader in its class, capturing about a third of the market. Consider the following:

Prescription drug use was once rare, but it has now crossed into the mainstream.
Prescriptive amphetamines have figured prominently in calls to emergency departments and poison control centers.
Kids, and even their parents, are desperate for any available academic edge and willing to go to the extreme to obtain it.
Some students feel extra pressure because they feel they are not just failing themselves, but also failing their parents and other family members.
The College Board, the nonprofit administrator of the SAT, has no rules explicitly prohibiting drug use. Spokeswoman Chiara Coletti says, "We certainly do not recommend that students take any drugs or stimulants in hopes of affecting their scores."
Some kids taking Adderall have valid prescriptions, but not all. Under federal law, it's illegal to knowingly possess a "schedule II" drug (like Adderall) without a prescription. But prosecutions for possession are rare.
Many schools would suspend or expel a student caught using marijuana or other street drugs but might not punish students taking prescription drugs to help with test taking.

ADHD Support and Resources from Eli Lily
National Institutes of Health
Nature Magazine
Shire Pharmaceuticals Group
The Wall Street Journal

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sue Scheff - Teen Gangs

Teen Gangs and Teen Cults

Gangs prey on the weak child that yearns to fit in with a false illusion they are accepted into the “cool crowd”. With most Gangs as with Teen Cults, they can convince your child that joining “their Gang or Cult” will make them a “well-liked and popular” teen as well as one that others may fear. This gives the teen a false sense of superiority. Remember, many of today’s teens that are acting out negatively are suffering with extremely low self confidence. This feeling of power that they believe a gang or cult has can boost their esteem; however they are blinded to the fact that is dangerous. This is how desperate some teens are to fit in.

In reality, it is a downward spiral that can result in damage both emotionally and psychically. We have found Teen Gangs and Teen Cults are sometimes hard to detect. They disguise themselves to impress the most intelligent of parents. We have witnessed Gang members who will present themselves as the “good kid from the good family” and you would not suspect their true colors.
If you suspect your child is involved in any Gang Activities or any Cults, please seek local therapy* and encourage your child to communicate. This is when the lines of communication need to be wide open. Sometimes this is so hard, and that is when an objective person is always beneficial. Teen Gangs and Teen Cults are to be taken very seriously. A child that is involved in a gang can affect the entire family and their safety. Take this very seriously if you suspect your child is participating in gang activity or cult association.

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