Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Getting Teens Involved in Physical Educaton

In today’s generation of technology many kids are found behind their computer screens, cell phones, IPods, etc rather than participating in physical activities. It is important for parents to encourage their children and teens alike to become more active. It can not only stimulate your brain but offers stress relief when the pressures of being a teen can become overwhelming. PE4Life offers some educational and important information for parents - read more and take the time to exercise your mind!

Source: PE4Life

Parents are busy with a full workday, helping their children with homework, engaging their children in after school activities, and so on. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for physical activity in your own lives. Do you realize that schools have devalued and cut physical education to the point that the majority of children get one day of PE per week? Children today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time in one hundred years because of the epidemic of obesity, according to Dr. William Klish, Professor of Pediatrics and Head of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine. Lack of PE at school is a disservice to your child’s health. Speak up. Demand that your school offers daily quality physical education. Use PE4life as a resource partner to enhance your school’s PE program. A recent study revealed that 81% of teachers and 85% of parents favor requiring students to take physical education every day at every grade level. As parents, you can rally people in your community to get involved by ordering a PE4life Community Action kit video and show it to the PTA, the school board and other community groups. The next step is to invite PE4life to make a presentation to your school leaders, bring a team of people to train at a PE4life Academy, or invite PE4life to do an in-service for your school staff. As your resource partner, PE4life can provide these and many other services to your school as you work to get children more active and healthy.
The PE4life Approach to Physical Education:
Be offered to every child every day
Be available for all students, not just the athletically inclined
Provide a wide variety of sports and fitness activities to promote an active and healthy lifestyle
Assess students on their personal progress toward fitness and physical activity goals
Incorporate technology on a regular basis
Extend beyond the walls of the gymnasium to form community and business partnerships

Today’s “New P.E.,” as exemplified by PE4life, is a health-and-wellness-based approach to physical education that caters to all students, not just the athletically inclined. Students are encouraged to pursue a variety of sports and physical activities (team and individual) – for a lifetime.
Get Involved—Become a Friend of PE4life, get your community involved, sign up up for the PE4life newsletter and communicate to government leaders.
News & Info—Get the latest information on physical education, childhood obesity, exercise and the brain, youth fitness and legislative news. Also link to other great websites.
Results—Review research findings and measurable outcomes of PE programs.
Grant Info—Find creative sources of funding for the physical education program at your child’s school and a forum where you can ask questions or share your thoughts and successes.
PE4life Program Services—Find information about our Program Service Packages, how to order our services, training dates, academy locations, and testimonials.
Events–Find dates for Academy Training, National PE4life Day, PE4life Workshops, and PE Conferences.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parents Choices for Parents of Struggling Teens

Local Therapy:

Local therapy is a good place to start with children that struggling at home and school. To locate a local therapist, it is beneficial to contact your insurance company for a list of adolescent therapists in your area. If you don’t have insurance when calling therapists, ask them if they accept sliding scales according to your income. Check your yellow pages for local Mental Health Services in your area or ask your Pediatrician or Family Doctor for a referral.

Military Schools and Academies:

Military Schools have been around for over a hundred years. Many parents are under the misconception that Military Schools are for at risk children. Military Schools are a privilege and honor to attend and be accepted into. Your child must have some desire to attend a Military School. Many children believe Military Schools are for bad kids, however if they visit a campus they may realize it is an opportunity for them. Many parents start with a Military Summer program to determine if their child is a candidate for Military School.

Military Schools usually do not offer therapy, unless contracted on the outside of the school. They offer structure, positive discipline, self-confidence, small class sizes and excellent academics. Military Schools can build a student’s self-esteem; motivate them to benefit their future both socially and academically.

Traditional Boarding Schools:

Traditional Boarding Schools are like Military Schools, in which your child will have to want to attend and be accepted into the school. There are many excellent Boarding Schools that offer both academics and special needs for students. Many specialize in specific areas such as fine arts, music, and competitive sports. In most cases, therapy is not offered unless contracted on the outside.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS):

Therapeutic Boarding Schools offer therapy and academics to students. Usually the student has not done well in a traditional school and is making bad choices that could have an effect on their future. Although many of the students are exceptionally smart, they are not working to their ability. Sometimes peer pressure can lead your child down a destructive path. Removing them from their environment can be beneficial to them to focus on themselves both emotionally and academically.

Christian Boarding Schools:

Christian Boarding Schools and Programs for struggling teens offer therapy and academics. They have a spiritual foundation that can assist a child to better understand Christianity as well as bring them closer to a Higher Power. Many offer Youth Groups and activities that can create life skills for a better future. A program with a Christian setting may enhance a child’s better understanding of the world today.

Residential Treatment Center (RTC):

Residential Treatment Centers, similar to a TBS, offer therapy and academics. However Residential Treatment Centers are for children that require more clinical support. Their issues are more specific with substance abuse, eating disorders, self-mutilators, and other behavioral issues.

Summer Programs:

Summer programs are a great place to start if your child is beginning to make bad choices or losing their motivation. Finding a good summer program that can build self-confidence can be beneficial to student’s prior starting a new school year.

Visit for more information and a free consultation

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teenage Runaways

Teen Runaways are on the increase. Many teens think that the grass is greener on the other side.

They are confused and following the crowd of peers making poor choices. Teens want to escape the "rules of a household" and we as parents, become their number one enemy. They feel that they are fearless and can prove they can survive without their parents and our rules. Rules are put in place for a reason; we love our children and want them to grow up with dignity and respect we try to instill in them. Their flight plan, in some ways, is a cry for attention. Many times runaways are back home shortly, however there are other situations that can be more serious. This is not to say any child that runs away is not serious, but when this becomes a habit and is their way of rebelling, a parent needs to intervene.

So many times we hear how "their friend’s parents" allow a much later curfew or are more lenient, and you are the worst parents in the world. This is very common and the parent feels helpless, hopeless and alone. It is all part of the manipulation the teens put us through. With their unappreciative thoughts of us, they will turn to this destructive behavior, which, at times, results in them leaving the home.

Some teens go to a friend's house or relative they believe they can trust and make up stories about their home life. This is very common, a parent has to suffer the pain and humiliation that it causes to compound it with the need to get your child help that they need. If you fear your child is at risk of running, the lines of communication have to be open. We understand this can be difficult, however if possible needs to be approached in a positive manner. Teen help starts with communication.

If you feel this has escalated to where you cannot control them, it may be time for placement and possibly having your child escorted. Please know that the escorts (transports) are all licensed and very well trained in removing children from their home into safe programs. These escorts are also trained counselors that will talk to your child all the way, and your child will end his/her trip with a new friend and a better understanding of why their parents had to resort to this measure.

Helpful Hint if you child has runaway and you are using all your local resources – offer a cash reward to their friends privately, of course promising their anonymity and hopefully someone will know your child’s whereabouts.

Having a teen runaway is very frightening and it can bring you to your wits end. Try to remain positive and hopeful and do all you can to help understand why your child is acting out this way. These are times when parents need to seek help for themselves. Don’t be ashamed to reach out to others. We are all about parents helping parents.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parents helping Parents

As with my organization, Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, I created it to help other parents that are struggling with today’s teens. After going through a difficult time with my own teenage daughter, I made some major mistakes, however I wanted others to learn from my mistakes: more important - gain from my knowledge. I firmly believe that parents helping parents and parents learning from other parents firsthand - can be priceless!

Rhonda Spellman is a proud mother of a beautiful son - who happens to have autism. She has made it her mission in life to share with other parents and expanded her information into wonderful children’s books.

Here are some of her parenting tips and please take a moment to visit her website.

Quick tips: 9 Keys of Parenting

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome benefit from an environment that helps to build upon their strengths and builds their confidence and self esteem. What interests them? Help them to gain greater knowledge about their areas of abilities and interest. This helps to build their confidence.

To help them develop their social skills it is a good idea to talk with them frequently, inquiring how they feel about certain situations. Vary their exposure to a wide range of experiences. Observe their reaction to each and talk about their feelings.

Was the trip at the park better than the trip to the mountains? Why? What made one better or worse than the other? Try to avoid large crowds, too much noise and too many sensory impulses at one time. People with Asperger’s Syndrome are simply unable to assimilate too many variables at one time and you are setting them up for a ‘meltdown.’

It helps a person with Asperger’s Syndrome to broaden their interests and topics of conversation. Try introducing something new and different, in small steps and in small time slots. For example, visit a new location that offers a perspective that may enhance an ability they already possess. Go to a new planetarium if astronomy is “their thing.” Different settings can help them to learn what is and what isn’t socially appropriate.

Keep in mind that it is a critical element to ensure that they are in a safe, supportive, and strength-based group setting. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome unfortunately tend to act out inappropriately and become targets for bullies.

Because children with Asperger’s Syndrome are already fearful or otherwise resistant to socially interact with others it is paramount to begin working on their social skills as early as possible. They already have difficulty communicating with others and are often excluded in their schools by their peers because they appear “different” or “weird.” Involving them in small group settings in a familiar environment not only exposes them to “accepted” behaviors but it also gives them a feeling of acceptance among their peers.

*At my house we often have as many as 11 extra neighborhood children playing in the backyard with my two boys. My almost eight-year-old son has Asperger’s Syndrome. My just turned six-year-old son does not. They both are involved with the play at times. Sometimes my older son is an observer… and that’s okay. Sometimes he prefers to just play in the sandbox or paint with sidewalk chalk. *He gets the chalk wet and “paints” wonderful pictures.

I make popsicles by the dozen and the children take turns passing them out. I am firm on fairness and each knows the unwritten rule that no one is ever left out. Yes, the extra children can be exhausting… yes, the extra children can make a mess… yes, making the popsicles takes some time and it costs me a few extra dollars… Can I afford the extra time and effort? The way I see it: The interaction for my son is therapy I can’t afford NOT to do!

A child with Asperger’s self esteem is greatly enhanced when they are given opportunities to participate with and / or help others. Allowing them to pitch in and help with chores and to have responsibilities is a great start. Making sure that they are recognized and rewarded is the second step. Watching them grow into happy, stable and productive people is the always the goal.
I learn from my very different boys every day. I aim to teach them to love and accept those differences, in each other and in all others, every day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teenage Depression

“Just this gloom was like hanging over my head and I knew something wasn’t right but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.”

– Amy, 16 years old

New research from Columbia University finds that nearly 50 percent of teens suffer from some form of depression, anxiety, or a number of other psychiatric disorders.

“A lot of people I know get depressed all the time about lots of stuff,” says 15-year-old Meagan.

“It’s like everything’s all on your shoulders and you have to take everything at once,” says Meredith, 14.

Sixteen-year-old Amy agrees, “Just this gloom was like hanging over my head and I knew something wasn’t right but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was.”

“My parents went through an awful divorce my ninth grade year and I was devastated, worse than my heart could ever imagine,” says 18-year-old Brittany, “and it hurts a lot, and I still hurt to this day and I’m a senior in H.S.”

The symptoms vary: some kids may be lethargic and withdrawn; others may show agitation and frustration, even aggression. Often, there is a drop in grades.

And sometimes these symptoms can cause parents to punish the child, instead of providing treatment.

“Rather than thinking of children’s misbehaviors as discipline problems or misbehaviors as deliberate,” says psychologist Sunaina Jain, Ph.D., “it’s important to see them as communications from the child.”

Experts say lots of kids experience depression or anxiety, often mild and temporary, but not always. And that’s why parents need to constantly check their child’s emotional pulse.

“You know it doesn’t take hours and hours. Even a few minutes of checking in with each other every day is a great way of saying you know I’m here, I’m interested in you,” says Jain.

Tips for Parents

All teens experience ups and downs. Every day poses a new test of their emotional stability – fighting with a friend, feeling peer pressure to “fit in” with a particular crowd or experiencing anxiety over a failed quiz – all of which can lead to normal feelings of sadness or grief. These feelings are usually brief and subside with time, unlike depression, which is more than feeling blue, sad or down in the dumps once in a while.

According to the Nemours Foundation, depression is a strong mood involving sadness, discouragement, despair or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months or even longer. It also interferes with a person’s ability to participate in normal activities. Often, depression in teens is overlooked because parents and teachers feel that unhappiness or “moodiness” is typical in young people. They blame hormones or other factors for teens’ feelings of sadness or grief, which leaves many teens undiagnosed and untreated for their illness.

The Mayo Clinic reports that sometimes a stressful life event triggers depression. Other times, it seems to occur spontaneously, with no identifiable specific cause. However, certain risk factors may be associated with developing the disorder. Johns Hopkins University cites the following risk factors for becoming depressed:

Children under stress who have experienced loss or who suffer attention, learning or conduct disorders are more susceptible to depression.
Girls are more likely than boys to develop depression.
Youth, particularly younger children, who develop depression are likely to have a family history of the disorder.

Possible Symptoms:

Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
Irritability, anger, worry, agitation or anxiety
Pessimism or indifference
Loss of energy or persistent lethargy
Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
Inability to concentrate and indecisiveness
Inability to take pleasure in former interests or social withdrawal
Unexplained aches and pains
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

It is important to acknowledge that teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol or become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of depression. According to the National Mental Health Association, teens may also express their depression through other hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behaviors. These behaviors will only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and destroyed relationships with friends and family, as well as difficulties with law enforcement or school officials.

The development of newer antidepressant medications and mood-stabilizing drugs in the last 20 years has revolutionized the treatment of depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, medication can relieve the symptoms of depression, and it has become the first line of treatment for most types of the disorder. Psychotherapy may also help teens cope with ongoing problems that trigger or contribute to their depression. A combination of medications and a brief course of psychotherapy are usually effective if a teen suffers from mild to moderate depression. For severely depressed teens, initial treatment usually includes medications. Once they improve, psychotherapy can be more effective.

Immediate treatment of your teen’s depression is crucial. Adolescents and children suffering from depression may turn to suicide if they do not receive proper treatment. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans aged 10-24. The National Association of School Psychologists suggests looking for the following warning signs that may indicate your depressed teen if contemplating suicide:

Suicide notes: Notes or journal entries are a very real sign of danger and should be taken seriously.

Threats: Threats may be direct statements (“I want to die.” “I am going to kill myself”) or indirect comments (“The world would be better without me.” “Nobody will miss me anyway”). Among teens, indirect clues could be offered through joking or through comments in school assignments, particularly creative writing or artwork.

Previous attempts: If your child or teen has attempted suicide in the past, a greater likelihood that he or she will try again exists. Be very observant of any friends who have tried suicide before.

Depression (helplessness/hopelessness): When symptoms of depression include strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness, your teen is possibly at greater risk for suicide. Watch out for behaviors or comments that indicate your teen is feeling overwhelmed by sadness or pessimistic views of his or her future.

“Masked” depression: Sometimes risk-taking behaviors can include acts of aggression, gunplay and alcohol or substance abuse. While this behavior may not appear to be depression, in fact it may suggest that your teen is not concerned about his or her own safety.

Final arrangements: This behavior may take many forms. In adolescents, it might be giving away prized possessions, such as jewelry, clothing, journals or pictures.

Efforts to hurt himself or herself: Self-injury behaviors are warning signs for young children as well as teens. Common self-destructive behaviors include running into traffic; jumping from heights; and scratching, cutting or marking his or her body.

Changes in physical habits and appearance: Changes include inability to sleep or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss and lack of interest in appearance or hygiene.

Sudden changes in personality, friends or behaviors: Changes can include withdrawing from friends and family, skipping school or classes, loss of involvement in activities that were once important and avoiding friends.

Plan/method/access: A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased interest in guns and other weapons, may seem to have increased access to guns, pills, etc., and/or may talk about or hint at a suicide plan. The greater the planning, the greater the potential for suicide.

Death and suicidal themes: These themes might appear in classroom drawings, work samples, journals or homework.

If you suspect suicide, it is important to contact a medical professional immediately. A counselor or psychologist can also help offer additional support.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Foundation for Suicidal Prevention
Columbia University
Johns Hopkins University
Mayo Clinic
National Association of School Psychologists
National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association
National Institute of Mental Health
National Mental Health Association
Nemours Foundation

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sue Scheff - Preventing Internet Crime Against Children

Violence against children is completely preventable!

Get Angry And SAVE A Child.

Reporting Online Crime Against Children

Keeping kids safe from harm and violence is up to everyone of us! Be Informed ... Be Involved ...Make a Difference in a Child's LifeViolence against children only ends when a child comes forward or a concerned person recognizes the warning signs and reports the abuse.
Sometimes, people may fear getting personally involved or they may be in denial of a child they know who is being hurt. Child violence is a problem on the national and local levels that requires action in the form of caring individuals in each community.

And now the Internet has become a real danger to kids of all ages.

A person’s actions, or lack of action, not only affects the abused child, but everyone in our country. Click Here To Report Non-Online Violence Against Children

Reporting Internet Crime

The Cybertipline handles leads on a variety of Internet criminal activity and is forwarded to law enforcement. Learn what you can do if you suspect illegal or dangerous activity online.
You can file reports at or call your local police force or law enforcement agency, i f you know a child who is in danger or at risk of an online crime

Learn More: