Academic Pressure Among Adolescents:

How Can I Help My High Schooler?

Academic pressure among adolescents. How can I help my high schooler?

Every parent wants their teenager to succeed in school. You’ve no doubt made a lot of sacrifices to ensure they have access to a solid education.

But with each passing year, academic pressures increase – more homework, growing difficulty of assignments, assessments are stricter and more time-bound.

There is greater pressure on teens to not only perform well, but to do so consistently. After all, higher education possibilities depend on how well a student performs in high school.

In addition to academic pressure, there is the added pressure of after-school activities, such as sports or clubs, or an after-school job. These are often seen as ways to help students gain entrance to universities or even win a scholarship.

Performing consistently well under pressure in all these areas can take a toll on your teen’s mental and physical health. If you feel they are buckling under pressure, then it is time to step in and help.

The Extreme Stress of Falling Grades

Falling grades can lead to a lot of stress among high schoolers and their parents. The natural tendency of most parents is to push the student to work harder.

However, if your teen is falling behind on homework or assignments, and it’s affecting their grades, then it could be due to poor prioritization of their academic and non-academic pursuits.

It could also be because they are struggling with certain concepts or subjects. In these circumstances, pressuring your teen to continue to perform well can be extremely stressful.

Moreover, some parents over-manage their high schooler’s lives. While the intentions might be well-placed, it can lead to your child buckling under the pressure to please you.

In some instances these falling grades can lead to depression or other mental health conditions such as anxiety. Students may become vulnerable to substance abuse or even resort to stimulant abuse to keep up.

5 Important Steps in Dealing with Academic Pressure

Given how competitive schools and the job market have become, performing well is important. It is normal to expect your child to aim high.

However, if your child is struggling with academic pressures, then there are a few things which can help them cope with the pressure better.

Rest and Relax

Long hours at school, followed by time spent on homework and after-school activities can leave your teen with little time to rest and relax. On top of this, enough rest and relaxation might be exactly what they need the most. If your high school age child is not getting enough of both, it might be a good time to go over their schedule and make necessary changes.

Timely Breaks

As adults, we tend to take breaks or schedule some “me-time” as a way of dealing with work stress. The same should be said of our high schoolers – they need time to do things that calm them and bring them joy. While this shouldn’t mean spending more time in front of a video game console than a text book, it CAN mean making sure there are a few hours set aside at the weekend to play those games.

Open Communication

Encourage your teen to talk to you about any difficulties they might be facing at school. Let them know they have your complete support and that you will do everything possible to help them perform better.

Sleep Routine

Lack of sleep is one of the most treatable health risks in kids, especially in the teen population, a group for which chronic loss of sleep has become the new normal. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes, around the onset of puberty, many teens experience what is called a sleep-wake phase delay. This means teens will have a harder time falling asleep and rising at early times. Their circadian preference shifts from a morning type to an evening type. Consider working with your teen to come up with a sleep routine that suits this shift while also taking their school schedule and responsibilities into account.

Consult with a Professional Counselor

If you are unable to help your teen manage academic pressures, consult with a professional counselor. The counselor can help them deal with pressure in a more constructive and healthy manner. Professional help is especially important if you suspect your child has developed anxiety, is struggling with depression, or if they show signs of addiction.

The Rigors of Academics

Academic pressures can impact adolescents mentally and physically. They are under a lot of pressure to ace their classes (or at least try) and to pursue high paying jobs. The kind of competition which exists in today’s world can be unrelenting and it can take a toll on both teens and parents.

Picking up signs of distress and guiding your high schooler through academic intensity can help them deal with their problems better and enable them to deal with future issues and challenges as well.

Professional Counseling with Doorways

If you feel your teen is unable to deal with academic pressure and it is affecting their mental health, it might be time to seek professional help. Connect with us at Doorways or give us a call at 602-997-2880.  

Free Parent Workshop: How to Communicate With Your Teen

Do you feel like it’s difficult to communicate with your teen? 

Do they roll their eyes, or give you an attitude whenever you try to talk to them? 

Is it hard to be on the same page and have a dialog without anger or frustration being in charge? 

Do you want to improve the quality of your ability to discuss things with your teen? Then join us for a free parent workshop on How to Communicate with Your Teen.

This workshop will be led by:

Jason Ellis, MA-Pastoral Services
Behavioral Health Paraprofessional

Jason has spent the last 30 years in youth ministry in Arizona and Oregon. He has a heart for young people and families and longs to see them living life to the fullest. He spends time in the outdoors as often as possible, has a recent growing love of pickleball and makes amazing pizza in his wood fired pizza oven at home. 

Jason is married, has 3 kids and is currently enrolled in the MFT program at the Phoenix extension of the Fuller campus. Jason has spent the last three decades working with teenagers and raising three of his own.

The workshop is free, but seats are limited. 

Text 602-999-8389 to confirm your attendance.

The Fear of Failure Among Adolescents – Why You Should Intervene Early

The fear of failure among adolescents--why you should intervene early

To fail at a task or goal is one thing. Fearing or anticipating failure without even trying is another ball game altogether.

The fear of failure can be crippling, and it can prevent a person from reaching their full potential. The reason adolescents develop a fear of failure often stems from unrealistic pressure to win and succeed.

Now, this pressure could be from parents, teachers, peers, or friends. Or it could be self-directed, especially if they associate success as crucial for acceptance by parents/family/teachers or within their immediate social groups.

Some adolescents can channel failure into improvement, while others take failures to heart and develop crippling fears. In extreme cases, they may even develop a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety.

As parents, you can do a lot to help your child develop a healthy attitude towards failure and help them overcome the anxiety and apprehensions that comes from a fear of failure.

Associate Success with Effort Instead of the End Results

Every parent wants their child to succeed. However, it is important for teens to know and understand that the effort they put in is as much a part of the success formula as is the end result.

Don’t just praise your child for getting a high score on a test or for hitting a home run; make it a point to praise their study habits and their commitment to batting practice, too.

The next time your child scores an “A” on that math test, instead of saying “I am so proud you got an A,” you could try saying something like “I know how hard you worked for that test. All that hard work really paid off!”

It is crucial for your child to know that your appreciation and love is not linked to how well they perform at school or at a sport.

4 Steps to Help Your Teen Overcome Fear of Failing

  • Talk to your teenage child about failure and discuss how they feel; encourage them to openly talk about the emotions associated with failures such as anger or embarrassment. It is important for them to talk about how they feel instead of bottling their emotions.
  • Cite personal stories of famous personalities who fought through their failures and succeeded in their lives instead of giving up.
  • If you have a personal story about overcoming failure in your own life, share that with your child so they understand how failure can be a good teacher or present them with opportunities to succeed.
  • If your child is struggling with school or club activities, encourage them to ask for help and work with them to find a solution to the problem instead of avoiding or ignoring it.

Seeking Professional Help

The fear of failure is something that even adults experience. The brain of an adolescent is still developing which means they are unable to process a lot of emotions associated with failure which include embarrassment, anxiety, or anger and logically work through their difficulties.

This is when your support and understanding can enable your child to not only correctly process the fear of failure and its associated emotions, but to overcome their fears.

However, if you find it difficult to communicate with your child, consulting with a professional counselor might help. It becomes absolutely necessary to consult with a professional counselor if mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety are triggering the fear of failure in your teenager.

In addition, the fear of failure could lead to depression or other mental conditions and even drive your adolescent towards addictions and substance abuse or destructive behavior. 

Professional counseling can help identify the triggers for your child’s fear of failure. Once the cause is known, professional counselors can then work out a plan for addressing these factors and help your adolescent overcome their fears.

Professional Counseling with Doorways

If your teen or someone you know is struggling with a fear of failure and you feel they need professional help, we are here. Please feel free to connect with us at Doorways or give us a call at 602-997-2880.

Now Hiring: Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatrist

Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25-year olds and their families.

Doorways provides a supportive, family-focused environment, flexible schedule, competitive salary and benefits, and a fun place to work!

Providers at Doorways specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/OCD, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certification with current unrestricted license from the Arizona State Board of Nursing or Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathic Medicine with current unrestricted license from the Arizona State Board of Medical Examiners,
  • Current DEA License, NPI Number,
  • Three or more years’ experience in the delivery of mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults,
  • Current CPR & First Aid Certifications
  • Empaneled with at least one major insurance carrier in Arizona preferred.
  • Able to support a faith-based, holistic, integrated model of treatment
  • Energetic and passionate regarding working with the adolescent and young adult population
  • Possess excellent interpersonal skills and the desire to grow with a rapidly expanding practice
  • Team player willing to work with a multidisciplinary team of professionals in treatment planning and provision of care 

Responsibilities will include:

  • Psychiatric evaluations and medication management of patients
  • Prescribe, direct, and administer psychotherapeutic treatments and/or medications to treat mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders.
  • Collaborate with our team of professionals for best care practices in the treatment of adolescents, young adults and their families.

If this position is of interest to you, let’s talk! Please contact Jan Hamilton, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, at Doorways LLC. hr@doorwaysarizona.com

 

How Social Media is Affecting our Teens

Jan Hamilton, Founder, Doorways Teen Counseling and Psychiatric Services Phoenix ArizonaBy Jan Hamilton, MS, PMHNP

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

 

Since computers starting coming into the home and video games left the arcade, parents have expressed concerns about how much is too much and how these virtual interfaces will impact the lives of our children over the long term. For years, the main concerns around overuse of electronic media have centered on physical activity levels, studying, and the effect of violent, sexist, and racist themes on young minds. Recently I was asked my thoughts on the impact things like Facebook, Twitter, and video games are having on today’s youth. My answers might surprise you.

One of the main problems that I see is an increase in teens and young adults with significant social anxiety problems that seem to stem from spending too much time interacting with a computer and not enough time interacting with actual people. I call this “Social Phobia.” This is especially pertinent for teens that are in the 12 to 15 year old range that are actively developing and refining the social skills that will help them throughout their lives.

The more time a child spends in isolation posting on Facebook, playing Xbox, chatting online, texting, and watching YouTube videos, the less time they spend interacting with their peers and families. These real-world interactions are necessary for developing social skills, understanding social protocols, and building interpersonal relationships.

What Parents Should Look For

  • Parents should trust their instincts and if they are concerned there might be a problem, seek the opinion of a professional.
  • Parents also need to make the distinction between what is normal behavior and what is healthy behavior. Your son might spend 12 hours a day playing video games which seems normal when compared to his friends, but most health professionals would agree that even if it is normal, 12 hours of video game play in a day is definitely not healthy.
  • Watch for resistance to social situations and avoidance of social interactions. If your child is having a significant emotional response to a situation that requires social interaction, there may be a social problem that needs to be addressed.

What Parents Can Do

  • The most important step parents can take is to start young. Set expectations and ground rules about media use early in childhood which will help your child develop good habits as they grow into teenagers.
  • Provide multiple social outlet opportunities for your children through church, community, sports, and educational activities. But, beware of over-scheduling, children need downtime too.
  • Don’t accommodate their anxiety; it’s ok for them to be uncomfortable in social situations because they are learning how to manage those types of interactions. Giving in and allowing them to avoid socializing only reinforces the avoidance behaviors.

How Do You Know When Your Teen’s Warning Signs are Really Red Flags?

By Jan Hamilton, Founder, Doorways Teen Counseling and Psychiatric Services Phoenix ArizonaJan Hamilton, MS, PMHNP-BC

 

For parents with children who are suffering from a mental illness, it can be very difficult to know when their child’s problems are typical and manageable, and when those problems begin to endanger other people.

There are warning signs you can watch for if you are concerned that there may be something going on with your child that might endanger themselves or others.  Here are four tips parents can use in these difficult situations.

1.     When Something Feels Off, Pay Attention

As parents, we know our children better than anyone and the most important thing you can do is to trust your instincts.  If something feels off, check it out.  If your child’s behavior seems to change overnight or they suddenly stop participating in things they used to enjoy, talk to them and don’t stop talking and listening until you find out what is going on.

2.     Challenges with Peers

Often times, the peers of teens who act out in dangerous ways or harmed their families also sensed something was off or strange about them.  If your child is having difficulty interacting with their peers, getting bullied, or having trouble fitting in with others in their age group, seek a second opinion.  Often, as parents, we are too close to form an objective opinion about whether our child is struggling to fit in because they have some social anxiety, a few extra pounds, or braces and when their peers avoid them because they sense they are anti-social, odd, or dangerous.  Someone outside the situation can provide valuable insight into what is normal and what needs immediate attention.

3.     Keep Lines of Communication Open

One of the biggest challenges every parent faces is keeping communication going when times get tough.  Often, the times when our children need us the most are also the times they are least likely to seek our counsel or ask for our help.  Create safe spaces for your child to open up about things you don’t approve of so that they don’t let small problems become life-altering situations simply because they didn’t want to get in trouble.  Remember that communicating is a two way street and that you need to listen at least as much as you talk.

4.      No Such Thing as Perfect Parents

Remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfect parents or perfect children.  Be the best parent you can and provide your children with a solid foundation, room to learn to make mistakes, and opportunities to make decisions, even bad ones.  Be there for them in whatever ways you can when they falter but remember that they have free will and they are going to make their own choices.  Even amazing parents can have children who make very bad choices.   But, the opposite is also true, even when parents seem to do everything wrong, most adolescents turn out to be amazing, wonderful adults!

 

Jan Hamilton, MS, PMHNP-BC

Jan is a nationally Board Certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who specializes in adolescent treatment.  She earned her Master’s of Science and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner certification through the University of Arizona. She then worked for over eight years at Remuda Ranch providing inpatient services for adolescents and adults suffering from eating disorders. Jan has been a registered nurse for 31 years and worked in a wide variety of medical settings, including 30 years of serving young people through her work with Young Life, an interdenominational outreach program. Her desire to provide quality psychological and psychiatric care for adolescents and young adults in an outpatient, faith based setting has led to the opening of Doorways in 2008.

Teen Relationships and Mood

Jan Hamilton, Founder, Doorways Teen Counseling and Psychiatric Services Phoenix Arizona

Jan Hamilton, MS, PMHNP-BC, CEDS Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certified Eating Disorder Specialist CEO, Owner Doorways, LLC

By:  Jan Hamilton, MS, PMHNP-BC, CEDS

Few parents escape the teenage years without dealing with daily doses of drama that are an inescapable part of growing up.  But how do you know when your teen is just being over-dramatic, when they are hurting but healthy, or when the drama is a sign of clinical depression?

Many teens today are dealing with the relationship drama that is part of being a teenager and mood difficulties can be the result of all the drama.  Many teens are struggling because they find themselves in relationships, romantic or not, that they aren’t equipped to handle.  Depression can result when a relationship fails or does not work out as they expected and the drama associated with sudden changes in relationships only complicates the situation.

Many teens find themselves in relationships that got too romantic too quickly, and not just in the physical sense.  The end of a whirlwind relationship can be just as devastating if the connection wasn’t physical, if there was an emotional aspect, that’s enough.    The emotional highpoints of a new relationship and the emotional drama experienced when the relationship suddenly disappears can lead teens to feelings of depression.

Social networking, online friendships, and electronic communications have also changed the rules of the teenage game.  Unlike the teen years of their parents, today’s teens are hyper-connected to everyone they know, every minute of the day.  Twenty years ago, a fight between two friends may have resulted in a flurry of phone calls and drawn in three or four other people.  Today, that fight is played out on Facebook in front the entire school.  We know as therapists that human beings are not designed to participate in a hundred relationships at the same time which is in essence what social networking sites like Facebook ask us to do.  As a result of all of these relationships and the hyper-connected nature of their lives, teens today are bombarded with an exponential amount of relationship drama that is playing out like a television soap opera 24 hours a day.

The implied intimacy of knowing the thoughts, feelings, and everyday activities of the people in your life provides the façade of friendship where no real relationship exists.  Many of these online friendships and relationships weren’t built the way real relationships need to be built in order to be sustained.  Pair this with the fact that most people will say things to others online that they would never consider saying in person, and it is easy to understand why all this drama can drag our teenagers further into potential mood problems.

Even more concerning for the long term is how social networking impacts the skills teenagers need to develop in order to be able to handle relationships as they move into adulthood.  Today there is a whole generation of people who have developed friendships online through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and chat, but these relationships are not the same as relationships that were formed and built in person.  This group of teenagers doesn’t understand how to build real relationships and sustain them over time.  As a result, when a real relationship comes into their life, they don’t know how to participate in it or how to take care of it, because the skills they need are missing.  And when they lose that real relationship, they don’t know to handle the loss because it isn’t the same as having someone de-friend you on Facebook.

So what should parents do to help their child have healthy relationships and avoid relationship-caused mood problems?

  1. Encourage your teenager to get involved in extracurricular activities at school, church or other organizations.  From participating in sports or youth groups or volunteering for a community organization, all of these live activities provide teens with important one-on-one interaction and the opportunity to develop relationships with people.
  2. Monitor computer and cell phone usage; set boundaries.  I’ve heard some parents say that they insist that their kids share their passwords and give their parents 24 hour access to their social media accounts or text messages.  While some might think this is extreme, as parents who are responsible for the well being and safety of our children, it might be a good idea.
  3. Have regular family time.  Another family started a tradition when their children were young of going out to pizza as a family every Friday night.  Often times they would invite friends of the kids.  Even though the children are now teenagers, and one in college they still look forward to going to dinner as a family every Friday night when the can.  The benefit was that the family and kids spent the time eating and having conversation, something they didn’t do when they were all running in different directions.
  4. Encourage your teen to go out with groups of friends instead of just dating one person exclusively.

 

Anxiety Disorders in Teens and Young Adults

Did you know that an estimated 31.9% of adolescents suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder? And while the condition enjoys a high treatment success rate, the percentage of those who actively seek professional help for anxiety disorders is very low. In fact, only 1 in 5 teen sufferers actively seek professional help for their condition.

Characterized by intense and excessive amounts of nervousness, worry, and fear, anxiety disorders can affect the day-to-day workings and functioning of the sufferer.

However, given that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, it is indeed unfortunate that the level of awareness about the condition is very poor among the general population.

Which means, most sufferers of anxiety disorders, of which adolescents form a substantial percentage, continue to suffer through most of their childhood, and well into their adulthood, in silence.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

Genetics can be a contributing factor in developing an anxiety disorder. This is especially true if the condition runs in the family. On top of this, some teens are more prone to developing the condition after undergoing a stressful event.

The divorce of parents, the loss of a loved one, a traumatic accident, or too much pressure to excel in academics or sports can lead to anxiety.

anxiety disorders in teens and young adults

Different Forms of Anxiety Disorders Among Young Adults

Anxiety disorders among young people can be classified under different types. Primary among these include the following:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Teens and young adults often face a lot of pressure at school, from their parents, or within their immediate social group. Sometimes it is about excelling in a particular arena, or it could be over their actions and behaviors. This can lead to excessive worrying—even about the smallest of issues.

Common symptoms to watch out for:

  • High-strung and restless.
  • Unable to focus or concentrate.
  • Highly fatigued.
  • Difficulty in sleeping or suffering from disturbed sleep.

Panic Disorder

This condition is characterized by unexpected yet reoccurring panic attacks which cause the sufferer to experience sudden and intense episodes of fear or a feeling of doom. Panic disorder, if left untreated, can cripple the social and relational life of a young person.

Common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Feeling of choking or experiencing chest pain.
  • Excessive sweating and trembling as well as having difficulty in breathing.
  • Dizziness, a numbing or tingling feeling in the arms and legs.
  • Gastric distress (abdominal pain, cramping, gas, nausea, indigestion, etc.).
  • Unexplainable fear of dying.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is more common among young children and teens. The fear of separating from a parent or caregiver or someone with whom they enjoy a strong emotional bond can trigger separation anxiety.

Common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Excessively worrying about losing the parent, caregiver, or loved one.
  • Excessively worrying about an impending departure of the loved one.
  • Avoiding activities which require separating from the parent or loved one.
  • Headache, nausea and vomiting, sweating.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by a strong and often crippling fear of being embarrassed or humiliated when in social events or gatherings.

An adolescent might fear saying or doing something which could cause them embarrassment. An estimated 15 million people in the US suffer from this condition and the onset age is during the early teenage years.

Common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Avoiding social gatherings, which could include going to school, or other social events.
  • Fear meeting new or unfamiliar people.
  • Worry they will be judged or scrutinized by other people.
  • Worrying for days about attending an upcoming social event.
  • Nausea, excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, dizziness, and difficulty speaking in front of others.

Treatment is Available

Adolescents suffering from anxiety disorders don’t have to suffer in silence. With timely intervention, including professional counseling, medication management, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), an anxiety disorder can be effectively treated.

How Doorways Can Help

The world we live in today is ever changing. The pressures and challenges that young folks undergo as they carve out their individual identity can leave them vulnerable. Here at Doorways, our aim is to help our patients overcome some of these difficulties and to help them live strong and healthy lives.

We understand the degree of distress can be different for everyone. The best way to address individual triggers and symptoms of different forms of anxiety disorders is to create customized programs for every young person who comes to us. Some of the programs we offer include individual and family counseling for teens and young adults between the ages of 13-25.

We also offer an Intensive Outpatient Program for OCD and Social Anxiety. This program provides counseling in a small group setting and is open to adolescents between 13 and 18. This approach is very helpful in alleviating symptoms of anxiety, especially when these symptoms are interfering with school attendance and/or daily functioning. To find out more, visit our IOP page HERE.

If your child or someone close to you is suffering from an anxiety disorder, please connect with us at Doorways. We can help to identify the underlying cause of the condition and provide professional counseling and help. You can always give us a call at 602-997-2880.

What if Your Child is the Bully?

You get a phone call at work from your daughter’s school.  The Vice Principal would like to meet with you as soon as possible about a bullying incident involving your daughter.  Your heart sinks as you promise to be there as soon as you can.  You wonder if she is ok, worry about the long term ramifications she will face from being bullied, try to figure out what she is getting picked on for and think back over her whole life to see if there is something more you could have done to protect her.

It never crosses your mind that your daughter isn’t the one being bullied; she is the bully.

We as parents struggle to see anything but the best in our children and often it doesn’t seem possible that they could be the one hurting someone else. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie which means there are 2.1 million sets of parents out there who have a child who is a bully.  Parents are essential to the prevention and elimination of this kind of behavior and that includes all parents, not just those of the children who are the victims.  Parents of bullies may be the key to turning the tide against this pervasive crime being committed against and by our children everyday.

How Can You Tell if Your Child is a Bully?

The first thing parents need to do is come to terms with the fact that their child is engaging in behavior that is unhealthy for them and damaging to others.  An adolescent that is bullying others is not necessarily a “bad kid” and being the parent of a bully doesn’t automatically mean that you are a bad parent.  People engage in bullying behavior for a reason and the most important thing you can do to help your child is to uncover that reason.

If you are concerned that your child may be bullying others, there are some things you can look for.  Bullies lack empathy and struggle feeling or finding sympathy for others.  Bullies believe that aggression is a valuable tool for dealing with other people and often exhibit a belligerent attitude.  Bullies like to be the leader, the one in charge, and the one who makes and enforces the rules.  When they win, they like to lord it over those they beat and when they lose, it is everyone’s fault but their own.  They are impulsive and may exhibit bullying behavior toward siblings.   Bullying behavior includes any verbal, social, physical, or online action that is repetitive and intentionally harmful.

What Makes Children and Teens Bully Others?

The perception that every bully is a social outcast who is lashing out at others in an attempt to repair or elevate their own self-esteem is outdated.  While this does describe some bullies, it also contributes to the idea that popular, socially-adept adolescents with intact families aren’t bullies, which is not the case.  Teenagers bully others for a variety of reasons many of which start at home.  If your child is being bullied or has been bullied by someone at home, they may model that behavior and bully others.   Children who never learn or lack empathy may become bullies because they don’t take the feelings of the other person into account.  Whatever the reason, adolescents need to be taught that this behavior is never acceptable.

How Does Bullying Affect the Bully?

Being bullied can have devastating, life-long affects, but being the bully can also cause long term problems.  Children who bully others are more likely to struggle in school, to smoke, to drink, and to engage in criminal behavior into their adult years.  When children bully others and experience no repercussions, it reinforces the idea that this behavior is acceptable and that being mean-spirited, dismissive, and degrading to other people can be a source of power.  This is a dangerous lesson that underlines how important it is for parents to stand up, step in, and speak out.

How Can You Help Your Child?

Here are some things you can do to help your child see that bully behavior is not acceptable and encourage them to stop participating or engaging in things that are intentionally damaging to others.

  1. Treat the issue as seriously as it is.  It isn’t a phase or something they will grow out of.  You need to reinforce the idea that intentionally causing harm to others is never acceptable.
  2. Work with your child to uncover the reason for their behavior.  It may be helpful to seek the services and expertise of a medical practitioner, counselor, or therapist. This is also a great time to connect with your child’s teachers, school counselor, or other school resource to talk about any problems or difficulty in school.
  3. Model the behavior you want your child to emulate.  Be empathetic, show sympathy for others, don’t fly off the handle and lash out in anger.
  4. Help your child develop positive problem solving skills.
  5. Never allow bullying behavior to continue in your presence no matter who is doing the bullying.
  6. Talk to your child away from their peers; don’t bring up this or other sensitive topics in front of others.
  7. See the new documentary called Bully as a family and use it as a way to start and/or continue the conversation.

Cyberbullying – A Major Contributing Factor of Depression and Suicide in Teens and Young Adults

cyber bullying teen depression and suicide

In a previous blog post we looked at how peer pressure can have a negative impact on teenagers as well as its influence on their thinking, actions and decisions.

In this article we will look at cyberbullying, another form of negative peer pressure which has quickly emerged in the last few years as a major factor in instances of depression and suicide not only in teens but also in young adults.

The reach of social platforms is extensive.

Cyberbullying is a form of peer abuse which takes places in the virtual space. And because it can happen via chat, on forums, through blogs and websites, social sites, email, or phone messages, addressing the issue can be difficult for parents.

Cyberbullies Enjoy Virtual Anonymity

The bigger danger with cyberbullying is that unlike traditional bullying, where the aggressor’s identity is easy to establish, cyberbullies can hide behind the wall of anonymity and continue to attack the victim in a relentless manner.

They often use fake profiles, avatars, and a variety of screen names when attacking their targets. Targeting can happen through a text-war or abusive comments, name-calling, or victim shaming through pictures (often morphed), misinformation or deliberate spread of false information and rumors.

Dangers of Cyberbullying on Young Lives

The reason why cyberbullying is so dangerous is because of the negative impact it can have on the lives of teens and young adults. It not only affects their social relationships, but it can lead to self-esteem issues, or in extreme cases even lead to a self-harming behavior well into adulthood.

It is vital to note that cyberbullying is not limited to teenagers. College students, and young adults, face cyberbullying either at the college level or even in their workplace.

Social penetration is pervasive and any kind of content, or online activity which has a resonating value among a group, will get amplified.

The effects of such actions or activity on a teenager or young adult can be crippling. Here are some of the challenges and dangers of cyberbullying:

  • Tracking online bullying is difficult for both parents, guardians, and teachers since the bullying happens over platforms and through mediums they may not be privy to.
  • Cyberbullying can lead to increased levels of depression and anxiety among teens.
  • It could also lead to the teen harboring suicidal tendencies.
  • Just as in the case with traditional bullying, cyberbullying can impact school life and academics.
  • The feeling of vulnerability and the shaming that the victims of cyberbullying must endure can continue well into their adulthood since in most cases, the information stays online even if the immediate harmful content is deleted.
  • The victim could develop a fear of any online threats becoming a reality which could lead them withdrawing away from family and friends. It can shatter their confidence in this world which correlates with a lessoning of their quality of life.
  • Since most teens and young adults spend a lot of time online, they might feel helpless and get trapped into a state of constant victimhood thinking they can’t escape cyberbullying.

Preventing Cyberbullying – The Role of Parents and Guardians

Open communication is the most important aspect of preventing cyberbullying whether it happens at school or in the workplace from impacting the life of teens and young adults, respectively.

Talk to your children when they are of school-age and tell them why cyberbullying is not acceptable in any form. It is a reality to anyone interacting in the virtual world and it is best to learn about early on.

However, students and young professionals can do a lot to prevent cyberbullying from happening in the first place. Simple preventive steps include:

  • Never share passwords and exchange personal information online.
  • Don’t share pictures with strangers or people you are not very familiar with.
  • Talk to a parent or teacher/guardian about being a victim of cyberbullying.
  • Be clear that they will not be punished (blocking their internet access) if they come to you about being bullied or targeted online – it is important that your child knows you will not judge them.
  • If your child is in college and you suspect, they are a victim of this form of bullying, try to talk to them about it and how they need to ignore it or report it someone in authority. Print it out – document it.
  • Don’t respond to cyberbullies in any way – well not without the aid of someone in authority.
  • Don’t do anything with the aim of extracting revenge on cyberbullies – then you may become the person you dislike.
  • Show or instruct your child on how they can block or delete unwanted messages.
  • Any time they see messages or posts which are harmful, or which target them, tell them to take screenshots as proof.
  • Inform them that help can be sought from social media helplines, moderators, or service providers by reporting any instances of cyberbullying and finding ways of identifying or blocking cyberbullies from acting in this manner.

Social Media is Everywhere

Bullying and abuse can happen in many different forms. However, the ubiquitous nature of social media and kind of anonymity it offers to users, makes cyberbullying a very dangerous form of abuse.

Tackling the issue requires a consolidated social, political, and legal approach. Until that happens, it is the job of parents and guardians to keep children safe and protected from the dangers of cyberbullying.

How Doorways Can Help Victims of Abuse

Teens and young adults today face trials and challenges which make them extremely vulnerable to mental and physical disorders. At Doorways, our aim is to help young lives overcome some of these difficulties and to help them live strong and healthy lives.

We have specific programs which focus on teen and young adult mental health treatment. Some of the programs include individual and family counseling for teens and young adults between the ages of 13-25.

If your child or someone close to you is depressed, anxious, or if you suspect they are harboring suicidal tendencies, please connect with us at Doorways. We can help in identifying the underlying cause for the condition and provide professional counseling and help. You can also give us a call at 602-997-2880.