5 Ways to Approach Your Teen About Drug Abuse

how to approach your teen about drug abuse

Unfortunately, teen substance abuse, including abuse related to prescription drugs, is a big problem currently. Parents may approach this in a variety of ways, some of which are more effective than others. Ineffective methods may only make things worse and cause unnecessary conflict between you and your teenager. So, if you suspect there is some substance abuse issue going on, here’s some advice on how to approach this.

  1. Acknowledge the Problem

You may be reluctant to face up to the fact that your teen could have a drug abuse problem, even though the signs of it lie right before your eyes. You may tell yourself things like “They’re just experimenting a little – it’s no big deal,” or “They just tried it once, but it’s not like they’re an addict.” Instead of doing your best to ignore the situation and hoping it will just go away, you need to conduct intentional conversations with your adolescent about the very real dangers of substance abuse.

  1. Be Your Teen’s Parent, Not Their Friend

It’s very likely that your adolescent has succumbed to peer pressure and that some of their friends are encouraging them to do drugs. Right now, your teenager needs a parent, not another friend. Yes, it’s necessary to invade your teen’s privacy by searching their room, car, and belongings for drugs and to explain to them they need to get help. You need to behave like a parent because your adolescent isn’t in a position to make the best decisions for themselves right now.

  1. Discuss the Issue When Your Teen is Not High

If your teen arrives home from a party and is obviously high, it won’t be productive to confront them when they’re incapable of listening to a reasoned conversation. Be patient and wait for a more appropriate time to talk about your concerns when your adolescent can be coherent and fully present for the discussion.

  1. Talk About the Problem When You’re Calm

I’m sure your discovery of your teenager’s drug use is eliciting a varied range of emotions – anger, fear, disappointment. It’s important to try not to let these feelings guide your conversations with your teen. Letting your discussions deteriorate into yelling matches won’t help – your adolescent will only become defensive and shut down. It’s much better to remain calm and talk to them about the changes you’ve observed in them and how concerned you are. You want to come across as a source of support rather than of guilt or shame.

  1. Acknowledge Any Family History

If there is a history of drug abuse in your family, try to educate your teen about their possible genetic vulnerability toward drug dependency. If you have personal experiences with recovery from substance abuse, share them with your adolescent. Don’t conceal valuable knowledge you’ve gained from experience in an effort to maintain a perfect family image. Your teen can learn from family mistakes, but only if you share them.

Where to Get Help for Teen Substance Abuse in Phoenix

If you think your adolescent has a substance abuse problem, it’s not something to ignore. You need to take action, have conversations with your teenager about their drug use, and make it clear that it’s a big deal. If you find you can’t cope on your own, Doorways is here to offer professional support for you and your teen. Arrange an initial no-charge consultation with us so that you and your adolescent can get the help you need as soon as possible.

8 Tips to Teach Time Management Skills to Your Teen

tips to teach time management skills to your teen

Does your teenager wait until the last possible moment to complete their high school English essay or math homework? High schoolers that don’t learn to manage their time well may end up as lifelong procrastinators. While handing in late homework with excuses to a lenient teacher might just get your teen a reprimand, future college professors and employers may not be so forgiving. And constantly rushing to get things done with only hours before the deadline can result in shoddy work, lack of sleep, and high stress levels.

What are the Benefits of Good Time Management for Teens?

Your adolescent may think the high school years are the busiest time in their life; they have no idea that the adult world can be even more hectic. So, it’s worthwhile to try to teach them how to manage their time more effectively now. The following are some benefits of good time management for teens.

  • Reduced stress and anxiety when exam dates are coming up or projects are due.
  • Better scholastic performance.
  • Improved decision-making skills.
  • Increased feelings of independence and responsibility.
  • More available time for relaxing with friends and family.

How Can I Teach my Teen Effective Time Management?

Your goal should be to encourage your adolescent to manage their time wisely without constant reminders from you to get the work done. Here are eight steps you can consider taking to teach them essential time management skills.

  1. Set a good example: If you’re always missing your own work deadlines or constantly running late, your teenager will get the impression that this is ok.
  2. Provide tools: Help your adolescent find the time management tools that work best for them, whether it’s a planner to write in or an app on their laptop.
  3. Teach prioritization: Encourage them to create a schedule that prioritizes what needs to be done.
  4. Help to solve conflicts: It’s common for high schoolers to have conflicting activities. A swim meet, a birthday party, or a church activity may all coincide. Sit down with them and talk about how to prioritize activities based on values and commitments.
  5. Encourage routines: Try getting your teen to establish healthy habits like doing their chores as soon as they arrive home from school. Once a routine is set into place, they won’t have to waste time thinking about what to do next.
  6. Avoid nagging: Although it may be tempting to keep reminding your teen about doing their homework or chores, if you overdo it, you are reducing their sense of responsibility.
  7. Set expectations: Come up with sensible, clear guidelines about the way you expect your adolescent to manage their time and follow through with consequences when necessary.
  8. Don’t forget about free time: Your teen’s schedule should not be so crowded with tasks that they have no time for some relaxation and fun.

Remember: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Don’t expect your teenager to develop perfect time management skills overnight. There will be a learning curve and times when they will forget a deadline or miscalculate how long a project will take. Be patient, and, over time, you are sure to see results.

Impediments to Successful Time Management

If your teen has a problem that makes good time management too difficult or impossible, you need address the underlying issue first. Adolescents can have a variety of issues that will interfere with successful time management – substance abuse, depression, mood disorders, and attention deficit syndrome, to name a few. So, if your teen is struggling with one of the above and you live in or near Phoenix, schedule some time with Doorways for a free consultation to see how we can help them get their time management on track.

6 Tips for Parenting Your College Freshman

It’s happening – You’ve done your best to equip your teen with the necessary skills to not only survive but also thrive after high school, and now the moment has finally arrived when your eighteen-year-old is off to college. It may be a moment you’ve been dreading – your child leaving home. Worse, if your teen is an only child or the youngest, you also have to deal with that empty nest syndrome. Neither you nor your college freshman knows exactly how well this transition from home to college is going to go, so here are six pieces of helpful advice for you as a parent.

tips for parenting a college freshman

  1. Do Your Best to Let Go

College is but one more step that your teen is taking in their life, and they should be allowed to make their own decisions as much as possible. It’s somewhat of a balancing act – you want to provide enough direction, so your college student doesn’t feel they’ve been cast adrift in a boat without a rudder, while you also want to steer them toward making intelligent choices on their own.

  1. Let Your Teen Make Mistakes

Your college student will make mistakes. They may need to fall on their face and learn from what went wrong and get back up. This may sound harsh, but it’s the best way to learn valuable life lessons. Your challenge is to be supportive yet resist the temptation to turn into a helicopter parent hovering over every decision in an attempt to protect your teen from risk or failure.

  1. Don’t Fight Changes in Your Teen

First-year college life can be an exciting time for your freshman to discover deeper meaning and purpose. Be excited for your teen instead of worrying over how they may be changing. Freshman year of college is a time when your student may begin to question the interests, beliefs, and values they’ve brought with them from home and begin to change. This is a necessary and natural process of growing up.

  1. Expect a Possible Change in Career Interest

Don’t be alarmed if your college freshman expresses interest in a different career path from the one you thought was already set. It’s normal for college students to develop new interests and change their major. Many colleges acknowledge this by not requiring students to declare a major until their junior year. Of course, encourage your teen to discuss their choices with you, but in the end, it’s best to allow them to navigate their career choices on their own.

  1. Accept More Limited Contact with Your Teen

You may find your teen is only providing you snippets of information, where once you received whole chapters. To overcome this, try defining expectations for how you will stay in touch with your student. For instance, establish a regular time to talk by phone – this will alleviate worries when you haven’t heard from your teen in a while. A care package every now and then doesn’t hurt either.

  1. Anticipate a Different Relationship

The most challenging time for you and your new college student may be the summer after the freshman year when your teen comes home and you are struck by how they’ve changed. Your teen has been gone for a year, has matured, and now has a sense of belonging to a new community. If your freshman is at a college nearby, don’t be upset if they don’t come home every weekend. Your student needs the time to make friends, explore what the college offers and fully experience campus living.

Finally – Expect to Still Be Needed

While your student needs independence during their college journey, there will also be times when they need your help, advice, and support. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with campus resources so that you can help direct your teen to the appropriate place if concerns arise. However, if your teenager or young adult is experiencing problems that you can’t cope with, you may need the help of a counselor who is trained to deal with college students. If you are in this situation, give Doorways a call. We want your student to enjoy their college life, and an initial consultation with us won’t cost you any extra tuition fees.

Where Do Teens Get Drugs?

where do teens get drugs?

The 2017 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study of drug use and attitudes among teens found that the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is at its lowest level in over two decades. The figures are as follows:

  • 8 percent among 8th graders.
  • 4 percent among 10th graders.
  • 3 percent among 12th graders.

However, just because these figures are lower than in years past is no reason for complacency. The percentages show that some adolescents are still using nonprescription and prescription drugs of one kind or another. To read the full MTF report, click here.

How Easy is it for Teens to Obtain Drugs?

As a parent, you may be surprised to learn that teenagers often find it easier to get drugs than to acquire alcohol. Of course, every parent wants to prevent their teen from getting a hold of these harmful substances, so it helps to know how teens manage to acquire drugs so easily. Below is a review of where adolescents find it possible to get drugs.

At Home

Most homes have medicine cabinets containing drugs of various kinds. It’s easy for a teen to take a few pills from a bathroom cabinet or the cabinet of a friend’s house. New drug experimenters in their early teens are more likely to try prescription drugs than any other kind of drug. They may find they can get a quick high with Xanax or OxyContin. It’s a good idea not to hang on to leftover prescription pills and to keep your medicine cabinet locked.

  • How Teens Get Addicted to Drugs – Unfortunately, if adolescents continue to use these drugs, they need higher and higher dosages to achieve the same effect, and this eventually ends up as a full-blown drug dependency. As a parent, you should pay attention if you find you are having to refill your prescriptions faster than you expect.

At School

Most parents are unaware that many drug transactions take place on school premises where teenagers sell drugs they have acquired to others. At school, teens may be able to access a large pool of different drugs provided by teen distributors operating under the radar of school authorities.


It should come as no surprise that a number of drug vendors take advantage of the internet.

  • The Dark Web – The dark web is the encrypted “underworld” of the internet that cannot be accessed without special software or authorization. Despite the takedown in 2013 of a very active online drug marketplace called Silk Road, similar shady websites remain alive. Today’s teenagers are tech-savvy, and many understand how to access the dark web in order to purchase drugs online.
  • Online Pharmacies – Outside of the dark web, the internet is full of pharmacies that offer drugs for sale illegally, many of them based outside of the U.S. Adolescents can go online and order a wide choice of prescription medications that are shipped in discreet packaging.

The Dangers of Online Drugs

A teen can have no idea whether the drug they have purchased is what they intended to acquire. Moreover, many of these businesses are not selling what they claim to be selling. If they are only selling sugar pills, this is just harmless fraud. However, they could be selling potentially deadly medications – there is no way that an adolescent can know the actual dosage strength of a medication purchased online, making overdosing a real possibility.

Where Can I get Help in Arizona for my Teen with a Drug Addiction

If you suspect your adolescent has a drug abuse problem, talk to Doorways. We  can recommend resources to help you and your teen. Adolescent drug abuse is a serious problem, and you need the help of trained professionals. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.

6 Tips for Getting Your Teen to Talk to You

Do you find that trying to have a conversation with your teen is heavy going and that you miss the chatty child they used to be? Do they respond to your questions with sighs, eye rolls, and not uncommonly, a door slam? Although it might seem your adolescent has transformed from their younger talkative self almost overnight, this change in behavior is actually quite normal.

Why do Teens Stop Talking?

Teens are trying to figure out who they are and become independent. They develop a strong desire to limit how much information they disclose about themselves. However, they do want to have conversations with their parents, but on their own terms. Not yours. If you understand this, you can improve the dialogue between you and your adolescent, but it does take patience, time and practice. Here are six suggestions to improve the conversational flow:

Tips for getting your teen to talk to you

  1. Ask Indirect Questions

Instead of jumping in feet first and demanding, “Were there drugs at the party?” Consider asking: “How many kids were at the party?” Your teen is much more likely to talk if you don’t make them feel they’re under an interrogation. So, if you start with an innocuous question to get the conversation going, you’re more likely to get the answer to the question that you really want answered.

  1. Listen, Listen, Listen

It’s important to control any impulse to interrupt because once you do, they’re likely to shut down. Just let them talk and vent if they want. Your teen will be so appreciative when you allow them to express themselves and they know you’re concentrating on what they’re saying.

  1. Stay Calm

Once you overreact and get angry or upset, they will clam up, because you’re giving them the impression that you can’t cope with what you hear. It’s quite possible you may get agitated at what you are being told but try to breathe deeply and present as calm a demeanor as possible so that they will continue to be open with you.

  1. Try Not to Judge

Teenagers care how they come across to their parents. If your teen gets the slightest hint of disapproval – even from nonverbal cues – they are likely to call a halt to the conversation. It’s much better to wait until your adolescent has completely filled you in. If you are alarmed at what you have heard, give yourself a chance to calm down before talking to them about your concerns.

  1. Be Available

Adolescents are very sensitive to what they perceive as a lack of interest and availability on the part of their parents. So, set aside some time in your busy schedule to be available so they have a chance to talk to you. When they’re in a room with you, consider turning off your computer or the TV so that you can give your full, undivided attention.

  1. Initiate One-on-one Talks

Conversations just between the two of you, with no other audience present (like siblings), will be much appreciated because teens are both private and self-conscious. Respect their desire for privacy and choose a time to talk when the two of you can be alone.

Why is Good Communication with My Teen Important?

Parents should not underestimate the value of good communication with their teen. An adolescent who can communicate well with their parents is more likely to make good decisions, is less susceptible to pressure from peers, and will tend to have better self-esteem.

If You Need Help with Your Teen

It could be that, despite your best efforts, you still aren’t communicating very well with your teen. You might be wondering if this is because they have a serious problem that you’ve been unable to discover. The teenage years can involve a whole host of issues – underage drinking, drug abuse, eating disorders, depression, and cyber-bullying, to name just a few. Doorways is here to give you some help. Our counselors are trained to get adolescents to open up about their problems, so set up an initial, no-charge consultation with us. We can help improve communication between you and your teen.

Why do Teens and Young Adults Abuse Alcohol?

Why do teens and young adults abuse alcohol?

Drinking alcohol commonly begins in the teenage years. Alcohol has become an alarmingly common component of teenage and college parties. Unfortunately, underage drinking is on the rise because many teens are not waiting until they reach the legal drinking age of twenty-one. Many adolescents regard alcohol consumption as just a way to have a good time and are unaware of the damaging effect it can have on themselves and how it might impact their families, their communities, and their futures. In fact, underage drinking is rightly regarded as a widespread public health concern.

How Many Teens are Drinking Alcohol?

Alcohol is the drug of choice for many high school students. The 2017 government Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) asked high schoolers about their alcohol consumption during the prior thirty days and published the following results:

  • 33% had imbibed an alcoholic drink. This represents an increase since 2015 and reverses the downward trend of the previous decade. Among these students, about 50% drank on one or two days; and 25% drank on three to five days.
  • 17% had engaged in binge drinking at least once.
  • 5% drank ten or more consecutive drinks within a couple of hours.


To read the full report on alcohol consumption by high school students, click here and scroll down to page 56. The alcohol statistics are taken from the national YRBS study.

What Causes Teens to Become Addicted to Alcohol?

It’s generally accepted that addiction to alcohol does not result from just one cause; rather, it comes about through a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and physical risk factors. The most well-regarded theories about alcohol addiction include:

  • Peer influence – if using alcohol and getting intoxicated is acceptable and encouraged in a teen peer group, a group member has a higher risk for developing alcoholism.
  • Genetics – Adolescents who have a close relative with an alcohol addiction are four times more likely to develop an addiction than their peers without a similar family history.
  • Family influence – teenagers who live in homes in which alcohol is freely available are at greater risk for abusing alcohol.
  • Effect on the teen brainRepeated use of alcohol can actually change the structure and function of the still-developing brain of an adolescent and result in an addiction.
  • StressTeenagers suffering intense personal stress may turn to alcohol usage as a way to cope with the pressures of their daily lives.

What are the Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Teens and Young Adults?

Whatever the reason for alcohol abuse, one thing is crystal clear – alcohol intoxication has serious long-term ramifications which include the following:

  • Increasing inability to pay attention, leading to a decline in academic performance.
  • Long-lasting difficulties with memory.
  • Masking of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  • Potential to combine alcohol with other drugs such as marijuana or to lead to the usage of hard drugs like cocaine or heroin.
  • Risky sexual activity or becoming the victim or perpetrator of sexual assault.
  • Danger of a serious vehicle accident while drinking and driving or being a passenger where the driver has been drinking.
  • Suicide attempts.
  • Serious health risks. In particular there has been a spike in liver disease among young adults.

How Can I tell if my Teen or Young Adult is Abusing Alcohol?

The signs of alcohol abuse will vary greatly based upon the amount and frequency of alcohol consumed, whether other drugs are also used, and individual genetic makeup. The most common signs of alcohol abuse in young people include the following:

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Drastic decline in academic performance.
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Sudden, inexplicable need for money.
  • Increased interpersonal conflicts.
  • Unusually passive or argumentative behaviors.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Deterioration in personal hygiene.
  • Glazed, bloodshot eyes; flushed skin.
  • Slurred or garbled speech; problems with coordination.

You may not be able to smell alcohol on a young person’s breath or clothes. Young people know that vodka does not have a smell, and they may hide an alcohol aroma by mixing alcohol with fruit juice, soda, etc. If you think your teen may be drinking alcohol, you should check any beverage bottles that they take to school.

Where can I Get Help for Teen and Young Adult Drinking in Arizona?

If you are the parent of an adolescent or young adult with a drinking problem, you may not know what to do. At Doorways we have trained counselors who are experienced in dealing with alcohol problems in the 13-25 age group. If your teen or young adult is drinking, this is a serious problem so don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us – there is no charge for an initial consultation.

10 Reasons Teens Go to Therapy

10 reasons teens go to therapy

Many teens might find it beneficial to meet with therapists specializing in 13-25 year olds to discuss their problems. Teens frequently find it easier to open up to a trained counselor than to talk to their parents about what might be troubling them. Therapy doesn’t have to be reserved only for major concerns or life altering issues. In fact, sessions with a therapist can prevent minor issues from turning into bigger ones. There are many reasons why teen counseling might be appropriate – the following discusses ten of them.

1. Depression

Mood swings are common during the adolescent years. However, if a teen seems to be having difficulty snapping out of their moodiness and is irritable, sad, and withdrawn, they might be suffering from depression. An accurate diagnosis of depression and early intervention are key components to effective treatment.

2. Anxiety Disorders

Now and again, all teens will worry about various issues, but some experience more intense, longer-lasting anxiety. They may feel tense and anxious about speaking in front of the class, not measuring up to their parents’ academic expectations, or they may be constantly worrying that bad things are going to happen. Therapy could be the key to easing these and other fears.

3. Stress

Modern teenagers have to deal with a lot of stress. They may be stressed out because of pressure to ace an exam or worried about getting into a good college after high school. Persistent high levels of stress can have lasting adverse effects on a teen’s health. Therapy can help a teen learn life-lasting skills to manage stress successfully.

4. Low Self-Esteem

The majority of adolescents will struggle with self-confidence issues at one time or another. However, a serious self-esteem issue should not be left unaddressed as it puts the teen at a higher risk for more severe problems like academic failure, self-harm, and substance abuse. Sessions with a therapist can help raise the level of a teen’s self-esteem.

5. School-Related Problems

There are numerous school-related issues that a teen may have problems with. For example, issues may involve failing to fit in with peers, non-acceptance by a clique, being bullied, dislike of a teacher, or failing grades. Therapy can provide teens with valuable support and teach them ways to help navigate the stresses of high school life successfully.

6. Behavioral Problems

Behavioral problems may involve a teen being suspended from school, repeatedly violating their parents’ curfew limits, or behaving aggressively towards family members or friends. Some reasons a teen is behaving badly may be related to social problems, skill deficits, or mental health issues. A therapist can help get to the bottom of what may be driving this inappropriate behavior.

7. Trauma

Teens can find it much harder to handle trauma than adults. In fact, a traumatic event, like a car accident or a sexual assault, can have a lifelong negative impact on a teen. Counseling can be very effective in helping to increase the teen’s resilience to the effects of the trauma and reduce the impact of the traumatic event on the adolescent’s current and future life.

8. Grief

It can be extraordinarily difficult for a teen to cope with the loss of a loved family member or a close friend. Teens grieve deeply but often have difficulty in sharing how they feel with their parents. A counselor who specializes in working with young people can help a teen sort out their feelings, make sense of their loss, and cope with their grief.

9. Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, the use of drugs, alcohol, and vaping can turn into serious dependency problems for teenagers. A counselor trained to assess teenage substance abuse can advise parents of the most appropriate course to take.  The form treatment takes will be dependent upon the severity of the substance abuse and could involve individual therapy, group therapy, detox, or residential treatment.

10. Legal Problems

Unfortunately, teens sometimes get into trouble with the law. Reasons include underage drinking, fighting, or shoplifting. Sometimes, they will end up on probation and are required to receive counseling. Whether counseling is mandatory or not, therapy can help a teen learn how to make wiser choices in future so that further brushes with the law can be avoided.

Where is the Best Teen Counseling in the Phoenix Area?

If you think talking to a therapist would be beneficial for your teen, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Doorways. Our counselors are trained to help teens with their problems be they big or small. Whether your adolescent could benefit from just a few short counseling sessions or needs longer-term therapy, we can make a big difference to your teen’s overall well-being. So make a no-obligation, free-of-charge appointment with us today.

6 Ways for More Purposeful Parenting of Teens

6 Ways for More Purposeful Parenting of Teens

The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has designated July as Purposeful Parenting Month, so let’s think about what this means when it comes to your teenager. Purposeful parenting is about being an active, engaged parent, and providing your adolescent with the best support to enable a meaningful future life. Here are six things you need to know or do to be a more purposeful parent.

  1. Adolescents Live in the Present

Teens in the early and middle years of high school are not usually spending a lot of time thinking about college and the future. They might just want to hang out with friends, listen to the latest music, or play video games. It’s important to understand that teens typically live in the here and now. To adolescents, the future seems way off in the distance. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to instill some sense of direction into your teen’s life as preparation for the years ahead.

  1. Teens May Be Afraid

One of the main reasons many teenagers seem to have little ambition about their future is because they are scared of it. Adolescents are reluctant to acknowledge and admit their fears, especially to their parents, but most are afraid of the responsibilities they’ll face when they are no long living at home. They also worry they won’t be able to get a good job. And, these days, going to college often means ending up with a huge debt. These concerns make looking ahead scary and uncertain.

  1. Keep an Open Mind

Adolescents can have interests that their parents don’t particularly like or think worthwhile. However, it’s hard to have a close relationship with your teen if you belittle their interests. Instead, engage your teenager in conversation. For instance, if your adolescent enjoys video games, ask them what aspects of gaming they find the most interesting – the technology, the story-line, the graphics, the competition between players? Offer your adolescent opportunities they will find appealing. For example, you might arrange to tour a studio that creates video games. A supportive approach can help create self-direction and motivation in your teen.

  1. Share Your Own Sense of Purpose

Talk to your teen about what you find purposeful and meaningful in your life and work. Don’t concentrate on how much money you make; rather, try making your teen understand how work serves essential social needs and can also fulfill a personal sense of purpose. If you have a job that you aren’t happy with, talk to your adolescent about how they have the opportunity to do something more purposeful with their lives.

  1. Find Mentors

Adolescents often look to people outside their homes for ideas and inspiration to help them find their own pathways. Be proactive in finding and introducing your teen to people who will inspire them. If your teen’s interest in something increases, give them encouragement to motivate them to learn even more.

  1. Encourage Adventure

If your teen has a deep interest in something, encourage them to dive in more deeply by:

  • Fostering a can-do, optimistic, attitude.
  • Helping to set clear goals and realistic attainment plans.
  • Brainstorming possible solutions to difficulties.
  • Encouraging persistence.
  • Supporting risk-taking to learn new skills.

A Purposeful Relationship with Your Teenager is Possible

Your job as a parent is to create an environment where self-motivation is most likely to flourish. Purposeful parenting is not easy. So, if you find you are having problems with your teen that are impeding your attempts to be a purposeful parent, talk to Doorways to find out how we can help. An initial consultation is free, so take a purposeful step towards solving your problem with your adolescent, by giving us a call.

What To Do When Your Teen Is the Mean Teen

Back in 2004, Tina Fey had no notion that the subject of the movie Mean Girls would become more timely today than it was back then. “It’s just sort of unfortunate that it does,” the Emmy-winning writer and actress said at the recent opening night celebration for her Broadway adaptation of the movie. Although the movie is a comedy, it depicts the bullying mentality of high school girl cliques and the negative effects on the self-esteem of victims. The reason the topic is even more relevant today is because of social media.

Teens Live Their Lives Online

If you have a teen who spends a lot of time online, you worry about what she may be doing or experiencing. You’re probably aware of a problem known as cyberbullying, and you hope that your teen is not on the receiving end of an online bully. However, what if it turns out that your daughter is the “mean girl,” the one doing the bullying? What do you do? The following provides some helpful information and advice.

How Many Teens are Cyberbullies?

In today’s social media environment, cyberbullying is more common than you would like to think. The Cyberbullying Research Center reviewed twenty-seven papers on cyberbullying published in peer-reviewed journals and concluded that, although it’s difficult to come up with an exact figure, about 18% of teens admit to having engaged in cyberbullying. In case you believe that only girls engage in cyberbullying, think again. A survey by a UK think tank revealed that more teen boys than teen girls admit to having engaged in cyberbullying activity.

How Do I Know if my Teen is a Cyberbully?

You can’t address the problem of cyberbullying if you don’t know that it’s going on. If the following signs apply to your adolescent, it may be an indication that they’re engaging in online bullying.

  • They have several social networking accounts on multiple sites.
  • They spend long hours online, perhaps when everyone else is asleep.
  • They quickly hide their mobile device or change the screen on their laptop when you approach.
  • You overhear them insulting or making snarky remarks about another teen.
  • It doesn’t seem to bother them if their words or actions hurt others.
  • They spend time with friends whom you think behave in ways that are mean or uncaring.

Why do Teens Engage in Cyberbullying?

Understanding the reasons why your teen may be an online “mean girl” or “mean boy” is the first step in understanding why this is happening. So, here are some reasons why teenagers bully others in cyberspace.

  • Boredom – Cyberbullying can be a way to inject excitement, drama, and entertainment into an adolescent’s life.
  • Peer pressure – Teens want to fit in and not appear uncool or the odd one out.
  • Status – Cyberbullying can give the perpetrator a feeling of power and status.
  • No sense of harm – An adolescent may not see that they’re doing anything wrong and may regard cyberbullying as a kind of joke.
  • Retribution – A teen might believe that another teen deserves the bullying because they think the victim is stuck up or has stolen someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Helplessness – If a teen has been a victim of cyberbullying, they may begin bullying as a defensive behavior.
  • Invincibility – Adolescents believe that because the bullying is online, they won’t get caught. And, they may resort to using anonymous identities to avoid detection.

What to do if Your Teen is a Cyberbully

It can be very upsetting to discover that your adolescent is cyberbullying others. After you’ve given yourself a chance to calm down, prepare yourself to talk to your teen about their actions. Arm yourself with proof that they have been cyberbullying (if you can) and do some research so that you can cite cases where online bullying has led to tragic results.

Talk to Your Teen About Cyberbullying

  • Inform your teenager that you are aware of the cyberbullying. Give them a chance to tell you exactly what they’ve been doing and to what extent. If they deny it, provide evidence if you have any.
  • Try to understand why your adolescent is doing this. Are they attempting to fit in with peers, trying to be more popular, working off feelings of anger about something (divorce or a home move for example), or seeking revenge for being bullied themselves?
  • Explain that this behavior is unacceptable and has to stop. Your teen might say that they were ‘just joking around,’ so try to make them aware that what’s funny to one person might be devastating to another.
  • Attempt to elicit empathy by asking them how they’d feel if someone was doing the same things to them or to someone they love.
  • Let them know that cyberbullying is a serious offense that could lead to trouble with school authorities or even the police.

How to Take Action Against Cyberbullying

  • Monitor your teen’s electronic devices and limit the amount of time they spend online. Consider installing monitoring software on their electronics.
  • If the cyberbullying continues, take away their devices for a period of time.
  • Encourage them to remove hurtful messages, videos, or photos that they have posted.
  • Set up some simple social-media guidelines. For instance, the one-minute rule – before posting something, walk away for a minute and think about whether the post may be hurtful.
  • If their current friends have also been part of the bullying, try to urge your teen to spend less time with them.
  • Consider encouraging them to sincerely apologize to anyone they may have hurt.

Where Can I Get Outside Help for my Teen in Arizona?

An adolescent who has hurt someone else by engaging in cyberbullying needs parental support. If you have discovered that your teen is an online “mean girl” or “mean boy” and it seems too much for you to cope with alone, speak to one of Doorways teen counselors. Our professionals are trained to understand the underlying emotional issues that cause behaviors such as cyberbullying. Make an appointment today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

How Social Media Can Affect Your Teen’s Mental Health

In today’s hi-tech world, many teens feel they should be available 24/7 on social media. It’s a social media environment for teens that far exceeds that of their parents. For many teens, social media is like candy. Researchers at UCLA found that certain circuits in teen brains that are activated by eating chocolate are similarly activated by large numbers of “likes” on social media networks. This causes teens to want to use social media more. Here are some social media teen facts from a report by Common Sense Media:

  • 90% have used social media.

  • 75% have a profile on a social networking site.

  • 68% use Facebook as their primary social networking site.

  • 51% visit social networking sites daily – often more than once per day.

  • 22% have a Twitter account.

How is Social Media Affecting Teen Mental Health?

The good side of social networking plays a vital role in broadening teens’ social connections and helping them learn valuable technical skills. However, there is a downside – teens are becoming addicted to social media. And, the more time they spend on line, the more difficult it becomes for them to self-regulate their social media usage. A number of mental health issues can develop if teens spend too much time online. The following is a discussion of the most common ones.


A teen may have many “friends” online but may be using social media instead of interacting with friends in the real world. This behavior can lead to loneliness, depression and low self-esteem. Physical friendships and dating relationships can suffer when social media takes over a teen’s life, and a teen can end up with no relationships that are deep or authentic. Teens hooked on social media will often download photographs to show others how much fun they are having instead of spending time participating in fun activities.


Teens can feel pressured to respond quickly online with well-written posts and perfect photos. In fact, some research shows that the larger a teen’s online social circle the more anxiety they feel about trying to keep up. Many teens, especially girls, spend a lot of time worrying what others might think of them because they made a faux pas online. Social media is not the same as face-to-face communication. A teen cannot hear someone’s tone of voice or see a facial expression online. As a result, misunderstandings are likely to occur, especially when someone tries to be funny or sarcastic.

Lack of Sleep

Teens can spend so much time on social media that they don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood changes, overeating, a drop in grades, and a lowering of the immune system. A British study published in the Journal of Youth Studies surveyed 900 teens and found that one-fifth of them almost always wake up during the night and log in to social media.


A teen’s social media friends tend to post mainly about their positive experiences. This can make it appear to a teen reader that other teens are leading more interesting and exciting lives. A teen may come to believe that everyone is happier or better off than they are. Envy may lead to a teen indulging in cyberbullying and mean behavior. Many “mean girls” target others because they are envious of the target’s clothes, boyfriend, successes, etc.

What Can Parents do About Social Media?

Parents need to understand the impact that social media can have on a teen’s developing brain. They must establish some sensible guidelines for social media use. Families who navigate the world of social media together, can help a teen’s online life to become more manageable. Click here for some tips on how to manage your teen’s social media use. And, stay tuned for a forthcoming article on what parents can do.

If You Need Help

At Doorways we understand the issues that may have developed from a teen’s use of social media. If your teen has a problem and you need help coping, make an appointment with one of our counselors. There is no charge to find out how we can help you and your teen.