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.

 

How Old Should My Child Be to Stay Home Alone?

How old your child should be to stay home alone is a question many parents agonize over and one that doesn’t have a clear-cut, straight answer.  There are only three states that have laws that dictate the legal age including:

  • Illinois:  Age 14
  • Maryland: Age 8
  • Oregon: Age 10

Here in Arizona, there is no law dictating the age at which a child is old enough to stay home alone, but that doesn’t mean parents can leave children of any age to fend for themselves.  A child’s readiness to stay home alone is dependent on many factors, most of which are very specific to that child.  This is why it is difficult to give a single clear-cut answer.  The only answer is – it depends on your child.

In order to determine if your child is ready to stay home alone, you need to think about how mature they are, how responsible they are, and how much you trust them to take care of things around the house.    The answers to these questions will help you decide.  Most experts agree, however, that most children under the age of 10 are generally not emotionally equipped to stay home alone and take care of themselves for long periods of time.

Gauging readiness

Here are some questions you could ask yourself to determine if your child is ready to stay home alone.

1.  Does my child feel ready to stay home alone for a few hours?

One of the first things you should do is talk to your child and find out how they feel about staying home alone.  Most will be excited and feel they are completely ready for that kind of responsibility.  However, some kids won’t be comfortable with the idea.  For these kids, it is probably better to wait until they are older or become more comfortable.  It is also important to note that just because they say they are ready it doesn’t mean they are actually ready.  This is just a place to start.

 2. Is my child physically and mentally able to care for him- or herself?

Is your child able to regulate their activities and make good decisions about what to do when they are home alone? Do they know how to make themselves a meal, or what to do if someone comes to the door?

3.  Would be child be able to handle an emergency?

Emergencies happen. Do they know how to call 911 or a friend or family member? Do they know what to do in case of fire? What about if the smoke detector goes off?

4.  How mature is my child?

Next, think about your child’s maturity level.  This is one of the places where maturity matters.  You may feel totally comfortable leaving your 13 year old home but worry about your 15 year old simply because the 13 year old is more mature.  You may also want to look at how responsible your child is in their everyday life.  Do they do their homework and chores?  Are they good at following directions?  Are they calm problem solvers or do they struggle when things go off course?  Answering these questions will give you important clues to determining if your child is ready or not.

After you decide that they are okay to stay home alone, here are some tips.

1. Schedule a trial run

If you and your child both feel they are ready to stay home alone, consider doing a trial run or two first.  This will give your child the sense of what it will be like to stay home alone and enable you both to see if there are things you need to do differently.  Taking a short trip that gets you out of the house for 30-60 minutes but that keeps you close to home is a great way to practice.  This also helps you, the parent, learn to let go a little and become confident that your child will be safe when they are home alone.

2. Be prepared

There are some skills that all children who stay home by themselves should have before being alone for any length of time.

  • They should know when, how, and who to call for help if they need it including 911 and non-emergency local assistance.
  • They need to know their address by heart and major cross street names.
  • They need to know how to operate any home security systems in the house and what to do if it goes off.
  • They need to know how to lock and unlock doors and windows.
  • They need to know what to do if the smoke detector goes off, someone comes to the door, the phone rings, or the power goes out.
  • They need to know who they can go to in the neighborhood if they need help.

Remember that being able to stay home alone is a big milestone in a child’s life.  While there is no need to rush it, letting them take on this responsibility once they are ready helps build self-confidence and boosts their self-esteem.

 

50 Fun Ways for Your Teen to Spend Summer Vacation

One of the challenges of summer vacation is that teenagers often find themselves with more time on their hands than sense in their heads.  While getting a job and volunteering their time are both great ways for teens to make use of their summer vacation, those options aren’t always available.

Parents who are concerned that teens will get into trouble or go off seeking thrills if they don’t have anything interesting to do should try to address the issue proactively.  Rather than waiting until your teen is in trouble or until you notice undesirable changes in their behavior, take the first step and help them come up with fun, interesting, entertaining, and even educational ways for them to spend their summer.

50 Fun Ways for Your Teen to Spend Summer VacationTo get you started and give you some ideas, here are 50 of our favorite fun ways for teens to spend their summer vacation.

  1. Make a movie.
  2. Make a music video.
  3. Grow a garden.
  4. Build a fort for someone smaller.
  5. Go swimming.
  6. Plan a picnic.
  7. Make your own ice cream sandwiches.
  8. Learn how to cook.
  9. Learn how to bake.
  10. Host an all night movie marathon.
  11. Setup a Frisbee golf league.
  12. Go for a long bike ride.
  13. Have a pool party.
  14. Have a water balloon fight.
  15. Hold a carwash with your friends and donate the money to charity.
  16. Go to a museum.
  17. Teach yourself to draw.
  18. Go to the library.
  19. Read one book for each year of your age.
  20. Volunteer to mentor younger kids.
  21. Play basketball.
  22. Babysit for extra spending money.
  23. Go fishing.
  24. Learn how to kayak.
  25. Teach someone else how to swim or ride a bike.
  26. Learn how to do your own laundry.
  27. Start your own business.
  28. Camp out in the backyard.
  29. Go to a planetarium.
  30. Go hiking.
  31. Get some friends to go geocaching with you.
  32. Host the backyard Olympics for other kids on your block.
  33. Read to younger children at the library.
  34. Make your driveway into a drive-in movie theatre for bikes.
  35. Host a backyard board game championship tournament.
  36. Have a scavenger hunt.
  37. Learn a new sport.
  38. Play baseball.
  39. Play mini-golf.
  40. Go on a college visit.
  41. Have a yard sale.
  42. Go see a concert.
  43. Put on your own concert.
  44. Play tennis.
  45. Start a band.
  46. Go bowling.
  47. Learn how to drive a boat.
  48. Ride every rollercoaster at the local amusement park.
  49. Learn how to cook on the grill.
  50. Make new friends.

How to Develop a Good Relationship with Your Teenager

Ahh, Mother’s Day! Breakfast in bed, flowers, sweetly crayoned card, matching mother/daughter outfits, smiling kids posing for pictures? Mmm, probably not, if you have a teenager! Perhaps you’re lucky and your teen surprised you on May 13. In any event, even though Mother’s Day is over for this year, it provides a good opportunity to reflect on how to you relate to your teen. So, here’s a discussion of ways to keep and maintain a close relationship between the two of you.

Do Your Best to Listen

Once your child becomes a teenager, they think they know your views about everything under the sun. After all, you’ve been giving them your opinions on things for their entire lifetime. Now, it’s much more important that you listen to them. When you take the time to listen, it’s more likely that your teen will end up asking for your views and advice. Opinions, when asked for, are more likely to be taken to heart than opinions rendered before giving your teen a chance to say anything.

Use Criticism Sparingly

Although parenting involves sometimes offering criticism to a teen, the way you do it is crucial to staying on good terms. Use criticism sparingly and try to do it in as kindly a manner as possible. Even adults have trouble handling a barrage of disapproval, so don’t expect your teen to react well to it. A hail of constant criticism will likely be met with silence and a closed door to your teen’s room.

Learn the Best Way to Ask Questions

Don’t pepper your teen with questions without even waiting for answers – “Where were you?” “Who were you with?” “What were you doing?” Here’s a video which perfectly illustrates this. Ask a question, but then sit back and listen. If your teen doesn’t respond, try simply saying “I’m listening,” but not in a demanding tone of voice. A pause gives your teen permission to gather their thoughts and can lead to a worthwhile conversation.

Keep Your Thoughts About Your Teen Private

Many parents in social gatherings or online seem to think that it’s normal to talk about how their teens have ruined their lives. Even if your teen isn’t there, what you say may get back to them. And, if your teen is standing in a corner of the room hearing you, imagine how they must feel. The same goes for stories about your teen (either at the age they are now or when they were younger) which they will find embarrassing.

Choose What to Make a Stand Over

Teens face many significant issues, so does it really matter if they don’t make their bed every day. If you don’t engage in battles with your teen over small things, they will be more likely to listen to you on bigger issues. Base your rules on sensible guiding principles and let the non-important stuff slide. Most teenagers are doing their best to manage complicated lives, so cut them some slack when they forget to do the dishes.

Apologies Are Important

Every time you raise your voice to your teen or unjustifiably punish them, you’re erecting a brick wall between you and your teen. If you mess up, don’t just let things go. Apologize to your teen, and tell them that you’ll try to do better in future. Your teen will feel better, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be setting a good example of a positive habit that your teen can follow with their friends.

Appearances Aren’t Everything

Teens are very sensitive about their appearance, so try to avoid pouring on the critiques and advice. If your teen adopts the latest teen fashion, gets a purple streak in their hair, or gets a nose stud, try regarding these things as fun (because they are!) and recognize that your teen will eventually outgrow them. Outright and persistent disapproval will only lead to more outrageous appearances.

Praise Your Teen’s Efforts

Don’t indulge in comparing your teen unfavorably to their siblings, their cousin, the teen of the neighbors next door, or their friends. If your teen plays sports, don’t scold and belittle your teen for not performing as well as the team star. If they didn’t receive the drama award or get on the spelling bee team, tell them it’s ok and you know they did their best.

Above All, Use Your Good Sense

Creating a happy, loving, open relationship with your teen is far more powerful than any form of discipline. You can maintain a good rapport with your teen and still expect them to get good grades, read books, not use swear words, wash the dishes, help the neighbors mow their lawn, etc. They may even take over the household chores on next year’s Mother’s Day! However, in spite of your best efforts, you may be having problems with your teen that you don’t know how to solve. At Doorways, our counselors are trained in how to relate to teens, so set up a free consultation with us to see how we can help you.

What Parents Can Do About Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence is a pattern of abuse or threat of abuse directed against teenaged dating partners. It can take several forms—physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological. In today’s digital age, cyberstalking and other forms of digital abuse represent the latest wave of teen dating violence. Teen dating violence is not limited to any one particular group or culture and can affect boys and girls of any race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

How Prevalent is Teen Dating Violence?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that each year approximately 1.5 million students at the high school level experience physical abuse from a dating partner. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that, during one year, one in ten high school students were hurt physically by a romantic partner and 10 percent were victimized sexually. The most commonly affected group are girls aged between sixteen and twenty-four, but boys are not immune. The CDC estimates that 7 percent of girls and 4 percent of boys experience some form of dating abuse before the age of eighteen. Click here to read a detailed CDC report on teen dating violence.

How Do You Know if Your Teen is a Victim?

Sadly, many teens who are the victims of teen dating abuse suffer in silence. They are afraid, ashamed, or guilt-stricken. And, unfortunately, research conducted by Teen Research Unlimited found that many parents are unable to detect the signs of dating abuse. Although 82 percent of parents thought they were confident in their ability to recognize signs of abuse, only 42 percent knew how to identify the signs accurately. Here are some warning signs that parents should watch out for:

  • Bumps and bruises: If your teen is giving you reasons for injuries that don’t seem to add up, be suspicious. You need to keep probing to see if your teen is covering up dating abuse and trying to protect the abuser.
  • Changes in personality: Is your extroverted teen staying at home more and not socializing with friends? If this is the case, you have good reason to be concerned – the effects of isolation on an adolescent can be detrimental.
  • Drug use: Some instances of abuse follow drug use by the victim’s partner and often the victim has also been persuaded to take the drug. In other cases, a victim may turn to drugs and use them as a coping mechanism.
  • Lower grades: A decline in school performance may be an indication that something is wrong. According to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), a drop in grades often goes hand in hand with physical or sexual violence. Dating violence may also result in the student skipping school or even dropping out of school altogether.
  • Change in self-care: Have you noticed that your teen’s hygiene, sleep, and eating habits have changed? Poor self-care is another sign that something significant is going on in your teen’s life.
  • Secrecy: Have you caught your teen in lies about where they have been? If you feel your teen is hiding something from you, you’re probably right.

Talk to Your Teen

Many young people start dating in their teens, so it’s important to educate them about the possibility of ending up in an abusive relationship. Parents are less likely to talk to their teen about dating violence than other teen-related issues, such as academic performance, family finances, drugs, and sex. Parents, if you don’t speak to your teens about dating violence, who will?

Get Some Help

Teen dating violence can have a devastating impact on a teen’s emotional and social development. Teen dating violence may lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse. Whether the abuse is physical or emotional, it’s certain that the scars can last a lifetime. So, if you think your teen may be involved in an abusive dating relationship and you don’t know how to deal with it, seek the help of a professional counselor. Here at Doorways Arizona, we understand that, although teen dating violence shares some similarities with adult domestic violence, because of the young age involved, teen dating violence presents unique challenges. Arizona ranks in the second worst level for the number of students who experience dating violence, so make an appointment with Doorways today.

What Parents of Young Teens Need to Know About Crushes

As a mom to an adult daughter, I am no stranger to the phenomena of having a crush. Oh, I can remember the whole experience…. the ups, the downs, the laughter, and the tears.

As the parent of a young teen, it’s important that we know how to deal with a crush when it happens because it’s a normal part of adolescence.  Love…. there’s nothing like it.

Teenage crushes are a normal experience during adolescence. There are generally two kinds of crushes – identity crushes and romantic crushes. In both cases, the teen is captivated by a person and wants their attention. These feelings can be very powerful for a teenager, and it’s important for parents to understand this as they go through this experience.

Crushes can, though, cause problems with your teen. They might become so fixated on their crush that it can affect their schoolwork. They might forgo their friends to spend time with their crush and some teens will drop out of after school activities to focus their energy on their first love. While these are matters of concern, a parent must be more concerned that their teen, or the crush, does not develop an obsessive love. When teens begin to act in irresponsible ways, it may be time for some intervention.  Here’s how to help and support a teen experiencing a crush.

  1. Open the lines of communication. Seek to understand what your child likes about the other person. What draws them to them. What things do they like to do together?  Encourage your child to invite their crush over to hang out with your family.
  2. Establish dating rules for your teen. Dating rules might sound old-fashioned, but there is a good reason for them as the protect our children and the person they are dating. For example, our rule at our house was that our teens could not be at home without an adult present. Nor were they allowed to go into their bedroom alone.  While your teen will probably complain about these rules, “You don’t trust me,” your response should be simple and to the point. “it’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I understand temptation. It’s a powerful emotion. And it’s better to not put yourself in the path of temptation. That protects everybody.”
  3. Encourage group dates. Group dates can be a lot of fun, as well as a safe environment for interaction.
  4. Establish clear boundaries when it comes to texting and online communication. Once you post a picture or text online it is there forever. Even if you use snapchat. Educate your child on the importance of their online reputation for their future college or career hunt and how important it is to protect that reputation. What happens if you send a photo or a message to your love in trust but the that person shares the message. or their phone gets stolen by their bratty little brother and he shares your messages to the world. Better to be safe than sorry by not sending any texts, images or messages that you wouldn’t want the world to see.

There are many more rules than parents can establish when it comes to crushes.  Work with your teen to set some boundaries that are appropriate for them and your family. Keep the lines of communication open.  Crushes can be the best of times or the worst of times, but for sure they will be a growing experience for your child and your family.

Simple Ways to Reduce Mental Health Stigma

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.One way that we would like to participate is to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

In terms of mental health, David Susman PhD refers to stigma as negative beliefs, descriptions, attitudes, behavior or language. To go a step further, a stigma can be unfair, discriminatory or disrespectful in how we talk, feel, behave, or think towards someone coping with mental health issues. To help, we have compiled a list of ways that you can reduce mental health stigma.

  1. Educate Yourself

Accurately inform yourself about mental illnesses. Check out MentalHealth.gov for some mental health facts and myths.

  1. Educate Others

Once you have educated yourself, you can pass on your new accurate knowledge to others. Additionally, you can educate others, by presenting a positive attitude about those with mental health issues. You can do this by challenging any stereotypes or myths that others you know may have about those suffering from mental illness.

  1. Don’t Label Those with Mental Illness

Keep in mind that people are still people and not their diagnosis. For example, do not refer to someone as “she’s schizophrenic,” but rather state they have a mental illness. Remember to be respectful.

  1. Don’t be Afraid of Someone with a Mental Health Issue

Don’t fall to stereotypes. While it may seem that someone with a mental illness may display unusual behavior, keep in mind that it does not mean they are dangerous. That is an inaccurate stereotype that has been perpetuated by popular culture.

  1. Choose What You Say Carefully

How you say something can impact the way others speak and think. Never use derogatory or hurtful language about mental illness or to someone with a mental illness. Be sure not to use mental illnesses as an adjective. For example, don’t say, “I’m so OCD.” Speaking this way only furthers misconceptions and stigmas about mental illnesses.

  1. Be Sensitive and Focus on the Positive

Be supportive and reassuring to someone with mental illness especially when you know they are having a tough time. Additionally, focus on the person’s positive aspects. Essentially, treat others how you would like to be treated.

You can help fight stigma by spreading awareness about mental illness and helping to eliminate the many myths that exist about mental illness. Commit to changing the attitudes around you and we can help to get rid of the stigma once and for all.

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

 

How to Stop Doing Everything for Your Teen

We all are trying to navigate through this parenting thing, right? We all know there is no right way to parent. One aspect that we as parents have taken on is doing everything for our kids. This may seem okay when they are younger. We know how to pack their lunch, make sure they get out the door on time or remind them to finish their homework. The problem is that a lot of parents continue to do these things and more- well into the teen years.

As a parent, you are hindering your teen’s growth by continuing to not hold them responsible and accountable for such things. It is important to teach your teen to be responsible for their commitments, teen independence, and build future relationships. Additionally, you will teach your teen independence. This is important so that in the future they will not only be able to take care of themselves but also their future family. To help you stop doing everything for your teen and to build the necessary skills for the future, we have compiled a list of things that you should stop doing for your teen.

  1. Laundry

Has your teen ever snapped at you because you haven’t washed those pair of jeans they wanted to wear out on Friday night? That is the perfect reason why you should hand over the task of doing laundry to your teen. They need a good reminder that you are not the maid. Honestly, this is a task they are going to need to do in life sooner than later. Then the next time their favorite pair of jeans are not clean, it’s on them and not on you!

  1. Making themselves meals

This one should be easy. Make sure you have plenty of healthy food choices for your teen can handle this one just fine. At a minimum, most teens can handle pouring cereal, making a sandwich, and packing an apple for lunch. You could also take this opportunity to teach some basic cooking skills. This skill will also help set the stage for further cooking lessons to help them be able to cook as an adult.

  1. Waking them up in the morning

That is what alarms are for! Honestly, you teach your teen responsibility. They are entirely capable of setting an alarm to a reasonable time to get up, get ready, and out the door to school on time. After suffering the consequences of a few tardies or long walks to school, your teen will likely understand what it takes to get up on time in the morning.

  1. Handling their forgetfulness

Have you ever been at work and gotten the call your teen left their project that was due today on the kitchen table? Let me get this straight, you are supposed to leave your work and take them their project so they don’t suffer any repercussions? Not only can this have repercussions for you in lost wages or lost time, it is not you that should suffer. It should be them. As a parent, you can help remind your teen of deadlines or better yet, help them calendar deadlines with reminders to ensure that this doesn’t happen and if it does, they are going to have to figure out how to handle forgetting something.

  1. Contacting Teachers

Sometimes teachers and students have a miscommunication or maybe your teen needs clarification on some school work. Encourage your kids to communicate with their teachers. Your teen needs to learn how to communicate and sort through any school issues with their teachers.

  1. Being overly involved in school work

It can be tempting to oversee your teen’s schoolwork to make sure they are not making any mistakes. However, keep in mind that you have already gone through school and this is their schoolwork, not yours. You can walk through a problem with your student to help them better understand and work through it, but under no circumstances should you be doing it for them. If your teen’s grades suffer they might begin to understand the importance of being responsible for getting their school work complete.

  1. Filling out paperwork

Whether it be a job application, a permission slip, a scholarship form, your teen needs to be filling out the necessary information. As a parent, feel free to proofread or offer suggestions, but the only thing that you should be doing is signing your signature if necessary. For example, if your teen misses a school field trip your teen might better appreciate doing paperwork themselves.

You might feel like your teen is not ready to handle these things, but you must begin handing over responsibility to your teen at some level to begin readying them for adulthood. By suffering the consequences of lack of responsibility, your teen will better understand the necessity of doing things for themselves. By expanding your teen’s responsibilities, you will give yourself a break and better yet, help your teen build self-confidence and skills that they will need throughout life.

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

The Toxic Friendship: Frenemies

As parents, we spend a lot of time encouraging our teens to make new friends and cultivate the friendships they have. However, are we examining the types of friendships they have? How about negative relationships that are known as toxic friendships? One such toxic relationship that can exist particularly among teen girls is the so-called frenemy.

A frenemy is a person who was perhaps once a friend, but now the friendship has taken a negative turn and is now what we refer to as toxic. Rather than being a friend to your teen, the person is now just plain mean. As the SMC Education Blog explains, this type of relationship can lead to your teen not feeling good about themselves because of the way the frenemy is treating them. This type of friendship is characterized by hurtful behavior like put-downs, manipulation, giving the silent treatment, gossip, and placing conditions on the “friendship.”

As a parent, you can help your teen avoid these types of relationships and help them understand what positive relationships look like. According to Raising Children, begin by explaining that a positive relationship is one where the friend treats them with respect, looks out for them, is inclusive, and is caring towards them. Once your teen understands how they should be treated, this should help them better form their social group.

You can also help direct your teen to other teens you would like to see them spend time with. You can encourage your teen to try different activities to help foster more positive relationships. It also helps to encourage your teen to have friends from different social arenas. Some examples of this are friends in your neighborhood, from church, sports, school, and other social groups.

You can also help by encouraging your teen to invite friends to your home or other family activities so that you can observe the type of friendships they have and ensure the friendships are all positive in nature.

Additionally, talk to your teen about friendships by asking questions and keeping an ongoing dialogue so they feel open to discuss any issues that may come up.

If there are issues that come up and your teen is not able to avoid a frenemy, you can help. Encourage them to end the negative relationship by being open and saying that the friendship must end because they do not like how they are being treated.

If there is any backlash against your teen like bullying, talk to your teen and if necessary, get the school involved to help figure out a solution.

As a parent, continue to help your teen foster the positive relationships, but realize that there may be a few bumps in the road and let them know that you will work on them together. Be sure to keep an open dialogue going with your teen so that they can discuss any negative issues that potentially come up.

If you find that your teen is having difficulty navigating a difficult relationship, you can also seek the guidance of your teen’s school to help with the situation.

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