Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bullying: Is your child a victim of a bully at school? Warning signs parents should know

According to a May 2011 survey published by the United States Department of Education, approximately 8,166,000 students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported that they were being bullied in school; this number translates to about 31.7% of American students in that age group. The effects of bullying have been emphasized to parents, educators and childcare providers as media coverage of teen suicides resulting from unchecked bullying increases. In today’s world, children require protection from each other, as well as reprehensible adult influence.

Fortunately, there are a few warning signs that could indicate that your child is the victim of schoolyard bullies.
  • Unexplained Injuries or Damages to Property – When items go missing or turn up broken, clothing and other property is torn or damaged, or your child shows clear signs of physical injury but lacks a plausible explanation for these occurrences, there’s a very strong chance that he’s being bullied and trying to hide it from you. Because seeking help for bullying is often considered a sign of weakness, some kids will go to great lengths to keep their plight under wraps.
  • Displays an Aversion to School – A child that was once happy and eager to attend classes but suddenly exhibits a strong aversion to school, attempts to fake illnesses as a means of staying home, or puts up a fight every morning may be trying to avoid school because he’s trying to avoid being bullied there. Most kids show at least a mild aversion to school from time to time; however, should your child seem genuinely afraid or angry about going to his classes each morning, there may be more to the story than a typical childhood distaste for school.
  • Difficulty Sleeping or Nightmares – One of the most common signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not uncommon in children that are severely bullied, is difficulty sleeping. Sleep disruptions and nightmares should be viewed as a cause for concern when they become a regular occurrence; the occasional bad dream is simply par for the childhood course, but recurring nightmares could indicate a serious problem.
  • Lowered Academic Performance – Kids that are the victims of bullying may experience a drop in grades or show other indications of a lowered academic performance, either as a result of being actively distracted from their studies by bullies or because they’re experiencing symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder that makes it difficult for them to focus. When grades rapidly plummet, parents should always address the situation; however, if there are other indicators of bullying, kids should certainly not be punished if their studies are suffering.
  • Loss of Interest in Hobbies or Activities – When a child that was once eager to join in activities, extra-curricular sports or after school programs abruptly shows a lack of interest or even a distaste for those hobbies, it could indicate that he’s being bullied by other participants and wants to distance himself from the situation as much as possible.
  • Isolation – It’s not unheard of for tweens and teens to barricade themselves in their rooms, eschewing the company of their parents in favor of talking to their friends; it’s so common, in fact, that it’s become something of a societal cliché. That being said, if your child is isolating himself from everyone, and doesn’t seem to have many friends that he’s interacting with, that isolation could be an indicator of bullying or harassment.
  • Self-Harming Behavior – The most drastic, and perhaps the most upsetting, indicator of bullying is self-harming behavior in your child. Cutting, eating disorders and risky behavior, like running away from home, are all classic signs of bullying or abuse; though they may seem extreme and overwhelming, they’re not an indicator that all hope is lost. A child exhibiting these signs is likely to require some treatment, and may need to be removed from their current school as a protective measure.
Fear of retribution, a reluctance to appear helpless, and humiliation at their plight may leave kids reluctant to notify an authority figure, or even to admit to being bullied in many cases. The 2008 to 2009 School Crime Supplement indicates that roughly two-thirds of bullying cases go unreported by the victims or their peers, so uncovering the truth may require a bit of finesse. Aggressive questioning can feel like an interrogation to an already victimized child, so parents should keep their tone open, calm and non-judgmental during conversations about the subject.

Source: Babysitting Jobs

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Teen Peer Pressure: Be An Educated Parent

Frequently we hear how a teen used to be such a nice kid until they started hanging out with so-and-so. Yes, the wrong crowd. Everyone knows about the wrong crowd.

We’re surrounded by peer pressure every day in a variety of different ways, from the unknown forces of the media to our friends and family. Although a parent can’t erase peer pressure from her child’s life, she can give her the tools she needs to stay strong in the face of it and make decisions based on what’s best for her.

Here are a few tools to help you teach your child about peer pressure.

Talk to your child about the influences of the media. Every time you turn on the TV, pick up a magazine, read a billboard, go on Facebook or Twitter, or surf the web there are people trying to get you to take the action they want you to take or think the way they want you to think. Many people don’t recognize these forces as peer pressure because they’ve become such an engrained part of our lives; however, the media greatly influences our ideas and choices. Talking with children about these influences can help kids see things with a critical mind and allow them to make smarter, more objective decisions.

Be a good role model. If your child sees you rush out to buy the latest fashion, stand in line for hours to land the latest gadget, or try the latest fad diet because everyone else on the block is singing its praises, she’s much more likely to fall prey to the same peer influences. Let your child see you making decisions based on what’s best for you and the situation, even when it’s not necessarily the popular choice.

Talk to your child about the people and things that influence him. Conversation is one of the most powerful tools you have in helping your child withstand peer pressure. Talk with your child about what choices his friends are making, the choices he’s facing, the factors that influence him, and how he makes decisions about what to do and what not to do. Giving him a safe place to explore his thoughts and feelings will help him make well thought out decisions. It will also allow him to make up his mind about what to do in a tough situation before he’s actually in the tough situation. Working through his choices ahead of time gives him the confidence to act in accordance with his beliefs and values.

Involve your child in a community that supports your values. Although you can’t insulate your child from peer pressure, you can stack the deck in your favor by surrounding your child with people that can help her make good choices. Your local church, Boys and Girls Club, Boy and Girl Scouts, and community programs are all great places to find like-minded families. Your child will still be pressured to do things that are not in her best interest, but it’s a lot easier to say no when others are saying no alongside you.

Help your child develop a strong sense of self. Children with high self-esteem and a positive self-image have a much easier time resisting peer pressure. Those things don’t develop overnight, so plant the seeds of self-esteem and self-image when your child is young and cultivate them as your child grows.

Help your child avoid troublesome situations. Sometimes peer pressure can be avoided simply by avoiding a certain person or taking control of a situation. If your child’s classmate is known for rallying friends to pick on younger kids, stop meeting him and his mom at the local park. Instead, foster a friendship between your child and a kinder classmate. If your child’s new neighbor friend spends hours watching R rated movies while he’s home alone after-school, insist they play at your house where you can monitor their TV choices. If you’re worried about your daughter being out late with her older boyfriend, impose an early curfew but allow the boyfriend to stay and visit.

Be supportive. Making good choices in the face of peer pressure is tough. It can be a very emotional struggle for many kids. Be the person your child can confide in, can count on, and can ask for advice.

Don’t expect perfection. Your child will make mistakes. She will hang out with the wrong people. She will make bad choices. How you react when those things happen will have a big impact on how she handles similar situations in the future. Your goal is to help her learn from her mistakes, help her learn how to make a better choice next time, and help her correct her course when she realizes that she’s going in the wrong direction.

A parent can’t protect her child from peer pressure, but she can help her make decisions based on what’s best for her and not simply on what everyone else is doing.

Source: Go Nannies

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Specialty Boarding Schools Accused of Abuse

Recently it was brought to my attention from a parent that I helped several years ago, she was reading a series of articles on abuse and neglect that happens in residential programs for teens and kids.

We are in 2012 - a time when you would think that transparency of all schools and programs should be a given.  Unfortunately, like I also learned the hard way, when it comes to the big business of "teen help" and parents are at their wit's end - they can fall prey to most anything that sounds like relief.

This is one of the reasons I created my organization, Parents' Universal Resource Experts, Inc (P.U.R.E.)  I felt there wasn't any place I could turn that could give me reliable information.

PURE helps educate parents and gives them insights to a very daunting industry.  Though you initially think you are looking for a boot camp type environment (thinking you want to teach your child a lesson) you will soon realize that your teen is crying out for help.  Searching for a program that has an ACE factor (A-academic, C-clinical, E-enrichment) will serve your teen much better.

Another misconception parents have is that Military Schools are for troubled teens.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  The majority of legitimate Military Schools such as Admiral Faragut in Clearwater, Florida, will only accept students with a certain GPA, in many cases a teen has to write an essay of why they want to attend.

Some parents may find some Military Schools that will accept an unwilling child, but what happens next you won't be so happy with.  If he/she get expelled, chanced are very good you will then forfeit your tuition.  Are you ready for that?  The other emotional component of this is - setting your child up for failure will only serve to do him/her more emotional damage and probably cause more defiance and resentment.

Many parents are dealing with good kids making bad choices.  Many parents are dealing with kids experimenting with substances.  We need to take this all very serious today.  Remember it is not the pot of yesterday.  It is being laced with stronger elements and even addictive ones.  Entitlement issues today are a common thread - kids simply have too much and have no boundaries.

It doesn't matter what your issues are, if you have reached the point where you are convinced you need residential therapy, please contact PURE and talk to us.  We have free consultations.  If you have a list of programs that you are considering, we can go down that list with you.  We have visited a large number of programs in our country.  We also receive feedback from parents, students and even employees frequently.

Talk to us.... don't risk sending your child into harms way.  This is a major financial and emotional decision.  It is a parent's responsibility to get their child help - you don't have to fear it - you just have to be smart about it.

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Read my story here.  My book - Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving your Out of Control Teen.