Struggling Teens

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Talk with your struggling teen
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When Your Tween Loses Interest in School
Teen Issues and Challenges
Related Issue: Teen Suicide
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Talk with your struggling teen

Let’s face it: the teenage years are a difficult time, as adolescents try to figure out who they are, who their friends are, and where their place is in the world. Many teens experience depression, family conflicts, or feelings of isolation. For some teens, these struggles go beyond normal development, greatly affecting their ability to function, and may lead to life-threatening behaviors and activities.

It’s important for parents to first assess if their teen is going through the typical roller coaster of normal development, or whether they're experiencing something more serious. How do you tell if your teen is struggling? Watch for these common warning signs:

1. Isolation and withdrawal: Teens may feel alone and alienated, unable to connect with any safe adult. They crave friendships but feel too demoralized and fearful to reach out to others or respond to friendly overtures.

2. School failure and truancy: Some teens who were strong students in elementary school may become discouraged and alienated from academics in middle school or high school. Other teens have difficulty in school their entire lives because of learning disabilities, mental health issues, difficult home lives, or hostile school environments.

3. Defiance toward authority: Many struggling teens refuse to obey rules laid down by parents, teachers, the police and other authority figures.

4. Running away from home: Teens may run away from home to escape conflict with their parents, assert their independence, avoid the consequences of breaking rules, or flee their own distressing emotions.

5. Choosing the “wrong” friends: How do you know if your child is hanging out with the wrong friends? While teens can throw lots of camouflage over their activities, here are some red flags for parents to look for:

Red Flags

1. If teen is secretive, or unwilling to share information about other kids’ identities.

2. Coming home with glazed or bloodshot eyes, drug paraphernalia or condom wrappers.

3. Suddenly ceasing to eat meals during the day.

4. Depression including poor appetite or overeating, difficulty with sleep, low energy and fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration, difficulty making decisions, feelings of hopelessness, guilt and worthlessness, and irritability.

5. Abusing alcohol and drugs.

6. Eating disorders: seriously under eat, binge eat, or purge through vomiting or laxative use.

7. Self-injury include cutting, burning, branding, bruising or other methods in an effort to cope with emotional pain.

Connect with other parents who are having similar experiences through support groups in their area. Not only can support groups offer help on the emotional side, but they also are a great conduit for practical information. This is especially important because of the overwhelming amount of conflicting advice out there on how to raise struggling teens.

One point of confusion for parents is figuring out which of a long list of programs is right for their child. Programs range from short-term crisis intervention to long-term solutions, from special learning plans in a traditional high school setting, to residential treatment centers that focus on a teen’s psychiatric and emotional needs. If possible, enroll your children in community-based programs, so that they can stay in school and maintain important ties to friends and family. Many communities have highly structured mentoring programs and support groups. The parent needs to find a good social worker, psychologist or counselor who lives and breathes your local resources, like the school Health Center.

When community-based help isn’t working for your child, it’s time to enlist the services of an educational consultant, whose job it is to help parents locate programs and services designed to meet the child’s needs. The good educational consultants know what to look for, and will monitor a kid’s progress after they’re enrolled.. For a database of educational consultants, check out the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

Educational consultants and parents will have to examine these schools and programs in detail together.

What to do? Connect with other parents who are having similar experiences through support groups in their area. Not only can support groups offer help on the emotional side, but they also are a great conduit for practical information. This is especially important because of the overwhelming amount of conflicting advice out there on how to raise struggling teens.

What avenue is right? One point of confusion for parents is figuring out which of a long list of programs is right for their child. Programs range from short-term crisis intervention to long-term solutions, from special learning plans in a traditional high school setting, to residential treatment centers that focus on a teen’s psychiatric and emotional needs. If possible, enroll your children in community-based programs, so that they can stay in school and maintain important ties to friends and family. Many communities have highly structured mentoring programs and support groups. The parent needs to find a good social worker, psychologist or counselor who lives and breathes your local resources, like the school's Health Center.

When community-based help isn’t working for your child, it’s time to enlist the services of an educational consultant, whose job it is to help parents locate programs and services designed to meet the child’s needs. The good educational consultants know what to look for, and will monitor a kid’s progress after they’re enrolled.. For a database of educational consultants, check out the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

Educational consultants and parents will have to examine these schools and programs in detail together.

When Your Tween Loses Interest in School


If your tween is losing interest in school, this could be the reason why

The middle school years can be years of exciting change for your family and your tween. But sometimes middle school also brings about events or circumstances that interfere with your child's studies and school experience. If your tween is suddenly struggling at school, or seems to have lost interest in his studies, you'll have to take quick action to find out why. Below are a few reasons why you're tween has lost interest in school.

Why Tweens Lose Interest with School

Physical Obstacles: If your tween is suddenly having trouble keeping up with his studies or isn't following along with his fellow classmates, there could be a physical problem that's causing his troubles. Be sure your child has his eyes and his hearing checked every year. Vision and hearing loss can creep up on a child and neither the child or the parent may realize that there's a problem. If your child can't see the white board or hear his teachers' lectures, his grades will likely take a tumble, as well as his interest in school.

Overscheduled Calendar: Every parent wants their child to have a social life and life beyond school work. But the truth is many tweens are over scheduled and the result is burnout. If given the choice to choose between a fun sports activity and studying, it's fair to say most tweens will opt for the later. Be sure your tween has a healthy mix of after school activities, but remember, school has to come first.

Family Problems: Sometimes family life can be stressful, especially for sensitive tweens. If you're family is grieving, going through a divorce, experiencing job loss, or is facing financial or health problems, your tween will suffer, just as you do. While you want your child to know what's going on, you don't have to share every detail, and probably shouldn't, especially if your tween has difficulty coping with stressful situations.

If your family is truly facing a crisis, it might help to seek the advice of a therapist or the school counselor.

Bullying or Peer Pressure: Middle school is peak season for bullying, in fact, children your child has known his whole life may suddenly change and turn on him. It's sad, but rarely do children make it through middle school without some encounter with a bully, mean girl, or even a former best friend turned frenemy. The upside is that your child will learn a lot about real friendships and integrity and how to handle himself when these situations present themselves. Role play ways your child can respond to a verbal attack, and help your tween expand his social circle so that he always has a good friend he can rely on.

Disconnect with the Teacher: Sometimes a student and a teacher just don't click and when that happens a child may lose interest in the class. Students may also give up when they see that a teacher is playing favorites, or is unrealistic about homework assignments and other expectations.

While you can't make your child's teacher like your student you can make sure that expectations are realistic and that there's equal opportunity for success in the classroom. Make sure your tween knows that you're behind him 100 percent, and willing to work with him on any academic struggles he might be having.
Source: www.verywell.com/when-your-tween-loses-interest-in-school-3288105

Teen Issues and Challenges


Teenagers face many issues that can affect their health

It has always been difficult being a teenager, but it seems like today's teens face much more challenges than ever before. Instead of just worrying about acne, puberty, and what they are going to do after graduation, today's issues seem more life-threatening and life-changing, including things like:

  • teen pregnancy
  • drug abuse, including abuse of prescription medications
  • the choking game
  • eating disorders
  • obesity
  • mental health problems
  • using steroids
  • cyberbullying
  • youth violence
  • having alcoholic and drug using parents

Teen Drug Use

There is good news and bad news when it comes to teen drug use. The good news is that the statistics show that fewer teens are using drugs. The bad news is these same statistics still show that a lot of teens, some starting as early as in the 8th grade, are using drugs. For example, rates of use in the month before the survey was done for 12th graders were 21% for marijuana and 37% for alcohol.

Abuse of Vicodin, a prescription narcotic pain medicine, reaches almost 5% of 12th graders and about 2% abuse cough medicines. These rates have been dropping over the past few years. In addition to Vicodin, teens are abusing Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, Adderall, Oxycontin, and whatever other prescription medications they can find.

Today, instead of just a childproof cap on your prescription bottles, you likely need a lock on your medicine cabinet.

And knowing that today's teens are abusing prescription medications and over-the-counter cough medicines, it gives you something else to talk and warn your kids about. A pill identifier can help you if you find your teen with a suspicious pill and aren't sure what it is or why your child has it.

While youth smoking has dropped, with only 6.7% of high school seniors smoking daily in 2014, use of hookahs in the past year is at almost 23% for them, and a little over 17% reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.

These products also carry health risks. More seniors say they have used marijuana in the last 30 days than smoke cigarettes. There is a softening of attitudes towards marijuana as some states have legalized it for adults.

The Choking Game

While parents typically know, or should know, that they need to talk to their kids about how to protect themselves from STDs and getting pregnant, today's teens face some new issues that parents have just never heard of. The "choking game" is one of these issues.

The "choking game" involves teens who try to strangulate themselves or have a friend strangle or choke them until they pass out. Why do they do it? To get high. Unfortunately, too many of these kids who pass out - especially when they do something to choke themselves when they are alone - don't ever wake up.

Is the choking game just an over-hyped media problem that you don't have to worry about? There have been 82 probable choking game deaths in kids and the 2006 Williams County (Ohio) Youth Health Risk Behavioral Survey found that 11% of kids between the ages of 12 to 18 reported playing the choking game.

That makes it important to learn the warning signs to recognize if your kids might be playing, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can include talking about the choking game and:

  • bloodshot eyes and/or marks on their neck
  • frequent, severe headaches
  • being disorientated after spending time alone
  • finding belts, ropes, or scarves knotted or tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs

As with other topics you try to talk to your teen about, you might bring the topic up by asking him if he knows whether any of his friends or anyone at school ever talks about playing the choking game.

Health Issues

Many of the health issues that teens are facing aren't new, but they are issues that seem to be increasing. They include obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, tech neck and sleep problems.

Obesity is an especially challenging problem, as these overweight teens face many health problems and a risk of continuing to be overweight as an adult. Lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and drinking a lot of soda all contribute to the problem of teen obesity.

If your teen is overweight, it is a good time to get some help from your pediatrician, a registered dietitian, and an exercise program or activity at school or in the community to help your teen with a healthy diet and reach a healthier weight.

Mental Health Issues

Teen mental health issues are another of the big challenges that teens face. And they are even more important, because one way or another, they seem to affect so many other issues, including youth violence, risky behaviors, and poor school performance.

Whether it is anxiety, depression, or your teen simply has a lot of trouble making and keeping friends, getting early and aggressive treatment with a mental health professional can be helpful. In addition to your pediatrician, look for help from a counselor, social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist that specializes in teen mental health issues (adolescent psychiatrist).

Today's Teen Problems

In addition to all of the other new and old teen problems, newer issues that teens face today include cyberbullying, school violence, shootings, and worry about terrorism. And social pressures and the pressure to do well in school is a big stress, as it has always been, for many teens.

One other big problem for some teens continues to be having problems at home. This may range from not having someone at home to talk to or having a poor relationship with their parents, to a teen who has a drug abusing or alcoholic parent.

Help for Today's Teens

Although today's teens seem to an overwhelming number of challenges to their health and safety, that is likely what parents of every generation think. Fortunately, many parents are involved in their teen's lives, talk openly with them about important topics, and supervise them and their friends -- all of which can help them avoid many of today's problems.

Whether or not you think today's teens have more problems, bigger problems or just different problems, it is important to get your teen help for those problems before they become overwhelming.

Sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends. Dec. 2014.

MMWR. CDC. February 15, 2008 / 57(06);141-144. Unintentional Strangulation Deaths from the "Choking Game" Among Youths Aged 6-19 Years - US, 1995-2007.

The 21st Century Teen: Public Perception and Teen Reality. Prepared for the Frameworks Institute by Meg Bostrom. December 2001.

Source: www.verywell.com/teen-issues-and-challenges-2634373

 

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