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.  

8 Tips for Helping Your Teen Manage High School

8 tips for helping your teen manage high school

Has your adolescent moved on from middle school to high school? They may have looked forward to moving up a grade with their friends, but they may have also found the transition somewhat daunting and stressful. If some of your teen’s friends from middle school are attending the same high school, this will have made the move easier. However, there will still be a host of students they don’t know, a new school culture, more challenging classes and new social pressures – it’s a lot to cope with. So, here are eight tips on helping new high-schoolers navigate this milestone in their life.

  1. Establish a Consistent Homework Routine

Your teen needs a quiet spot without the distractions of phones, TV, loud music, and video games. While they may claim to be an expert multitasker, able to do homework while also checking their Facebook account, studies show that multitasking is not beneficial to studying. Setting up a regular time to do homework also helps. Encourage them to establish a daily homework agenda. Homework assignments, extracurricular activities and upcoming test dates may be available online so they can look ahead and plan more effectively.

  1. Teach Your Teen to Prioritize

If the high school workload is heavy, teach your teen to prioritize and do the most pressing or difficult homework first. This way, if everything doesn’t get finished, the most important assignments will have been completed. Many high schools post grades online, making it easy to go over grades and assignments every week. Praise should come first as your teen needs to know that you are proud of their successful efforts. After the praise, you can turn the discussion to any missing or late work and what can be done to improve.

  1. Encourage Your Teen to Learn Management Skills

Sometimes a large project may seem overwhelming especially if your teen is not organized and has trouble focusing. Teach them how to break the assignment down into more manageable pieces. You might begin with a brainstorming session one day, doing research the following day, writing a section the next day, and so on. The aim is to make the project seem much more doable. Your high schooler can keep an itemized list of the various steps and check each step off as it gets completed. Each time they put a tick next to a completed item, they will feel a sense of accomplishment and be less stressed about an impending deadline.

  1. Help Your Teen to Think Ahead

Forethought and focus aren’t always adolescent strong suits. Lack of preparation usually leads to disorganized mornings and rushing out the door to catch the school bus on time. More preparation the night before will mean less stress and more time for breakfast the following morning. Before going to bed, encourage thinking ahead. This could include laying out school clothes, packing up homework, and collecting musical instruments and sports equipment in one place. Remember that it can take many repetitions to turn actions into habits. It’s not helpful to nag or roll your eyes at their forgetfulness; it will just make them defensive.

  1. Focus on Ultimate Life Goals

Try to help your teen understand that the point of working hard in high school isn’t just to get good grades. It’s also about building towards a happy, fulfilling future. Encourage them to indulge in visions about their future and talk about the educational steps necessary to achieve their goals. Whatever you do, don’t discourage them by shooting down their dreams. Your student should also be encouraged to try different interests on for size.

  1. Listen to Your Teen’s Problems

Does your teen tell you that they hate school? Just as it’s not a good idea to do their homework for them, it’s best not to immediately supply solutions to any school problems they may be having. Instead, encourage them to think through the issues themselves by asking them what they think caused the problem, what they’ve done so far to deal with it, and what they plan to do next.

  1. Teach Your Teen to Deal with Failure

Failing at something is a necessary part of growing up. You can help your teen to handle failure by talking about your own past struggles and helping them to understand that even when things go badly, there are always other options and new opportunities to improve. Although your sympathy is important, don’t insulate them from all consequences. Teens who are protected from all the pain and anguish of failure are likely to react badly to misfortunes later in life.

  1. Address any Teen Problems Now

Many mental, emotional and physical challenges surface during the high school years. Addressing them when they first appear avoids being overwhelmed by them later when teens may not be able to fulfill educational goals. Many high schoolers with challenges can be helped and go on to become successful throughout high school, college and beyond. If you need professional guidance, Doorways is here for you. We want your teen to be successful, so make a no-cost, no-obligation appointment with us today.

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.

How to Make Sure Your Teen is a Safe Driver

Global Youth Traffic Safety Month (GYTSM) is an annual event taking place each May. The campaign’s organizers are the members and partners of the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). GYTSM aims to raise awareness and inspire individual action to change the unfortunate statistic that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of fatalities among teens, with summer being the deadliest of the seasons. Your teen will be waiting with outstretched hands for car keys as soon as they’ve obtained a driver’s license. Therefore, it’s essential for you to have a full understanding of the dangers your teen faces before allowing them into the driver’s seat.

What are the Statistics on Teen Driver Accidents?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) determined that the per-mile fatal accident rate is three times greater for drivers between the ages of 16-19 than for drivers at least 20 years old. Almost 3,000 teens lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents during 2016, and many more suffered serious injuries. The following discusses the main reasons for teen driving fatalities.

Teens and Distracted Driving

Approximately nine percent of teen drivers involved in fatal traffic crashes were distracted when the accident happened. Distraction in combination with an inexperienced teen driver is incredibly risky. Teens are aware that distracted driving is dangerous, but many of them believe they are expert multitaskers and admit to checking or sending texts while driving.

Teen Drivers and Drinking

Many teens consume alcoholic drinks, and driving and alcohol is a dangerous combination. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), approximately 25 percent of all teen car accidents involve underage drinking. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that at all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of an accident is higher for teens than for older drivers.

Teens and Buckling Up

Unfortunately, many teens are not buckling up. More than half of teen fatalities in 2015 involved teens that were not wearing a seatbelt. This factor plays a prominent role in bumping up the overall teen-driving accident statistics. One reason a teen may ignore buckling up is drinking – a significant statistic is that 70 percent of teen drivers who had been drinking were not wearing a seatbelt when the accident happened.

What Can I do to Make my Teen a Safe Driver?

When your teen is driving or is a passenger with another teen driver, you will probably feel a fair amount of anxiety until your teen is safely home. However, you don’t have to be helpless and just sit there keeping your fingers crossed. Here’s what you can do.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Just because your teen is taking driver’s ed at school, does not necessarily mean they are fully educated about making decisions on the road. So, don’t just rely on your teen’s teachers. Instead, talk frequently to your teen about the consequences of speeding, texting while driving, and drinking and driving. Even if your teen gets annoyed or doesn’t appear to be listening, some of what you say will get through.

Set Boundaries and Make Sure They’re Followed

  • Impose a curfew – You might have a rule that the car has to back in the driveway by 11:00 p.m. By doing so, you are keeping your teen away from being on the road when alcohol-related accidents are more likely to happen.
  • Make rules – Your teen must always buckle up (when driving and when being a passenger) and must put their phone away when driving.
  • Stipulate that you must know who your teen is riding with – The teen driver might be a complete stranger to you and you have no idea what this teen was taught by their parents, what their attitude is, or how safely they drive. Tell your teen to call you, and you will come and pick them up from a party, no questions asked.

Choose the Right Car

Don’t buy a car for your teen that’s on its last legs. What happens if it malfunctions with your inexperienced teen behind the wheel? Find a car that’s in good shape with excellent safety features. Think about installing a GPS that lets you track where the car is going and sets a top speed limit. Your teen might regard this as an invasion of privacy; however, your teen is most likely driving a car that you paid for covered by insurance that you are also paying for.

Need Help with Your Teen?

At Doorways, we don’t do driver’s ed, but we do want every teen to be safe on the road. So, if your teen has a problem that can impact their ability to drive safely and you need assistance, contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help.

How Crafting Can Help Your Teen

In 1994, the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) “crafted” the wonderful month called Craft Month. CHA has since changed its name to the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI). AFCI is committed to an overarching vision of enriching people’s lives through crafting and other creative activities. Since its very humble beginnings, craft month (March) has grown into a joyous international celebration by millions of craft enthusiasts who love “getting their craft on.”

Benefits of Crafting for Teens

Little kids love getting messy and making something fun. But, there’s no reason to stop being creative at the age of thirteen. Teens and young adults benefit from crafting in the following ways.

  • Helps to Create a Positive Identity – The sense of self is enhanced by the personal process of creating something.
  • Soothes Teenage Angst – Crafts can serve as mental yoga and provide teens with an activity that is mindful and calming.
  • Brings Imagination to the Fore – Crafts encourage teens to explore different creative ideas.
  • Develops Focus – To succeed at a craft requires strong focus and attention to detail.
  • Builds Confidence – Seeing a craft through from beginning to end provides a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  • Encourages Perseverance – A craft can be difficult to learn and delivers a healthy challenge to a teen.

Help Your Teen to Find Crafting Outlets

Unfortunately, arts and crafts programs are being eliminated or downsized in many schools. When young adults get to high school, they may only need one arts credit in order to graduate. Apart from pursuing a craft at home, students can often find interesting crafts programs at their local library. Take a look at what programs The American Library Association suggests libraries get involved with. Check out the libraries near you or talk to your library about setting up a crafts itinerary. Click here for a list of Arizona public libraries offering crafts programs. As well as your local library, there may be a summer camp with interesting arts and crafts programs.

Pottery Classes

Many teens enjoy pottery classes. Pottery involves more than just mixing clay, water, and other additives. It’s a craft that provides teens and young adults with a creative, relaxing outlet to make something unique. They can mold clay with just their hands, or learn to “throw” a pot or a bowl using a wheel. The resulting creation can be glazed and baked in a kiln. Check out the area where you live for pottery programs designed for teens and young adults. Here’s some help on finding pottery classes in the Phoenix area.

How do I Get My Teen Interested in a Craft?

Taking up a craft can enrich a teenager’s life. However, as I’m sure you know, it’s impossible to force a teen into a hobby. So, use some insight and gentle guidance to help your teen explore the idea of crafting and find the craft that most excites them. Asking a teen “what would you like to do?” is too vague and broad. Bring up the subject of crafting, ask your teen to think about it, and then bring the question up again later.

Don’t Turn Your Teen Off to the Idea of Crafting

Try not to go from being insightful and helpful to suffocating and nagging. Mention possible enjoyable activities, but don’t succumb to harping on them constantly. Most teens resent being pushed into things, so it may take some finesse to coax an adolescent into pursuing a craft you think they will enjoy. You could try passing along online suggestions like this one.

Be Supportive

Once a teen has expressed an interest in a craft, give them your full support and provide them with any necessary materials. If the teen needs space at home to pursue the craft, make sure there’s an area in your house where they can be creative. And, never chastise them for making a mess.

Do You Have a Teen with Issues?

We hope that your teen is involved in an engaging hobby of some sort. However, if your teen is suffering from a problem that you find difficult to cope with, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get them involved with a craft. Whatever the issue, Doorways is here to help you and your teen or young adult. We specialize in services for those aged 13-25 in the Phoenix area. Arrange a consultation with us to see how we can help you.

Help Your High-Schooler Manage Stress with these 4 Easy Tactics

High school is full of challenges, academic and otherwise, that can add up to some serious stress for your teen. They’re tackling homework and navigating complex social dynamics, all while balancing time spent with friends, family, and on activities. The demands and schedule might start to feel overwhelming. As the parent, helping your teenager navigate these rough waters is crucial.

Here are some tactics to keep your high schooler from feeling overly stressed when they’re swamped with school work and obligations:

1. Tackle tough homework incrementally.
A large project can sometimes feel like an impossible hurdle, especially if your teen struggles with organization or focus. Instead of jumping straight in, encourage your teenager to break the assignment down into more manageable pieces. Start with a brainstorming session one day, research the next, and so on. This will help the project seem much more achievable. Then, your high schooler can keep a To-Do list of the various steps and check things off as they get completed. Each time he or she gets to tick a box they will feel less stressed about the impending deadline.

2. Familiarize before diving in.
The unknown or unfamiliar can leave teens feeling uneasy. If your high schooler is diving into a new opportunity – a part-time job, an internship, a new club or group — help them to familiarize themselves with what is to come. Check out websites, visit the location, or meet with someone already involved. If their new venture feels familiar it can cut back on your teenager’s nerves about the unknown.

3. Keep things organized at home.
Returning home to a disorganized environment with little structure can have a snowball effect on a teen already stressed after a jam-packed day of high school. Help your teen to create order in his or her room and the rest of the house as well. Make sure your high schooler has a neat and tidy space to work on assignments. Display a calendar with activities and obligations in the kitchen. Establish a predictable framework for after school hours and weekends, too. Disorganization and lack of a clear plan can cause many teenagers to feel apprehensive and distressed.

4. Offer stress relief opportunities.
If your teen needs to relieve some stress, give them the space to do so. Encourage them to tap into activities that make them feel better when school and responsibilities become overwhelming. They might love playing an instrument or writing poetry or riding horses. Whatever gives them a release and brings them joy is worth exploring. And while your teen may not be a varsity athlete, consistent exercise is a wonderful antidote to stress. Help them find an exercise outlet they enjoy. If team sports aren’t their thing, they could always try swimming, dance, or long walks around the neighborhood.

If your high schooler needs additional help with stress management, we encourage you to speak to the staff at Doorways to find out if our services might be the right fit for your family. We provide counseling and psychiatric services exclusively for teens, young adults, and their families in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Each of our staff is dedicated to the specialized needs of high schoolers and committed to the compassionate understanding of their struggles.

National Compliment Day: 10 Ways to Compliment Teens

Compliments are a superb way to bring cheer to someone’s day or commend a good job. Today, give an extra compliment (or two!) in honor of National Compliment Day, observed each year on January 24th.

Debby Hoffman and Kathy Chamberlin created National Compliment Day in 1998. They wanted a special day to honor the simple act of letting those in our lives know that we love and appreciate them. With this in mind, we thought we’d share a few ways to share praise, grace, and love with your teenagers.

10 Ways to Compliment Teens

  1. Compliment character. Sometimes it appears sincerity and morality are characteristics not often taught in our world. And not always commended when showcased. When your teenager displays integrity, consideration, trustworthiness, and reliability, offer them a sincere compliment.

  2. Compliment their friends. When you feel as though your teen has made a connection with someone you deem laudable or a great influence, let them know.
    Your friends are so wonderful!”
    Jennifer is so thoughtful.”
    It makes me so happy to know that you choose your friends well.”

  1. Compliment respect. It is easy to make disapproval second nature, to only notice your teen’s behavior when they go wrong. However, we would encourage you to stop waiting for disrespectful behavior and try acknowledging respectful behavior.
    I don’t tell you this enough, but you are a wonderful person, and I value the way you respect your father and me.”

  1. Compliment a step in the right direction. Holding out for the end goal before we offer up a compliment isn’t good enough, might cause your teenager to lose sight of a positive outcome, and doesn’t reward growth.
    “Stephanie, the steps you’ve made toward your goal are great. Thank you for all your hard work!”

  2. Appreciate their place in your family. Sometimes teens, with all their fluctuating emotions, need to know how much they are valued for simply existing.
    “Whenever I see you, I’m grateful that I get to be your parent.”

  3. Compliment their style. You can offer a compliment about your teenager’s style even if their taste is vastly different from your own. Your child is his or her own person and you wouldn’t want them to be a carbon copy of their mom or dad. Try not to limit your compliments to the restricted scope of your own taste.
    “You sure have a gift for styling hair!”
    “I can tell that you put a lot of creativity into your outfit.”
    “I love how imaginative your room decor looks.”

  4. Compliment household chores. Your teenager needs to understand that when they chip in with household chores they make a difference and their parents notice the extra effort.
    “Vacuuming the living room/mowing the lawn/doing the dishes really makes a difference. I am so grateful for your hard work around our house!”

  5. Compliment new achievements. A well-timed compliment can keep a teen’s trajectory moving forward. It’s important to compliment your child’s progress, as discussed above, but don’t forget to pay them some credit when they achieve something they’ve never been able to do before.
    “Great job! Although I’m not surprised after all your hard work. I knew you could do it, Derrick!”
    “You got your social studies grade up to an A! I’m beyond proud of you.”

  6. Compliment effort. What about when your teenager’s best efforts come up short? Compliment their effort and remind them there’s still work to be done–and you know they’re up to the task.
    “All the studying you’ve done for your social studies class makes me so happy! If you keep it up I know you can bring your grade up.”

  7. Compliment a job well done. When your teen exceeds expectations and goes out of their way to do a great job it is always worth noting. Compliment the quality of your child’s work so they know the extra effort didn’t go unnoticed.
    “This is the cleanest I’ve ever seen your room, Shelby!”
    “I was so proud of you at your dance recital. Awesome job! I’m so glad you are so passionate about dance, it really shows.”

Are you having trouble balancing criticism and compliments when communicating with your teenager? If so, meeting with the expert staff at Doorways may be a positive step for you and your family. If you have questions, feel free to contact us HERE or give us a call at 602-997-2880.

Is Your Teen Using Drugs? Learn the Early Warning Signs

Many parents ask us how to tell if their teen has begun drinking or doing drugs. By taking careful note of your teen’s behavior and paying attention to a few key red flags, you can spot issues with drug use sooner rather than later. While you may not find drug paraphernalia in their room or catch them drinking when they think no one is home, you should always trust your instincts. If you start to take note of some of the warning signs we’ve listed below, we encourage you to take action. Talk to your teen and get help from a professional if needed.

How to Spot Early Warning Signs of Drug or Alcohol Use in Teens

Utilize your sense of smell.

Have a conversation when your teenage child comes home after spending time out with friends. Address them face-to-face and ask if they had a nice time, what they did, or who they were with. If they’ve been using drugs or alcohol, the smell could be lingering on their clothes, hair, or breath.

Make eye contact.

Similar to the tip above, when your teen gets home, be sure to pay attention to their eyes during that face-to-face conversation. If your child has used marijuana – their eyes will be bloodshot, the lids may look droopy, and their pupils small. Drinking leaves pupils dilated and leads to trouble focusing. And, there may be other clues nearby. Is your teen’s face or cheeks flushed? This can also be a sign of drug or alcohol use.

Pay attention to sudden changes in behavior.

If your teen acts one way after school and completely different after a night out with friends, this could be a red flag. Upon their return: Does their volume or vocal register change? Do they crack up for no reason at all? Or, maybe they appear abnormally uncoordinated and you notice they’re bumping into things and knocking things over. Are they acting surly and introverted when they’re usually a chatterbox? Are they sleepy even though it’s early in the evening? Are they complaining of nausea? These could all be clues that they were drinking or using drugs before they came home.

Do they drive?

If your teen drives or has a car make sure to observe this aspect as well. Are they driving less carefully when they come home than when they left? Does their car have dents and dings with no explanation? Check the inside of the car, too. Does it smell? Are there items on the floorboard or in the glovebox that might provide hints that drug or alcohol use is taking place?

Take note of deception and secrets.

Are your teen’s plans starting to sound a little far-fetched? Are they vague about the who, what, when, where, and why? If they went out to a restaurant or to see a band, can they tell you what they ordered or what songs were their favorite? Do they insist a chaperone will be present but can’t produce a contact number? Are they showing up past curfew with a never-ending series of excuses? If you press them on these excuses, do they become erratic and angry? If these scenarios sound familiar, it could be time to act.

If you believe your teen is using drugs, contact our team at Doorways for additional support. We specialize in helping families with teens and young adults ages 13-25. We teach families how to deal with conflict, demonstrate love, improve communication and more. There is help for your family!

6 Tips to Help Your Distracted Teen

Is your teen having trouble focusing? These straightforward tips will help a teen who finds themselves preoccupied, lacking concentration, or has trouble staying on task when it comes to school work. Our world is ever more distracting and giving teenagers the tools to combat inattentiveness will serve them well for years to come.

  1. Maintain a peaceful environment at home. A peaceful home environment means not lashing out when your teen talks back or doesn’t immediately calm down and tuck into homework. As a parent, you may get angry at your teen at times–upsetting that peaceful environment. When this occurs, just say you’re sorry for the outburst, remind your teen that you love them, and explain why you are frustrated with them.
  2. Find an outlet for your teen’s energy. If your teen is especially hyperactive, they may need additional activities in which to channel this extra energy. There is a myriad of extracurricular activities available for teens, many they can easily sign up for through their school. Consider a sport, scouts, or another activity with plenty of outdoor time.
  3. Cut down on media distractions. It can be difficult for teens with attention problems to filter out extra noise when they’re attempting to concentrate. Keeping the television on in the next room can limit your teen’s capacity to complete homework, so turn it off when you aren’t watching. When possible, find ways to reduce screen time. Perhaps set a rule that they can only play video games after dinner or they must turn their cell phone to airplane mode between the hours of 4:00-6:00 pm.
  4. Make sure your teen knows the rules and enforce them. To make sure parents and teens are on the same page, talk openly about rules and standards. Whether this is the type of grades you’d like them to maintain, a designated homework time or the media rules discussed in the tip above; your teen should know what you expect of them, and what the consequences will be if they don’t follow rules or meet standards.
  5. Offer organizational strategies. Encourage your teen to approach large school assignments by breaking them down into “chunks.” This will help them view bigger tasks as a series of manageable smaller tasks. Teens who are prone to distraction will begin to feel motivated by their small successes. Moreover, keeping a checklist or to-do list is a great habit for distracted teens. The simple act of crossing something off a list will reinforce productive behavior.
  6. Build up your teen’s self-esteem. Teens who have problems focusing often feel like they’re in trouble or not as good as their peers. Let your teen know that you believe in them. Share that you know they are capable and that they can do anything they set their mind to.

If you are having difficulty helping your distracted teen to focus, and their school work is suffering, consider seeking the help of a professional who specializes in working with teens. At Doorways, we are leading experts in counseling for teens and young adults and employ experts in the treatment of ADD/ADHD.

5 Tips for Raising Strong Teen Girls

How do you raise a teen girl to be strong? What does that mean?

While physical strength is important, we’re talking about strength in character, self-worth, and spirit. Strong teen girls take action to make the right decisions when faced with difficult choices, they help others when called upon. Strong teen girls think about the world around them and acknowledge the feelings of others. Strong teen girls exhibit positive self-esteem and a positive attitude when faced with life’s tough tasks. As any teenager might, strong teen girls face moments of doubt and insecurity, but they know how to come out on top. Strong teen girls have the tools to enter adulthood and lead a wonderful, happy life.

Sounds ideal, right?

Here are our top tips for raising a strong teen:

  1. Allow her to make life choices when possible. When you see fit, allow your teen to make decisions about her life. This can be as simple as allowing her to choose what she wears or what she packs in her school lunches. What may seem like insignificant choices can go a long way in helping her develop skills for independence later in life. You can also offer choices to help her feel like she has a voice when it comes to her life and her future. Involve her when it comes to selecting extracurriculars. She may choose to abandon years of ballet classes to pursue French lessons, but trying new things will allow her to identify what she truly loves to do.

Resource: Help Your Children Become Good Decision Makers by Dr. Jim Taylor

  1. Guide her towards solutions instead of immediately fixing the problem. As parents, we may see situations where we want to take the reins and solve our teen’s problem for her. However, we would encourage you to take a different approach when you can. To help your teen develop the problem-solving skills necessary to approach these types of situations, instead offer her choices. Present three strategies or possible paths to solutions. Then, discuss with your daughter how she would implement each and what the result may be. Let her take it from there. She can carry out the solution she feels fits best. And because of your gentle guidance you know it’s one that will work for both of you.

  2. Encourage her to participate in activities with other strong teen girls. Girls who work cooperatively to reach a common goal report feelings of achievement, capability, and a huge boost in self-confidence. Offer your teen opportunities, through organizations or teams, to engage in teamwork with others. This will help her to learn important problem-solving skills, face challenges, and work well with others.

Resource: Fun Activites for Teenagers by Tara Kunesh, M.Ed.

  1. Talk to her about bullying. Talk with your teen about the negative side of friendships — gossip, spreading rumors, and exclusivity — as well as physical violence. When your teen encounters exclusion or cliques, refrain from brushing it off as “mean girls” or attempting to reassure her with the quip that “girls will be girls.” Instead, bring up the strong characteristics inherent of female friendship and use personal examples when possible. Discuss ways your teen girl can effect positive change in her relationships.

  2. Listen to her when she discusses her feelings. What we experience as a conversation with our child, they might experience as a lecture. When our teens feel as though we are talking at them, they could not only choose to stop listening, but also stop working through the issue themselves – shutting down completely. However, when we choose to listen more than we talk, our teens continue to reflect and think. This open dialogue is tantamount to raising strong teens. Dismissing their feelings on one issue and expecting them to open up about another won’t work. Keep the lines of communication flowing.

Resource: Talking With Teens – Tips for Better Communication by Neil Osterweil

If you are raising a teen girl, and feel your daughter is struggling or is expressing low self-worth, speaking to a teen counselor at Doorways could be the right step for your family. If you have questions, feel free to contact us HERE or give us a call at 602-997-2880.