Parents Beware: 10 Stupid Things Your Kid Might Try Over Summer Break

surfingx-largeJust compiling this list of stupid things your kid might do over summer break was enough to drive me, as a parent, into a massive anxiety attack.  After all, summer break should be about camps, swimming, going to the beach, parks, and hanging out with friends.  Unfortunately the combination of unsupervised kids, the internet and time to burn can be a deadly combination.

After the shock of my anxiety attack died down, this list is meant to frighten you as a parent and perhaps to wake you up to the possibilities of immature behavior that goes way beyond the fears of social media, bullying, internet pornography, and gambling.  Unfortunately each of these items is very easy to research on the internet and some even have YouTube videos explaining how it works.

  1. Choking Game, Pass-Out Game, Fainting Game, Space Monkey.  This is self-administered or friend-administered choking to the point of losing consciousness in order to achieving a high.  Every time your kid does this, they lose brain cells that can never be regenerated and some have even died from it.
  2. Huffing, Sniffing, Dusting, Bagging.  This is sniffing inhalants found in common household products such as bug spray, room deodorizers, and glue.  The poisonous chemicals are sprayed into a rag, inhaled directly from the container or sprayed into a bag placed over your kid’s head creating a high when inhaled.  Numerous cases of permanent brain damage have been reported.
  3. Drinking bleach.  There are many false rumors on the internet that drinking bleach will help your child to pass a drug test or that it is an effective way to commit suicide.   Rather, your kid is likely to end up in the emergency room with severe intestinal, stomach, and esophagus damage.
  4. Sexting, Rounds, Nude Pictures.  The idea of rounds is that you start small such as sending a picture of bare skin to another kid and they in return send another one back with each one escalating the previous picture.  Sexting and nude pictures are commonly done with iPods, iPads or cell phones.
  5. Boozy Bears, Drunken Gummies, Rummy Bears.  Gummy bears are soaked in rum or vodka and then eaten in order to get drunk.  The worst part is that the gummy bears look normal after they have absorbed the alcohol so it is difficult to detect.
  6. Eyeball Shots, Eyeballing.  Kids put vodka directly into their eyes in order to get drunk and avoid the alcohol smell on their breath.  Many kids have found that this leads to blindness instead.
  7. Butt Chugging, Vodka Tampons.  Frightening but true, another way kids get drunk is by soaking tampons in vodka and then inserting them into the rectum.
  8. Skittle Parties, Pill Parties.  Kids raid parents, grandparents, and friend’s parent’s medicine cabinets looking for prescription drugs.  Typically they only take a couple of pills as not to be noticed and then place all of the pills gathered into a bowl.  Then the kids roll some dice and take the number of pills which match the number on the dice.  The pills are taken randomly so no one knows what effect it will have after being ingested.
  9. Purple Drink, Purple Jelly, Texas Tea.  Made popular by several RAP songs, this is a drink combination of Jolly Ranchers, Sprite, and liquid codeine cough medicine.  The concoction produces hallucinations, unresponsiveness and lethargy.
  10. Car Surfing, Ghost Riding, Urban Surfing.  Kids stand in a surfing position on the top of a car, hood or trunk while the car is in motion with speeds as high as 55m.p.h.  The driver is usually a teenager who is inexperienced in handling vehicles.  Teens are two to three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident compared to experienced drivers.

It is truly shocking to learn the stupid things kids will do because someone told them it would be a good idea.  Lest you believe that these are just the older high school kids doing such acts, several articles indicate that kids as young as 10 are engaging in these behaviors.

Now that you are warned about the latest in stupid things kids do, it is your job to educate your child and remove dangerous items from your house.  Prescription medication, alcohol, and dangerous household chemicals should all be locked up not just for your kid’s safety but the safety of their friends who come over.  Talk to your kids about choking, car surfing, sexting and bagging; more than likely they already know of someone who has tried at least one of these items.

This is not the time to bury your head in the sand, naively believe that your child would never do one of these things, or minimize the risks by justifying your own poor choices as a kid.  Instead, be aware, communicate, and educate so your kid won’t become a negative statistic.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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Struggling with Parenting? Direct Parents are Motivating

SONY DSCWhen your child comes home with a bad grade on a test, you sit them down immediately and try to help them set new goals for improving their grade.  You explain about the importance of setting long-term goals and how their current behavior is not consistent with what they want out of life.  You never miss an opportunity to encourage and motivate your child to become what you already know they are capable of becoming.  But there is no doubt during the moments of disappointment and stress that your child’s wishes and opinions are second to yours.  After all, you are the parent and they are the child.

You are a Direct Parent.  As a direct parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “What”.  What are you doing?  What are you trying to accomplish? What is your point?  You are goal-oriented, focused, and motivating but you can easily overpower your child to the point of bullying and therefore miss an opportunity for tenderness, compassion, and mercy.  If your child is like you, there will be numerous arguments in a constant struggle for control.

The Good.  You are very good at helping your child set realistic goals, modifying those goals to address new circumstances and motivating your child to keep going when the going gets tough.  Your child will always have some sort of direction, even if you have to decide it for your child because no direction is failure and failure is not acceptable.  There are rules in your home and your child knows them, is reminded of them and has consistent consequences if they are violated.

The Bad.  You can overpower your child to the point of bullying.  Your desire to help your child is genuine but to your child you sometimes come across as harsh, uncaring, and unsympathetic.  This is justified in your mind as proper training for the real world that your child will one day face however you don’t fully listen to your child so your training may actually be misguided.  Listening requires time, understanding, and patience as information that is forced out of a child can cause them not to trust you in the future.

The Ugly.  Playground bullies are a pain but they are nothing in comparison to the parent who is a bully.  Yes, your child is a child and they need guidance but the guidance does not have to be pushy, demanding, or belittling.  A child who is bullied by a parent, usually acts out and bullies younger or weaker kids.  As an adult, they will bully subordinates or co-workers.  In the end, no one likes a bully.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, direct parents are motivating so be motivating and minimize the bullying.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting?  Begin with You

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Cautious Parents are Aware

 

Struggling with Parenting? Cautious Parents are Aware

Overprotective-Parents“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  This is one of your favorite quotes and your child already knows it by heart.  You are a careful planner in every activity with many detailed lists in order by priority and usually color coded for easy reference.   This is responsible behavior and irresponsible behavior is not having a plan because danger lurks behind every corner and you might be unprepared.   It is important that you set the proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of your emotions so you are very careful about what you say, how you say it and explaining why you do what you do.

You are a Cautious Parent.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.  If your child is like you, they will ask a ton of “why” questions and be thrilled that you take the time to respond.

The Good.  There is reason and logic behind every decision and you are more than willing to explain how you came to the conclusions that you did.  You love to share your knowledge of the world in detail and could go on and on about one topic for hours.  Your child enjoys having their own personal “Encyclopedia” who is very resourceful and can cut research time down to a matter of minutes.  Unfortunately, most schools don’t accept “Dad” or “Mom” on the works cited page.

The Bad.  You have a desire to share your wisdom with your child but too much information at the wrong time can do more damage than good.  Over explaining things does not equip your child to reason through things for themselves and frequently your child will be lacking in critical thinking skills as they have learned to just trust your judgment rather than figure it out for themselves.

The Ugly.  As an adult, if your child is still relying on your wisdom to guide their life, they will continue to flounder at nearly every job they do.  Still looking for someone to spell out every detail so they don’t have to think for themselves and risk making a mistake, your child will find comfort in menial employment instead of living up their full potential.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, cautious parents are aware so be aware and minimize the over explaining.

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting?  Begin with You

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Direct Parents are Motivating

ADHD Medication Not Working For Your Teen? It May Be a Sleep Disorder

Bedtimes-and-Adolescent-DepressionIt is yet another counseling appointment for Sam who is 13 years old and is struggling in school, home, and everywhere he goes.  He has been diagnosed with ADHD and depression in the past but all of the medications have failed to work and his is getting worse, not better.  He is a bright boy who can do well at school but he frequently falls asleep while doing homework saying that it is too boring.  Socially he struggles with his peers as he seems disconnected, detached, and distracted.  You are beyond frustrated, having tried numerous therapies and medications convinced that something is wrong but unable to identify it.  Finally you begin to believe that he is just lazy.

While laziness may play a factor in Sam’s teenage brain, there might be something else.  Frequently, lack of proper sleep can have waking symptoms of ADHD or even depression.  Without proper REM sleep, a still growing teenager will struggle to stay awake during the day, seem distracted, forgetful, moody, prone to anger, unable to focus for long periods of time, and sleep excessively.  A teenager should get approximately 9 hours of sleep with an additional hour of sleep if going through a growth spurt.  If you are concerned that your child may have a sleep disorder instead of ADHD or depression, ask your doctor to order a sleep study.  This is the best way to diagnose sleep disorders.

Narcolepsy.  The movie version of narcolepsy has a person walking in a mall and suddenly dropping to the floor and going to sleep.  This is not entirely accurate as there are many forms of narcolepsy all ranging from mild to severe.  In a teenager, narcolepsy looks like falling asleep while in class, doing homework, watching TV, or reading.  The teen may also be talking to you one minute, look away, seem to be somewhere else for a second and then return back to the conversation claiming an inability to follow the conversation.  This is likely to cause problems at school and home as it may seem disrespectful to you.  The good news is that once it is diagnosed, proper medication can mitigate the symptoms as well as a strict sleep schedule including a nap.

Sleep Apnea.  During the night, a person with sleep apnea is suddenly startled in the middle of a deep sleep because breathing has stopped.  This can happen many times during the course of the night leaving the waking person to feel exhausted in the morning.  In a teenager, falling asleep during class, jerking while asleep, and snoring are all commons symptoms.  The treatment varies for teens but common practices are to remove the tonsils and adenoids for relief of the symptoms.

Insomnia.  Having difficulty falling asleep at night, staying asleep or not feeling rested could be chronic insomnia.  Without regular sleep a teen seems distracted, depressed, struggles to concentrate at school, is moody, clumsy, and irritable.  Again, early diagnosis is the key as there are many medications which can be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of insomnia.  In addition, a regular sleep schedule is essential to condition your body when to rest and when to remain awake.

While there are more sleep disorders, these are the ones most commonly seen in teens.  Still there are other medical conditions that could be contributing to sleep problems such as Restless Leg Syndrome so it is important to speak with your doctor to rule out any other contributing factors.  However, the most important element in teaching your teen about good sleep patterns is by modeling them yourself.  Develop a relaxing nighttime routine such as reading, yoga, a bath, or a cup of chamomile tea to release the day’s stressors and allow your body to naturally relax.  In addition, do your best to go to bed at the same time every night waking up approximately 7 hours later around the same time every morning.  This routine will not only improve your sleep habits but can aid in weight loss, reduce anxiety, depression and stress all of which can be beneficial for you and your teen.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Are You Making Your Kid Angry?

Technically, no one can “make” you angry unless you give them that right.  While it may seem as though the actions of another person are “making you angry”, in actuality it is your set of experiences, emotions, beliefs, and ideals that cause you to get angry.  For instance, one person may become angry at being cut off while driving while another person may not even notice the action.  The difference between the two people is one person took the action as a personal offense while the other person did not.  The person cutting you off did not “make” you angry; rather you became angry because of how you perceived their action.

So while another person can’t “make” you angry, you can “make” your kid angry.  Why the double standard?  Because your kid is a child and you are an adult.  With maturity comes the ability to temper or control your responses which is the idea of having “self-control”.  But for a child, they have not reached this level of maturity and are unable to demonstrate self-control so they display immature behavior which is characterized by a lack of control over their responses.  Literally, you can “make” a kid feel a certain way because they are not fully in control of their responses.  Therefore, as the adult, you are responsible for “making” your kid angry.  Ephesians 6:4a warns, “Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.”  But just how are you “making” them angry?

Not listening.  Easily hands down the number one complaint kids have about their parents is that they don’t listen to what they are saying.  Too often as a parent, you are trying to get your point across and don’t stop long enough to make sure you understand your child’s point of view.  Then, because they are a child, often they really don’t know what they are really thinking or how they are feeling, so they default to anger.  No, they are not able to speak clearly, they are a child.  No, they are not able to counteract you point by point, they are a child.  But give them some time and soon as teenagers they will become more and more like you, not listening and counteracting you point by point.

Assuming the worst.  Just to make things more complicated, kids don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say.  While this is a nice lesson to teach them, assuming the worst motive or attitude about your child sends a subtle message that they are not valued or their opinion is not valued.  This brings on anger in your child just as you get angry when someone assumes the worst about you.  When you assume the worst about your child, they interprets this as “I am no good”, “I can never do anything right”, or “I am to blame for everything”.  The negative consequences of a child learning this at a young age is that it will not leave them as an adult.  For the rest of their lives, they will struggle with a positive self-image which you helped to foster.

Seeing yourself in them.  When you see your child behaving and speaking just like you while making all the same mistakes you made, there is almost an immediate angry response on your part.  It seems to come out of nowhere, one moment you are able to speak calmly and the next you are flying off the handle.  There is no rhyme or reason except that you were triggered by a past event or mistake and watching your child suffer through the same mistakes you made is more than you can handle.  The problem is that your child doesn’t understand your anger and they instead internalize it.  They become angry with themselves for “making” you angry.  In the moment, you child is not likely to respond badly but give them a couple of years and the resentment will build and turn to intense anger.

Ok, so you have made a few mistakes or more likely, made more than a few mistakes in “making” your child angry but it is not too late.  You can stop “making” them angry by simply doing the opposite of what “made” them angry.  You could listen to what they are really saying, you could assume the best about your child, and you could divorce your behavior from your child’s behavior.  After all, they have their own journey to make based on their own decisions and it is not necessarily the same journey you have made in life.  The decisions they will need to make in the future are made best when not heavily influenced by anger from their parents.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What! School Starts Next Week!

If you are like me, then the start of school always seems to come sooner than expected.  Projects that need to be finished are half way done, trips to the beach were less than planned, vacation time flew by, and friends coming over happened too infrequently.  But here we are again with school starting regardless of how little was accomplished.

Getting you ready for the new school year is one thing, but getting your child ready is a whole different task that is often met with resistance.  So here is a list of several things both of you can do this week to get ready for the start of the new school year.

  1. Make the morning drive or walk to the bus stop now to know how long it takes to get there.
  2. Repeat the same drive at the return time following the pick-up lines.
  3. Begin this week by getting up at the time you will need to wake up for school.
  4. Do your entire morning routine including making breakfast and lunch as practice.
  5. Clean out the old backpack or lunch boxes.
  6. Sort through old school supplies and make a list of new purchases.
  7. Check your school’s website for school supply lists.
  8. Go through clothes getting rid of clothes too small and making another list of needed clothing.
  9. Organize your closet space so shoes and socks are easy to find.
  10. Check clothing for any missing buttons or hems that need to be taken down.
  11. Go to the store and purchase needed items now before school begins for the best discounts.
  12. Organize your desk or homework space to prepare for upcoming homework.
  13. Run a virus scan on your computer and clean it up in preparation for new assignments.
  14. Make sure your printer has an extra print cartridge.
  15. Review summer reading lists and assignments making sure all papers are completed.
  16. Go on your school’s website and look at after school practice schedules to update your calendar.
  17. Arrange for car pools before school begins.
  18. Print off the master school calendar for the year noting all holidays and half days in advance.
  19. Spend an hour a day on the computer brushing up on a skill such as typing or math.
  20. Do one special thing like seeing a movie, going to the beach or hanging with friends.

If the summer slipped by too fast, there really is no point in dragging out the beginning of the school year in hopes of postponing the inevitable.  Rather now is the time to be thankful for what you did, be thankful for who you did it with and be thankful for another year.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Parenting the tough stuff

 

 

If the small stuff like bad test grades, periodic fights with siblings, friendships that come and go, or occasional defiance with food does not faze you as a parent, the tough stuff will.  Sometimes it is a gradual progression, sometimes it comes in waves, and sometimes it hits you all at once.  Whatever the method, the tough stuff of parenting can catch you off guard and leave you questioning yourself, your family and your child.

Perhaps you are dealing with a child who has uncontrollable anger with outbursts so intense that they say hateful things, are uncharacteristically mean, threaten to harm themselves or others, or physically take their anger out on others.  Perhaps you are dealing with a child who stays out all night, comes home acting differently, has questionable friends, lies frequently or displays other signs of potential substance abuse.  Perhaps you are dealing with a child who has withdrawn from most social engagements, has no desire to be with any friends, whose grades are slipping, spend most of their time sleeping or has no interest in things they enjoyed before.  Or perhaps you are dealing with a child who threatens to commit suicide, has marks on their arms and legs indicating cutting, has lost extreme amounts of weight, or seems to do things to gain excessive amounts of attention.  Whichever situation you are dealing with, this is the tough stuff.  So what do you do?

 Don’t deny.  A common philosophy is to blame yourself for your child’s behavior.  This is encouraged in psychology with Freudian beliefs, in society where to admit your child has a problem means that there is something wrong with you, and in our own internal thoughts when we rather blame ourselves than to be honest with the situation.  While your child’s behavior is at some point their responsibility and choice and not yours, there is something to be said for a little self-reflection.  What is your child’s behavior telling you?  Are they acting angry because you are suppressing anger?  Are they demanding attention because they don’t feel loved?  Are they withdrawing because they have been hurt by someone they trusted?  Be honest with the situation and listen to the clues from your child’s behavior.

Deal with yourself first.  Remember the instructions on an airplane, put your own mask first and then help your child.  If your teenage child’s two year old temper tantrum is because they feel overwhelmed with all of the expectations placed on them, then look at the expectations that you have placed unnecessarily on them.  More importantly, look at why those expectations have been placed.  Are you placing expectations on your child that were placed on you?  How do you feel about that?  Or are you placing expectations that are inconsistent with your child’s talents and abilities just because others do the same to you?  Again, be honest with yourself and see your child’s behavior as a reflection of the things you need to address that perhaps you have not addressed.

Do get help.  More often than not, parents bring in their child to therapy to deal with their behavior but do not go to therapy to deal with their own behavior.  It is so much easier to point the finger at your child and drag them into therapy instead of the dealing with your own issues.  Therapy is most effective when the entire family admits that there is a problem and each person deals with their own issues separately and together.  Your child will do far better in therapy when they see you doing better because of therapy.  Be the example that your child needs and get help for your issues.

Many parents will admit that they need help parenting but few will actually take the first step of getting help.  Even fewer will go into therapy for themselves before they send their child however; this is the best method for healing.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.