Building Self-Confidence In Your Teenager

SelfWorthHelp! My teen is hanging with the wrong crowd!

This is a common statement from parents when their child is starting down a negative road.

Your child’s self-esteem is an important part of his self-image. It helps him feel he’s worthwhile just as he is and helps him feel good about his choices and decisions. A healthy self esteem doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that is nurtured and grown throughout a lifetime, and something that the important people in his life have a chance to help cultivate.

Here are some tips for boosting your child’s self-esteem.

Give your child choices throughout the day. A big part of healthy self-esteem is feeling capable. Offering your child choices about what outfit to wear, what to have for a snack or for lunch, or if he should pick up the play room before or after going to the park will give your child practice making good choices. When offering young children choices, the key is being comfortable with whatever the child chooses. The goal is to help him think about both sides and make a decision that he feels will best satisfy his needs.

Avoid generic praise. Parents want kids to feel good about the things they do and to encourage them to repeat the types of behavior they value. So parents often say things like “Great job!” after everything from finishing vegetables at dinner to putting socks on in the morning to going down the slide at the park. While generic congratulations feel good to a child for a short time, after too many times it becomes meaningless. In fact, congratulating a child for things that don’t require real effort can make a child lose trust in the parent’s honesty.

Use specific praise generously. It’s helpful to a child’s self-esteem to hear from parents and other adults about their accomplishments, both big and small. Instead of using generic praise, let your child know how much you admire and appreciate his specific behavior. Phrases like “I appreciate your help in picking up the play room this afternoon. It means we have more time at the park!” or “Eating your vegetables will help your body grow strong and healthy. I love your willingness to try new things.” or “I’m so proud of how you climbed to the top of the tower. That took strong arms and great balance!” will help your child feel good about his abilities and choices.

Avoid negative labels. Most of the way we communicate with others is based in lifelong habits. Unfortunately some unhealthy habits may find their way into your parenting or caregiving vocabulary. Labeling a child as being mean, lazy, uncoordinated or hyperactive, or calling him a whiner, liar or babyish can negatively affect his self-esteem. Children are sensitive to what the people they love think about them and words can have a huge effect. Choose your words carefully and talk about challenging behaviors or traits in positive terms.

Become a great listener. Giving your child your full attention and truly listening to what he is saying and how he feels is an immediate self-esteem booster. When you turn off your phone, the TV and the computer and fully engage with your child it shows him that you really care about him and that you’re interested in what he has to say. That kind of undivided attention is rarer than it should be these days and will make your child feel valued and loved.

Model healthy self-esteem. Your child looks to you for clues about how to think, act and feel. Make sure you’re sending the right message. Invest in developing your own healthy self-esteem and you’ll be on your way to helping your child develop it too. Have a positive body image, be confident about your abilities, and don’t let petty criticisms from the outside world make you feel bad about yourself and your choices. If you struggle with esteem issues, talk about them with your child in an age appropriate way and show him the steps you’re taking to develop a healthy self-esteem. Showing your child that you’re not perfect, but that you’re working towards being better, gives him the freedom to accept his flaws too.

Teach problem solving skills. Teaching your child how to objectively assess a situation, brainstorm solutions, and put a plan into action is a proactive way of building self-esteem. Children who feel able to handle challenging situations, who recognize that when they get knocked down they can get right back up and try again, and who are confident that every problem has a solution have a strong sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an important part of a child’s healthy emotional development. It acts like a suit of armor for your child, protecting him from many of the bumps and bruises that come with everyday life. It also gives him a strong foundation to build life skills on.

Source: Babysitting Jobs

11 Facts about teens and self esteem are listed on DoSomething.org and are very interesting including:

  • 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel good about how you look (compared to 54% of girls with high self-esteem).
  • Teenage boys can be prone to obsessive exercising, binge eating, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, steroid abuse and diet aid abuse.
  • One of the main factors in teen promiscuity is self-esteem. When a teen has little or no self-confidence, he or she will use sex as a means to build confidence.

Do you feel your tween or teen is struggling with low self worth, starting to go down a negative path. Don’t let it escalate. Be proactive and reach out for help. Finding a local adolescent therapist can sometimes help. If it has gone too far, you may have come to a point where residential therapy is the answer. You can visit www.helpyourteens.com.

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Students Recall Special Schools Run Like Jails: WWASPS

U.S. teens faced this "box" when disciplined in WWASPS facilities in Montana.

U.S. teens faced this “box” when disciplined in WWASPS facilities in Montana.

When parents contact me and tell me, ‘well, their [WWASPS aka Teen Help Sales Rep] claims they are no longer part of WWASPS’, I usually chuckle under my breathe.  Seriously, I guess I shouldn’t laugh since over a decade ago I fell prey to their garbage they were selling too.  You have to understand when parents are desperate to get their teen help, they are willing to believe (hope and pray) that what they are being told is the gospel.

On page 3 of the article – I see where they still like to live in denial, but the NYT’s has checked out their business filings and their own testimony:

According to business filings and Mr. Lichfield’s court testimony, the schools and programs that have ties to Mr. Lichfield and his associates are Horizon Academy, Cross Creek Programs and Old West Academy in Utah; Seneca Ranch in South Carolina; Midwest Academy in Iowa; Red River Academy in Louisiana; and Pillars of Hope in Costa Rica. Annual tuition ranges from about $36,000 to $60,000. Most of the schools denied an affiliation with World Wide.

Unfortunately for most of us that have been down the road of WWASPS and all their web of “lies” in my opinion, or maybe they become truths when you say them enough times.  (Who knows), though when children are involved, this is very serious.

The FRONT page of the New York Times was the perfect place for the headline today.  Why?  Because children are being victimized (in my opinion).  You see, my story took place back in 2000 – yes, over 12+ years ago and these same people are still allowed to operate programs (I call them programs since to call them a school – in my opinion) is a farce.

If you read the URL of the cover page of the NYT’s http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/24/us/students-recall-a-school-run-like-a-prison.html – it actually says these schools are run like a “prison.”  I think my daughter would concur.

So when will all this stop?

Since the  late 1990’s this organization has been bombarded with negative stories, press, lawsuits, etc.  It is up to parents to do their due diligence.  In our country there are very few, if any, regulation on these programs – so we have to be our child’s advocate.

My story has been well documented both online and by Health Communications, Inc.

All articles and posts on my blogs are my opinions.  Parents are free to make their own decisions.

Problem Teens: Residential Therapy and Making that Difficult Decision

Seeking residential help can be daunting online.

Seeking residential help can be daunting online.

Summer is here and some parents will be considering summer camps while others are in the midst of hoping their teenager passed the school year, or had enough credits to graduate. If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with school and acting out, it can drive you to your wit’s end.

Maybe your once fun-loving teenager who is good looking, intelligent, and has lots of good friends is now talking back to you, staying out late or sneaking out, defiant, and possibly sexually active? On the flip side, your once sweet child might be a teenage misfit who is acting out because of bullying, or is experimenting with sex, drugs, and/or alcohol in a desperate attempt to find acceptance.

What happens when you have a teenager that decides they don’t want to finish high school when they are more than capable? Perhaps they were consistently getting excellent grades and now they are just getting by or failing completely.  From an overachiever to an underachiever.  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.

Is this typical teen behavior?

Possible, but how do you know when it is and when you need to intervene?

As the school year is coming to an end, it is a good time for parents to evaluate where their teen is at both emotionally and academically–especially if they are in High School. These are your final years to make a significant difference in their lives, and get them on a positive road towards their futures. When a child is crying out for help by using illegal substances,  running away, flunking in school, becoming secretive, possibly affiliating with a gang, or displaying other negative behavior it is a parent’s responsibility to get involved, as painful as that is, and seek treatment.

When adolescents reach the point of rebelliousness, many parents will try therapy, and this is a good place to start. But the success of local treatment will depend on the child and how far their behavior has escalated. Unfortunately many parents I have spoken to have reported that the one-hour session once a week–or even twice a week–rarely makes a difference in their teen’s behavior. For many parents there comes a time when residential therapy is taken under serious consideration–especially if drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. It is important to seek outside help, and removing a teen from their environment can be critical in getting them the help they need to heal. This is particularly true when a teen needs to be separated from undesirable peers that are instigating or perpetuating their negative behavior.

Though the majority of teens are unwilling to attend residential treatment, most of them are professionally transported by experts in the field. Parents spend a lot of time and stress about this part of the decision, but hiring a professional in this field can lessen the worries. They are trained to work with at-risk youth and will ask you all about your child before they arrive. In speaking with many parents and teens that have successfully used transports, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

At the end of the day, your teen truly wants to feel good about themselves again, too. They want to be that happy child that you remember. Remember, they were once that a good kid, and they can become that good person again.  Being a teenager isn’t easy, and parenting that child when you have reached your wit’s end is a challenge. Knowing you are not alone helps!

Take away tips for parents:

When seeking residential treatment, I always encourage parents to look for three key components that I call the ACE factor:

  • Accredited Academics (Ask to see their accreditation): Education is important, some programs actually don’t offer it.
  • Clinical (Credentialed therapists on staff): Please note–on staff.
  • Enrichment Programs (Animal assisted programs, culinary, fine arts, sports etc): Enrichment Programs are crucial to your child’s program. They will help build self-esteem and stimulate them in a positive direction. Find a program with something your teen is passionate about or used to be passionate prior their path in a negative direction.

I also encourage parents to avoid three red flags:

  • Marketing arms and sales reps (All those toll-free numbers, be careful of who you are really speaking to and what is in the best interest of your child.)
  • Short term programs (Wilderness programs or otherwise, rarely is there a quick fix. Short term program are usually short term results. They usually will then convince you to go into a longer term program after you are there a few weeks–why not just start with one? Consistency is key in recovery. An average program is 6-9-12 months, depending on your child’s needs and the program.)
  • Statistics that show their success rate (I have yet to see any program or school have a third party–objective survey–perform a true statistical report on a program’s success. Success is an individual’s opinion. You have to do your own due diligence and call parent references.)

For more information about researching residential therapy and helpful tips, visit http://www.helpyourteens.com and don’t forget to review the list of questions for schools and programs so you can make an educated decision.

Parent’s True Story: Searching for Teen Help

WitshandsAfter experiencing my good teen making some bad choices, I found myself surfing the Internet until I was so confused and stressed that I couldn’t make a decision. One group of specialty schools and behavior modification programs kept popping up wherever I clicked, and I figured they must be good. Then I received their beautiful glossy literature with a video that could make any parent weep.

Once the initial sticker shock wore off, the cost was reasonable in comparison with other programs, or so I thought until I enrolled my child. The hidden costs added up like a grocery bill. I was totally misled by the sales rep and made a rash decision. Mistake number one: being clueless as to whom you are speaking with when reaching out to these toll-free numbers. This is a common mistake for parents in a desperate situation. A swift sales rep is there waiting for you; meeting questions with the answers you want to hear and making promises that convince you they can help your child.

My true nightmare was just beginning.

Impressed by the fancy words and glossy brochures, I enrolled my child with the understanding that they were qualified to help. I am ashamed to say I never did a background check on these programs. I had called their parent references that they gave me (and later found out they were paid to talk to me, some actually receiving a free month’s tuition). I know many of you are thinking I must have been nuts, and you are right. In this stage of my life, I was at my wit’s end and just wanted help for my child.

Long story short, my frenzy and desperation led to my biggest mistake. I was looking for therapy and internalization through the help of professionals, but what I inadvertently ended up with was more of a teen warehousing program. This was not what they had sold me.

In retrospect, red flags went up shortly after I dropped my child off and I asked who the psychologist would be. Guess what? There was none, unless I wanted to pay extra! So who led the group therapy they raved about? There was no group therapy, there was a person, usually another student, who sat in a circle with them as they reflected. Their psychologist was available for another $100 per visit. But their sales reps had told me that there was a licensed therapist “on staff and on site.” I should have pulled my child then, but I thought I was over-reacting since I was in such a state of confusion and frenzy. The staff was very good at convincing me to “trust the program” instead of addressing my concerns.

My child wrote me letters: some good, some bad. According to the program, the good ones were considered manipulation; the bad ones were considered proof that she needed to stay longer. I couldn’t win and neither could my child.

During my child’s entire stay of almost six months, I was never allowed to speak with her. I only spoke with an employee once a week for 15 minutes (in further research, I discovered these employees had no credentials and many weren’t educated beyond High School, including the President of the organization). I later found out it usually takes up to six months to speak with your child, and in most cases up to a year to see them.

It took me months to realize that I had made a big mistake. In order to visit my child it was mandatory to attend some very bizarre seminars; I wrote my withdrawal letter immediately after the second seminar.

I brought my child home suffering from depression and nightmares from her time in a WWASPS program, and fear of being sent back had created suicidal thoughts.  My child went immediately into real counseling where, after almost two years, an excellent psychologist helped us recover from this horrible, traumatic post-WWASP experience. When my child felt confident that I wouldn’t send her back, I heard some unspeakable stories. I have also heard similar stories from many other post-WWASP aka WWASPS students and families suffering from the same post traumatic symptoms. Through this experience I have developed the opinion that fraud and misrepresentation, combined with a vulnerable parent, can lead to danger for a child. I believe in sharing my knowledge of this (very political) industry with as many families as possible.

So who am I? I am a parent that refused to be silenced. In 2001 I posted my story of what we endured. How my child was abused, how I was duped, and how they (in my opinion) continue to dupe others. WWASPS decided to sue me to have my story removed from the Internet. It went to a jury trial, and I won with truth as my defense.  My story is here and is also published in Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen (Health Communications, Inc). I have continued to help families through my organization founded from our experiences, Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc (P.U.R.E.)

As of March 2013, it is believed that WWASP aka WWASPS or Premier Educational Systems has affiliations with the following, click here.

If you are one of the many parents struggling with their teenagers — good kids making bad choices — you are not alone. If you are in need of teen help, residential therapy is an excellent resource.  In reality there are many more good programs than there are not so good; the key is to do your homework. I created a list of tips and questions to ask schools and programs before enrolling your child, as well as other valuable information. Be an educated parent and you will have safer and healthier teens. So ditch your denial and get proactive! Your child deserves a chance at a bright future.

Learn from my mistakes, gain from my knowledge…..

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Teen Help Programs and Parents Seeking Help for At-Risk Teens

Motherscammed

Parent’s can be stressed, but taking your time to find the right program is worth it.

The recent tragedy in Newtown, CT has many conversations sparked about the need for mental health services.  As a Parent Advocate for over a decade, I speak with parents on a daily basis and hear their desperation for assistance with their tween or teenager.  Some parents are at their wit’s end and feel like a hostage in their own home by their own child, however the resources can be limited for some.

Residential therapy is an excellent option however it can be costly.  Some insurances will help cover the cost, but only a portion of it usually.  In most cases it is usually a PPO insurance that will cover the clinical component of a residential program and even with that, usually a parent has to be prepared to pay the upfront costs and file the claims to be reimbursed. (This all depends on the mental health policy and what it covers).  HMO can be very limited when it comes to mental health, which is why we are hearing a lot about being under-insured in mental health.

When it comes to Residential Treatment Centers, another concern parents need to be aware of is the scams that are out there.  I was once a victim of one over a decade ago, which prompted me to created my organization – Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc. (P.U.R.E.) Parents need to understand there are some programs and schools (or programs that claim to be schools) online with toll free numbers going to marketing arms ready to prey on desperate parents.  This is exactly what happened to us.  Though there are many excellent programs and schools in our country, like with many other businesses, there are always those that are less than what you would want for your child.

I always encourage parents to do their due diligence.  The program that duped my family, though it is closed now, has several other programs opened under different names.  They have a specialty of always changing names, in my opinion.  But you will notice the staff seems to stay the same.  Recently I heard how their LaVerkin, Utah program has gone from Cross Creek to Horizon Academy to Riverview now I just heard they are calling themselves Youth Foundation.  I don’t know – but I do know if you are doing things the right way you don’t have to hide under all these name changes – of course, that is my opinion again.

As you can imagine, this group has a script they share with their potential parents about me too.  I am a disgruntled parent.  Yes, I am – you harm my daughter, a parent becomes disgruntled.  You dupe me, scam me – I become disgruntled. I won in a “jury trial”.  I didn’t settle out court with a confidentiality – though they will tell you a jury made a mistake -I will say not jurors condone child abuse.  Now they are facing another lawsuit.  What is there excuse now?  I assume that is why the name change again.

Either way – use your gut.  If it doesn’t seem right – it usually isn’t.

At the end – your child needs help – get them help.  Don’t make a rash decision, make an educated one.

Strugglings Teens: The Birth of Parents Universal Resource Experts

After 12 years, my organization has been recognized for helping literally thousands of parents and families with their tweens, teens and young adults.

Recently I was interviewed by Career Thoughts.

Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc was created after I was duped online by trying to get my own daughter help.  I was a parent at my wit’s end.  I was vulnerable – I was scammed – and my daughter suffered the consequences.

Many people have asked about her, and she is now a grown woman, successful in her career and has two children of her own.  We have overcome the hurdles – not because of the horrific program she went to, but in spite of it – and because of the fantastic help we found after it to help de-programize her from the damage they did to her.

I always share with parents to learn from my mistake and gain from my knowledge.  That is the biggest gift I can give.

Enjoy this article -click here.

Troubled Teens – Parent’s at their Wit’s End!

Yes, your teen is making bad choices.

Yes, your teen is failing.

Yes, your teen is experimenting with drugs.

Yes, your teen is hanging out with less than desirable kids.

Yes, your teen may be having sex.

Yes, your teen is disrespectful.

Yes, your teen needs help!  They don’t need to be harmed!

If you feel you are at your wit’s end and have exhausted all your local resources – therapy isn’t working or your teen simply refuses to go, it may be time to start thinking about residential therapy.

This doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, quite the contrary, you are giving your teen a second opportunity at a bright future.

Need more information? Visit www.HelpYourTeens.com.