Friday, April 27, 2012
Here are ten questions that are asked frequently by parents of kids, tweens and teens:
1) At what age would you suggest parents start talking to kids about alcohol? Should parents bring it up independently, or wait for their children to ask before broaching the topic?
Like with any sensitive and serious subject, as soon as a parent believes their child is mature enough to understand the topic (alcohol) is when they should start discussions. It can start by asking them their thoughts on alcohol, listen to them carefully and remember, never criticize. Start the discussion at their level and start learning from each other.
Education is the key to prevention and can help your child to better understand the risk and dangers of alcohol from an early age.
Waiting for a crisis to happen, such as living with an alcoholic or having an issue with a family member that has a drinking problem is not the time to start talking to the child. With this type of situation, the subject should be approached as early as the child can possibly understand alcohol and substance use.
2) If you’ve had bad experiences with alcohol in the past (ie you or a friend/family member has battled alcoholism or similar issues), should you be open about them with your kid? If so, when is the right age for kids to hear this information? How open should you be?
This is a very tricky question. On one hand we value honesty, however when a teenager likes to throw it back at you when they decide to experiment and it goes too far is when you realize you may want to pick and choose what stories from your past you want to share.
If you have a family member that has battled with addiction, alcoholism or similar issues, there is nothing like firsthand experiences (especially those people that are related to them) to help them understand how harmful this disease can be and in some cases, deadly. I think it is very important that your teenager know these stories and how it relates to them – especially as they go into middle school and high school and start feeling the peer pressure from to others to experiment with different substances.
3) Are there any websites or books that you’d recommend having parents read or showing kids (at any age)? Are certain types of information better for each age group (ie maybe children respond better to broad themes and videos, tweens respond well to anecdotes and stories, and teens respond better to hard facts about drinking and health)?
Ask Listen Learn: Is a fantastic interactive and educational website created by The Century Council For Underage Drinking. This site if full of facts, resources, videos downloads, games as well as more links that offer extended information. This site is targeted for all ages from younger kids to teens.
The Cool Spot: This is another great website for tweens and teens. This deals with information on alcohol and helping teens and young teens resist peer pressure.
Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas – This is an excellent book for both parents and teens of a true story. It was a NYT’s best seller. Eye-opening and utterly gripping, Koren Zailckas’s story is that of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics—yet—but who routinely use booze as a shortcut to courage and a stand-in for good judgment. This book is more for teenagers and parents.
4) Do you think that schools and/or the media do a good job of warning kids about the dangers of alcohol consumption, or do they receive mixed messages about drinking? How might you incorporate your thoughts about this into a conversation with your child?
Schools and teachers do what they are paid to do, and in most cases, especially with dedicated teachers and employees, will go above their duty and do more. However it is the parent’s responsibility to continue to talk to their child about the risks and dangers of alcohol, as well as the peer pressure they may face in school and in their community.
Though many parents are busy today, some working two jobs, many are single parents – there are few excuses not to take the time to talk to your kids about these subjects. Whether it is Internet safety, substance abuse, safe sex, or simply homework – parenting is your priority. I am not saying this is easy, I know for a fact, it isn’t. I was a single parent with two teenagers, it was very hard. I think today is even more challenging since there is more obstacles to contend with than there was even a decade ago.
The good news is the most recent study by The Century Council says that 83% of youth cite parents as the leading influence in their decisions not to drink alcohol. Another words – our kids are listening and parents are doing their job parenting!
5) How often should you talk to kids about alcohol, and does it vary by age? (i.e. less frequently for younger children, more frequently for tweens, and most frequently for teenagers?)
As frequently as you have an opportunity. If there is a reason for it – if there is a conversation about it, expand on it – don’t run from it. This is for both tweens and teens. As far as little children are concerned, again it depends on their maturity and what your family dynamics consist of.
6) If you drink yourself, is it ever a good idea to allow kids to drink with you (i.e. a glass of wine at dinner) to de-stigmatize alcohol and help them be responsible? Or is it instead better to forbid them from consuming alcohol altogether until they are 21?
Alcohol is illegal for underage drinkers. However there are some that believe that a sip of alcohol isn’t be a big deal. I believe this is a personal decision, but if you have alcoholism that runs in your family, it is something that I would caution you on.
The other side to this is some people believe it would eliminate them from trying it at a friend’s house where they could get into trouble such as drinking and driving. I think this goes back to being a personal choice on for your family. It goes back to talking to your teen – communication. Keep the lines open!
7) If you suspect your child’s friends are drinking or pressuring him/her to drink, should you stop allowing your child to hang out with them?
Communication. Talk to your child about these friends. Find out what is going on and help your child see that maybe the choices he/she is making are not in their best interest. It is better if your teen comes to the conclusion not to hang out with these friends rather than their parent telling them not to.
8) Should the discussion be different for a daughter versus a son? How might you talk to the different sexes differently about alcohol (i.e. maybe you’d warn girls more about not having people slip something in their drinks at parties, while you’d warn boys more about alcohol and hazing/pranks.)
I don’t want parents to get confused on gender and alcoholism. It doesn’t discriminate. A girl or a boy can be slipped a drug in their drink at a party – just like a girl or boy can be coerced into participating into a mean prank of hazing.
With this, whether you have a son or daughter, you need to speak with them about the risks of leaving any drink alone and coming back for it. Keep in mind, you don’t have to have an alcoholic beverage to put a powdery substance into it (another words even a soda can be spiked).
The important issue is they understand that these things can happen and they can happen to them.
9) What should you do if you suspect your teenager is drinking against your advice?
Communication. I know it is easier said than done (and I sound like a broken record), however it is the best tool we have and the most effective. As hard as it can be, talking with a teenager is difficult, but we have to continue to break down those walls until they talk to us and tell us why they are turning to alcohol.
If you aren’t able to get through, please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you can’t, you are not alone. Again, teen years are the most trying times. Reach out to an adolescent therapist or counselor. Hopefully your teen will agree to go. If not, may you have a family member or good friend your teen will confide in. It so important to get your teen to talk about why he/she is drinking. Don’t give up – whether it is a guidance counselor, sports coach, someone he/she is willing to open up to.
Parents can’t allow this to escalate and only believe it is a phase. Maybe it is – but maybe it isn’t. Be proactive. Don’t wait for it to reach the addiction level. Don’t be a parent in denial. There is help and you don’t have to be ashamed to ask for it.
There are many typical teens that end up being addicts – don’t let your teenager be one of them.
10) Could you offer one specific tip for each age group (elementary school, tween/middle school, and high school) that I may have missed or that people might not think of?
For all ages, parents need to realize how important it is to be a role model. As I mentioned earlier, 83% of children are listening and are influenced by their parents. That is a large number. So continue keeping those lines of communication open – starting early and going into their college years!
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Being a parent isn't easy. And it can be especially difficult raising teenagers these days. But do you know where to turn if you are having problems with your child? What do you do when your teen is missing and you aren't getting help from your local authorities?
Understanding and preventing your teen from running away can be difficult. When a teen turns up "missing," parents must initially decide whether the child is missing, has run away, or simply sneaked out.
There are differences, and those differences are very important. A missing child could have been abducted by someone against his/her will and is being held, possibly threatened. A missing child can also be a child who is simply missing; the child did not return home when expected and may be lost or injured.
The National Runaway Switchboard is one resource parents can turn to. 1-800-RUNAWAY. All calls to National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) are confidential and free 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-RUNAWAY now to speak with someone, or check out our other resources and services.
If your teen is a chronic runaway and you are at your wit's end, it may be time to consider residential therapy. After you have exhausted your local resources and therapy isn't working, and in many situations the teen refuses to attend therapy, you may be at a point that residential treatment is your last resort.
Visit www.helpyourteens.com for more information. It is a major emotional and financial decision.
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Friday, April 13, 2012
It is easy for educators and parents to become overdramatic when warning young students about the dangers of alcohol.
Flooded with extensive media coverage of seemingly every college drinking death, their genuine concern can become panic.
The truth is, most college students who drink do not binge, and suicide may even be a higher cause of death among this demographic. Nevertheless, one alcohol-related student death is too many, especially since it’s so easily prevented.
With that in mind, here are 10 sobering reminders why you should drink responsibly.
1) Nearly 2,000 students die from alcohol-related injuries each year.: Every year, an estimated 1,825 students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from injuries sustained by excessive alcohol consumption. This works out as nearly one death for every two colleges in America. Incredibly, another 599,000 are unintentionally injured due to the effects of alcohol. Out of 4,140 colleges in the U.S., both public and private, this factors out to 145 injuries for every single campus. (It should be noted, however, that the methodology for finding these statistics has been questioned.)
2) College drinking deaths rose 26.7% from 1999 to 2005: Deaths of students from alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related accidents are certainly nothing new. College administrations have been making strides in educating students about the dangers of binge drinking for years, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be having a positive effect on the number of student drinking deaths. On the contrary, the number is actually rising. The 1,825 deaths calculated in 2005 were an increase of almost 27% from the 1,440 deaths calculated in 1998.
3) Freshmen account for more than one-third of college student deaths: When it comes to alcohol-related deaths, the first year of college is easily the most dangerous. A USA Today study done in 2006 found that although freshman account for only about 24% of the total population of college students, they make up much more than their share of the number of deaths. For example, they accounted for 40% of undergraduate suicides, 47% of undergrad deaths on campus, and half of deaths from falls out of windows and off rooftops. Of these deaths, one out of five was found to have been drinking.
4) Fifty-three percent of college students have experienced depression, and less than one-third seek help: With all the pressure, the separation from family and familiar surroundings, and the lack of sleep college students are faced with, depression is a very common ailment on campus. More than half of college students will experience some form of it, and the majority of them will not seek help. The answer for many is to drown their sorrows in alcohol. A 1998 study found as many as 1.5% of students tried to commit suicide because of drinking and/or drug use.
5) At least one student has died from drinking in college hazing rituals every year for more than four decades: Hazing goes back to at least the 1800s and possibly even before. It’s always been used as a way of putting a person through a trial to earn membership in a select group. But to put it bluntly, if the person is killed, what’s the point? Since 1975, thousands of lives have been needlessly thrown away in hazing rituals, devastating their families and usually spelling the end for the organizations they were trying to join.
6) In 82% of hazing deaths, a huge amount of alcohol consumed is involved: Alcohol is sometimes referred to as “liquid courage,” and it’s plain to see why the vast majority of college student athletes and pledges to fraternities and sororities would need to be brave when going through hazing. It can involve beatings, public humiliation, or simply being forced to chug copious amounts of alcohol. As one researcher, professor Hank Nuwer, put it, “We’re talking levels which would be approaching, basically half of your blood system being filled with liquor.”
7) Chico State University student Matthew Carrington died from binging on water : Because of the amount of negative attention hazing has received in recent years, many schools have banned alcohol from Greek functions. To get around this, many college groups have taken to forcing pledges to drink huge amounts of water or milk, either of which can be lethal in large quantities. In 2009, Matthew Carrington died after water absorbed into his blood after his fraternity mates forced him to drink from a five-gallon jug of water that they kept refilling.
8) Eighty-three of the college student deaths from 1999 to 2005 were of underage students: There is a reason the U.S. has a legal drinking age. Hopefully, at least, people over 20 are better equipped to handle peer pressure and know when to call it quits on a night of drinking. They also have two or three years of college under their belt and don’t need to hit the first party they see and get as drunk as humanly possible. But 83 underclassmen died in six years as a result of alcohol poisoning because they weren’t mature enough to drink responsibly.
9) At a 0.15 BAC, chances of a car crash due to drunk driving are 200 times higher: Although the number of deaths due to college students drinking and driving may have been overestimated in the past, there’s no shortage of students still getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. One in five students admitted to driving drunk in a four-year study that concluded in 2010. No states allow driving at a blood-alcohol level over 0.08%. Even at this level, drivers are still about 10 times more likely to be in a (potentially fatal) car crash.
10) A Colorado State University student died of alcohol poisoning with a BAC of 0.436: On a Friday in 2004, Samantha Spady started drinking at 6 p.m. and consumed an estimated 40 cups of beer and shots of vodka. When she was found the next day, her body had a blood-alcohol level of 0.436, an astronomical figure that the coroner said was probably higher earlier in the evening of her death. The most sobering part of her story is that her friends had no indication she had been poisoned by alcohol and was dying; they had left her in a room “to sleep it off.”
Source: Online Colleges
April is Alcohol Prevention Awareness Month. You can never talk to your teens or tweens enough about the risks of drinking.
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Thursday, April 5, 2012
Unfortunately we are hearing more of this and sadly teens are feeling this is their only escape from what they believe is an experience they can't seem to reconcile.
Self abuse (or self mutilation) can come in many forms; most commonly it is associated with cutting, hair pulling or bone breaking, but it can also manifest itself as eating disorders like bulimia, and/or anorexia. My site will focus mainly on cutting, which is the most common form of self abuse, with 72% of all self injurers choosing to do so by cutting themselves, and hair pulling.
Cutting is exactly as it sounds; when your teen cuts him or herself as a physical expression to feel emotional pain. There are many reasons why teens injure themselves, but many people assume it’s just ‘for attention’.
Often this can be an element of why your teen may be abusing him or her self, but just as often it can be something your teen does privately to express the emotional pain they feel inside. And while self injury is a taboo subject, it is estimated that 3 to 6 million Americans self injure themselves in some way, and that number is on the increase- in fact, its already doubled in the past three years.
For more help, please contact us at www.helpyourteens.com.
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