HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

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How To Get Teens Home By Curfew

Most experts agree that moms and dads should discuss rules, especially curfews, with their youngster, so the youngster understands why the rule is the way it is, and can have a chance to give input. If your youngster helps to create the rules, he'll be less likely to break them and defy your authority.

Curfews are important because they set up reasonable boundaries to protect your family culture. Teenagers hate fixed, out-of-date, and inhuman rules with a passion. They want to be involved in the process of establishing them. So, sit down with your teenagers and work together on a list of specific rules for your household. Give them the opportunity to come up with ideas, add to the list, and comment on anything related to each of the rules.

Here are some simple rules for putting curfews in place:

1. Communicate clearly what the agreed upon times are, through written and verbal reinforcements. This means, post it on the refrigerator and reinforce with a verbal reminder, such as: "Look forward to seeing you around eleven tonight." And be careful how hard and fast you make that curfew. Allow for a small buffer, perhaps fifteen minutes, so that your youngster does not drive faster in order to be home by curfew and avoid punishment.

2. Execute the consequences of broken rules. When your daughter is late, give her the freedom and opportunity to comment and explain. Maybe there were unplanned events, like a flat tire, or a surprise party. Try to find a solution to the problem together. If an adolescent still breaks the curfew rule, let the agreed-upon consequences fall into place.

Since you and your adolescent have already discussed these consequences and set them up together (e.g. take away car keys, remove home privileges, like TV use, etc.) you are not forced into the position of playing the "bad guy" or creating a punishment on the spot.

3. If your adolescent has missed curfew because drinking or drugs were involved, then the consequences are more serious. Simply enact these more serious consequences that you and your adolescent set up together.

4. Involve your teenagers in setting their nighttime boundaries. Reach an agreement together as to a curfew time that is age-appropriate for each adolescent. Compromise if necessary. You don't always have to be the "winner."

On another note, it never hurts to check on your adolescent from time to time. If your adolescent says she is going to be at the coffee shop at 5 p.m. with their friends, drop by and see for yourself. You do not have to even let your adolescent know. If your daughter sees you, just wave and keep on walking.

Teenagers need to know that there will be some unscheduled checking by you. If they are spending the night at a friend’s house, call and ask to speak to your youngster at an unusual time. Parenting is active, and that means you have to make that effort to check on your adolescent. This takes courage, but it is the price of making sure your youngster is safe.

Does that mean you should follow your adolescent around or attach a tracking device to his clothing? Of course not! But as a parent, you should listen to your intuition. If something sounds sketchy, then it’s at least worth taking a closer look.

But if you are open and honest with your adolescent about the rules of the house, there will probably be a lot less “sneaking around” – and that means a more harmonious household, even if your adolescent would rather jump in an icy lake than be seen with you at Starbucks.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Discipline for Strong-Willed, Out-of-Control Teenagers

Preventing Truancy

Truancy has long been identified as an educational, social and juvenile justice issue worthy of public and private attention. It has been linked to many problem behaviors in adolescence, school failure, school dropout and juvenile delinquency, among others.

Involving parents and other family members in truancy prevention and intervention is critical. There is a large body of research demonstrating the positive outcomes associated with increased parental involvement in school activities including improved academic achievement and reduced likelihood of dropout.

Involving moms and dads in truancy programming is more than simply inviting their attendance at a school or court meeting. True participation means that parents are sought after for their advice, experience and expertise in the community, as clients of our public systems of care and as experts in the lives of their kids. This means engaging parents as a natural course of events, not just when things are not going well.

An effective truancy plan will be prepared to respond to the first unexcused absence of an elementary student and not give up on the 100th absence of the habitually truant adolescent youth. Meaningful sanctions for truant behavior and meaningful incentives for school attendance are key components of truancy programs. Sanctions, traditionally used to respond to truancy, frequently mirror the punitive steps taken against other undesirable behaviors: detention, suspension, petition to juvenile court, denial of privileges, etc. Incentives tend to be recognition-based, but may include special experiences or even monetary rewards. The critical task in this area is to design sanctions and incentives that are meaningful to youth and their families.

Truant students place themselves at risk for financial failure, delinquent behaviors and substance abuse. Truancy prevention efforts must involve the family, the school and the community. Preventing truancy is about more than just forcing the youngster to attend class. You must identify and address the root cause.

Here are some ideas on how to prevent truancy:

1. Ask the school about their policy and procedures on excusing absences from school.

2. Ask the school to notify you when your youngster is absent. The school must notify you whether the absence is excused or unexcused to ensure the youngster is not forging his own excuses.

3. Discuss family expectations for earning a high school diploma.

4. Escort your youngster to school, whether by walking or driving the youngster. You can shield your youngster from violence or truant peers by taking her directly to her first class.

5. Explore alternative schools in your district. Other truant students can negatively influence your youngster and you may need to switch schools for severe problems. Talk to your school's guidance counselor about this possibility.

6. If you feel your district’s truancy or discipline procedures were not addressed properly, inquire about your district’s appeal process.

7. If you feel your school district policies are inadequate, speak with the Superintendent and school board members.

8. Immediately address issues of concern about your student with the school. Start with the teacher or counselor.

9. Insist on accurate record keeping. If your youngster has truancy issues, the school's attendance policies may not be consistent or effective enough to track your youngster.

10. Investigate the safety of the youngster's school. An environment with gang or bullying issues encourages truancy.

11. Look for attitudes from your youth that indicate unhappiness with school or fear of attending school. Listen to what they say and ask questions.

12. Make school a priority. Students must not miss school to help with the family business or to attend vacations that fall during the school year. Allowing students to miss school for reasons other than illness or family emergencies sends the message that school is not important.

13. Praise positive behaviors and achievements in school.

14. Respond quickly when the school notifies you of an unexcused absence. Learn how you can check your student’s attendance.

15. Talk about family expectations regarding school attendance.

16. Work with your youngster on subjects with which he struggles. Kids skip school to avoid facing embarrassment in the classroom when their academic performance is poor.

The Becca Bill—

The “Becca Bill” is Washington’s truancy law. It is intended to stop truancy before it becomes a problem. Schools and families work together as a team to ensure school attendance and student safety. However, if a student has unexcused absences, this law requires that schools and school districts take the following actions:

• One unexcused absence: The school must inform the parent when there is one unexcused absence. This is often done by a phone call home.

• Two unexcused absences: After the second unexcused absence, the school is required to schedule a meeting with the parent and student to discuss the causes of the unexcused absences and find solutions to prevent further absences. This is a team effort.

• Five unexcused absences within 30 days: The school must enter into a written truancy agreement with the family, where the parent, student and school agree on the necessary steps to resolve the student’s attendance problem.

• Seven unexcused absences during a month or at the tenth unexcused absence within a school year: The school district will file a petition in juvenile court to order the student to attend school. If this court order is violated, the court will call for a Contempt Hearing and the student could be ordered to do community service or spend time in juvenile detention.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Eating Disorders in Teens

Teen eating disorders can take a devastating toll on adolescents, especially adolescent females. To help protect your adolescent, understand the possible causes of teen eating disorders and know how to talk to your adolescent about healthy eating habits.

Why adolescents develop eating disorders—

Adolescents develop eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder — for many reasons. For example:
  • Family stress. Problems at home, including perceived high parental expectations for achievement and appearance, can play a role in the development of teen eating disorders.
  • Favorite activities. Participation in sports and activities that value leanness — such as wrestling, running and ballet — sometimes contribute to teen eating disorders.
  • Low self-esteem. Adolescents who have low self-esteem may use their eating habits or weight loss to achieve a sense of stability or control.
  • Personal factors. Some adolescents may be more likely to develop eating disorders due to personality traits or genetics. Eating disorders can run in families.
  • Societal pressure. Modern Western culture tends to place a premium on being physically attractive and having a perfect body. Even with a normal body weight, adolescents can easily develop the perception that they're fat. This can trigger an obsession with losing weight, dieting and being thin, especially for adolescent females.

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Consequences of teen eating disorders—

Teen eating disorders can cause serious and even life-threatening health problems, including:
  • Delayed growth and hair and bone loss
  • Depression, which may spiral to suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Digestive problems, kidney damage and tooth decay
  • Heart disease, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, anemia and type 2 diabetes
  • Seizures, heart palpitations and, for females, absence of menstruation (amenorrhea)

Talking about teen eating disorders—

Talking to your adolescent about eating disorders may not be easy. Still, it's an important topic. When you discuss teen eating disorders, you might:

• Discuss media messages. Television programs, movies, Web sites and magazines may send your adolescent the message that only a certain body type is acceptable. Encourage your adolescent to talk about and question what he or she has seen or heard — especially from Web sites or other sources that promote anorexia as a lifestyle choice, rather than an eating disorder (commonly called "pro-ana" sites).

• Discuss the dangers of dieting, obsessing about food and emotional eating. Explain that dieting can compromise your adolescent's nutrition, growth and health. Remind your adolescent that eating or controlling his or her diet isn't a healthy way to cope with emotions. Instead, encourage your adolescent to talk to family, friends or a counselor about problems he or she may be facing.

• Encourage a healthy body image. Talk to your adolescent about his or her self-image and offer reassurance that healthy body shapes vary. Your acceptance and respect can help your adolescent build self-esteem and resilience. Encourage family and friends to refrain from using hurtful nicknames and joking about people who are overweight or have a large body frame.

• Encourage healthy eating habits. Talk to your adolescent about how diet can affect his or her health, appearance and energy level. Encourage your adolescent to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and to avoid skipping meals. Make healthy eating easy for your adolescent by eating together as a family.

Other preventive strategies—

In addition to talking to your adolescent, consider other strategies to prevent teen eating disorders:

• Set a good example. If you're constantly dieting, using food to cope with your emotions or talking about losing weight, you may have a hard time encouraging your adolescent to eat a healthy diet or feel satisfied with his or her appearance. Set a good example by eating healthy foods and taking pride in your body.

• Team up with your adolescent's doctor. Your adolescent's doctor can help identify early indicators of an eating disorder and prevent the development of full-blown illness. For instance, the doctor can ask your adolescent questions about eating habits and satisfaction with his or her appearance during routine medical appointments. These visits should include checks of body mass index and weight percentiles, which can alert you and your adolescent's doctor to any significant changes.

Recognizing the warning signs of adolescent eating disorders—

Adolescents who have eating disorders can become so preoccupied with food and weight that they focus on little else. Keep an eye out for these red flags:
  • Anxiety at mealtimes, a desire to eat alone or unreasonable food restrictions
  • Binge eating, fasting or following fad diets
  • Excessive exercising or moodiness
  • Fatigue, depression, complaints of an irregular heartbeat or abdominal pain, or, for females, interruptions in menstruation
  • Preoccupation with preparing food for others and counting calories
  • Self-induced vomiting or frequent, long bathroom visits during or just after meals
  • Unexplained disappearances of large quantities of food from the house
  • Unnatural concern about body weight, frequent weighing or dramatic weight fluctuations
  • Using laxatives, diet pills or diuretics to lose weight
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide thinness

Seeking help for adolescent eating disorders—

If you suspect that your adolescent has an eating disorder, talk to him or her. Encourage your adolescent to open up about his or her problems and concerns. In addition, schedule a medical checkup for your adolescent. Your adolescent's doctor can talk to your adolescent about his or her eating habits, exercise routine and body image, and may do tests to detect any possible complications. Depending on the severity of the eating disorder, treatment may involve individual or family counseling, nutrition education, medication and — if necessary — hospitalization. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment can help speed recovery.

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