You are not alone; all families go through the same struggles.
You are not guilty or a failure, and neither is your child.
You can help your troubled child and family; others have done this.
You can start now whether or not there is a diagnosis or treatment.
What will happen to your child in the future? You can tell he or she is falling behind. You are doing everything in your power to help them keep up in school because it is so important. But many can’t. That’s not all, your child is struggling in other critical areas of development, and they all add up:
- Friend problems: they have inappropriate friends, or no friends, or they mistreat friends (and siblings).
- Behavior problems: they do or say disturbing things (swearing, hurting, breaking, manipulating, losing to depression, attempting suicide…). Everyone is stressed.
- Health problems: physical health problems become mental health problems, and vice versa. Typical problems of behavioral disorders: trouble with sleep, and the digestive system and gut. For others: poor diet and lack of exercise, epilepsy, hormones, and PTSD are in the mix. Add in substance abuse, and your child is a slave to their drug of choice.
Will they have a future worth living? Will they suffer as adults, and can you prevent it?
This chart is a spectrum of long-term outcomes for people with mental health disorders. Your child will fall somewhere in one of the five columns. Each lists what your child will need to live a life of wellbeing. No matter how ill your child is, if a network of family and friends can sustain support over the long-term, you’ll likely keep them from the worst-case scenario in the far right column.
However you define it, your child’s wellbeing is your main mission as a parent.
We designate legal adulthood stages at the ages 18 and 21. That’s young. Many normal healthy young people at this age are immature and irresponsible, but your son or daughter may lag well behind them. Their future will be delayed. Your child may need support and rescuing well into the 20’s or early 30’s before they can start taking charge on their own.
No matter how bad things get now, there is hope! Your child may take many horrible directions in their teens and 20’s, and you may feel hopeless or helpless as you witness their life nosedive. If you can hang on and marshal support when possible, your child will find a complicated path to recovery. It will have sharp turns and back steps and falls, but they’ll find it and start a future.
Parents and families endured violence due to their child’s addiction; they sat in court when their son or daughter were convicted of a crime; or they waited in the Emergency Room when their son or daughter was admitted for psychiatric care. They also lived to see their child achieve the sanity to finish their education, support themselves, develop good relationships, and get that future you always wanted for them.
You’ll survive the marathon of tough years by pacing yourself, finding support for yourself, and getting your own future back.
How two parents handled a worst case scenario:
These are true stories of mothers who stuck by their very ill adult children and provided what little they could to bring a bit of wellbeing. These mothers found a sort of peace by simply doing something to help.
One had a grown son with schizophrenia and a heroin addiction who lived in squalor in supported housing. He spent all of his disability assistance money on heroin and nothing else. Her efforts to help him met with verbal abuse and threats of violence, and she feared for her safety. What could she do, witness his slow suicide by starvation or overdose? She arranged to visit him once a week in the parking lot, and brought 2 sacks of groceries in the trunk of her car. He was to come out and get the groceries while she stood at a safe distance. This worked. He was still verbally abusive when he got the groceries, but he got food and she stayed safe.
One had a son addicted to methamphetamine who was lost to the streets. One day, she discovered a nest of old clothes and rags in an overgrown area behind her garage, and instinctively knew it was from her son. “Good,” she thought, “He’s alive; I can keep him safe.” She rarely saw him come and go, but she replaced the rags with clean blankets and a sleeping bag, and put out food for him, and provided a tarp for cover. She couldn’t free her son from addiction, but she could keep him safe from the streets and its desperate people, and fed and sheltered in a way he accepted.
Please rate this article at the top, or offer your comment or story.
The adolescent and teenage years are a time of intense emotion, hormonal outbursts, and inner growth. The intensity of the energy and passion flowing through the mind and body of a teenager during this time can lead to discomforts, anxieties, and damaging behaviors and emotions.
Learning how to effectively accompany adolescents and teenagers as they journey through this time of growth, passion, and new discoveries about their selves is something that every parent needs to learn. With the right amount of accompaniment, support, and an appropriate balance between encouraging their independence and putting needed limitations on that independence, the teenage years can become a time of incredible growth, development and learning the path towards a healthy adulthood.
Many negative attitudes and behaviors are normal for teenagers.
For parents of teenagers, it is incredibly common to see your child happy in the morning and depressed at night. He or she might be very communicative one day, and closed off and silent the next day. This roller coaster of emotions, attitudes, and behaviors can be frustrating at times for a parent because teenagers might feel as if the end of the world is near, but is an entirely normal aspect of the late adolescent and teenage period.
According to an article written by Preston Ni for the review “Psychology Today”, teenagers regularly oscillate between seemingly polar opposites. They staunchly defend their individuality while also longing for acceptance of their peers. They may act like they know everything there is to know, but at the same time willingly show their ignorance.
Teens may feel invincible and unconquerable one moment, and
then insecure, timid, and vulnerable the next moment.
While we might wish that our child could be a little more stable, it is important to understand and accept that the hormonal changes raging through the bodies of our teenager are completely normal. To help guide your child through this sometimes-difficult period, the following four methods offer some helpful advice and suggestions.
Watch for Evidence of Deeper Behavioral Problems
Interests, hobbies, and pursuits will inevitably change over time. As your teenager grows up into adulthood, he or she will most likely leave behind certain aspects of their childhood that used to define them. However, one common sign of serious emotional and behavioral problems is when your adolescent or teenager suddenly quits or withdraws from several activities they previously enjoyed.
For example, if your teenager used to enjoy organized sports but suddenly shows no interest in going to practice, that might very well be a sign of a deeper issue. As a parent, learning to watch for these sudden changes in interest and learning to differentiate them from the normal process of “growing up” is essential to help your teenager navigate successfully through the changes he or she is experiencing. You might clarity here: “Is my teen ‘normal’ crazy or seriously troubled?”
Don’t Settle for Only Get-Tough Methods
If your teenager has been actively rebelling against authority and showing some serious behavioral problems, one of the main parental responses is to get “tough” on your child and sternly discipline the child. While discipline and correction strategies certainly do have a place in dealing with problematic teenagers, relying solely on these strict strategies can backfire and cause more harm than good.
One recent study by Scientific American even finds that get-tough tactics can lead to further youth delinquency and even worse behavioral problems. Though you may feel that the best way to deal with your difficult teenager is through tough discipline, make it a priority to always combine any sort of discipline with other tactics that we further explore below.
Set Clear Boundaries
This is the tricky one for most parents. Trying to find a balance between allowing your teenager to explore the full range of emotions and passions flowing through him or her while also imposing strict limitations on what type of behavior is acceptable is never easy. It is important to set clear boundaries that are evident and understood by both you and your teenager.
Testing authority and pushing against limits is a normal part of the development of a teenager’s independence. However, it is necessary for both parties to willingly accept that some things are essentially off-limits. Instead of simply unilaterally imposing these limitations and boundaries on your teenager, try to have a conversation and discuss what is acceptable and what is not. Explain why you, as a parent, will not accept certain behaviors but also be willing to listen to his or her point of view as well.
Limit Your Advice in Mild Situations
From the perspective of a teenager, there is nothing worse than an annoying parent who is continually pressing them on every issue from how they dress, to their grades, to their posture, and everything in between.
Your child is more likely not to listen to serious advice
if all he or she hears is constant nagging from you.
Learn to choose your battles and offer important advice and guidance when it is most needed. If you don’t constantly badger your child, he or she will understand the seriousness of a moment when you do sit down for the infamous “parent-to-child” chat.
Enjoy Your Child’s Teenage Years
Most importantly, as a parent you need to learn to appreciate and value the teenage years of your child. Not only is the teenage period the last years you will have your child in your home before he or she sets out into the wider world, but it is also an incredibly exciting time when you can help to shape the future for the one you love.
by Aron James
Aron James is the founder of StubblePatrol.com. Stubble Patrol is a site on male grooming. He loves to write about his personal experiences.
Most people know that dogs are good for one’s wellbeing, but these creatures literally improve one’s physical and mental health.
Dogs are medicine.
1. They lower our blood pressure
Research has proven time and time again that dogs significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure, before and after performing strenuous tasks. Blood pressure drops when one pets a dog. Petting dogs have also been known to ease pain and improve one’s immune system. It is like a dog’s mere presence is beneficial for pet owners.
2. They offer a soothing presence
Pets, particularly dogs, offer a soothing presence when one is performing tasks that take up a lot of mental energy. This goes a long way in helping speed up recovery of mental conditions. It is well-known that some children will only respond to animals due to trauma or autism or intense anxiety.
3. They offer unconditional love and acceptance
Dogs are incapable of criticizing, judging or voicing their opinions. They snuggle up next to you even if you smell like poop. Two reports describe the medical benefits of pets. According to a 2013 white paper from the American Heart Association “…owning a pet, particularly a dog or a cat, is associated with decreased cardiovascular risk factors.” The November 2015 Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research published research showing “pet therapy programs have been shown to be effective in helping improve socialization abilities, lower blood pressure, and combat loneliness.”
There are other great therapy pets : “Benefits have been seen in owners of pets ranging from dogs, cats, birds, and fish to goats, chimps, and snakes.” Be sure the right animal is matched to the owner.
4. Dogs alter our behavior
You or your child could come home annoyed at a million little problems that happened during the day, and maybe even taking anger out on someone. But imagine that before this happens, a smiling, tail-wagging dog walks up for attention.
Imagine, you or your child kneels and pets her, she licks your face and you smile. Just like that, your behavior is altered and chances that someone will become a casualty of frustration are now much better. People calm down in the presence of a dog, and don’t anger easily or use curse words. Dogs make us slow our minds and our speech.
5. Dogs promote touch
There is no disputing the healing power of touch. An article published on Huffington Post cites that a 45-minute massage can reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and build white blood cells which optimize one’s immune system. Hugging floods human bodies with oxytocin, a hormone that lowers heart rates, blood pressure and stress levels.
A study conducted at the University of Virginia showed that holding hands reduces stress-related activity in the hypothalamus region of the brain, which makes up part of the emotional center. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that stroking a dog can boost dopamine and serotonin levels while lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
6. Dogs distract us
It’s not a problem but a benefit! Dogs take us out of our heads and plunge us into another reality – one that involves affection, food, water… and scratching doggie butt for as long as we allow it. Distraction is sometimes the only thing you or your child needs when you have lost mental or emotional control. It is tough to ponder feeling awful when your dog is breathing in your face.
7. Dogs make us responsible
Owning a dog comes with responsibility and research has shown that responsibility promotes mental health. Psychologists assert that applying our skills to a job and taking ownership of a task helps build our self-esteem, which is why dogs are the most common therapy animals. When your child nurtures a happy healthy dog, it reinforces confidence and a sense of competence. This is especially important for troubled children who are often overtaken by their own thoughts and emotions. Finally, pet care helps kids and teenagers learn independence and brings structure to their day.
Dogs pull a depressed or anxious child (or parent) out of their troubled head.
8. Dogs increase social interaction
Staying connected to other people or creatures is good for our depression. Starting a conversation is particularly scary for people suffering from depression. That isn’t true with dogs. They are natural social magnets that help pet owners connect with other people and maintain positive social contact. Walk a dog, and people come up to meet the dog.
9. Dogs help one get into physical shape
Other than grooming, dogs need physical stimulation. This means taking walks and going out to a park to play. In the process of tossing a Frisbee or hiking with your pup, you get to exercise and enjoy nature simultaneously.
The energy boost consequently boosts your mood or blow off some steam. Blood flow and oxygen to the brain is good for depression. When outside with a dog, your skin synthesizes vitamin D from the sun, which helps fight symptoms of depression.
10. Dogs are great listeners
The most effective way to release stress is to talk about it with someone. But what if you don’t have the courage to approach a friend? What if the idea of talking about your innermost worries makes you anxious? Pet owners, particularly those who own a dog, will share their wishes and thoughts with a caring partner, with the guarantee that they won’t be disclosed to someone else. Even better, you can talk about your worries knowing that you won’t be judged
11. Dogs provide sensory stress relief
Movement and touch are some of the most effective ways to manage stress. Dogs offer the need for touch such as in grooming, petting and exercising them. Such tasks also help with sensory stress relief, which is particularly important for people suffering from depression.
12. Dogs help you find meaning and joy in life
Taking care of a dog can help lift morale and increase a sense of self-worth, optimism, and fulfillment. If you’ve adopted a shelter dog, it’s also fulfilling to know you (and your child) provided a home to a dog that may have otherwise been euthanized.
Take care of your dog and your dog will take care of you.
The physical and mental health benefits of owning a dog for children, teenagers, and even the elderly are proven by research.
Note: Owning a dog is not a miracle cure for a family and child coping with anxiety and depression. Dogs are for those who appreciate and love domestic animals, and those who invest money and time to keep their dog healthy and happy.
By Andy McNaby
So how are you doing in this parenting job you have? Score your parenting skills on a test designed for parents of children ages 11-15 with serious behavior problems. (If you are brave, have someone else score you too and compare notes.)
|Always: 5 Generally: 4 Sometimes: 3 Rarely: 2 Never: 1||Your
|1. My child’s other parent (or caregiver) and I agree on how to discipline our child.||
|2. My child can depend on me to do what I say I will.||
|3. When I say “no”, I stick to it.||
|4. I treat my child with respect, even when I’m angry.||
|5. I let natural consequences do the teaching whenever feasible.||
|6. I am confident my child has everything she/he needs to make
|7. I allow my child to do his/her chores without my reminding.||
|8. I allow my child to voice her/his opinions when done in a
|9. I am able to stay out of arguments by disengaging before they
|10: When I make a mistake in judgment, I’m quick to admit it.||
45 – 50 Good job! You are on the right track.
30 – 45 Not bad, just a little more work in those challenging areas.
Less than 30 Keep trying! Find a support group; a therapist for you and a co-parent; or books (recommendation).
Don’t be hard on yourself if you score low.
Teenagers are difficult.
You might be thinking: “I agree these are good parenting skills, but practicing them is impossible with my child. They hate/defy/scream at me constantly.” Advice: Work on one at a time, and check back in few weeks to see if you’ve improved your score.
This test is drawn from a parenting guide created in 2007 by StandUp Parenting (www.standup.org)
to help parents understand what is needed to maintain authority and model maturity.
Please add a comment if you have found other skills to be effective,
How am I doing? Please rate this article above.
How Schizoaffective Disorder compares to other disorders
There is little information about schizoaffective disorder in children, which usually starts around puberty. As a parent, you know how seriously it affects your child, but how does it compare to depression and bipolar (manic and depressive states) and schizophrenia? What is the course of schizoaffective disorder, and how can you help your child’s future?
Schizoaffective disorder is not as serious as schizophrenia,
but more serious than bipolar/depression.
Research conducted in Britain* studied young people who received typical treatment for schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar/depression who were between the ages of 17 and 30 (average age was 22). Over a 10 year period, those with schizoaffective disorder improved slightly, better than those with schizophrenia.
Behavioral functioning over time for schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia and affective disorders (depression, bipolar) at four consecutive follow-ups. (This scale goes from 2 (good) to 6 (poor). A “1” would be the level of a person with no symptoms and who is considered normal.)
*M. Harrow, L. Grossman, Herbener, E. Davies; The British Journal of Psychiatry; Nov 2000, 177 (5) 421-426
Behavioral functioning is measured by how well a person does in five areas:
- Work and social functioning
- Adjustment to typical life situations
- Capacity for self-care
- Appearance of major symptoms
- Number of relapses and re-hospitalizations.
Your child will struggle with these, but there’s good news according to a recent landmark study:
Family support improves a patient’s outcome.
A new treatment program was developed that altered some well-established practices. A set of schizophrenia patients received the following support and were later compared with those who had the usual medication approach.
- Dosages of antipsychotic medication were kept as low as possible
- Help with work or school such as assistance in deciding which classes or opportunities are most appropriate, given a person’s symptoms;
- Education for family members to increase their understanding of the disorder;
(“Efforts to engage and collaborate with family members are often successful during an acute psychotic episode, whether it is the first episode or a relapse, and are strongly recommended.
—Family Involvement Strongly Recommended by the American Psychiatric Association)
- One-on-one talk therapy in which the person with the diagnosis learns tools to build social relationships, reduce substance use and help manage the symptoms.”
Patients who went through this for of treatment made greater strides in recovery over the first two years of treatment than patients who got the usual drug-focused care. More here.
New Approach Advised to Treat Schizophrenia, Benedict Carey, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2015
“..if you look at the people who did the best—those we caught earliest after their first break with reality—their improvement by the end was easily noticeable by friends and family.”
The longer psychotic symptoms stay in an extreme phase,” in which patients become afraid and deeply suspicious,” the more likely the person will be vulnerable to recurring psychosis, and the more difficulty they will have coming out of it and adjusting to normal life.
How to help your child
Be very realistic about what your child can handle in school. They may be extremely intelligent–but maybe can’t handle too much homework; or class disruptions; or lack of empathy from the teacher. A parent or school counselor should help your child find low-stress classes or activities, and consider limiting the number of classes per day. They can only hold it together for so long! I found it helped my schizoaffective child to take later classes, starting at 10 or 11 am.
Get the whole family on board to make his or her life easier. Your child might be stressful and a source of irritation for everyone, but family members can help reduce this by taking on the chores your troubled child would ordinarily do; avoid pressuring them about something, or anything; and allow your child to say oddball things without confronting them about how irrational they are or arguing with them.
DIY talk therapy – Here are some ways to guide your child out of their troubled states.
- Schizoaffective kids may express anxiety in a tangled web of seemingly unrelated things, and spike them with paranoia about what they mean. Listen carefully, and conduct a gentle interview to explore what truly is bothering them. It may be as simple as the room being too cold.
- Give them plenty of time (if you can). A venting session is sometimes all they need.
- Diplomatically redirect a negative monologue with a comment about something pleasant. This is where it’s useful to hand them a cat or call over a dog, offer tea or juice, or briefly check email. The point is to break the spell.
Run-on obsessive thoughts
- Voices and thoughts can be angry, mean, and relentless. Your child may not tell you this is happening, or may simply assume you already know what’s in their head. Ask him or her if thoughts or voices are pestering them. If so, show indignation at how wrong it is for them to mistreat your child, “that’s not right that this is happening to you; this is so unfair to you; you deserve better; I want to help if I can…”
- Encourage your child to ignore the voices/thoughts and they may go away, or encourage them to tell the voices/thoughts to leave them alone. “I refuse to listen to you anymore! Quit pestering me! Obsessive thoughts and voices are just bullies.
Help your child stand up to thought/voice bullies the same as
as you would help any child dealing with a bully. This works.
“Life with a schizoaffective teen,” tells my story, and what I discovered that worked to improve my daughter’s functioning and behavior. It also provides insight into how people with this disorder think.
Take care and have hope. You can do this.
Please rate this article and let me know how I’m doing.
This article contributed by Benjamin Dancer.
I’m a high school counselor, which means I work with parents every day. Because I’ve made a career out of my work with adolescents, I see what a parent might be seeing for the first time. This includes a long list of unfortunate life events.
Back when we were teenagers, there wasn’t a massive network of servers positioned strategically across the globe to capture and record, forever, the embarrassment of our adolescent choices.
As a parent, I have a lot of empathy for other parents. It’s not easy, especially when you’re going through something for the first time. My life, on the other hand, is a little bit like Groundhog Day. In a sense, I’ve never left high school. Every school year I see the same things. Different kids, but the same behavior: alcohol, drugs, tobacco, bullying, kids running away from home, pregnancy and something new: sexting.
Take an adolescent boy with an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, which by definition means he is incapable of fully contemplating notions such as consequence; take this teenager raging with sex hormones and give him a tiny device that he will carry with him everywhere, a device capable of sending messages instantly to anybody, anywhere in the world, and install a camera in that device. What do you imagine might go wrong?
When you and I were adolescents, we were no less reckless, no less idiotic with our choices, no less eager to use our bodies as grownups. The difference is that our stupidity has been forgotten by history. Back when we were teenagers, there wasn’t a massive network of servers positioned strategically across the globe to capture and record, forever, the embarrassment of our adolescent choices. Sexting changes everything.
Over the last seventeen years in my work of mentoring adolescents and partnering with their parents, I’ve seen a lot of parenting styles. I’ve learned some important strategies in dealing with the situations teenagers present–strategies the average parent doesn’t have the time, through repetition, to learn. I feel confident telling you that there are some really good ideas out there. And some really bad ones, too.
Because I’m a writer, it occurred to me to write it down, what I’ve learned over the years. I’m a parent. I know it just as well as you do. We need a little grace in our lives.
The police called the sexting child pornography. So I understood Nicole’s concern: she wanted to talk to me about her daughter. Jessica was fourteen and three years younger than her boyfriend. He had been distributing images of Jessica through his phone. Nicole was worried; she was scared, and understandably so.
Jessica still thought she was in love.
“He calls her a bitch,” Nicole told me. “I read the texts. He says horrible things to her.”
“And she still wants to be with him,” I said.
The pain I felt for her was communicated in my voice. As a teacher, I see the scenario every year, but Nicole was experiencing this for the first time. Jessica was her daughter. Not long ago she was her baby. I could only begin to imagine the suffering the situation provoked. Nicole was in no position to hear how common this was.
Why do girls throw themselves at boys who treat them badly?
In Jessica’s circumstance there was a tremendous amount of grief. She had barely processed the loss of her dad. He was killed in an accident over the summer.
“I can’t stop her from being with him. I’ve tried. I took away her phone. I grounded her. She sneaks out of the house. I drop her off at school, and she ditches to be with him.” The mascara was now running beneath Nicole’s cheekbones, “Last night, she told me that she wished it was me who was dead. He was waiting for her out front. I saw her get into his car.”
“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” I told her. “I’m sorry.”
“Unless I physically restrain her, she will find a way to get back to him.”
I allowed for a long silence, as I thought there might be more Nicole needed to say.
“What did I do? What did I do wrong?”
I didn’t answer her question. And I didn’t dismiss it. I sat with her in it.
* * * * *
My role with Nicole is not all that different from my role with Jessica. It doesn’t matter whether you’re fourteen or forty, what you need is for someone to listen. What you need is for someone to understand.
Jessica and I talked later the same day.
“She went through my phone,” Jessica was angry. “She read my texts.”
I let her know that I understood her frustration.
“She won’t let me leave the house.”
“She’s trying to keep me from him.”
“Have you told her that you love him?”
“She hates him. She doesn’t want me to see him.”
“Why does she hate him?”
At this Jessica paused. We had already talked about the pictures. She had told me stories about the boy. The way he had flaunted his sexual conquests. He was in my English class, and I had seen it firsthand: there were countless other girls.
After a long silence, she answered my question, “She thinks he’s not good for me. Is he?”
It was ground we had already covered. In past conversations Jessica told me that she respects her mom for trying to protect her. I handed Jessica a box of tissues. She wiped the tears and told me, “No. He’s really, really mean.”
I listened to her cry for several minutes. I was thinking about her father. I knew the man well. I liked him. I was thinking about her mother. I was thinking about my own daughter. It was true for all of us. What we need is empathy.
“I’m sorry,” I told her. She questioned me with her eyes.
So I answered it, “I’m sorry you’re so alone.”
Jessica’s whole body shook when she sobbed.
* * * * *
The last time Nicole was in my office she asked me if she should return Jessica’s phone. We had a similar conversation the day she asked me if she should call the police.
“What do you think?”
“I think Jessica needs to figure this out for herself. I’ve tried to protect her, but I can’t. I just can’t protect her from everything.”
“Does that mean you’ll give it back?”
“No. She’s not ready for that.”
“I don’t know the answers to the particulars,” I told Nicole, “but I know this. You’re a good mom. Jessica needs you right now. She needs you to be confident in your role.”
I saw the tears washing through the mascara, gave Nicole the box of tissues, and kept on going.
This is universal: the teenager wants desperately to have her independence, and she is terrified of it.
“Jessica loves you, and she knows that you love her. Jessica is not aware of the fact that she is conflicted about this. She’s just a kid. As much as she pushes you away, she wants you to be strong, to love her.”
* * * * *
I talked to Jessica again a week later.
“Do you still see him?” I asked.
She was embarrassed, “Yeah.”
“Is he good to you?”
“How about last night?”
She hesitated then said, “Last night he left me in a parking lot. I had to borrow a phone and call my mom to come pick me up.”
“Why’d he leave you?”
“To hook up with someone else.”
“Will you see him again?”
“I have a vision for you,” I said.
Jessica smiled, like she had heard lines like that from me before.
But that didn’t deter me. I have an advantage over most parents of teenagers: I’ve made a career out of the adolescent. Their behavior can be alarming, infuriating and even demoralizing, but after seventeen years of guiding teenagers as they come of age, I have established proven routines.
I have a pretty good idea of how many repetitions it will take, of how many times I’ll have to say it before Jessica can even make sense of the words, of how many more times I’ll have to repeat it before she begins to adopt the language as her own.
So I told her again, “In my vision of your future, you will love yourself too much to let a boy treat you badly.”
* * * * *
The story above is a composite of a dozen mothers and a dozen daughters I’ve work with over the years. In my FREE e-book, I analyze that narrative–elucidating what I believe to be the important parenting considerations.
About Benjamin Dancer:
Benjamin is a high school counselor at Jefferson County Open School where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. He wrote the novels PATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. He also writes about parenting and education. You can learn more at:
Like this post or have a comment? Please give it a rating (above) and share your thoughts. Your comments are helpful for other parents who read Benjamin’s article. Thank you.
Life with a child with ADD or ADHD can be trying and overwhelming. However, as a parent there are practical measures you can take to effectively control and minimize your child’s symptoms without controlling and monitoring their every move.
You help your child overcome daily challenges by redirecting his or her energy into positive activities. You start by having a dialogue with your child and family that honestly communicates the situation in a way that does not accuse them of being “bad”. Their behavior needs improvement, but speak as if it’s a ‘normal’ problem that must be addressed.
Children with ADD or ADHD typically have shortcomings in executive function: the ability to think and plan ahead, organize, control impulses, and complete tasks. This means that you need to take over as the executive, providing extra direction while your child progressively obtains executive skills of his or her own. With tolerance, kindness, and plenty of family teamwork, you can help your child manage childhood ADD or ADHD and maintain a steady, happy home
You must to be able to master a combination of support and predictability.
Living in a home that provides love and lots of structure is the best thing for a child or teenager who is learning to manage ADD/ADHD. There are effective and simple changes you can make that are easy to implement; we offer four practical tips to help you understand and support your child with ADD or ADHD:
1. Be honest with your child about ADD or ADHD
It is important not to avoid or ignore your child’s condition. ADD or ADHD is not your child’s fault, it is a brain disorder that causes young people to have trouble focusing, completing tasks, or planning the future. Most parents can reframe things, but don’t look at the negative. Your child should understand it is something they can and should manage. The rest of your family should do this too.
2. Stay Positive
When calm and focused, you are more likely to get your child’s attention and help him or her to be peaceful and attentive. And keep things in perspective. Your child’s behavior is related to a disorder, so most of the time it is not deliberate. Don’t sweat the small stuff; be willing to negotiate certain matters. For example, if one chore is left undone but your child has already completed two chores and their homework for the day, let it go and appreciate what they were able to complete. Staying positive also means believing and trusting your child. Trust that your child will learn, change, mature, and succeed. Trust that your child wants to!
Taking care of yourself will allow you to take better care of your child.
It is vital to live a full, healthy life because you are the child’s role model and source of strength. Eat right, exercise, and find ways to reduce stress. Getting involved with organizations related to ADD or ADHD will also provide you with safe places to vent your frustrations and share experiences.
3. Establish structure, enforce rules and consequences calmly
Help your child with ADD or ADHD to stay attentive and prepared by setting a strict routine. Set a time and place for everything to help your child with ADD or ADHD comprehend and meet expectations. Allow extra time for what your child needs to do, such as homework, chores, and getting ready in the morning. Keep them busy but not too busy—a child with ADD or ADHD will become more distracted and act up if there are too many after-school activities going on.
Create structure in your home so your child knows what to expect and when.
Children with ADHD are more likely to succeed if they can complete tasks when the tasks occur in probable patterns and in foreseeable places. Children with ADHD need rules because it helps them track time and progress. Make the behavior rules simple and clear. Write down the rules and hang them up in a place where your child can read them. Children with ADD or ADHD respond exceptionally well to prearranged systems of rewards and consequences. It’s important to explain what will happen when the rules are obeyed and when they are broken. Finally, stick to your system by following through each and every time with a reward or a consequence.
4. Encourage movement and sleep
Children with ADD or ADHD often have a lot of energy to burn. Organized sports and other physical activities can help them get their energy out in healthy ways, and refine their focus while enjoying the development of new skills and abilities. Exercise leads to better sleep with children with ADD or ADHD, which also reduces symptoms of ADD or ADHD. Children with ADD or ADHD often find “white noise” to be calming when sleeping. You can create white noise by putting a radio on static or running an electric fan, for example.
Guest Post by: Diamond Ranch Academy
Diamond Ranch Academy is one of the premier youth residential treatment centers for struggling teens. Since 1999, the highly trained staff at this facility has provided guidance and support for teens with varying emotional and behavioral issues including; substance abuse, depression, ADHD, impulse control, peer pressure, anger management, oppositional defiance, self-esteem, grief/loss issues, family relationships, communication, and academic struggles.
Note from blog owner, I am not personally familiar with Diamond Ranch Academy and this post is not an endorsement, but this post offers good information for any parent of a child with ADD or ADHD. For ideas on what to look for in a good residential program, see the post Residential treatment checklist