Sep 30, 2009

Video Game Theme- This is more of a theme for guys rather than girls although there are some teen girls into video games. A state of the art video game bedroom would include a flat screen TV on the wall with an entertainment system that of course features a game console.

Retro Theme- Retro is a theme that is popular among teens these days. Retro goes back to the culture, music, clothes and hair style of the 1960's and 1970's. When designing a room in this theme, use bright colors such as red, orange and yellow. Also tie dye and shag carpets were popular in the retro era.

Family and Friends Theme- This is more of a popular room for girls. Add photos of friends and family to one wall in the room. You can add vacation photos, prom pics, graduation, homecoming and wedding that you attended.

Mixed Martial Arts- This is the perfect theme for a boy's room. Pin up posters of your favorite martial artist. For an added touch, you can add sparring gloves or hang a punching bag in the room so you can work out in your own bedroom.

Outdoors Theme- For the teen who just can't get enough of the outside, an outdoors theme is the perfect color scheme. Use wallpaper and/or borders to reflect your favorite outdoor scenes. You can choose themes from mountain climbing, underwater exploration, wooded scenes and seashore scenes. Using earth colors such as brown and green will help make the theme more complete.

Beach/Surfer Theme- Teens who love the beach in the summer or who can't stay off the surf board need to have a beach theme. But you don't just want to hang posters of your favorite surfer or pictures of the beach. You want a tropical theme going on such as palm trees and bamboo mats or hang a couple of surfboards as wall decorations.

City Theme- If you are into big cities such as New York Coty, Paris, London or France, then you need to have a big city theme bedroom. Decorate the room with souvenirs from the big cities or paint a mural of your favorite city skyline. If you want a more of a city feel, try a loft bed.

Travel Theme- If you dream of traveling or living in another country, then a travel theme is the perfect bedroom theme. Fill your room with globes, maps, travel posters, photos and souvenirs.

So if you are feeling adventurous, then try one or more of these themes.

Teen bedroom design can be challenging but can also have it's rewards. Whether you have a girl or boy, teenagers are busy exploring their own way in the world. They are trying out different things and figuring out what works for them and what doesn't. They are also asserting their independence. What better way for them to do that than to take part in designing the room that they'll be spending a lot of time in as they complete their school years and prepare for what is ahead.

If you have a girl, chances are she's outgrown the pink or lavender colors that most likely graced her room as a young child. She's testing the waters and picking out what she likes. At this point, she probably does have a favorite color and this would be a good place to start. If you start with her favorite color and then look to the things that she's interested in when considering wall art or accessories for her room, this will bring the room together nicely. For example, if yellow is her favorite color and she's really interested in music, start with yellow paint for her walls. Choose a shade with her so that she feels she's a part of the process and that her opinion matters. When the room is painted, look for items to add to her walls that enhance her tastes. Perhaps a large musical note can be displayed on the wall or some wallpaper border with musical notes displayed throughout to line the tops of the walls.

Similarly, a boy should be given the same type of consideration as a girl when choosing the decor for his room. However, it may be a little more difficult to get him involved in the whole process, yet if you ask him to own the process by being a part of all of it; the painting and wallpapering, as well as the shopping and decorating, more willingness may evolve. Again, start with his favorite color, then take him with to choose the paint from the hardware store. When it comes time to paint his walls, ask him to help. Take him back to the store to choose the items that will be purely decorative. If he's into model boats or trains, ask him to build a few to later hang with fish line from his ceiling. Adding the feel of ownership over the project will help your young man jump in with two feet and you'll end with a room that you can both be happy about.

A blissful teenager may not result from these events, yet they won't be moody over their bedroom. It will be an area that they will enjoy being in and that will help when they need to concentrate on a school project or something along those lines. Best of all, they will have taken at least some part in the creation of the room, so they will be excited about it when it's done. Never pass up the chance to have a happy teenager, even when it means entering into a teen bedroom design project with them.

Sep 28, 2009

To assist parents increase the level, and improve the quality, of their verbal interactions with their children, here are a few suggestions.

• Keep a paper and a pencil handy and make notes of the things you hear your children talking about or expressing interest in. When you hear them discussing to their friends or to one another, make note of the things they spoke about. The topics they bring up on their own and spend time talking about provide you with the best clues available about what is of interest to them.

• Talk to your children in a very natural way. Make sure it doesn’t come across as a formal discussion.
• Don’t try to be too “hip” as you talk to children. Avoid the use of terms and language the kids use. Use terms that are most familiar to you and the most characteristic of you, but which the kids understand. Kids don’t like it when their parents try to talk like kids.

• Watch for signs that tell you you’ve talked long enough. Ordinarily, conversations with children about “just things” don’t usually last very long. For that matter, kids don’t typically spend very long talking with their friends about such things. They bounce around from topic to topic, and thing to thing, never spending much time on anything or going into much depth

• Keep the conversation dignified. Avoid gossip, profanity, off-color jokes, or turns-of-phrase that compromise your adult level of dignity and civility. Remain a cut above “just one of the guys.” Children want their parents to have class. They want their parents to be someone to look up to. The quality of your conversations with them can go a long way in establishing that image of you in your children’s eyes. An occasional, appropriate joke is a very good thing. While the family is gathered around the dinner table is a wonderful time to share a good joke and bring a little humor into the family.

• Avoid ethnic jokes or any kind of joke or story that puts another person or another people down or that evokes humor at the expense of someone else. Maintain your dignity as an adult by showing respect for other cultures. Children really appreciate that.

• Regarding jokes, appropriate, clean humor is a characteristic of low-risk families. In such families there is a lot of smiling, laughing and lots of happy times. Come to the dinner table every night with a couple of good jokes.
Children who learn good verbal skills are more likely to also have good social skills.

Whenever you ask a troubled teen as to what is their problem with their parent, more often than not you will get to hear that they are ‘not really being listened to’. Well, ‘listening’ is a tad difficult task for parents. They might also find ‘communication’ challenging. While parenting teens there are certain common measures that can ensure satisfactory results when intelligently applied.
Whenever your teen approaches you for a conversation or simply speaks to you provide them with your undivided attention. You don’t need to display your expertise in multi-tasking at that moment. Stop reading, watching TV or acting busy as you are listening to your child. Misbehavior starts the moment they begin to feel that they are not worthy of your attention.

As you listen, your attitude should be calm even if there is a major difference of opinion. Try to hear out with the intent of understanding the teenager’s point of view. If the situation calls for a ‘give and take’ approach, do not burden up your teen’s mind with preaches.

When you are parenting a troubled teen, your tone ought to be courteous as you communicate. Remember that respect inevitably cultivates respect and that is completely manifested in the manner of speech. While communicating you should keep in mind that you are communicating with an individual who happens to be your teenage child. Your positive approach will help to make the troubled teen to seek you out as his dear confidant. So a sober tone always pays dividends with an improved relationship while abruptness or gruffness will only induce further hostility.

As you try to make your communication effective, avoid judging the nature of your teen’s behavior at that moment. You may not approve it but at that moment emphasize more on the feelings involved. While parenting teens you surely need to be firm regarding the essential values but you should be flexible enough to accommodate the symbolism of the changing times.

Free expression of ideas and feelings should be permitted. Everything that happens to be our part of life is being gradually apprehended by the children during their teenage. This must be realized. While parenting teens you must also understand that the teens tend to ‘test’ their ideas regarding education, morality, money, time and marriage or relationships during communication. Even if you happen to be alarmed by their opinion, you should give them a patient hearing. Then the mutual love and respect that you have cultivated will help you to put your point in a non-aggressive and logical and plain manner.

Teens misbehave in order to express their physical, social or emotional needs which are not being met. Unlike adults, the teens are not in a stable mental establishment. They are undergoing constant evolution both on the physical and the mental plane. With reference to the Gesell Chart, they are moving from one developmental stage to the other as they deal with the respective stressors of that particular stage. They misbehave so as to let the adults know that they require their attention.

The misbehavior further increases when the environment loses its predictability. When factors like food, sleep, emotional or the intellectual stimulation is either insufficient or over-sufficient, the trouble in the teen behavior gets expressed. If the adolescent happens to be individually dealing with a conflict, an unsafe or chaotic neighborhood, a loss in the family or academic challenges, he or she is more prone to react with a negative behavior. The situation is even worse in a poor family where the parents are not equipped with necessary resources to bail them out.

This calls for a bit of introspection on the part of the parents regarding the reason they apprehend as the cause of the misbehavior. It can be that the teen is confused, hungry, scared, angry, feeling unloved or uncomfortable. Take this common instance where the adolescent misbehaves specially during vacations. Here, basically the child is over stimulated and seeks a method to vent his energy out and is not finding any appropriate option. An earnest introspection would provide alternatives which will help the parent to eliminate the said behavior.

Perhaps the most common cause of misbehavior is the feeling of being overlooked. Every child has an aggressive desire to feel loved. Teens always tend to seek the assurance that they are an important part of their parent’s lives. This craving for love and attention in turn helps them to effectively develop their self-esteem. They feel equipped to face the world. Majority of the troubled teens are found to lack the fulfillment of this important aspect of their desire.

When a teen feels discouraged, it is due to this lack of love or attention. As growing adults they tend to fluctuate from their desired sources of attention. As a child, it is always the parents and as they grow up, they begin to expect it from peers and groups too. Then at different moments they again want to come back to their parents. This sense of belonging measure up their lack of self esteem and soothes their troubled minds to a great extent.

Remember the old adage ‘Actions speak louder than words’? Well, it is perfectly applicable in this context. While parenting teens, the parent need to effectively monitor their influence or impact that has a direct correlation with their child.

Children always take cue for their behavior from what they actually see. We have a common habit of instructing our children to do something while following a different set of rules ourselves. And then if you blurt that ‘do as I say and not what I do’, it will have a negligible impact. If you promote such a practice, one day you shall surely get to hear something of this sort, ‘what is wrong if I smoke pot, my parents get stoned on alcohol every night’!

While dealing with a troubled teen, the parents need to supervise as they guide. When you find your teen misbehaving in spite of the responsibilities and the privileges that you have provided them with, you ought to understand that are unconsciously seeking directives to apprehend the limitations of their limitations and behavior. It is here that you are required to assure them with moderate and selective guidance. It is a delicate situation and your reasonable attitude will prevent an unfortunate breakdown of communication.

A troubled teen is already confused. So do not screw up the situation further by being ambivalent or partially expressive. Spell out through words and action regarding what is exactly expected of them. Encourage and appreciate their participation in the family’s decision making. This will help them in learning to realize and welcome responsibility and the necessity of accountability.

At the same time you are also required not to intrude your teen’s individuality and independence. Do not enforce your ideas, rather adopt the position of a watchful friendly bystander, who is always ready to offer help and advice but when required.
Another important aspect that one ought to remember while parenting that one should never over-react.

Parents often have this preconceived notion that their child’s adolescent period is an arduous struggle. They seem to brace up for an onslaught. This sort of attitude takes the ease out of the environment. A cool and calm attitude will not only make your child comfortable but also help you to assess their behavior with a more rational outlook. It will reduce the tendency of the parents to self-assert and draw effective trust and confidence from the teenager. This will of course ease up communication and a healthy parent-child relationship.

Once you have confirmed that your child is a troubled teen, what is the next step you should take? It is important to accept the fact that you might not be able to help your child without professional help.

Try considering the following measures:
1. Consult your teenager’s doctor –The first measure is to get a physical check up done in order to detect if there are any physical problems connected to health. Get an appointment with the doctor immediately, without delay. Hormonal changes in the body may be the main reason for all problems. Thus consulting the doctor is utmost important.


2. Consult the guidance counselor at school – Though she might not be in a position to provide the child a one-on-one counseling service, she can be of great help by telling you about the attitude and the troubling behavior of the child that the teachers and the other staff members might have taken note of. This can be of great help in finding out the child’s moods and behavior when away from home.


3. Consult a professional counselor and look for proper counseling-If you don’t know whom to approach and whom to contact, consult your pediatrician or your school’s counselor to help in contacting and providing names of recommended counselors and psychiatrists.


4. Treatment and curing centers – The counselor, therapist or psychiatrist that you may consult may feel that your teenager is too troubled and her behavior is too troubling to treat as an outpatient. In such a situation you will have to commit your teen in a treatment centre for a time period suggested by the doctors and consultants in the centre.


5. Communicate – Communicating with your child may be very difficult at this phase of their life, you need to make an intensive and determined effort to keep the lines of communication open as much as possible. This will help them to converse without hesitation. You should encourage more time to be spending with family. Go out with them. Give them your time. Show that you care. Show them that you are there beside them to love and support them. Encourage them to invite their friends for lunch or dinner. Search for new hobbies that you and your child can enjoy together.


Professional help and good communication can help your teen in this phase of life. Being a parent, you need to understand your child and give them all the love, care and support.

Sep 27, 2009

As teenagers reach there age of maturity, the body seems to be the one which takes the most obvious blows. From lower (or higher) voices, to the annoying and often humiliating issue of acne, the period of puberty is sure to be more of an hindrance than that of a bodily miracle.

Probably the most intensely studied aspect of puberty is the commonly occurring phenomenon of acne - a skin condition which results in an oily, bumpy, and often pimple spotted face. At the same time as the fashion and appearance industries are imposing high standards and perfect smiles upon our most vulnerable teenagers - the very incidence of acne can be very harmful to levels of self esteem and confidence.

But that doesn't necessarily have to be the case for long. Indeed, as the beauty industry attempts to manufacture a product for almost any ill - acne has had a lot of money spent and attention paid to it over the years. Thankfully, as a result of this - it is now a possibility to decrease the incidence, and severity of acne when it first flares up, meaning that after an initial period of treatment - the symptoms of this natural bodily process can be eliminated or reduced.

Skin Care Is The Best Option.

There are many options for when it comes to eliminating the signs of embarrassing red dots on the skin. Often, doctors will prescribe harsh drugs to stem the development and production of the leading cause of acne - high sebum levels. This sounds like a good plan at first - but the side effects of such drugs can dangerously outweigh the temporary benefits. No doubt you will have heard about a few of these, as they are readily publicized by the media.

It is for this reason that the best method of tackling acne is via skin care products. These products can be found in the supermarket, at the pharmacy, or even from online stores. Basically, they work by nourishing, repairing, and eliminating blemishes on the skin, starting from the outside. Hence, the potential side effects from such actions are limited to things such as skin rashes and irritation.

Clearly, this is a much safer option than harsh and synthetic chemical drugs. Ultimately however - it is up to you to decide which mode of repair you choose for your skin, or the skin of a loved one.

Sep 25, 2009

Eating disorders are a mental illness. They can affect women and men of all age groups, from a range of backgrounds and from different cultures. Despite an increase in the incidence and understanding of eating disorders, many people live with these disorders for a long time without treatment or a clinical diagnosis.

Female adolescents and young women are most commonly affected, but men can be also be affected by eating disorders. It is estimated that approximately one in every 100 adolescent girls will develop anorexia nervosa and approximately five in 100 adolescent girls develop bulimia.

Signs and symptoms
Some habits and behaviours are common to people with eating disorders. They include:

  • Weight loss or weight change, usually due to dieting, but sometimes from an illness or stressful situation.
  • Preoccupation with body appearance or weight.
  • Loss or disturbance of menstrual periods in females.
  • Sensitivity to cold.
  • Faintness, dizziness and fatigue.
  • Increased mood changes and irritability.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Inability to think rationally or concentrate.
  • Increased interest in preparing food for others.
  • Obsessive rituals, like only drinking out of a certain cup.
  • Wearing baggy clothes or changes in clothing style.
  • Excessive or fluctuating exercise patterns.
  • Avoidance of social situations involving food.
  • Frequent excuses not to eat.
  • Disappearance of large amounts of food.
  • Trips to the bathroom after meals.
  • Dieting.
Dieting, depression and body dissatisfaction are the most common risk factors for the onset of an eating disorder.

Causes
There is no single cause of eating disorders. It is currently agreed that eating disorders are multifactorial – that is, social, psychological and biological factors all play a part, in varying degrees, for different people.

Contributing factors may include:
Social factors
  • Media and other presentations of the ‘ideal’ shape as slim and fit.
  • Mixed messages about health and fast food.
  • Pressure to achieve and succeed.
  • Occupations or pursuits with an emphasis on body shape and size – for example, modeling or gymnastics.
Psychological factors
  • Major life changes or events such as adolescence, relationship breakdowns, childbirth, the death of a loved one, or the accumulation of many minor stressors.
  • Fear of the responsibilities of adulthood.
  • A belief that love is dependent on high achievement.
  • Poor communication between family members.
Biological factors
  • Adolescence and its associated physical changes.
  • Genetic or familial factors.
If you think you have an eating disorder
Many people have problems with their eating. If you do have an eating disorder, you have the right to get help. Remember that these disorders can be overcome.

Getting professional help and support from others is important. Recovery may be slow as you learn to approach food in a more positive way and understand the reasons for your behaviour, but the effort will be worthwhile.

Family and friends
Parents, siblings, partners, friends, extended family, work colleagues and others often experience many different feelings as they learn to cope with the effects of an eating disorder on the person, and on their own lives.

The strain of living with an eating disorder can create tensions and divisions within a family. There may be feelings of confusion, grief, anger, guilt and fear.

Family and friends can remind their loved one that the effort associated with recovery will be worthwhile for everyone. The most important thing is to show love, care and faith in the person, and seek advice at the earliest possible time.

Some suggestions for family and friends include:
  • Be honest and open about your concerns.
  • Use ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you’ statements. For example, ‘I am concerned for you because I have noticed you are not so happy at the moment’ rather than, ‘You aren’t happy at the moment’.
  • Focus on the person’s behavioural changes, rather than their weight, food consumption or physical appearance.
  • Try to take the focus off food and weight. The person with the eating disorder is already likely to be excessively focused on food and weight issues.
  • Mealtimes should not be a battleground. Frustrations and emotions need to be expressed but not at mealtimes, which are already likely to be difficult.
  • Do things as you usually would. The person with the eating disorder needs to learn to co-exist with food and other people, rather than others learning to co-exist with the eating disorder.
Treatment and recovery
Many different forms of therapy are available and it is important to remember that different approaches work for different people. Once the right approach is found, prospects of recovery are excellent. Professional help and support from others is important.

Because the disorders affect people physically and mentally, a range of health practitioners might be involved in treatment including psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, dietitians, social workers, nurses and dentists.

Things to remember
  • There is no single cause of eating disorders.
  • Dieting, depression and body dissatisfaction are common risk factors for the onset of an eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders can be overcome with professional help and support from others.

Good nutrition is essential for everyone, but it’s especially important for growing teenagers. Unfortunately many Australian teenagers have an unbalanced diet. One in four adolescents buys unhealthy takeaway food every day or even a few times a day. If you eat takeaway food regularly, you are more likely to put on weight than if you eat fast food only occasionally.

Don’t despair! It doesn’t take a lot of effort to change your eating habits. A few simple changes will make a huge difference. You’ll feel better, manage your weight, improve your skin and even save money!

Junk food is poor fuel for your body
About nine in 10 teenagers eat junk food every day. This might be fizzy drinks and high-kilojoule snacks like potato chips. However, your body can’t run properly on inferior fuel. Compared to home-cooked food, junk food (which includes fast food) is almost always:

  • Higher in fat, particularly saturated fat
  • Higher in salt
  • Higher in sugar
  • Lower in fibre
  • Lower in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals
  • Served in larger portions, which means more kilojoules.
While a mid-life heart attack might seem too far away to be real, it may surprise you to know that you could have health problems already. A poor diet can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, constipation, fatigue and concentration problems – even when you’re young.

How to improve your diet without even trying
Small changes can make a big impact. Try these tips:
  • Cut back on fizzy sugary drinks. Go for sugar-free versions. Even better, drink water instead – try adding a slice of lemon, lime or orange.
  • Keep a fruit bowl stocked at home for fast and low-kilojoule snacks.
  • Eat breakfast every day so you’re less likely to snack on junk food at morning tea. A fortified breakfast cereal served with low fat milk can provide plenty of vitamins, mineral and fibre. Other fast and healthy options include yoghurt or wholemeal toast.
  • Don’t skip lunch or dinner either.
  • Help with the cooking and think up new ways to create healthy meals. Make those old family recipes lower in fat by changing the cooking method – for example, grill, stir-fry, bake, boil or microwave instead of deep frying.
  • Reduce the size of your meals.
  • Don’t add salt to your food.
  • Don’t eat high fat foods every time you visit a fast food outlet with your friends. Many of the popular fast food chains now have healthier food choices on the menu.
  • Change your meeting place. Rather than meeting up with your friends at the local takeaway shop, suggest a food outlet that serves healthier foods such as wholemeal rolls or sushi.
Change the way you think about food
There are lots of myths around about healthy food. Don’t make food choices based on false beliefs. Suggestions include:
  • Compare the prices of junk foods against the price of healthier food options to see that ‘healthy’ doesn’t have to mean ‘expensive’.
  • Experiment with different foods and recipes. You’ll soon discover that a meal cooked with fresh ingredients always leaves a limp burger or soggy chips for dead.
  • Try different ‘fast’ options like wholewheat breakfast cereal, muesli, wholemeal bread, wholegrain muffins, fruit, yoghurt or noodles. ‘Fast food’ doesn’t have to mean ‘junk food’.
  • Don’t think that your diet has to be ‘all or nothing’. Eating well doesn’t mean you must be a health food freak. A good diet allows for treats occasionally.
Change your environment
Suggestions include:
  • Lobby your school canteen for healthier food choices.
  • Ask your school canteen to include a range of low-price healthy food choices.
  • Help with the grocery shopping and opt for fewer processed foods.
  • Get involved in the kitchen at home. Browse the Better Health Channel recipe finder for inspiration – click on the ‘Quick and easy’ button if time is an issue for you and your family.
Things to remember
A teenager who eats fast food regularly is more likely to put on weight than a teenager who eats fast food only occasionally.
Many teenagers wrongly assume that healthy foods are expensive and tasteless.
Eating well doesn’t mean you must be a health food freak – a good diet allows for your favourite junk foods occasionally

Sep 24, 2009

Your breasts feel swollen and tender and may even hurt a little. Your belly is bloated, making it hard to button your favorite jeans. If you are one of the many girls who experience PMS, these are among the symptoms you may experience 7 to 10 days before your monthly period begins.

PMS symptoms generally go away as soon as your menstrual period arrives. Here are some tips to help you manage any symptoms of PMS that you may experience:

  • Get more exercise. Special chemicals in the brain are responsible for increasing pleasure and decreasing pain. These chemicals are called endorphins, and exercise helps increase them.
  • Eat less sugar and caffeine.
  • Eat less salt. If you're careful not to eat too much salt, you can help decrease water retention (bloating).
  • Relieve aches and pains with over-the-counter pills.

Cramps
They Don't Have to Cramp Your Style (Too Much!)

Cramps are yet another unwelcome symptom of having your period. Some girls never get cramps; others get them only occasionally, and some unlucky gals are bothered by cramps every single period. Cramps usually begin during the first three years of your period. The good news is there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort of cramps during your period:

  • Relieve aches and pains with over-the-counter pills.
  • Try a little light exercise. Activity makes many women feel better.
  • Apply some heat. Warmth can often soothe cramps. Take a long, hot bath or place a hot water bottle or heating pad on your stomach.
  • Give yourself a gentle massage. Gently rubbing or massaging your abdomen can often relieve cramps.
  • Eat less salt. Drink more water. That "huge" feeling you get each month is caused by increased hormones that make you retain water, which in turn makes body tissue swell. So, drink more water and eat less salt. You'll help relieve bloating and headaches-and you might even feel more comfy in your favorite jeans!
  • Limit caffeine. As tough as it is to cut back on those grande, extra hot, no whip mochas, taking in less caffeine does help some women feel better.
  • Get enough sleep. It's much easier to deal with discomfort when you're not tired and cranky. Try to catch a few extra z's if you can.

If none of these ideas helps to relieve your cramps, see your doctor. He or she can make sure there aren't other causes for your symptoms, and may prescribe stronger medicine than you can buy over the counter.


Sep 23, 2009

How do you gain the respect that you know you deserve? The thing is how do you know that you deserve the respect that you think you should be getting? Respect is something that is earned, and you don't set out to just go and get respect, you get respect through the things that you do, and the actions that you take. Respect is an earned thing that you gain over time, and if people don't respect you, either they don't really care about what you do, or you haven't earned it.

So how do you go about earning the respect of other people? Well, you can do more and speak less. Those who talk a lot may get a lot of the attention, but do they really deserve all the attention that they get? The ones who come into work, and don't ask for anything other than the paycheck that they get are the ones that deserve to be respected. The people who know what they are doing, and don't try to show off all the time are the ones who earn respect.

If you think that you have earned the respect of the people around you and you don't think that you have gotten it, why not stand up for yourself? If you think that you have done enough to be respected, well then you have to step up and respect yourself first. If you don't respect yourself, and aren't proud of your own accomplishments then how do you think other people are going to feel about you? Being respected is all about carrying yourself with dignity.

Don't let people walk all over you. Just because you aren't a showboat doesn't mean that people can take your work for granted, or that you will just do what people tell you. You have to be able to make people remember what you are good for, and if you feel like you are being disrespected, don't take it, just walk away for a bit and see what happens. Do people not think that you are good enough to do your job anymore? Well take a week off, and then see how the office operates without you.

Lead by example, and let your work speak for itself. Don't feel the need to have to respond to criticism, and allow others to get into your head. If other people really could do the job that you could do, then they would be in the spot that you are in, and would be doing your job. Don't let the idle chatter of those who are jealous get in the way of you getting the respect you deserve. If you have to set someone straight, then go ahead and do so. Don't get pushed around, and let your work speak for itself, and you will get the respect that you want.

If you aren't getting the respect you feel like you deserve, you can always take your services elsewhere. Don't let your employer, or your co-workers take you for granted. It is up to you to earn the respect you feel you deserve, but if you aren't given it you can't be taken for granted either. You have to step up and take the respect that you feel you have earned, otherwise people might just walk all over you.

Sep 22, 2009

Many different types of anxiety disorders affect children and adolescents. Several types of disorders and their signs are described below:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Children and adolescents with this type of anxiety disorder engage in extreme, unrealistic worry about everyday life activities. They worry unduly about their academic performance, sporting activities, or even about being on time. Typically, these young people are very self-conscious, feel tense, and have a strong need for reassurance. They may complain about stomachaches or other discomforts that do not appear to have any physical cause.

Separation Anxiety Disorder: Children and adolescents with this type of anxiety disorder often have difficulty leaving their parents to attend school or camp, stay at a friend's house, or be alone. Often, they "cling" to parents and have trouble falling asleep. Separation anxiety disorder may be accompanied by depression, sadness, withdrawal, or fear that a family member might die. About one in every 25 children experiences separation anxiety disorder.

Phobias: Children and adolescents with phobias have unrealistic and excessive fears of certain situations or objects. Many phobias have specific names, and the disorder usually centers on animals, storms, water, heights, or situations, such as being in an enclosed space. Children and adolescents with social phobias are terrified of being criticized or judged harshly by others. Young people with phobias will try to avoid the objects and situations they fear, so the disorder can greatly restrict their lives.

Panic Disorder: Repeated "panic attacks" in children and adolescents without an apparent cause are signs of a panic disorder. Panic attacks are periods of intense fear accompanied by a pounding heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, nausea, or a feeling of imminent death. The experience is so scary that young people live in dread of another attack. Children and adolescents with the disorder may go to great lengths to avoid situations that may bring on a panic attack. They also may not want to go to school or to be separated from their parents.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder, sometimes called OCD, become trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors. Even though they may recognize that the thoughts or behaviors appear senseless and distressing, the pattern is very hard to stop. Compulsive behaviors may include repeated hand washing, counting, or arranging and rearranging objects. About two in every 100 adolescents experience obsessive-compulsive disorder (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999).

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Children and adolescents can develop post-traumatic stress disorder after they experience a very stressful event. Such events may include experiencing physical or sexual abuse; being a victim of or witnessing violence; or living through a disaster, such as a bombing or hurricane. Young people with post-traumatic stress disorder experience the event over and over through strong memories, flashbacks, or other kinds of troublesome thoughts. As a result, they may try to avoid anything associated with the trauma. They also may overreact when startled or have difficulty sleeping.

Children and adolescents with anxiety disorders typically experience intense fear, worry, or uneasiness that can last for long periods of time and significantly affect their lives. If not treated early, anxiety disorders can lead to:
  • Repeated school absences or an inability to finish school;
  • Impaired relations with peers;
  • Low self-esteem;
  • Alcohol or other drug use;
  • Problems adjusting to work situations; and
  • Anxiety disorder in adulthood.
How common are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental, emotional, and behavioral problems to occur during childhood and adolescence. About 13 of every 100 children and adolescents ages 9 to 17 experience some kind of anxiety disorder; girls are affected more than boys.1 About half of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders have a second anxiety disorder or other mental or behavioral disorder, such as depression. In addition, anxiety disorders may coexist with physical health conditions requiring treatment.

Who is at risk?

Researchers have found that the basic temperament of young people may play a role in some childhood and adolescent anxiety disorders. For example, some children tend to be very shy and restrained in unfamiliar situations, a possible sign that they are at risk for developing an anxiety disorder. Research in this area is very complex, because children's fears often change as they age.

Researchers also suggest watching for signs of anxiety disorders when children are between the ages of 6 and 8. During this time, children generally grow less afraid of the dark and imaginary creatures and become more anxious about school performance and social relationships. An excessive amount of anxiety in children this age may be a warning sign for the development of anxiety disorders later in life.

Studies suggest that children or adolescents are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if they have a parent with anxiety disorders. However, the studies do not prove whether the disorders are caused by biology, environment, or both. More data are needed to clarify whether anxiety disorders can be inherited.

As children get older, they are capable of more and more responsibility. Smart parents who recognize this are able to give their teen chores or other responsibilities that used to be done by the parent. Not only can these tasks be given to a teen, but a parent can expect that the task will be completed properly. All a parent needs to do is delegate.
  1. Clear communication is a must. Be clear about the responsibility you want completed.
  2. Explain to your teenager that taking on responsibilities leads to learning self-confidence. It also helps you know that your teen is capable of handling responsibility and therefore, may lead to more priviledges.
  3. If the task is a multi-part task, write out the directions on how to get it done. For example, if you want the bathroom cleaned list what needs cleaned and what to cleaner to use.
  4. Allow your teen to do the task independently. Do not stand over him/her.
  5. Go back and check that your teen has completed the responsibility to your satisfaction.
  6. If your teen has completed the task to your satisfaction, thank him/her. Do this every time the task is completed correctly.
  7. If your teen has not completed the task to your satisfaction, explain what needs to be done to get it right and ask that he/she try again next time. Check step #3 and repeat step #4 through step #7 next time.
Tips: Do not get into a battle of wills on any given week. Let your teen know your expectations and that you’ll be ready to check again the following time the task needs to be done.

Sep 20, 2009


Whilst alcoholism in its truest form is normally the province of older people, there are an alarming number teenagers and even younger children who have alcohol issues.

It's a big issue in the press; the frequency and infamy of binge drinking amongst young people and the explosion of underage drinking makes appalling headlines. But the headlines only really show part of the issue.

Getting Wasted

British teenagers and young people often have the attitude that the definition of having a good time is getting as wasted as possible. The tales of drunken bravado, the stories of how trashed they were, they see this as something cool, something that makes them popular and amusing company and the actual details of the night out pale into insignificance - it's all about how much they drank.

Drinking irresponsibly like this is risky for anyone, but young people can find themselves at the mercy of all sorts of problems, including having their drinks spiked and them being raped, or to perhaps finding themselves getting arrested for throwing up in the street or fighting.

Getting Spiked

Teenagers need to realize that the number one date rape drug used is alcohol, not rohypnol or ketamine.

Both girls and boys are vulnerable and for various different reasons. Boys can find themselves getting beaten up, mugged or attacked when under the influence. And boys can also be drugged and raped too - it's not just girls at risk.

Showing Off

People, particularly boys, will also find that alcohol releases the daredevil inside them, leading to mad acts of bravado that can often lead to accidents or confrontation. Stunt behaviour like climbing scaffolding or hoardings might seem a great idea after several pints, but it isn't really.

Accidents happen on the streets too; it's a fact is that eight out of 10 pedestrians knocked down and killed on Friday or Saturday nights are under the influence, wobbling about in the street, or roaring up and down in the road.

Unprotected Sex

Something for both sexes to think about here - unprotected sex, which can obviously lead to unwanted pregnancies, but also STDs. Using a condom can help prevent both these things, but this often gets forgotten when heavy drinking has been taking place.

Are you a Worried Parent?

If you are the parent of a teenager or youngster that is drinking too much can be stressful and worrying. But tackling the subject is never straightforward. It's all too easy to go in all guns blazing and have a heated row or argument over it all, but there are ways of trying to tackle this with a bit more tact and communication.

The first thing to do it to remember is that a huge part of talking is listening. Don't lecture, but rather sit and explain the dangers of excessive drinking, and the positive aspects of having a healthy lifestyle, including keeping on top of excess weight! Remember to stay calm and to take the time to hear responses. It will make a big difference.

Teach by example. It's no good telling your children or teenagers that drinking is bad for them if you yourself are often drunk.

Stay up to date on information relating to the dangers of alcohol, including as the health effects, dangers of spiking, date rape, underage drinking and so on. You will enjoy more respect if you sound like you know what you're on about.

And be realistic. Teenagers have always experimented and drunk alcohol, whether it's from their parents cocktail cupboard, or by asking strangers to buy them cider in the local off license. And recognise peer pressure too. Help your child arm themselves with ways to say 'no' and still be cool, like 'it's too high in calories', 'It makes me sick' or even 'I don't like it'!

Sep 18, 2009

Most teens need on the order of 9-plus hours nightly to have optimal sleep. The need for sleep does not really change across adolescence, the amount of sleep young people get does decrease in older teens. Thus, the sleep deficit grows right along with the youngster.

Many factors combine to decrease sleep in adolescents. We can think in general of two major factors: behavior, by which that mean all the psychological, parental, societal, cultural features of a teen’s life, and biological, means the brain processes that regulate the amount and timing of sleep. Adolescents and their sleep patterns in 21st century as a version of the "perfect storm."

The sleep-wake bio-regulatory factors appear to undergo significant changes during adolescence. These changes lay the ground work for the biological night to occur later during the teen years than before. The circadian timing system (daily biological clock) seems to slow down and lag behind as young people progress through the middle school years. At the same time, the sleep pressure system appears to change in a way that makes it easier to stay awake longer, though without changing the amount of sleep that is needed.

It is no longer an issue of electric lights in the home, but many teens have a veritable technological playground in their bedrooms: television, computer with 24/7 Internet access, telephones, electronic game stations, MP3 players, and so forth. These technologies can also provide instant and incessant contact with peers. Societal/media pressure to consume these technologies is now higher than ever. Yet society also requires that teens go to school at a time of day that is at odds with their biological and social lives. It’s more surprising to find teens in the U.S. today that get enough sleep than those who get too little.

Teens may be driven to things that can wake them up simply because they’ll fall asleep if they do not. So we see caffeine, late-night Internet, chat rooms, IM’ing, cramming in activity after activity as a means to keep awake and necessitating more of the same to stay awake in the face of declining sleep. This is another way to think of the negative spiral of too little sleep.

These patterns can disguise the extent of their sleep deficit for many teens and their parents as well. On the other hand, we do see the signs emerge in many young people, each may be vulnerable in different ways. Thus, we see the teenager who falls asleep driving home late at night; in another teen, the problem emerges with titanic struggles to wake up in the morning, often failing and resulting in late or missed school; another may simply feel sad and moody and blue, lacking initiative or motivation; in other teens, grades begin to suffer as the teen struggles to keep awake during class and while doing homework; another may turn to heavier drugs to get some positive and arousing sensations; many just struggle along in a kind of haze, never knowing how to feel or do their best.

Sep 17, 2009

Teen Health

Teenager’s life is difficult when taking into considerations his/her health issues. It is one of the most important parts of an individual. In this phase, the individual faces numerous changes - physical, psychological and environmental transformation. At the age of puberty, an individual counteracts different kinds of people, mingle with the opposite sex, undergo various physical changes, etc.

Teenage life engages following:

- Drugs and Alcohol – At adolescent, most people tend to experiment with alcohol or drugs, or both. There are plenty of good, confidential support and rehabilitation programs available.

- Tobacco and Smoking - Smoking kills actively or passively. It's very addictive and most them die for this cause. It is a serious teenage issue, and should be put under remedial measures.

- Physical Activity – Sports and recreation adds a flavor to teenage life, such as walking or cycling to school, swimming, sports, helps one to feel and look good.

- Painful Urination – is a sign of Urinary infection and a common problem among teenagers. Painful urination can also be caused by vaginal infection or irritation. However, it can also be caused due to intake of certain drugs.

- Mental Health – Due to series of changes taking place all around, a teenage are liable to get mentally distressed. It can affect the ability to handle day-to-day problems and/or enjoying life. Caused by a wide range of life events such as school stress, relationship problems, or the death of someone close, parental counseling and sympathy at such a situation is conducive.

- Healthy Eating – Diet food is necessary at the stage of growth of every living organism. Teenage is the growth stage of an individual’s life. Therefore, proper food that one can enjoy as well as add nutritious to the body is mandatory. Since, there is a need for a lot of energy in a young body, basic healthy food is essential.

- Preventing Injury – Occurrences like accidents on the roads, at home, at school, in sports grounds, etc. causes injuries to young, growing and fragile cellular body. Therefore immediate first aids and preventive measures, proper care should be applied. Negligence can even lead to death.

Sep 16, 2009

How do you create a drug-free environment for your children? Here are a few tips:

  • Stay engaged with your teenager's life,
  • Listen to your teenager,
  • Keep track of what they are doing and when,
  • Get to know your teen's friends and their parents,
  • If a teenage party is planned, call the parents for details,
  • Make sure your kids are rewarded for good behaviour,
  • Encourage open and honest communication between parent and child.

When your teenage child is going out, ask them questions, such as the following:

  • Who are they going to be with?
  • What will they be doing?
  • How long will they be out for?
  • and, where are they going to be?

Talk to your kids about the importance of honest communication, and if they say they are going to be somewhere doing something, you expect them to be telling you the truth.

Remember being a teenager right after school when everyone would get together and socialize before going home? This critical time of the day, from 3 to 6 pm, is often when drug use happens. There are several things you can do to try and deal with this very influential period of the day:

  • Make an effort to be with your teens at that time, if possible,
  • Try to have a positive influence present (an adult or trusted friends) watching over them or being active with them,
  • See that they're engaged in extra-curricular activities that interest them such as sports, jobs, clubs, after-school programs or groups that you know of and can trust.

Set Boundaries

Expectations

Setting expectations is a skill that requires practice as a parent. It's important on this issue to be consistent and clear that you will not allow any illicit drug use in your house at an early age, because when young people enter high school, their risk of drug use can be greater if expectations have not been clearly outlined.

Rules

Sure, your teenage children are spending less time with you as they grow older. This is even more reason to continue to set rules around drug use. Ensuring this message stays consistent will help your teenager resist pressures to use drugs as they move into their later teenage years. Rules are more likely to be effective if your teenager is involved in determining the rules with you as a parent, rather than just having the rules imposed on them.

Consequences

Parents need to enforce rules consistently and fairly. All families are different and individual teenagers may respond in their own way to different consequences, but it's important to support the rules you've made with consequences that are appropriate for your child.

Sep 15, 2009

When sitting around the house with nothing to do, many American adults instinctively reach for the remote control -- in fact, watching television is one of the most favorite ways adults spend an evening. Results from a recent Gallup Youth Survey indicate that most teens are flipping on the tube, too. When asked in an August 2004 survey* if they watched television yesterday, 9 in 10 teens (90%) between the ages of 13 and 17 said yes.

What other pastimes do teens indulge in? The Gallup survey asked teens whether they'd done various activities and found activities related to electronic media reign supreme. In addition to watching television, teens are also listening to music -- 77% of U.S. teens listened to music on the radio the day before the survey, and virtually the same percentage (76%) listened to music on CDs or MP3s.

A majority of teenagers -- 60% -- said they'd used the Internet the previous day. However, other data show that the Internet has a long way to go before overtaking television. According to a 2003 study by Knowledge Networks/Statistical Research, Inc., 60% of children between the ages of 8 and 17 have a television in their bedrooms, while only 9% have Internet access through a computer.

More than a third (37%) of teens report that they played computer games the previous day. This is one of the few activities Gallup asked about that shows a significant gap between boys and girls. Nearly half (49%) of boys said they played computer games yesterday, compared with about a quarter (24%) of girls.

Fewer Teens Read

To the dismay of many parents, fewer teens said they'd read a book for pleasure than said they'd watched television, listened to music, or surfed the Internet. Still, a solid third (33%) of American teens said that they read a book for pleasure, rather than for homework, the day before the survey. (Note, since the survey was administered during the summer, most respondents were unlikely to have homework assignments during that period.) This question also shows a gap between boys and girls -- 26% of boys said they read a book for pleasure, compared with 40% of girls.

Teens report reading magazines and newspapers just about as often as they report reading books. Twenty-nine percent of teens reported reading a magazine in the past day, and 28% reported reading a newspaper.

The golden age of comic books has clearly passed. Just 7% of teens said they read a comic book yesterday.

*The Gallup Youth Survey is conducted via an Internet methodology provided by Knowledge Networks, using an online research panel that is designed to be representative of the entire U.S. population. The current questionnaire was completed by 439 respondents, aged 13 to 17, Aug. 8-19, 2004. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

Sep 14, 2009

Wait for the elevator in any high rise lobby and you'll be bombarded with invitations to quit smoking or stop depression now. Flyers advertising drug trials, conducted either by the University or by private pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, commonly seek out Penn students for experimental treatments.

However, several highly publicized deaths following drug trials -- including those of 18-year-old Penn student Jesse Gelsinger in 1999 and 19-year-old Philadelphia native Traci Johnson last weekend in Indiana -- have sparked debate about the ethics and safety of recruiting college students for studies with potential health risks.

Gelsinger, who suffered from a mild form of the liver disease ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, died of organ failure following injection with an experimental gene therapy treatment.

Johnson enrolled in January as a healthy participant in a trial of the antidepressant duloxetine. Four and a half days after she was taken off the drug, she committed suicide. Johnson was previously a student at Indiana Bible College but left school to take part in the Eli Lilly & Company study, which paid $150 a day.

Though Eli Lilly has initially ruled out the drug as the cause of Johnson's suicide, the investigation is ongoing, according to David Shaffer, a company spokesman.

Johnson's death has attracted national media attention partly because it came on the heels of a recent federal advisory panel announcement that said the Food and Drug Administration should issue stronger warnings about potential suicide risks for young people taking a certain class of antidepressants, including duloxetine.

Whether or not investigators conclude that duloxetine played a role in Johnson's suicide, the publicity surrounding both deaths raises questions about the place of college students in potentially life-threatening experiments.

Federal guidelines require representation in drug trials by the entire target user population, often including people under age 21. Because only people 18 or older are legally competent to enter into contracts, the undergraduate community spanning the ages 18-20 is coveted for participation in research studies.

Despite the technical definition of competency, some say that college undergraduates are too immature to give informed consent, or that their poverty makes them more likely to be lured by promises of compensation.

Shaffer called these types of generalizations an insult to young adults who are old enough to serve in the military.

"It would be, in our view, unethical and irresponsible to ... exclude undergraduates, knowing the medication is likely to be used by them," Shaffer said.

On the issue of compensation, he added that there are clear restrictions on the number of times that people can participate in research studies.

The Penn Institutional Review Board, which approves all human research studies, asks if "the level of compensation [is] going to lure people into the study inappropriately" according to Glen Gaulton, vice dean for research and research training in the Medical School.

Vice Chairman of the Psychiatry Department Charles O'Brien pointed out that the people who participate in research studies tend to be poor -- college students or not -- so good measures must be in place to make sure that all participants consent willingly.

He added that typical compensation for most studies is approximately $50.

The IRB subjects proposals to rigid scrutiny about consent, compensation and publicity. All studies planning to include people under 21 -- defined as a "vulnerable population" -- are tagged high-risk, Gaulton said.

O'Brien, however, said that college students are not given special treatment.

Ordinarily, "college students are just one subpopulation" and do not merit any extra applied safeguards.

Sep 13, 2009

Parents often ignore the signs their teen is in trouble, explaining issues away with such beliefs as: "It's a normal phase of adolescence," "He or she will grow out of it." If you feel your teenager exhibits behavior that is impacting his or her academic performance, peer or other social relationships, or physical health, the earlier the intervention the better.

There are a number of standardized tests available to professionals that can help parents identify issues with alcohol or drugs as well as mental health issues:

Personal Experience Screening Questionnaire (PESQ)
Short, inexpensive self-report questionnaire identifies teenagers who should be referred for a complete chemical dependency evaluation.

Adolescent Alcohol Involvement Scale (AAIS)
Fourteen items are designed to identify adolescents with a drinking problem. Assesses level of use and impact by measuring psychological functioning, social relations, and family living.

Adolescent Diagnostic Interview (ADI)
Assesses psychoactive substance abuse in 12- to 18-year-old children. Evaluates psychosocial stressors, school and interpersonal functioning, and cognitive impairment. Screens for specific problems often associated with substance abuse.

Adolescent Drinking Index (ADI)
Measures severity of drinking problems among adolescents by assessing loss of control of drinking, social indicators of drinking problems, psychological indicators, and physical problems related to drinking. Helps professionals identify adolescents who should be referred for further alcohol evaluation or treatment. Also measures self-medicating problem drinking versus aggressive, rebellious drinking behavior.

Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI)
Twenty-four scales designed to measure alcohol use by older adolescents. Best for teens ages 16 and older.

Chemical Dependency Assessment Profile (CDAP)
A self-report questionnaire that evaluates alcohol use, use of illegal and prescription drugs, and abuse of multiple substances. Assesses history and patterns of use as well as personal beliefs and expectations related to drug and alcohol use. Also assesses self-concept and attitude toward treatment. Best for adolescents age 16 or older.

Perceived Benefit of Drinking Scale (PBDS)
Attitude impacts substance use. This test assesses reasons for drinking and drug use, frequency, perceived and actual consequences vs. benefits of use, as well as alcohol use by peer group and family members.

Problem Oriented Screening Instrument for Teenagers (POSIT)
The POSIT is a brief yes/no-answer screening tool that can help professionals identify problems and the potential need for intervention. Assesses substance use/abuse, mental and physical health, family and peer relations, vocation, and special education.

Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index (RAPI)
A 23-item self-administered screening tool to assess adolescent problem drinking. The advantages of this screening tool lie in its ease of administration and its standardization, which make it possible to compare problem drinking scores across groups.

Teen-Addiction Severity Index (T-ASI)
The T-ASI is a semistructured interview that was developed to fill the need for a reliable, valid, and standardized instrument for a periodic evaluation of adolescent substance abuse. Measures such issues as psychoactive substance use, family function, social relationships, and psychiatric status.

Young Adult Alcohol Problems Screening Test (YAAPST)
A 27-item questionnaire to assess lifetime, past-year, and past-year's frequency of negative consequences of alcohol use among college students. The YAAPST assesses both traditional consequences (e.g., hangovers, blackouts, driving while intoxicated) and consequences presumed to occur at higher rates in a college student population (e.g., missing class, damaging property, getting involved in regrettable sexual situations).For older adolescents (college age).

IDENTIFYING ADOLESCENTS AT RISK FOR SUICIDE

If your teen has expressed suicidal intentions, one important thing is to take away the car keys, especially if your teen has been using alcohol or drugs.

If you are not the parent, notify them immediately that you feel the teen is at risk for suicide. This is particularly important if the child has made a previous attempt or has developed a specific plan, or if the teen has recently experienced a trauma (death, school failure, moving to a new town).

Firearms should be immediately removed from the home. If you know other homes your teen frequents have guns (even locked guns), warn the homeowners of the risk.

Sep 11, 2009

As children enter the teen-age years, the way parents discipline them must change in order to be effective. Autocratic commands with no explanation, or the threat of physical punishment no longer work. Instead, you need to establish a new, discussion-based relationship with your teen that promotes trust between parent and child.

This trust is based on mutual respect. Teen-agers are old enough to understand the words you say and often have the maturity to accept an attempt to treat them in a way that shows you understand they are growing up.

LEARNING TO LISTEN WITH YOUR "THIRD EAR"

There are always two parts to communication: content and process. Content refers to the words which are spoken, and ideas or feelings that are expressed. Process refers to that which is not said, or to that which is nonverbal--it's the hand gestures, the breathing, the posture and the facial expressions of your teen--it's reading that which is communicated "between the lines." Listen with your eyes as well as your ears; this is what refer to as listening with the third ear.

LEARNING TO LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND

Let your teen overcome his or her natural anxiety about sharing with you. Don't ask too many questions, especially questions that start with the word "why." Listen to understand your teen's feeling or viewpoint, and without ridiculing or refuting. Try not to plan your rebuttal, or your agenda for "setting him straight," while you listen. The teen may well need to be set straight--but not while you are trying to listen. If all a parent wants to do is set the teen straight, it will be most apparent--and an effective conclusion to your teen's willingness to talk with you. Remind yourself: all I am supposed to do right now is make sure that I understand what she is saying.

LEARNING TO CONFIRM YOUR UNDERSTANDING

While your teen talks, nod your head, utter an occasional "umm", or raise your eyebrow periodically. This lets your teen know that you are, indeed, listening. After a few sentences or paragraphs, interrupt and say, "Let me see if I understand what you're saying." Restate what you believe you have heard, and allow the teen to clarify if you have misunderstood something. Up to this point, do not agree or disagree. It is enough to let your teen know that you respect her enough to really listen carefully--carefully enough to really understand.

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TEEN--BASIC GUIDELINES

When is the "best time" to try to talk with my teen?

Generally, talking is going to be easier when it is your teen's idea. If necessary stop what you are doing and listen without distraction. Don't try to "listen" while doing something else. It is difficult to enthusiastically communicate against one's wishes. Timing is particularly important when the subject is touchy. Let your teen know that you want or expect to talk, but that you are willing to do so later if it facilitates communication.

Sep 10, 2009

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is one thing that all teens have in common. You can't escape it. It is everywhere. Whether it is pressure to conform to a group norm or pressure to act, peer pressure is something everybody has to deal with at some time in his or her life.

From the time people are quite young, peers influence what they do. During adolescence, that process, known as peer pressure, heightens. Fellow classmates, friends, and members of organizations, groups and teams have far greater influence on what teens think and how they act. They influence how teens feel about controlling their weight and their level of fitness; they affect whether teens take drugs or drink and drive. Of course, peer pressure does not magically disappear when one turns twenty. Many adults are influenced by what their peers say and do. But peer pressure does seem to be strongest during the teen years, and it may have longtime, significant consequences.

Peer pressure may be quite positive. Peers may encourage their fellow teens to study, work hard, be nice to their siblings and other relatives, and help their parents around the house. If a teen’s peers tend to hold outside jobs and do well in school, there is a good chance that the teen will also follow that pattern. Peers may even encourage their fellow teens to exercise more frequently, try out for sports or a theater production, attend religious services or faith-based activities, and dress neatly. If a teen’s peers do not smoke and they stay away from drinking and drugs, there is a good chance that the teen will do the same. Teens who are not sexually active often have peers who are similarly deferring sexual activity. Not surprisingly, goal oriented teens, who plan to attend college or learn a specific skill or trade, gravitate to other teens with similar aspirations.

But peer pressure is also known to be negative. If a teen’s peers are skipping classes, hanging out in gangs, smoking and taking drugs, and having sex—especially promiscuous sex—the teen may be drawn into those behaviors. In fact, some teens become sexually active because they believe it will increase their status among their peers. Peers can persuade their fellow teens that they should carry knives and guns, and they may draw teens into criminal behaviors such as shoplifting and robbery. People who have trouble with the law tend to have peer relationships with others who test the legal system. Even suicides and attempted suicides are known to place peers at greater risk for copycat suicides. It should be evident that teens should pick their peers with a great deal of care.

Why is peer pressure so strong during the teen years? Teens are still trying to determine where they belong. This searching occurs both within and outside their own families. At the same time, teens do not want to appear different; they hope to fit in with other teens and belong to a group.

Though positive peer pressure is to be supported, teens should attempt to reduce the influence of negative peer pressure. Teens should be aware of some of the signs of negative peer pressure such as temptations, taunts and threats. A peer may describe how wonderful he feels when he is high on a certain drug or how much fun he had at a party where there was no parental supervision and just about everyone was drunk. That teen is attempting to entice another teen to follow a similar path. There may be taunts for not participating in certain behaviors, implying that someone is childish or influenced too strongly by parents. Or, there may be threats. For example, a teen might note that unless another teen is willing to share answers to a test or engage in some other form of deception, the friendship is over.

Before they spend time with peers who may exert negative pressure, teens should consider the risks. Are the teens asking their friend to join them for an afternoon of shopping at the mall or do they have another purpose such as shoplifting? Shoplifting is stealing and against the law. Stores prosecute shoplifters. Will the party peers want their friend to attend have no parental supervision? Will there be drinking? Drugs? All of these may have negatives consequences, and, if the police become involved, could impact a teen’s life now and in the future.

Instead of being drawn into negative peer pressure, a teen should think of alternative activities that he enjoys. Rather than attending a party that may have dangerous activity, he should have dinner with a few friends and see a movie. What should a teen do if he is already at a party and friends pressure him to do something he shouldn’t? In general, it is best to leave the party. But, if that is not an option, a teen should try to ignore the offer. If that doesn’t work, he should think of an excuse or make a joke. Other options include changing the subject or countering the challenge. It may be desirable to suggest that true friends don’t put such pressure on their friends. Teens might want to teach themselves to be assertive and practice role play in advance. Avoiding an argument is also a good idea. It is best not to let the situation turn acrimonious or become physically violent. Sometimes, a teen should simply walk away. Teens need to learn to be comfortable when they stand up for what they believe, especially when confronted with negative peer pressure. When something seems to be wrong, it usually is. So, teens should listen to their instincts. And, they must not be afraid to lose a negative friendship. If a peer is trying to steer a teen in a negative course, that is a friend the teen should not have.

Though parents heavily influence the early years, as a child becomes a teen, they repeatedly turn to their friends for advice. But that does not means that the parents should not play a role. It is important for teens to continue open communication with their parents. Teens should recall that their peers have limited lifetime experience. On the other hand, their parents are able to draw on many extra years of know-how. When appropriate, teens should factor in their parents’ input. This is most imperative when confronted with serious decisions and stressors of life. Teens may be surprised at how helpful and instructive their parents may be. And, parents will be pleased that their teens are turning to them for guidance and assistance.

Sep 9, 2009

The following are some of the most common symptoms of teenage depression. These symptoms don’t directly correspond to symptoms of major depression, but they’re similar. A teenager who

meets some of the following will often qualify for a diagnosis of major depression.

Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
Teens may show their pervasive sadness by wearing black clothes, writing poetry with morbid themes, or having a preoccupation with music that has nihilistic themes. They may cry for no apparent reason.

Hopelessness
Teens may feel that life is not worth living or worth the effort to even maintain their appearance or hygiene. They may believe that a negative situation will never change and be pessimistic about their future.

Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
Teens may become apathetic and drop out of clubs, sports, and other activities they once enjoyed. Not much seems fun anymore to the depressed teen.

Persistent boredom; low energy
Lack of motivation and lowered energy level is reflected by missed classes or not going to school. A drop in grade averages can be equated with loss of concentration and slowed thinking.

Social isolation, poor communication
There is a lack of connection with friends and family. Teens may avoid family gatherings and events. Teens who used to spend a lot of time with friends may now spend most of their time alone and without interests. Teens may not share their feelings with others, believing that they are alone in the world and no one is listening to them or even cares about them.

Low self esteem and guilt
Teens may assume blame for negative events or circumstances. They may feel like a failure and have negative views about their competence and self-worth. They feel as if they are not “good enough.”

Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
Believing that they are unworthy, depressed teens become even more depressed with every supposed rejection or perceived lack of success.

Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
Depressed teens are often irritable, taking out most of their anger on their family. They may attack others by being critical, sarcastic, or abusive. They may feel they must reject their family before their family rejects them.

Difficulty with relationships
Teens may suddenly have no interest in maintaining friendships. They’ll stop calling and visiting their friends.

Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches and stomachaches
Teens may complain about lightheadedness or dizziness, being nauseous, and back pain. Other common complaints include headaches, stomachaches, vomiting, and menstrual problems.

Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
Children and teens who cause trouble at home or at school may actually be depressed but not know it. Because the child may not always seem sad, parents and teachers may not realize that the behavior problem is a sign of depression.

Poor concentration
Teens may have trouble concentrating on schoolwork, following a conversation, or even watching television.

A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
Sleep disturbance may show up as all-night television watching, difficulty in getting up for school, or sleeping during the day. Loss of appetite may become anorexia or bulimia . Eating too much may result in weight gain and obesity.

Talk of or efforts to run away from home
Running away is usually a cry for help. This may be the first time the parents realize that their child has a problem and needs help.

Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior
Teens who are depressed may say they want to be dead or may talk about suicide. Depressed children and teens are at increased risk for committing suicide. If a child or teen says, “I want to kill myself,” or “I’m going to commit suicide,” always take the statement seriously and seek evaluation from a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional. People often feel uncomfortable talking about death. However, asking whether he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Rather than “putting thoughts in the child’s head,” such a question will provide assurance that somebody cares and will give the young person the chance to talk about problems.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Depressed teens may abuse alcohol or other drugs as a way to feel better.

Self-Injury
Teens who have difficulty talking about their feelings may show their emotional tension, physical discomfort, pain and low self-esteem with self-injurious behaviors, such as cutting.

Teenagers experience depression in a manner very similar to adults, but they may experience their emotions more intensely and with greater volatility. Feeling down about a relationship issue or an upcoming exam is normal. Feeling down for months at a time for no particular reason, however, may be a sign of undiagnosed depression.

Teen depression is a serious issue, but can be helped when you know the symptoms. Though the term “depression” can describe a normal human emotion, it also can refer to a mental disorder. Depressive illness in teenagers is defined when the feelings of depression persist and interfere with the teen’s ability to function.

Depression is fairly common in teens and younger children. About 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression at any given point in time. Teens under stress, who experience loss, or who have attentional, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Teenage girls are at especially high risk, as are minority youth.

Depressed youth often have problems at home. In many cases, the parents are depressed, as depression tends to run in families. Over the past 50 years, depression has become more common and is now recognized at increasingly younger ages. As the rate of depression rises, so does the teen suicide rate.

It is important to remember that the behavior of depressed children and teenagers may differ from the behavior of depressed adults. The characteristics vary, with most children and teens having additional psychiatric disorders, such as behavior disorders or substance abuse problems.

Sep 8, 2009

Researchers have found new evidence showing that parents play a key role in whether or not their adolescent children who experiment with tobacco progress to become daily smokers before they graduate from high school.

A study published on-line and in the September issue of journal Pediatrics shows that parents can be a positive or negative influence on their children’s future smoking habit.

“If parents really don’t want their children to smoke they need to communicate that by establishing clear guidelines in their families about not smoking and discuss them with their school-age children.” said Min Jung Kim, a research scientist with the University of Washington’s Social Development Research Group and lead author of the study.

At the same time, parents can increase their children’s chances of smoking by their own use of tobacco.

“If parents smoke, teens have more access to cigarettes than teens who have non-smoking parents. A second preventive measure for smoking parents is to quit smoking themselves,” said Kim.

The study included 270 adolescents who had begun smoking by the eighth grade but had not advanced to daily smoking at that time. Daily smoking was defined as smoking one cigarette a day for the past 30 days prior to annual interviews. By the time the students were in the 12th grade, 156, or 58 percent, had become daily smokers.

The children in the study were 51 percent male and 85 percent white. They were drawn from a larger study looking at the development of healthy and problem behaviors among children at 10 suburban schools in the Pacific Northwest. Information about their smoking habits was collected during annual interviews from the seventh through 12th grades.

Aside from parenting and parental tobacco use, other factors that predicted teen smoking were having friends who smoked and involvement in other problems behaviors such as skipping school, getting into fights and engaging in vandalism.

Kim said most smoking prevention programs to not directly address the role of parental smoking or the link between anti-social behavior and smoking, which commonly occur together.

“Parents need to know that they are still important and can make their children feel good when they do something right and also know that there are consequences when they do something wrong. Many parents think adolescence is the time for children to have their independence. But it is important to maintain good supervision of your teen. Parents who smoke also need to understand that they are modeling behavior and if they quit smoking they send a strong message to their teenager,” said Kim.

She recommends that parents “should not ignore children’s experimental smoking at any age because it put them at great risk of progressing to daily smoking.” To do that, parents should:

  • Set and enforce clear guideline about tobacco.
  • Monitor to ensure that your children are following your guidelines.
  • Know and monitor your children’s friends.
  • Provide clear, consistent and positive consequences for following those guidelines and appropriate, consistent negative consequences for violating them.

Co-authors of the paper are Charles Fleming and Richard Catalano, of the Social Development Research Group, which is part of the UW’s School of Social Work. The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Native American Tobaccoo flower,
leaves, and buds


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