here for Directions to the Haag Home
will need to have adequate and appropriate work clothing. If they do not have appropriate clothing or
resources to get it, they should speak to the Program Manager, as they may be
eligible for some assistance. As a
general rule, students should have:
pants or shorts
boots or sturdy shoes
looking outfit (for job interviews)
students clearly mark their belongings with their initials so they are
readily identifiable. We strongly
discourage anyone from bringing anything of significant value as it may be
damaged or stolen. Please be aware that the Haag Home is not
responsible for the loss or damage of any item. If you have a question about whether or
not an item is appropriate, please ask before bringing it.
When a student
arrives, they will be allowed to call their family to let them know they are
here. Family members may call the student
phone (541-998-7306) or leave a message on our office phone. In most cases, calls on the office phone
will be limited to 5 minutes
Mail & e-mail
often enjoy sending and receiving mail from significant people in their
lives. Staff do not open or read
student mail. However, packages or
mail that may contain contraband will be opened in staff’s presence.
may correspond with the student by e-mail.
If the student does not have an e-mail account, you may also send
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- be sure to include the student’s name on the subject line. Note: E-mail sent to our e-mail is not confidential;
it will be screened by staff and forwarded.
Students will work while they are in this program and can
take draws against their accounts for personal items.
We believe that budgeting and money-management is an
important life-skill. Please ask staff
before giving cash or non-essential items to any residents.
encourage family visits whenever possible; however there will be no visits during
the first 2 days so the new student can settle in. During days 3-7, students may, host
approved family members for on-site visits for up to one hour.
day 7, students may have on-site visits for longer periods of time as the
program schedule allows. In most
cases, on-site visits should be arranged at least 24-hours in advance and
will take place between 10am – 12pm and 1pm – 6pm. Late visits (until 8pm) may be possible
with special permission.
visitors must be pre-approved and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an
students achieve Level-3, they may be eligible to take home visits. If, when, and how often will depend on
their family situation, treatment needs, and level status, and P.O. approval. During all visits, students must meet the
conditions detailed in their Community Placement Agreement as well as
the following requirements:
phone number and address where they can be reached
in the care and control of their parent or visit resource
and complete a Home Visit
Parent/Legal Guardian Rights
You have the right to:
right to respectful, impartial, and fair treatment, and to be addressed in a
right to not be subjected to intimidation, disrespect, or interference with
reasonable requests for contact with your youth.
right to meet with your youth (OYA permitting) in a private area within the
- The right to not be discriminated against because of race,
gender, sexual orientation, national origin, culture, creed, age,
ethnicity, or handicap.
- The right to ask questions and be involved with the services
provided to your youth through the service plan.
- The right to have reasonable family visits, as appropriate, and
to send and receive uncensored mail.
- The right to report problems or complaints you have while in the
program without fear of retaliation.
- The right to appeal decisions made regarding you and/or your
youth in accordance with grievance procedures.
- The right to be informed of all applicable rules (student
handbook) at the time your youth enters the program.
- The right to contact OYA to clarify and discuss issues with your
youth and services provided by the program.
The remaining information contains many
tips and techniques that we have found to be helpful in dealing with your
teenager, as well as information about abusive behavior and what can be
We hope that
you will find this information helpful.
Parenting Tips, Techniques & Assistance
During adolescents questions like “Who
am I?” and “Where do I belong in the world?” begin to take a front seat. Adolescence often brings substantial
changes in teenagers’ self-concepts and self esteem. Adolescence increasingly rely on their
friends and peers as sources of information.
At the same time, their dependence on adults declines. Identity gels in the late teens and early
20s for most people.
Parental monitoring means knowing
where an adolescent is, what they’re doing and who they’re spending time with
when they aren’t at home. While this doesn’t sound difficult, it is easier
said than done. Many parents rely on their teen’s report but find that plans
can change quickly and teens often are not where they said they would be. In
this way, monitoring relies on a parent’s ability to balance a teen’s desire
for independence with the reality of the risks inherent in being an
adolescent, including a tendency to take risks.
Many clinicians and developmental
psychologists now view experimental risk taking as a normative part of
development (Lerner & Tubman, 1991). Although teens generally feel a
sense of invulnerability, they frequently end up being pressured to do things
they may not have chosen otherwise.
Or they find themselves in situations
they wish they could get out of, but aren’t sure how without losing their
dignity. Parental monitoring is important because numerous studies have shown
a direct link between the amount of monitoring and a teen’s likelihood to
engage in risk behavior across multiple domains, including substance use and
risky sexual behavior. In fact, Cohen and her colleagues
(2002) found that high school-age
teens who were left unsupervised for 30 or more hours per week were more
likely to be sexually active than teens with more supervision (80% versus
68%). And for boys, lack of parental supervision was related to a greater
number of sexual partners.
There are some general guidelines for monitoring teens which may assist parents
in helping keep teens safe:
• Use age appropriate rules: As teens age into adolescence,
parents should start with small independences, such as spending an hour at
the mall without direct supervision. Gradually increase the amount of time
that teens are not directly supervised. As teens demonstrate responsibility
and parent-child trust is built parents can gradually extend these
• Rules should be clear and concise: A parent must be specific
about their expectations. Vague rules aren’t helpful to teens or parents. A
teen’s version of “on time” may mean anytime before dawn. The clearer a
parent is, the more likely the teen will follow through. Any amount of ambiguity leads to bending
• Rules should be enforceable: A parent shouldn’t threaten to take
away the cell phone or ground a teen if they don’t intend to follow-through.
Teens, like parents, are learning to trust and when parents throw out
consequences for breaking the rules and don’t abide by these consequences
teens quickly learn that they can do whatever they please with limited negative
outcomes. For teens, having to sit through a 45-minute lecture that they’ve
heard a thousand times may be well worth sneaking out and going to a great
party. Additionally, try not to get angry
when disciplining teens. It may be difficult but it is better not to. Lashing
out at will put your teen on guard and you will both end up in a screaming
match that will not help the situation. Speak to them calmly. If you cannot
do that right away take a few moments to calm yourself down and then re-visit
must recognize that teens will make mistakes: Life
sometimes teaches the hardest lessons. Parents don’t have to control every
aspect of teen’s lives. Parents can take some solace in knowing that there
are still the natural consequences of behavior. At times, a parent can stand
back and let a teen experience the consequences of making a mistake.
• Respect privacy: Teens crave privacy as much as independence.
Extreme measures like removing bedroom doors or going through a teen’s
dresser or bags on a daily basis sends the message that there is no trust.
Teens then respond by continuing to act out because they feel there is little
or nothing to work towards.
• Praise responsible behavior: Parents often forget to praise
teens when they follow through with rules but are quick to give feedback when
their teen is five minutes late. Teens like to be noticed when they do
something well. Giving this praise goes a long way towards building a
positive parent-teen relationship, which should make a parent’s job a little
bit easier. Additionally, Give
your teenagers more responsibility when they make good decisions. Teenagers
build self-confidence by making their own decisions. Be sure to let them make
Child abuse is more than bruises or broken
bones. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all
child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in
unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or
stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the
result is serious emotional harm.
AND FACTS ABOUT CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
MYTH #1: It's only abuse if it's violent.
Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse
can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle; others are less
likely to intervene.
MYTH #2: Only bad people abuse their
While it's easy to say that only "bad people" abuse their children,
it's not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming
their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know
any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues
or a substance abuse problem.
MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn't happen in
Child abuse doesn't only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It
crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem
to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed
MYTH #4: Most child abusers are
While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or
others close to the family.
MYTH #5: Abused children always grow up
to be abusers.
It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as
adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the
other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to
protect their children against what they went through and become excellent
OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
All types of child abuse and neglect leave
lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring
has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self,
ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at
work and at school. Some effects include:
Lack of trust and relationship
difficulties- If you can’t trust your parents, who can
you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental
relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and
emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without
this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is
trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to
fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy
relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
Core feelings of being “worthless” or
“damaged”- If you’ve been told over and over again
as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these
core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for
more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they
don’t believe they can do it or are worth more. Sexual abuse
survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially
struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
Trouble regulating emotions- Abused
children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get
stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse
can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to
alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.
There are several types of child abuse, but the
core element that ties them together is the emotional effect on the child.
Children need predictability, structure, clear boundaries, and the knowledge
that their parents are looking out for their safety. Abused children cannot
predict how their parents will act. Their world can be an unpredictable, frightening
place with no rules. Whether the abuse is a slap, a harsh comment, stony
silence, or not knowing if there will be dinner on the table tonight, the end
result can be a child that feels unsafe, uncared for, and alone.
Emotional child abuse- Sticks
and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? Contrary to this
old saying, emotional abuse can severely damage a child’s mental health or
social development, leaving lifelong psychological scars. Examples of
emotional child abuse include:
- Constant belittling, shaming, and humiliating a child
- Calling names and making negative comparisons to others
- Telling a child he or she is “no good,"
"worthless," "bad," or "a mistake."
- Frequent yelling, threatening, or bullying.
- Ignoring or rejecting a child as punishment, giving him or her
the silent treatment.
- Limited physical contact with the child—no hugs, kisses, or
other signs of affection.
- Exposing the child to violence or the abuse of others, whether
it be the abuse of a parent, a sibling, or even a pet.
Child neglect —A very common
type of child abuse—is a pattern of failing to provide for a child's basic
needs, whether it be adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or supervision. Child
neglect is not always easy to spot. Sometimes, a parent might become
physically or mentally unable to care for a child, such as with a serious
injury, untreated depression, or anxiety. Other times, alcohol or drug abuse
may seriously impair judgment and the ability to keep a child safe.
Older children might not show outward signs of
neglect, becoming used to presenting a competent face to the outside world,
and even taking on the role of the parent. But at the end of the day,
neglected children are not getting their physical and emotional needs met.
Physical child abuse- This
involves physical harm or injury to the child. It may be the result of a
deliberate attempt to hurt the child, but not always. It can also result from
severe discipline, such as using a belt on a child, or physical punishment
that is inappropriate to the child’s age or physical condition. Many physically abusive parents and
caregivers insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline—ways to
make children learn to behave. But there is a big difference between using
physical punishment to discipline and physical abuse. The point of
disciplining children is to teach them right from wrong, not to make them
live in fear.
Physical abuse vs. Discipline - In physical abuse, unlike
physical forms of discipline, the following elements are present:
Unpredictability - The
child never knows what is going to set the parent off. There are no clear
boundaries or rules. The child is constantly walking on eggshells, never sure
what behavior will trigger a physical assault.
Lashing out in anger - Physically
abusive parents act out of anger and the desire to assert control, not the
motivation to lovingly teach the child. The angrier the parent, the more
intense the abuse can be.
Using fear to control behavior - Parents
who are physically abusive may believe that their children need to fear them
in order to behave, so they use physical abuse to “keep their child in line.”
However, what children are really learning is how to avoid being hit, not how
to behave or grow as individuals.
Child sexual abuse – this
is an especially complicated form of abuse because of its layers of guilt and
shame. It's important to recognize that sexual abuse doesn't always involve
body contact. Exposing a child to sexual situations or material is sexually
abusive, whether or not touching is involved.
While news stories of sexual predators are
scary, what is even more frightening is that sexual abuse usually occurs at
the hands of someone the child knows and should be able to trust—most often
close relatives. And contrary to what many believe, it’s not just girls who
are at risk. Boys and girls both suffer from sexual abuse. In fact, sexual
abuse of boys may be underreported due to shame and stigma.
The problem of shame and guilt
in child sexual abuse
- Aside from the physical damage that sexual abuse
can cause, the emotional component is powerful and far-reaching. Sexually
abused children maybe tormented by shame and guilt. They may feel that they
are responsible for the abuse or somehow brought it upon themselves. This can
lead to self-loathing and sexual problems as they grow older—often either
excessive promiscuity or an inability to have intimate relations.
SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
The earlier child abuse is caught, the better
the chance of recovery and appropriate treatment for the child. Child abuse
is not always obvious. By learning some of the common warning signs of child
abuse and neglect, you can catch the problem as early as possible and get
both the child and the abuser the help that they need.
Of course, just because you see a warning sign
doesn’t automatically mean a child is being abused. It’s important to dig
deeper, looking for a pattern of abusive behavior and warning signs.
Warning signs of emotional
abuse in children:
- Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something
- Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely
demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
- Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
- Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other
children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking,
Warning signs of physical abuse in children:
- Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
- Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something
bad to happen.
- Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or
- Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems
afraid to go home.
- Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as
long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
Warning signs of neglect in children:
- Clothes are ill fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the
- Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair,
noticeable body odor).
- Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
- Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in
unsafe situations and environments.
- Is frequently late or missing from school.
Warning signs of sexual abuse in
- Trouble walking or sitting.
- Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to
his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
- Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an
- Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate
in physical activities.
- An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.
- Runs away from home.
FACTORS FOR CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
While child abuse and neglect occurs in all
types of families—even in those that look happy from the outside—children are
at a much greater risk in certain situations.
Violence in the home -
Witnessing violence is terrifying to children
and emotionally abusive. Even if a parent (or caregiver) does his/her best to
protect her/his children and keeps them from being physically abused, the
situation is still extremely damaging.
Alcohol and drug abuse - Living
with an alcoholic or addict is very difficult for children and can easily
lead to abuse and neglect. Parents who are drunk or high are unable to care
for their children, make good parenting decisions, and control
often-dangerous impulses. Substance abuse also commonly leads to physical
Untreated mental illness - Parents
who suffering from depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or
another mental illness often have trouble taking care of themselves, much
less their children. A mentally ill or traumatized parent may be distant and
withdrawn from his or her children, or quick to anger without understanding
why. Treatment for the parent means better care for the children.
Lack of parenting skills - Some
caregivers never learned the skills necessary for good parenting. Teen
parents, for example, might have unrealistic expectations about how much care
babies and small children need. Or parents who where themselves victims of
child abuse may only know how to raise their children the way they were
raised. In such cases, parenting classes, therapy, and caregiver support
groups are great resources for learning better parenting skills.
Stress and lack of support
- Parenting can be a very time-intensive, difficult job, especially if you’re
raising children without support from family, friends, or the community or
you’re dealing with relationship problems or financial difficulties. Caring
for a child with a disability, special needs, or difficult behaviors is also
a challenge. It’s important to get the support you need, so you are
emotionally and physically able to support your child.
ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR IN YOURSELF
Raising children is one of life’s greatest
challenges and can trigger anger and frustration in the most even-tempered.
If you grew up in a household where screaming and shouting or violence was
the norm, you may not know any other way to raise your kids.
Recognizing that you have a problem is the
biggest step to getting help. If you yourself were raised in an abusive situation,
that can be extremely difficult. Children experience their world as normal.
It may have been normal in your family to be slapped or pushed for little to
no reason, or have a parent who was too drunk to cook dinner. It may have
been normal for your parents to call you stupid, clumsy, or worthless. Or it
may have been normal to watch your one of your parents get beaten up.
It is only as adults that we have the
perspective to step back and take a hard look at what is normal and what is
abusive. Read the above sections on the types of abuse and warning signs. Do
any of those ring a bell for you now? Or from when you were a child? The
following is a list of warning signs that you may be crossing the line into
You can’t stop the anger - For
example, what starts as a swat on the backside may turn into multiple hits
getting harder and harder. You may shake your child harder and harder and
finally throw him or her down. You find yourself screaming louder and louder
and can’t stop yourself.
You feel emotionally disconnected from
your child -You may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t want
anything to do with your child. Day after day, you just want to be left alone
and for your child to be quiet.
Meeting the daily needs of your child
seems impossible - While everyone struggles with balancing
dressing, feeding, and getting kids to school or other activities, if you
continually can’t manage to do it, it’s a sign that something might be wrong.
Other people have expressed concern -
It may be easy to bristle at other people expressing concern. However,
consider carefully what they have to say. Are the words coming from someone
you normally respect and trust? Denial is not an uncommon reaction.
THE CYCLE OF CHILD ABUSE
If you have a history of child abuse, having
your own children can trigger strong memories and feelings that you may have
repressed. This may happen when a child is born, or at later ages when you
remember specific abuse to you. You may be shocked and overwhelmed by your
anger, and feel like you can’t control it. But you can learn new ways to
manage your emotions and break your old patterns.
Remember, you are the most important person in your
child’s world. It’s worth the effort to make a change, and you don’t have to
go it alone. Help and support are available. Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD
to find support and resources in your community that can help you break the
cycle of abuse
Tips for changing your reactions:
Learn what is age appropriate and what is
not - Having realistic expectations of what children
can handle at certain ages will help you avoid frustration and anger at
normal child behavior.
Develop new parenting skills -
While learning to control your emotions is critical, you also need a game
plan of what you are going to do instead. Start by learning appropriate
discipline techniques and how to set clear boundaries for your children.
Parenting classes, books, and seminars are a way to get this information. You
can also turn to other parents for tips and advice.
Take care of yourself - If
you are not getting enough rest and support or you’re feeling overwhelmed,
you are much more likely to succumb to anger.
Get professional help -
Breaking the cycle of abuse can be very difficult if the patterns are
strongly entrenched. If you can’t seem to stop yourself no matter how hard
you try, it’s time to get help, be it therapy, parenting classes, or other
interventions. Your children will thank you for it.
depression isn’t just bad moods and occasional melancholy. Depression is a
serious problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life. Left untreated,
teen depression can lead to problems at home and school, drug abuse,
self-loathing—even irreversible tragedy such as homicidal violence or
teenage depression can be treated, and as a concerned parent, teacher, or
friend, there are many things you can do to help. You can start by learning
the symptoms of depression and expressing concern when you spot warning
signs. Talking about the problem and offering support can go a long way
toward getting your teenager back on track.
Understanding teen depression
are as many misconceptions about teen depression as there are about teenagers
in general. Yes, the teen years are tough, but most teens balance the
requisite angst with good friendships, success in school or outside
activities, and the development of a strong sense of self. Occasional bad
moods or acting out is to be expected, but depression is something different.
Depression can destroy the very essence of a teenager’s personality, causing
an overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, or anger.
the incidence of teen depression is actually increasing, or we’re just
becoming more aware of it, the fact is that depression strikes teenagers far
more often than most people think. And although depression is highly
treatable, experts say only 20% of depressed teens ever receive help.
Unlike adults, who have the ability to seek assistance on their own,
teenagers usually must rely on parents, teachers, or other caregivers to
recognize their suffering and get them the treatment they need. So if you
have an adolescent in your life, it’s important to learn what teen depression
looks like and what to do if you spot the warning signs.
Signs and symptoms of teen
face a host of pressures, from the changes of puberty to questions about who
they are and where they fit in. The natural transition from child to adult
can also bring parental conflict as teens start to assert their independence.
With all this drama, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between depression
and normal teenage moodiness. Making things even more complicated, teens with
depression do not necessarily appear sad, nor do they always withdraw from
others. For some depressed teens, symptoms of irritability, aggression, and
rage are more prominent.
SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION IN TEENS
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Changes in eating and sleeping
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness and
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of death or suicide
you’re unsure if an adolescent in your life is depressed or just “being a
teenager,” consider how long the symptoms have been present, how severe they
are, and how different the teen is acting from his or her usual self. While
some “growing pains” are to be expected as teenagers grapple with the
challenges of growing up, dramatic, long-lasting changes in personality,
mood, or behavior are red flags of a deeper problem.
The difference between teenage and
in teens can look very different from depression in adults. The following
symptoms of depression are more common in teenagers than in their adult
- Irritable or angry mood – As noted above, irritability,
rather than sadness, is often the predominant mood in depressed teens. A
depressed teenager may be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated, or prone
to angry outbursts.
- Unexplained aches and pains – Depressed teens frequently
complain about physical ailments such as headaches or stomachaches. If a
thorough physical exam does not reveal a medical cause, these aches and
pains may indicate depression.
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism – Depressed teens are plagued by
feelings of worthlessness, making them extremely vulnerable to
criticism, rejection, and failure. This is a particular problem for
- Withdrawing from
some, but not all people – While adults tend to isolate
themselves when depressed, teenagers usually keep up at least some
friendships. However, teens with depression may socialize less than before,
pull away from their parents, or start hanging out with a different crowd.
of teen depression
The negative effects of teenage
depression go far beyond a melancholy mood. Many rebellious and unhealthy
behaviors or attitudes in teenagers are actually indications of depression.
See the table below for some of the ways in which teens “act out” or “act in”
in an attempt to cope with their emotional pain:
Depression Can Lead to…
Problems at school
Depression can cause low energy and concentration
difficulties. At school, this may lead to poor attendance, a drop in
grades, or frustration with schoolwork in a formerly good student.
Many depressed teens run away from home or talk about
running away. Such attempts are usually a cry for help.
Teens may use alcohol or drugs in an attempt to
“self-medicate” their depression. Unfortunately, substance abuse only makes
Depression can trigger and intensify feelings of
ugliness, shame, failure, and unworthiness.
Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and yo-yo dieting are
often signs of unrecognized depression.
Teens may go online to escape from their problems. But
excessive computer use only increases their isolation and makes them more
Cutting, burning, and other kinds of self-mutilation
are almost always associated with depression.
Depressed teens may engage in dangerous or high-risk
behaviors, such as reckless driving, out-of-control drinking, and unsafe
Some depressed teens (usually boys who are the victims
of bullying) become violent. As in the case of the Columbine school massacre,
self-hatred and a wish to die can erupt into violence and homicidal rage.
Teens who are seriously depressed often think, speak,
or make "attention-getting" attempts at suicide. Suicidal
thoughts or behaviors should always be taken very seriously.
warning signs in teenagers
An alarming and increasing number of
teenagers attempt and succeed at suicide. According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death for
15 to 24-year-olds. For the overwhelming majority of suicidal teens,
depression or another psychological disorder plays a primary role. In
depressed teens who also abuse alcohol or drugs, the risk of suicide is even
Because of the very real danger of
suicide, teenagers who are depressed should be watched closely for any signs
of suicidal thoughts or behavior. The warning signs include:
or joking about committing suicide.
things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or
“There’s no way out.”
positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love
stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide.
in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury.
away prized possessions.
goodbye to friends and family as if for good.
out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves.
If you suspect that a teenager you
know is suicidal, take immediate action! For 24-hour suicide
prevention and support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
learn more about suicide risk factors, warning signs, and what to do in a
crisis, see Helpguide’s.org Suicide Prevention:
Understanding and Helping a Suicidal Person.
a depressed teenager
If you suspect that a teenager in your
life is suffering from depression, take action right away. Depression is very
damaging when left untreated, so don’t wait and hope that the symptoms will
go away. Even if you’re unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome
behaviors and emotions you’re seeing in your teenager are signs of a problem.
Whether or not that problem turns out to be depression, it still needs to be
addressed—the sooner the better.
to your teen
The first thing you should do if you
suspect depression is to talk to your teen about it. In a loving and
non-judgmental way, share your concerns with your teenager. Let him or her
know what specific signs of depression you’ve noticed and why they worry you.
Then encourage your child to open up about what he or she is going through.
TALKING TO A DEPRESSED TEEN
Let depressed teenagers know that you’re there for them,
fully and unconditionally. Hold back from asking a lot of questions
(teenagers don’t like to feel patronized or crowded), but make it clear
that you’re ready and willing to provide whatever support they need.
Be gentle but persistent
Don’t give up if your adolescent shuts you out at
first. Talking about depression can be very tough for teens. Be respectful
of your child’s comfort level while still emphasizing your concern and
willingness to listen.
Listen without lecturing
Resist any urge to criticize or pass judgment once
your teenager begins to talk. The important thing is that your child is
communicating. Avoid offering unsolicited advice or ultimatums as well.
Don’t try to talk teens out of their depression, even
if their feelings or concerns appear silly or irrational to you. Simply
acknowledge the pain and sadness they are feeling. If you don’t, they will
feel like you don’t take their emotions seriously.
If your teen claims nothing is wrong,
but has no explanation for what is causing the depressed behavior, you should
trust your instincts. Remember that denial is a strong emotion. Furthermore,
teenagers may not believe that what they’re experiencing is the result of
depression. If you see depression’s warning signs, seek professional help.
Neither you nor your teen is qualified to either diagnosis depression or rule
it out, so see a doctor or psychologist who can.
your family doctor
Make an immediate appointment for your
teen to see the family physician for a depression screening. Be prepared to
give your doctor specific information about your teen’s depression symptoms,
including how long they’ve been present, how much they’re affecting your
child’s daily life, and any patterns you’ve noticed. The doctor should also
be told about any close relatives who have ever been diagnosed with
depression or another mental health disorder.
As part of the depression screening,
the doctor will give your teenager a complete physical exam and take blood
samples to check for medical causes of your child’s symptoms. In order to
diagnose depression, other possible causes of your teen’s symptoms must first
be ruled out. The doctor will check for medical causes of the depression by
giving your teenager a complete physical exam and running blood tests. The
doctor may also ask your teen about other things that could be causing the
symptoms, including heavy alcohol and drug use, a lack of sleep, a poor diet
(especially one low in iron), and medications (including birth control pills
and diet pills).
American Academy of Child & Adolescent
If there are no health problems that
are causing your teenager’s depression, ask your doctor to refer you to a
psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in children and adolescents.
Depression in teens can be tricky, particularly when it comes to treatment
options such as medication. A mental health professional with advanced
training and a strong background treating adolescents is the best bet for
your teenager’s best care.
When choosing a specialist, always
get your child’s input. Teenagers are dependent on you for making many of
their health decisions, so listen to what they’re telling you. No one
therapist is a miracle worker and no one treatment works for everyone. If
your child feels uncomfortable or is just not ’connecting’ with the
psychologist or psychiatrist, ask for a referral to another provider that may
be better suited to your teenager.
the treatment options
Expect a discussion with the
specialist you’ve chosen about treatment possibilities for your son or
daughter. There are a number of treatment options for depression in
teenagers, including one-on-one talk therapy, group or family therapy, and
Talk therapy is often a good initial
treatment for mild to moderate cases of depression. Over the course of
therapy, your teen’s depression may resolve. If it doesn’t, medication may be
warranted. However, antidepressants should only be used as part of a broader
rely on medication alone
When medication is used, it should
not be the only strategy. There are other services that you may want to
investigate for your child. Family support services, educational classes,
behavior management techniques, as well as family therapy and other
approaches should be considered. If medication is prescribed, it should be
monitored and evaluated regularly.
Source: National Institute of Mental
Unfortunately, some parents feel
pushed into choosing antidepressant medication over other treatments that may
be cost-prohibitive or time-intensive. However, unless your child is
considered to be high risk for suicide (in which case medication and/or
constant observation may be necessary), you have time to carefully weigh your
options before committing to any one treatment.
of teenage antidepressant use
In severe cases of depression,
medication may help ease symptoms. However, antidepressants aren’t always the
best treatment option. They come with risks and side effects of their own,
including a number of safety concerns specific to children and young adults.
It’s important to weigh the benefits against the risks before starting your
teen on medication.
and the teenage brain
Antidepressants were designed and
tested on adults, so their impact on the youthful, developing brain is not
yet completely understood. Some researchers are concerned that the use of
drugs such as Prozac in children and teens might interfere with normal brain
development. The human brain is developing rapidly in young adults, and
exposure to antidepressants may impact that development—particularly the way
the brain manages stress and regulates emotions.
suicide warning for teens
Red Flags To Watch Out For
Call a doctor if you notice…
or more thoughts of suicide
to commit suicide
or worse depression
or worse anxiety
very agitated or restless
aggressive, being angry, or violent
on dangerous impulses
extremely hyperactive in actions and talking (hypomania or mania)
unusual changes in behavior
Antidepressant medications may
increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in some teenagers. All
antidepressants are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
to carry a “black box” warning label about this risk in children,
adolescents, and young adults up to the age of 24. The risk of suicide is
highest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment.
Certain young adults are at an even
greater risk for suicide when taking antidepressants, including teens with
bipolar disorder, a family history of bipolar disorder, or a history of
previous suicide attempts.
Teenagers on antidepressants should
be closely monitored for any sign that the depression is getting worse. Warning
signs include new or worsening symptoms of agitation, irritability, or anger.
Unusual changes in behavior are also red flags.
According to FDA guidelines, after
starting an antidepressant or changing the dose, your teenager should see
a week for four weeks
2 weeks for the next month
the end of their 12th week taking the drug
More often if problems or questions arise
a teen through depression treatment
As the depressed teenager in your
life goes through treatment, the most important thing you can do is to let
him or her know that you’re there to listen and offer support. Now more than
ever, your teenager needs to know that he or she is valued, accepted, and
Be understanding. Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and draining.
At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation, or
any other number of negative emotions. During this trying time, it’s
important to remember that your child is not being difficult on purpose. Your
teen is suffering, so do your best to be patient and understanding.
Encourage physical activity. Encourage your teenager to stay active. Exercise can go a long way
toward relieving the symptoms of depression, so find ways to incorporate it
into your teenager’s day. Something as simple as walking the dog or going on
a bike ride can be beneficial
Encourage social activity. Isolation only makes depression worse, so encourage your teenager to
see friends and praise efforts to socialize. Offer to take your teen out with
friends or suggest social activities that might be of interest, such as
sports, after-school clubs, or an art class.
Stay involved in treatment. Make sure your teenager is following all treatment instructions and going
to therapy. It’s especially important that your child takes any prescribed
medication as instructed. Track changes in your teen’s condition, and call
the doctor if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.
Learn about depression. Just like you would if your child had a disease you knew very little
about, read up on depression so that you can be your own “expert.” The more
you know, the better equipped you’ll be to help your depressed teen.
Encourage your teenager to learn more about depression as well. Reading up on
their condition can help depressed teens realize that they’re not alone and
give them a better understanding of what they’re going through.
The road to your depressed teenager’s
recovery may be bumpy, so be patient. Rejoice in small victories and prepare
for the occasional setback. Most importantly, don’t judge yourself or compare
your family to others. As long as you’re doing your best to get your teen the
necessary help, you’re doing your job.
care of the whole family
As a parent dealing with teen
depression, you may find yourself focusing all your energy and attention on
your depressed child. Meanwhile, you may be neglecting your own needs and the
needs of other family members. While helping your depressed child should be a
top priority, it’s important to keep your whole family strong and healthy
during this difficult time.
Take care of yourself – In order to help a depressed teen, you need to stay healthy and
positive yourself, so don’t ignore your own needs. The stress of the
situation can affect your own moods and emotions, so cultivate your
well–being by eating right, getting enough sleep, and making time for things
Reach out for support – Get the emotional support you need. Reach out to friends, join a support
group, or see a therapist of your own. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed,
frustrated, helpless, or angry. The important thing is to talk about how your
teen’s depression is affecting you, rather than bottling up your emotions.
Be open with the family – Don’t tiptoe around the issue of teen depression in an attempt to
“protect” the other children. Kids know when something is wrong. When left in
the dark, their imaginations will often jump to far worse conclusions. Be
open about what is going on and invite your children to ask questions and
share their feelings.
Remember the siblings – Depression in one child can cause stress or anxiety in other
family members, so make sure “healthy” children are not ignored. Siblings may
need special individual attention or professional help of their own to handle
their feelings about the situation.
Avoid the blame game – It can be easy to blame yourself or another family member for your
teen’s depression, but it only adds to an already stressful situation.
Furthermore, depression is normally caused by a number of factors, so it’s
unlikely—except in the case of abuse or neglect—that any loved one is
special nutritional needs of teenagers
This is growth spurt time: kids gain
about 20% of adult height and 50% of adult weight during adolescence. Because
growth and change is so rapid during this period, the requirements for all
nutrients increase. This is especially true of calcium and iron.
disorders in teens
Adolescents and teens are at a high risk
of developing anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
Eating habits, however, are pretty
well set by now, and if your child's choices are less than ideal, it's a
challenging time for a course correction; teens have other priorities. The
best way to make teen dietary changes is by presenting information about
short-term consequences that they can relate to: appearance, athletic
ability, popularity and enjoyment of life, because these are more important
to most teens than long-term health. For example, “
Calcium will help you grow taller
during your growth spurt.” “Iron will help you do better on tests and
stay up later without being as tired.”
When you do speak of long-term
consequences, link them to the things that teens care about—particularly body
image. For instance,
“You know how some old men and
women are bent over when they walk, and others are strong and active? One of
the biggest differences was how much calcium they got every day when they
were your age..." It's a fine line between teaching and preaching, but
will pay big health dividends down the line.
nutritional needs for teens
Due to all the growth and activity of this time, adolescent
boys need 2500-2800 per day, while girls need around 2200 per day. It’s
best to get these calories from lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains,
and fruits and veggies.
In order for the body to grow and maintain muscle,
teens need 45-60 grams per day. Most teenagers easily meet this need from
eating meat, fish, and dairy, but vegetarians may need to increase their
protein intake from non-animal sources like soy foods, beans and nuts.
During puberty, your child’s body will naturally
“grab” all the calcium it can, to ensure strong bones in the future.
Unfortunately, many teens do not get sufficient amounts of calcium, leading
to weak bones and osteoporosis later in life. Encourage teens to cut back
on soda consumption and other overly sugary foods, which leech calcium from
bones, and to get the 1200 mg of calcium needed per day from dairy,
calcium-fortified juice and cereal, and other calcium rich foods such as
sesame seeds and leafy greens like spinach.
Iron is needed to help new muscle mass gained in
adolescence to obtain energy. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue,
and weakness. Boys need 12 mg each day, and teen girls, who often lose iron
during menstruation, need 15 mg. Iron-rich foods include red meat, chicken,
beans, nuts, enriched whole grains, and leafy green veggies like spinach or
Surviving Your Teen's First Love
a sure sign that your child is growing up when they embark on their first
romantic relationship. And though your tween or teen is taking another step
toward adulthood, they may not be emotionally prepared for the ups and downs
of their first love (which is commonly followed by their first break-up).
though the thought of your teen entering the world of dating and
relationships may strike terror in you (you've been around long enough to
know that early relationships can set the tone for all future relationships),
you have an important role to play in preparing your teen to make healthy
published in the journal Child Development shows that teens' choice of
romantic partner as early as middle school has long-term effects on their
emotional and social health.
the fact that teen
dating is dramatically different today than it was in decades ago (with
sexting and widespread promiscuity), a study by Stephanie Madsen,
associate professor of psychology at McDaniel College in Maryland, shows that
teens value parental input and tend to have healthier relationships when they
get advice from their parents.
you can't protect your child from a broken heart, you can help guide them
through the maze of teen dating by following these suggestions:
Discuss the Details. It may be hard for your teen
to imagine you out on a date, but chances are you have at least some
experience in this area. Share what you know, such as restaurant etiquette,
what to do when the bill comes, how to politely end a bad date, and how to
handle the goodnight kiss or pressures to have sex.
talk to your teen about what to look for in a boyfriend or girlfriend.
They'll likely have their own ideas, but it never hurts to explain why dating
the popular kid, the jock or the best looking person in class might be overrated.
Instead, encourage your teen to consider how much they have in common with
their love interest, how smart and caring the person is, whether they enjoy
spending time with them, and how they treat others.
talking with your teen, be as understanding and nonjudgmental as possible. It
may have been many years ago, but you can still remember how nerve-racking,
exciting and terrifying one's first forays into the dating world can be. Most
adolescents fall in love for the first time and are convinced that it will
last forever. You don't need to be the voice of doom, as most early
relationships end before the school year is up.
get discouraged if your teen doesn't respond the way you'd hoped. Chances are
they're listening to what you have to say and are just too embarrassed to
Know the Plan. Before your teen goes on a date, make sure you
know where they will be, who they will be with and what they will be doing. Dating
violence is unfortunately common and you want to be prepared to take
action if needed. Let your teen know they can call you if they feel
uncomfortable with anything that happens on a date or if they end up drinking
too much or getting themselves into a bind.
Establish the Rules. Your teenager is not yet an
adult and is still subject to your rules. Even though your son or daughter
feels that they are in love, they may not fully understand what love is and
how it differs from attraction. This means extra precautions are necessary to
protect your child's emotions and to help them make decisions they won't
parents insist that their children wait until age 16 to go on their first
date, and some allow only group dates for a period of time. Talk to your teen
about your concerns and expectations and establish the ground rules together.
is also an ideal time to talk about sex and share your family's values and
morals. Today's teens already know far more than the basic "birds and
the bees" lecture, so you'll need to provide detailed, relevant and
accurate information about sexually transmitted diseases, birth control and
other issues. If your teen is feeling pressured to have sex, talk about the
reasons waiting may be best and ways to say no.
Be Your Teen's Biggest Fan. When a teen's first love (or
subsequent relationship) ends, the heartbreak can feel earth-shattering. Many
young people carry the scars of this pain into their adult relationships, so
parents need to be particularly supportive and sympathetic during these
love is intense and is a new experience for teens. Even if the relationship
was obviously doomed from the start or only lasted a couple weeks, your
teen's pain is real to them and deserves validation. Show that you care by
actively listening to your teen's feelings without badmouthing their love
your teen voice their hurt in their own way, even if it seems irrational or
overly dramatic (e.g., they refuse to eat, cry uncontrollably, blare sad
music or spend the entire weekend under the covers in bed). Because of their
developmental stage, it is normal for tweens and teens to experience intense
feelings of both elation and sadness that may seem extreme to you. If you're
afraid your child is crossing the line into teen depression, seek advice from
a therapist or other professional.
your teen shows interest, talk about your own past experiences to show them
they are not alone and that they will find love again. Breakups can bring
deeper issues and insecurities to the surface, especially if a teen has
experienced past trauma, their parents' divorce, a death in the family or
other distressing events. Healing takes time and can't be rushed, so be
supportive for as long as it takes.
some teens, their first love is someone they lose quickly but remember
forever. For others, their high school crush may be the person they end up
spending their life with. Whichever holds true for your teen, their first
romantic relationship presents a valuable opportunity for you to share your
values with your child and get them started on the right path toward feeling
the joy and meaning of lasting love.
What to Do if Your Child Is a
wants to admit that their teen is a bully. But
if there are kids getting bullied at school, there are kids doing the
bullying. And that child might just be yours.
2001 survey of students in grades 6 through 10 found that 13 percent had
bullied other students. Bullying can include physically bullying (hitting or
punching), verbal bullying (teasing or name-calling), emotional bullying
(intimidation or social exclusion) and cyberbullying (insulting others via
email, text or instant messaging).
from the observant eyes of their parents and surrounded by often influential
peers at school, your kids may be bullying without you even knowing it. Your
kids may act like angels at home but may not be quite so well-behaved on the
Signs That Your Child Is Bullying
your child is getting into trouble at school for fighting or acts dominant or
aggressive with other kids, you may have a bully on your hands. Kids who are
bullying generally become easily frustrated if they don’t get their way, lack
empathy for others and have a history of discipline problems.
are other common characteristics of children who bully, from the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
to manipulate others
feeling powerful and in control
both a poor winner (boastful and arrogant) and a poor loser
to derive satisfaction from other’s fears, discomfort or pain
good at hiding behaviors or doing them where adults can’t notice
excited by conflicts between others
others for his/her problems
a history of discipline problems
a pattern of impulsive and chronic hitting, intimidating and aggressive
a history of violent and aggressive behaviors
intolerance and prejudice toward others
use drugs or alcohol, or be a member of a gang
boys and girls engage in bullying, though they often do so in different ways.
Boys typically participate in more physical or verbal bulling, such as
punching or threatening. Girls are often less direct when it comes to
bullying, and will spread rumors or intentionally leave someone out of
who bully are more likely to have friends who bully and engage in violent
you have discovered that your child is bullying, there are some things you
your child know the types of
bullying and effects of bullying on the victim, and make it clear that
you will not tolerate bullying of any sort.
up rules and consequences for bullying behaviors, and be sure to consistently
your children when they engage in appropriate behaviors to discourage them
from engaging in any inappropriate behaviors.
to your child about why they have been bullying. Try to encourage them to
open up to you and don’t be judgmental or react out of anger. The bullying
may be masking something else that is going on with your child, and talking
to them about it can get it out in the open.
to know your child’s friends and how and where they spend their free time. If
your child is spending time with a crowd that engages in bullying or other
troubling behaviors (such as drinking, drug use or smoking), talk to your
child about their choice of friends and encourage them to seek out friends
who will have a more positive influence.
your child’s behaviors at home, online, with friends and at school (as much
as possible). Keep an eye out for any early warning signs of bullying so that
the problem is easier to address and stop before it gets out of control.
your child learn healthy ways to cope with anger and frustration, such as
exercise, journaling, playing an instrument, or talking to a friend or family
your child alternatives to aggressive behavior, such as asking for help,
respecting others and showing tolerance for those who are different.
your child involved in positive social activities, such as after-school
clubs, volunteering, music lessons and non-violent sports.
your child’s school involved to watch out for any signs of bullying and to
enforce consequences for the behavior at school. Also report any incidents of
bullying behaviors to school officials, even if your child is the one doing
the bullying. Doing so will hold them accountable for their behavior.
your child continues to bully, you may want to seek counseling or help
through a therapeutic
boarding school or wilderness camp for
troubled teens. With treatment, your child can address their bullying
behaviors, any underlying issues causing them to act out through violence and
learn healthy coping behaviors that will reduce the chance of them ever
Behaviors Associated with Bullying
is often a sign of other serious antisocial or violent behavior. According to
Stop Bullying Now!, children who frequently bully their peers are more likely
in frequent fights
injured in a fight
alcohol or use drugs
truant from school
out of school
who engage in childhood bullying are also more likely to be underachievers in
school, engage in criminal activities as adults, and become abusive spouses
or parents. Putting a stop to your child’s bullying now can help ensure
that they end a cycle of violence that could continue well into adulthood.
Teen Dating Violence: What You
like to think that your teens will have a nice, fairytale romance for their
first relationship -- that they'll be wooed with flowers, taken for walks in
the park and treated with nothing but respect.
while there's a very good chance that will be the scenario, you should be
aware of the potential for teen
dating violence – something one in three teens will experience in an
parents don't want to think about this happening to their child. About 80
percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or don't know
if it is an issue, according to a 2004 survey in Women's Health.
the majority of parents are wrong. Here are some statistics you should know
about teen dating violence, from Break the Cycle:
1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating
partner in a single year.
in three teenage girls is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse
from someone they are dating – a figure that far exceeds victimization rates
for other types of violence affecting youth.
in 10 high school students has been hit, slapped or physically hurt by a
boyfriend or girlfriend.
percent of girls who have been physically abused continue to date their
33 percent of teens who are in an abusive relationship ever tell anyone about
Who Is Victimized
important to understand that it's not just girls who are the victims of
dating violence. Both males and females are victimized, no matter their race,
income level or sexual preference. The main difference is in the way that
boys and girls are abusive:
are more likely to yell, threaten to hurt themselves, pinch, slap, scratch
injure girls more severely and frequently.
ages 16 to 24 are the population most vulnerable to dating violence, at a
rate of almost triple the national average, according to the U.S. Department
of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or date
in four girls in a relationship reports going further sexually than they
wanted as a result of pressure.
female victims of intimate partner violence, a current or former boyfriend or
girlfriend victimized 94 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 19.
1993 and 1999, 22 percent of all homicides against females ages 16 to 19 were
committed by an intimate partner.
The Impact of Dating Violence
that you have an understanding of how serious the problem of teen dating
violence is, you also need to be aware of the impact on victims. Teenagers
who are victims of dating violence are more likely to continue to be abused
in their adult relationships, and are unlikely to break the pattern of
dating violence also puts victims at increased risk for the following:
Recognizing the Signs
your teens have started dating, it's always a good idea to keep an eye out
for signs of dating violence. Many teens will be too ashamed to tell you that
they are being abused by someone they are dating, and may end up in more dangerous
situations in the long run.
following are some signs that your teen may be involved in a violent dating
from school or activities they used to enjoy
isolated, hostile or secretive
for partner's behaviors
hanging out with friends
bruises, signs of injury or damaged personal property
in clothing or make-up
of drugs or alcohol
you recognize any of these signs, take action immediately before the
situation gets worse.
What You Can Do
often feel helpless once they realize that their child is the victim of teen
dating violence. The most important thing to do is to talk to your teen about
dating violence, something most parents admit to not doing.
moment you think your teens may begin dating, inform them of the dangers of
dating violence and what to do should they find themselves in an abusive
situation. Encourage them to be open with you about their relationships and
reassure them that you will not be judgmental about anything they tell you.
you believe that your teen is a victim of dating violence, try talking to
them about it. Find an appropriate time to start the conversation and act
supportive, encouraging and caring as you elicit information. Don't be
critical about anything your teen tells you because that may cause them to
end the conversation and continue in their unhealthy relationship.
on the severity of the abuse, you may need to take your teen to a doctor for
a check-up and contact your local law enforcement officials. They may be in
the best position to follow up on the abuse and take action.
dating violence is a very real, and very serious, problem. During February,
which has been designated National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and
Prevention Month, take time to education yourself and your teens about the
threats and risks associated with teen dating violence and come up with
proactive measures to avoid it. Keeping a dialogue open with your teens will
give them a better chance of having that fairytale romance.
A New Year's Resolution: To Be a Better Parent
Year's is a natural time for people to take stock of the year and set goals
for the next year. As parents, we all do our best, but there's always room
for improvement. While you're making New Year's resolutions about losing
weight, saving money and exercising, also consider resolving to be the best
parent you can be.
Get Healthier - Together. Research has repeatedly shown
that families that eat together stay together. They are also healthier, more
connected, and more successful in school and at work. Make a point to eat
dinner together every night and take walks or engage in active play as a
Spend More Quality Time. Family rituals foster
togetherness and open the lines of communication. Plan family trips, outings,
art or home improvement projects and other activities together or volunteer
as a family. In the New Year, set a goal to learn something new together; for
example, study a new language, take cooking classes or start a family book
Monitor Your Teens' Online Activity. The Internet can be a
dangerous place for teens. If you haven't already done so, move your child's
computer into a common area of the home (such as the kitchen or living room),
set parental controls and monitor how much time your teen spends on the
computer each night. While the Internet can be educational and keep your teen
in touch with friends and family, it also raises a number of concerns such as
addiction and online predators.
Talk to Your Kids. Every parent wants their teens
to come to them if they have a problem. But you have to open the lines of
communication and establish trust before your teens will feel comfortable
sharing with you. There are a number of talks every parent should have with
their teens, including frequent conversations about sex, smoking and
adolescent substance abuse. Find out all you can about your child - their
likes and dislikes, who their friends are and where they spend their time.
Be a Good Role Model. You are your child's first
teacher of right and wrong. Your children learn a lot about your priorities
by watching you and the resolutions you set. If you smoke, drink, use drugs
or engage in other destructive behaviors, resolve to make changes in your own
life, and you'll benefit both yourself and your kids.
Set and Enforce Rules. Teens crave independence, but
they don't yet have the mature judgment necessary to set their own
boundaries. Parents still play a vital role in establishing rules and
enforcing them consistently so that teens feel safe and have structure to
their lives. Also remember to praise your kids for positive behavior and
balance your rules with plenty of love and support.
Be a Good Listener. Often, in an effort to prove
they are older and wiser, parents succumb to lecturing and judging. This
year, take a new approach and do more listening than talking. Ask questions
and actively hear what your teens have to say.
Catch Your Teen Being Good. Parents spend a lot of time
saying no to their teens. In the year to come, make an effort to balance
discipline with catching your child doing the right thing.
Get Help if Your Teen Is Struggling. If every year you work to
become a better parent and your teen continues to fall deeper into trouble,
don't be ashamed to get help. There are therapeutic boarding
therapy programs and residential treatment centers for teens who are
struggling with substance abuse, defiance and other emotional and behavioral
issues. Knowing when to reach out for help is a sign of good parenting in a
very difficult situation, and may be exactly what your teen needs to make
real changes in the year to come.
can happen year-round, but New Year's marks the end of one thing and the
beginning of another. Take this opportunity to make the new year your
family's best ever.
The Power of Fatherhood
Hugh C. McBride
"One father is more than a hundred
George Herbert (17th Century English poet and clergyman)
Father's Day, after the handmade cards have been carefully put away for
safekeeping (and the neckties perhaps a bit more unceremoniously stashed),
many dads ask themselves the questions that motivate many of their actions –
and occasionally plague their sleepless nights, "Am I doing this right?
And am I doing enough?"
no secret that parenting a child is one of life's most challenging endeavors.
And in the four centuries since George Herbert praised the power of paternal
influence, more than a few cultural observers have called into question the
value (and, in some cases, the very necessity) of a father's efforts on
behalf of his children.
those critics are arguing in the face of considerable scientific and
sociological research, the bulk of which points toward a common conclusion:
Fathers matter – and good fathers offer a world of benefits to their sons and
The Many Benefits of Effective Fatherhood
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (a component of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services) doesn't leave much room for
interpretation when weighing in on the many benefits of effective fatherhood:
literature supports the finding that a loving and nurturing father improves
outcomes for children, families and communities.
with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in
school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior,
and avoid high-risk behaviors including drug use, truancy, and criminal
information from a National Fatherhood Initiative publication titled “The
Father Factor: How Father Absence Affects Our Youth,” the NRFC notes that
fathers who play an active role in their children's lives can significantly
increase the quality of their children's lives, and decrease the threats to
their healthy development:
Research indicates that children are more likely to be healthy when they have
fathers who are involved in daily efforts to ensure their health and safety.
Children whose fathers live with them are less likely to be either abused or
Children who live with their father and mother are less likely to engage in
problematic behaviors that result in their being suspended or expelled from
Girls whose fathers are not involved in their lives are at considerably
higher risk of early sexual activity (and are seven times more likely to
become pregnant) than are adolescents whose fathers are involved with their
Having a close relationship with one's father has been identified as a
significant protective factor against adolescent drug and alcohol abuse.
Fathers and Daughters
the role of fathers has been thought to be of primary importance to the
development of sons, while the raising of daughters was often believed to be
the province of the mother. Today, though, it is becoming increasingly clear
that although mothers play a vital role in raising daughters (and sons), a
father's relationship with his daughter can result in significant and
measureable improvements to his daughter’s life.
example, a May 27 article by clinical child psychologist and neuroscience
researcher Nestor Lopez-Duran described the ways in which a healthy
father-daughter relationship can have a significant positive influence on the
daughter's relationships with romantic partners.
for the Child Psychology Research Blog, Lopez-Duran reported on a study of 78
teen girls and young adult women (average age of 19) in which the quality of
the daughters' relationships with their fathers was compared to the
daughters' relationships with their current boyfriends.
evaluation of three aspects of those relationships – communication, trust,
and time spent together – led the researchers to conclude that daughters who
communicated with and trusted their fathers were likely to have similarly
healthy relationships with their boyfriends:
Girls and young women who reported having good communication with their
fathers also had significantly better communication with their boyfriends
than did study subjects who had low levels of communication with their
Girls and young women who had high levels of trust with their fathers also
had significantly better communication and trust with their boyfriends.
The amount of time that the girls and young women spent with their fathers
was not associated with communication, trust, or time spent with their
Quality vs. Quantity
is noted in the study that Lopez-Duran described, effective fatherhood is about
much more than spending time in the presence of one's children. Being there,
as the old adage advises, may be half the battle, but the true benefits of
fatherhood are the results of actions, not mere presence.
a paper titled "The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of
Children," authors Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox established
the following seven steps as essential components of effective fatherhood:
Fostering a positive relationship with the children's mother
2. Spending time with children
3. Nurturing children
4. Disciplining children appropriately
5. Serving as a guide to the outside world
6. Protecting and providing
7. Serving as a positive role model
maintaining a presence in their children's lives is obviously an important
concern for fathers, Rosenberg and Wilcox noted that " being there"
is beneficial primarily as a means of engaging in the activities (such as
disciplining, guiding, and nurturing) that ultimately make the biggest
difference in children's lives.
From Theory to Practice
upon their seven pillars of effective fatherhood, Rosenberg and Wilcox
provided specific examples of ways in which fathers can influence and enrich
their children's lives:
Play with your children. Fathers' play has a unique role in a child's
development, they wrote, noting that children who play with their fathers
learn important lessons about exploring the world and keeping their
aggressive impulses in check.
Work with your children. Fathers should engage their children in productive
activities such as doing household chores, washing dishes after dinner, or
cleaning up the yard, the authors advise. Research, they wrote, indicates
that these types of activities promote responsibility, self-esteem, and
self-worth among children – qualities that have been associated with academic
achievement, career advancement, and psychological health in adulthood.
Think with your children. Fathers should encourage their children's
intellectual growth, Rosenberg and Wilcox advised. From reading to (and later
with) their children to supporting their academic pursuits to meeting with
teachers and attending school activities, fathers who maintain an active role
in their children's education can provide specific support while also emphasizing
the overall importance of academics.
Stay active with your children. Fathers should maintain an active, physical,
and playful style of fathering even as their children develop into
adolescents and young adults, the authors encouraged, while putting an
emphasis on "active." Activities such as tossing a football or
going to the library are more valuable than spending time in passive
endeavors such as watching television, they reported, noting that the
benefits of active recreation extend to the children's emotional health,
social growth, and physical fitness.
Need a Helping Hand?
the challenges of parenting threaten to overwhelm even the most dedicated and
informed fathers and mothers. If you feel like even your best efforts aren't
enough to overcome the problems that are currently affecting your family,
know that help – and hope – are not far away.
wilderness programs for troubled teens to adolescent drug rehab facilities
and therapeutic private boarding schools, the most effective programs for
troubled teens and other at-risk young people also feature family components
that help moms and dads identify and address the challenges that are facing
some programs, this family support takes the form of regular phone consultations
with therapists and counselors, while other opportunities include in-person
family therapy or even extended on-site parenting workshops.
of the challenges you are experiencing or the type of program that you choose
to help heal your family, don't give in to the temptation to equate a
temporary challenge with feelings of "failed fatherhood." As the
research indicates (and as experts continue to emphasize), being an effective
father isn't merely a matter of making the most of the good times – it's
about overcoming the difficult moments together, and remaining a consistent
positive presence in your children's lives.
understanding of family dynamics, social development, and the psychology of
father-child relationships has advanced considerably in the centuries since
George Herbert extolled the many virtues of fatherhood. But the concept he
expressed is as applicable today as it was in the 1600s: Fathers matter.
How to Avoid Bargaining with Your
An Interview with Robbi O'Kelley, MSW, LCSW,
okay, I’ll let you go to the party if you stop bugging me about it.”
already told you John couldn’t come over, but I’ll let it go this one time.”
you do your homework on time, I’ll let you spend the night at Rachel’s house,
even though I don’t approve of co-ed sleepovers.”
these scenarios sound familiar? Does your teen beg and plead to get his way
until you finally just give in? Does “no” really mean “maybe” in your
often fall into the trap of bargaining with their child, sometimes to make
their own lives easier or because they want to be “friends” with their child,
and sometimes because they feel guilt or shame about issues from the past
such as getting a divorce, moving the family, or working too many hours.
to Robbi O'Kelley, MSW, LCSW, CADCII, the Executive Director at New Leaf
Academy of Oregon, an all-girls
therapeutic boarding school for 10- to 14-year-olds, parents often fall
into the bargaining trap when they are unclear about which rules are
negotiable and which are non-negotiable. After years of working with parents
and their children, she warns that although bargaining with your child may
resolve the immediate conflict, a pattern of bargaining could indicate an
unhealthy disruption in the balance of power in the parent-child
Relinquishing Your Parental Authority
is often a sign that parents are losing authority over their child,
particularly when they begin bargaining about rules that are, or should be,
“hard lines in the sand,” says O’Kelley. Teens and preteens may feel a
misplaced sense of entitlement that begins to wear away at a parent’s
is when someone believes they have a right to make a choice that is outside
of their power,” explains O’Kelley. “When parents repeatedly let their child
make decisions that are outside of the child’s power, the child becomes
inflated with a sense of self that is inaccurate in terms of the child’s
belief in her ability to affect the outcome of events.”
is given to parents – not children – for good reason. Parents have the
experience, knowledge, and wisdom to keep their kids safe and make good
decisions for their child. Of course, there are times when it is fair and
appropriate to negotiate and compromise with teens. Power can certainly be
shared, but only when the outcome does not have the potential to harm the
than bargaining with your child, O’Kelley recommends empowering her to
influence the outcome of decisions that truly are negotiable and drawing
clear boundaries in areas that are not up for debate.
example,” says O’Kelley, “parents may share power with a child around some of
the TV programs the child watches. However, the parent should not share
decision-making power with the child if a program has content that is too
advanced for the child’s age and maturity level. This is an example of a
non-negotiable item – there is no discussion or negotiation.”
a middle school-aged child should not be allowed to negotiate about which
friends she has sleepovers with, what parties she can attend, or how late she
can stay out at night. Nor should a middle school child be allowed to choose
not to go to school. “Permitting a child to do so allows the child to usurp
the parent’s authority on matters that should be non-negotiable because they
are in the child’s best interest,” says O’Kelley.
Reclaiming Personal Power
only do parents give up their authority in the bargaining process, but they
also surrender their personal power – their power to make choices that align
with their personal values. For example, a parent gives away his personal
power when he allows a child to speak disrespectfully to adults without any
consequences. The parent may feel powerless to stop the child from treating
him in a manner that goes against his personal values.
way to regain personal power, says O’Kelley, is by maintaining boundaries.
Knowing which rules are negotiable and which are non-negotiable and sticking
to it is the first step. It’s also important for parents to take care of
their own mental and physical health by making time for themselves. In doing
so, you become a role model to your child, showing her how to get her needs
met in a healthy way. Knowing what your values and morals are and
living by them is another way to set clear guidelines for your child.
Tips for Avoiding Power Struggles with Your Teen
the occasional power struggle is a natural part of parenting, setting up a
pattern of bargaining can set the stage for a contentious parent-child
relationship during high school and beyond. The following are a few suggestions
O’Kelley offers for avoiding power struggles with your teen:
which rules or topics are non-negotiable. Talk with your spouse to make sure
both of you are on the same page and are prepared to present a united front
to your teen.
your child that these particular items are no longer up for negotiation and
that when you, the parent, says “no” or that a topic is not up for
discussion, you are exercising your legal authority to make decisions in the
best interest of your child.
your child which areas are open for discussion and possible negotiation.
that a child who has negotiated before will try to negotiate again – and this
time, she’ll press even harder, hoping that you will give in. Parental
responses to these pleas for negotiation should be neutral but firm, such as
you will not be going to Susan’s house for an overnight.”
• “I’m sorry you’re disappointed, but that is my final word.”
• “This is not negotiable. I am not comfortable with you going to Mike’s
house for the reasons we have already discussed.”
• “If you continue to push this, I will have to … (ground you for the
evening for not accepting my decision, take away your cell phone for 24
that if you have allowed your child to negotiate in the past and are trying
to regain your personal power in the relationship, the process takes
time. You may have to set multiple boundaries and have the same
discussion several times. Teenagers will test every rule. For example, “Can I
go to Jenny’s house?” “No.” “Can I go to the mall with Jenny?”
“No.” “Can I study with Jenny and Sarah?” “No.”
not get stuck in an argument. Too many words are usually a sign that you are
negotiating. The longer the conversation continues, the more your teen feels
she can change your mind.
listen to your children. You can validate their feelings without necessarily
agreeing. For example, you may want to say, “I understand that you feel left
out because everyone else is going to the party. Nevertheless, I am not
comfortable with you going.”
time your child tries to spark a debate on a non-negotiable issue or “win” in
a bargaining exchange, remember these parenting tips and
do yourself and your child a favor by drawing a clear, but fair boundary. If
you have used these strategies in the past and your child continues to
struggle with respect, rules, and authority, it may be time for a
Leaf Academy of Oregon specializes in working with middle school-aged girls
who need help developing the skills to successfully navigate adolescence and
family relationships. For more information, call (877) 820-5050 or visit www.newleafacademy.com/index2.html.
Teaching Time: How to Help Your
Teen Live an Organized Life
Hugh C. McBride
Contrary to the slacker
stereotype with which they are often branded, many of today’s teenagers are
remarkably busy people. Schoolwork, extracurricular activities, volunteer
service, and part-time jobs keep many teens on their toes from early in the
morning until late at night. And though a solid work ethic is often seen as a
key to academic and financial success, teenagers are not immune to the
damaging effects associated with overextending oneself.
Writing in the May 2007 edition
of Perspectives on Labour and Income, Katherine Marshall of Canada’s
Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division noted that “most teens have
relatively high workloads, and not surprisingly, this comes with some
feelings of stress. For example, 16 percent considered themselves
workaholics, 39 percent felt under constant pressure to accomplish more than
they could handle, and most (64 percent) cut back on sleep to get things
Parents who are concerned that
their teens are overdoing it can help ease the strain by teaching them to
incorporate the following time-management skills into their lives:
Tip #1: Outline Objectives
the Mayo Clinic advises on its website, “planning your day can help you feel
more in control of your life.” Teens who write down both short-term goals and
long-term objectives may find themselves better able to achieve both.
Keeping a “to-do” list can help
in a variety of ways: It allows the teen to organize his day, it prevents him
from making multiple commitments for the same time period, and it allows him
to note areas where he may either be overburdening himself or wasting his
Reviewing previous days’ to-do
lists can also boost your teen’s confidence by giving him specific feedback
on how much he has accomplished.
Tip #2: Indicate Importance
of merely listing the day’s activities in chronological order, work with your
teen to help her organize her daily goals in order of importance. The very
process of prioritizing her activities will prompt your teen to evaluate the
significance of what she is doing with her time.
Plus, listing tasks and
responsibilities in order of their importance may help lessen the pressure
your teen puts on herself, as she can reduce the “intimidation factor” of a
list of objectives by differentiating between what she has to accomplish that
day and what she would merely like to get done.
Tip #3: Prevent Procrastination
first glance, procrastination might look like the ultimate tool for
uncluttering one’s schedule – after all, your teen could argue, he won’t be
very busy today if he decides to put everything off until tomorrow, right?
If responsibilities came with
penalty-free expiration dates, procrastinating might be the best approach.
But back here in the real world, avoiding what needs to be accomplished only
delays the inevitable. And waiting until tomorrow, next week, or next month will
have a domino effect on your teen’s schedule, ultimately forcing him to do
work in a shorter time frame while under the stress of a looming (or missed)
As your teen becomes more adept
at scheduling his days and prioritizing his objectives, he should be less
prone to procrastinate. The next tip on this list should help, too.
Tip #4: Divide Demands
the old adage advises, there’s only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a
To your teenager, staring down
a particularly complex task or onerous objective can feel like sitting down
to a dinner of pan-fried pachyderm. Help her break down large undertakings
into a series of achievable interim accomplishments.
For example, instead of letting
your teen flip to next month’s calendar and write down “turn in term paper”
on the due date, show her how to set up a series of intermediate steps
(select topic, write outline, finish research, write first draft, complete
final revisions) that will get her to her goal on time and with sanity
Tip #5: Tame Technology
with all the ways in which technology can simplify our lives, it’s easy to
lose sight of the fact that the devices are supposed to be working for us,
not vice versa. Teens seem particularly susceptible to the lure of the
digital world, and keeping them on track can often be a matter of convincing
them to log off.
Computers, cell phones,
personal digital assistants, and other electronic instruments have become
omnipresent aspects of modern society, but teens need to be taught how to manage
what can easily become information overload. For example, while his cell
phone’s digital calendar can help keep your teen on track, sending and
receiving dozens of daily text messages on the same system can distract him
from his duties.
Limit your teen’s access to
entertainment-only electronics (yes, this means you, Xbox), and teach him how
to make the most efficient use of the other devices in his digital toolbox.
Tip #6: Decrease Distractions
consoles and mp3 players can command a significant portion of your teenager’s
attention span, but they are hardly the only enemies in the battle for focus.
Make sure your teen has an
orderly, well-lit, and distraction-free environment in which to do her
homework, and show her that an assignment that might take two hours when
attempted on the living room floor in front of American Idol can be
completed in a fraction of that time when taken on in the right workspace.
In addition to helping your teen
complete her work more quickly (and probably with better results), your
distraction-dilution tips will also prepare her for situations such as
driving, in which a single-minded focus can literally be a lifesaving skill.
Tip #7: Remain Robust
of the most important activities in a busy person’s life – sleeping, eating,
and exercising –are often the first to be jettisoned in a misguided attempt
to remain effective. But though it might seem counterintuitive at first,
stopping work in order to eat, sleep, and exercise can actually make a person
Some may look like adults from
the outside, but teen bodies are still works in progress. This means they
need proper nutrition and adequate amounts of sleep (at least nine
uninterrupted hours a night) to ensure that their bodies develop
Make sure your teen isn’t
attempting to subsist on potato chips and soda, and insist that he gets ample
exercise and significant shuteye. A well-rested, well-fed teenager is better
prepared to face the challenges that life will be throwing his way, and a
series of studies have associated physical activity with improved mental