A Dangerous New Trend in Teenagers

A new behavior for teenage and tween girls has been identified by an adolescent psychologist. The behavior that has been identified is called “Camouflaging.” This behavior left unidentified can lead to low self-esteem, depression, cutting etc.

Camouflaging is when an adolescent girl changes how she looks, her opinions or things that she does in order to be accepted by the other girls. The real problem occurs when the girl is changing so much about herself or does it for so long that she forgets or losses track of her real self.

While this behavior has just been identified in girls and what the researcher explains appears correct, I believe this behavior applies to boys too.

Many adolescent boys change the way they dress, their beliefs and the way they act to be accepted by their friends. I hear many of these boys telling me in therapy that they feel lost. They tell me they no longer have an idea of who they really are or believe or feel. These boys also turn to alcohol, drugs and cutting. Usually to numb out their lost feeling or to feel something.

As a result, many teens start acting like someone they are not just to be accepted. This fear of not being accepted and forgetting their real self because they has been covering it up for so long or denying their true feelings for so long can result in boys and girls having low self-esteem or feeling depressed.

This low self-esteem and depression can result in such behaviors as cutting, eating disorders, drug use, becoming sexually active etc. Often boys and girls cut just so they can feel as I stated above. The constant denying of their emotions can cause boys and girls to lose a sense of their true feelings. Therefore, cutting can occur so boys and girls feel. Denying their feeling or who they are can result in boys and girls feeling very confused. Therefore, they look for behaviors that help them remember who they are and help them identify their true feelings. They also seek behaviors that help them deal with denying their feelings or changing their behaviors. This can trigger eating disorders or drug abuse. This helps numb out the feeling and confusion of denying their feeling and trying to forget their true self. This can cause feelings of depression and anxiety too.

What should parents look for in their teens? If your son or daughter tries to stop wearing his or her glasses or if he or she all of a sudden changes how he or she dresses or acts these are possible warning signs. Another change could be not doing as well in their classes because they are afraid of looking too smart.

While it is normal for teenagers to make changes in their attitudes or how they dress, we are talking about something that goes far beyond normal self-expression.

This is what we are talking about. If teenagers are changing their hair or how they dress as a way to express themselves that is normal teenage behavior. However, if teenagers are doing it just to fit in and they end up losing a sense of their true self this is camouflaging.

Camouflaging results in depression or low self-esteem because the teenager is forgetting their true self. If they are doing it as a way of trying to experiment with their self expression, the teenager is happy and confident as stated above. This is the main point to understand. Experimenting with their dress and beliefs etc. is normal for teens and helps teenagers identify themselves, however denying or camouflaging their feelings results in teens losing themselves and many behavior problems. This is the main thing for parents to watch for in their adolescents behavior.

If you go onto Yahoo and look up Camouflaging you will find a segment on Good Morning America about Camouflaging. In fact, here is the link to the GMA segment https://gma.yahoo.com/video/parents-worry-tween-teen-camouflaging-122935763.html?soc_src=copy. Also if parents look at the February issue of Teen Vogue, you will find an article about Camouflaging.
Dr Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teenagers and their families. Dr Rubino is considered an expert psychotherapist in the treatment of teens. For more information about Dr Rubino and his private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com

Parents don’t Be Afraid to Fight for Your Child’s Education

Parents a Charter SELBA, which over sees IEPs, stated on Twitter that this article is a very good resource guide for parents. This is unusual so don’t be afraid to use this information.

I have heard many stories from many parents who are being told an IEP will prevent their child from getting a good job or getting into college. This is a complete lie. Schools only say this because IEPS cost them money. Also some parents are told a district can only give out a certain number of IEPS. Again another lie. Some parents are told if they press for an IEP the school district might go bankrupt. Another lie by the schools. If they cut the salaries of the administration, they would have plenty of money. Finally many parents report that the school employees were pressuring them to sign the forms right away and didn’t want them to go home and think about their options. They said the school made them feel like bad parents if they did not sign immediately. You are in charge and you have a right to go home and think. If the school is pressuring you that hard they are doing something wrong. Finally many parents were never given their handbook of rights. Ask for that right away because it list where you can file a complaint if you feel the school is not being fair.

This is important because parents you may need to fight for your child’s rights for a decent education. Do not worry about the school or the school employees. Often the employees are doing what is best for the District not the student. Not every employee does this but today many do. Knowing this, read the rest of this article and don’t be afraid to use the knowledge and fight for your child

Seems like the school year has just started and the Districts are already misleading parents about IEPs. The definition is further down. An IEP and 504 are not the same. An IEP is legally enforceable and has legal guidelines and time frames. An IEP follows a student from school to school or state to state. A 504 is not legally enforceable and doesn’t follow a child nor are there legal guidelines.

An IEP will not stop your child from getting a job or from getting into college. In fact and college because they still would be entitled to assistance and the State of California may pay for their books. Also educational records are confidential therefore, no one would know your child had an IEP in school.

Many schools say your child must be two grades below in order to qualify for an IEP. If you said your child had a math or reading disability this is true. However, if they have ADHD, Bipolar, school anxiety etc. they can qualify under OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENTS. All your child needs is a diagnosis such as ADHD which would interfere with their ability to fully benefit from their learning experience in the classroom. The 2 grade below level qualification doesn’t apply to this category.

Also if you have a child in private school and they would benefit from additional assistance, contact your child’s public school district. Even though they attend private school the public school district is legally obligated to provide your child with services.

One more issue, never pay for outside testing before the school district tests your child. They have the right not to accept any outside testing until they test the child. If you disagree with the district’s testing then you can request an objective testing from an outside professional and you can request that the school district pays for the testing and you can select the evaluator.

An IEP or an Individualized Education Plan is a document that outlines the specialized education services that a student will receive due to their disability. It ensures the student will receive the assistance necessary so they will receive an education.

When most parents hear disability, they usually think of a person in a wheelchair or a student wIth a learning disability. There are various condItions that can qualify as a disability. Depression, Bipolare Disorder or even diabetes. The disability is any condition that will interfere in the student receiving the same education as other students. The students who qualify for an IEP need accommodations which meet the criteria of needing specialized education. As I stated above their are numerous conditions which may qualify a student for an IEP.

If a student does qualify for an IEP, they also qualify for Special Education. Many parents hear this and are afraid or embassies. There is nothing to be afraid of or embossed about. If a student qualifies for Special Education, if the student needs speech therapy or special computer programs, the school district is obligated to provide the services to the student at no expense to the student’s family.

There is also an option called a 504 Plan. This was established in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The 504 plan ensures that a student with a disability will receive accommodations so they will receive the same education as other students. However, the 504 plan does not qualify a student for Special Education services and It is not overseen as closely as an IEP plan.
Currently, many districts are telling parents that their child does not need or qualify for an IEP and a 504 plan is just a good. This is not true. Many school districts are telling parents that their child does not qualify for an IEP because the IEP is more expensive for the district and most districts are trying to save money.The districts take advantage of the fact that as parents, you do not know all the differences between an IEP and a 504 so they can talk a family into a 504 plan easily.

If you find that your child is having difficulties at school due to a learning disability, health issue or emotional issue, consult an outside professional before you automatically assume that the school is giving you the appropriate recommendation.

I see many parents who have been told that their child is better with a 504 plan and that is not the truth. You can consult an educational consultant or a therapist who works with children. You can contact me at drmike@rcs-ca.com. I help many families at their child’s IEP meeting. The main thing is, do not be afraid to ask if your child should have a 504 or an IEP. Also don’t let the district make you feel guilty because you want time to think and investigate the options. This is your child and you should never sign anything until you are sure it is in your child’s best interest.

I have added a link to a chart that will help you compare the two and understand the differences.

504 Plan vs. IEP – Education Centerwww.ed-center.com/504This pages lists the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with children and teens. For more information about Dr. Rubino’’s practice visit his web site at http://www.rcs-ca.com

The Teen Heroin Epidemic

Heroin use to to be a drug of the past but it is now very popular with teens. Heroin is a cheaper alternative to many other drugs. For $10 a teenager can buy a capsule of heroin. This is much cheaper than other drugs.

Heroin is still mainly snorted or injected. Because it is injected teens are exposing themselves to HIV and Hepatitis C. Both are life threatening conditions with no cure. In addition to exposing themselves to diseases most teens use Heroin with other drugs such as alcohol. This makes the probability of overdosing on Heroin even higher. Heroin lowers a persons breathing rate and the drugs they are combining it with lower the breathing rate even more making an accidental over dose more likely. The rate of overdosing from Heroin has quadrupled over the years.

Why is Heroin coming back and very popular with teens? Heroin is very similar to the Opioid based pain killers that teens have been using for years. However, with the cost of pain killers rising on the streets and becoming harder to get due to new prescription laws, heroin is easier to get and cheaper. Also teens tend to like the high better. It is not uncommon for someone to get addicted after using heroin one time.

In the last few years heroin use has doubled in teenagers. What teens are at the highest risk? Those who have been using Opioid pain killers, those abusing marijuana and males. Remember it is very common for teens to combine heroin with other drugs and they are unaware of the impact it has on their breathing. They may collapse and not know why and by the time their friends get them to an emergency room it’s too late. Also teens may go to sleep after using and their breathing rate is so shallow they never wake up.

This is a very dangerous drug. If it doesn’t kill when the teen uses it the drug can kill when the teen contracts HIV or Hepatitis C. The rate of teens using this drug has doubled and the amount of people dying from an overdose has quadrupled over the last few years. Parents you cannot ignore this issue. Heroin is being used by upper class children and poor children, athletes, and all races. So it is impacting all teens.

If we get involved we can hopefully stop teens from using this highly addictive killer. I have attached a link to a handout by the CDC with facts, warning signs and suggestions to help your son if you think he is using heroin. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/
http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who has been working with teens for over 18 years and he is considered an expert in this field. For more information about Dr. Michael Rubino and his private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com

How To Talk with Your Teenager

In order to help you and your teenager get through high school without endless arguments , it is essential that you have healthy communication with your teenager. Many parents will say that this is one of their major problems, poor communication with their teenager. This is not a big surprise since our society as a whole does not teach healthy or effective communication styles. Therefore, as a parent if you want to have healthy communication with your teenager then you are going to need to learn some new ways of communicating with your teenager. We see these difficulties in our communication styles in other relationships in our lives such as our spouses, friends and at work. Therefore, it should not be a big surprise that we also have difficulties communicating with our teenagers.

One of the biggest problems in communication is that people make assumptions about what someone else is trying to say. There is a technique that can help resolve this issue. It is called reflective listening. In reflective listening one person speaks while the other person simply listens. After the first person is finished speaking the second person repeats back to the first person what they thought they heard. The first person then gives the second person feedback regarding if that is what they were trying to say or not. If the second person got it right then the second person would proceed in responding to the first person. If the second person did not get it right then the first person would repeat what they were trying to say again. This is not an easy task and it may take a few attempts before you notice any improvements. However, remember practice makes perfect.

Another common communication issue is people using the word “ you”. When most people hear the word you, they automatically go on the defense. They stop listening to what you are saying and they start thinking about how they are going to respond to you. Therefore, the result is they never really heard what you had to say. A common technique used to resolve this issue is the “I” message. When using the I message, the speaker always starts every statement with “I feel…”. When someone is expressing how they feel, you cannot argue with that. Every person has a right to feel the way they feel. Therefore, using the I statement can dramatically reduce arguments. Let me give you an example of an I statement,” son I feel unappreciated when you leave your dirty dishes in the sink, I would appreciate it if you could clean your dishes and put them away thank you.” This is an example of an I statement, you express to the person how you feel and you make a request regarding the behavior change you would like to see. This technique can be very difficult because most people are used to saying you. Therefore, this technique may take a lot of practice. However, remember practice makes perfect.

One final issue regarding healthy communication and this is just for this blog there are many more communication issues to learn in order to have healthy and effective communication. The last issue has to do with do not assume that just because you are ready to discuss an issue that your teenager is ready to discuss an issue. You need to remember your teenagers are now developing more adult lives so they could have had a terrible day at school or a fight with a friend and they may not be in the mood for a discussion. Before beginning any discussion always ask your teenager if this is a good time to talk and also give them an idea about the subject matter for example, son in this a good time to talk I need to discuss some issues regarding your room. Your teenager will either say yes or no. If they say no, then ask for a time when you can discuss the issue. Remember it is okay for them to say no however they do need to give you a time when they will be ready to talk and this time needs to be within a 24-hour time period. Also remember that during the conversation if things are starting to turn into an argument it is okay for your teenager or for you to ask for a time out. This gives the two of you time to cool off and resume the conversation when you both are ready and are capable of having a logical conversation.

Above we have covered some of the most common communication problems between teenagers and their parents. These are not the only communication issues but they are the most common. Also above you have been given some techniques for how to compensate for these issues. Remember our society does not teach us effective communication skills therefore the tools described above may not come easy and may take a great deal of practice. However, if you want a healthy relationship with your teenager the effort is worth. Again as I stated, I have covered the most common communication issues not all of the communication issues. Therefore, you may find it helpful to seek professional assistance from a psychotherapist who can help you and your teenager develop these communication skills.

Dr Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teens and their parents. For more information about Dr Rubino’s work and his private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs.ca.com

Setting Limits for A Teenager

As your teen enters high school they are also starting to enter the adult world. This is now a time to start to take on new responsibilities and to consider the reputation they are creating. As parents your responsibilty is to help guide them, not tell them exactly what to do. It is important that the teen develop life skills on their own. You will not always be there as the parent.

The first step is for you to allow them to earn your respect. Explain that they are no longer little kids, that they are now young adults, and part of being an adult is earning people’s respect. You also have to be prepared to respect them and allow them to be young adults and not treat them like little children. This does not mean you are giving up control. Your teen still needs you for money, permission to do things at school and to sign the consent for the all important driver’s permit. So relax, you still have all the control you need.

The first place to start with respect is their rooms. Allow them to have their rooms as their own private space. Do not worry if it is dirty or if their are clothes all over, it is their space and they have the right to live in it how they choose. Set the limits that as long as you can close the door and there are no odors coming from their room, you will respect their privacy. If these agreements are broken, then you have the right to go in and clean as you like. You also have the right to inspect the room if there are obvious signs of drug use. As a parent you have to balance your teen’s right to privacy, but at the same time you need to ensure their health and safety.

Homework is another big area of concern. Make your life easy. Set a minimum GPA such as 3.0 or 2.0 based on your teen’s ability and then allow your teen to manage their homework. If they ask for help, obviously help them. If they do not, let them handle their homework until progress reports and grades come out. You need to have an agreement as to what will happen if they fail to maintain the minimum GPA set and they never ask for help. If they fail to maintaiun the minimum, then the consequences you agreed to are implemented. The consequences occur not because you are being mean, they occur because the teen failed to live up to their part of the agreement – they made the choice. This is important to reinforce so you are not labeled the bad guy and the teen learns a lesson in choices.

Finally, you and your teen need to sit down a draw up a contract concerning the house rules, school performance and your expectations regarding their behavior in general. If you have it in black and white and there is a conflict then all you need to do is refer back to the contract and the problem is resolved. It is very important that you abide by the contract too. So you cannot increase a consequence and if you agreed to something on the contract you must follow it. If you want your teen to be responsible, you must be responsible.

One last thing – no one is perfect. If you make a mistake, model appropriate behavior and apologize. If your teen makes a mistake and comes to you right away to apologize, thank them for their honesty and compliment them on their maturity. Remember, they want to know that they are important in the world. By treating them with respect and as maturing adults you are vaildating the fact that they are important and loved and you encourage them to try harder.

Obviously, it is not always that easy and there are various parenting situations. The above suggestions are a guideline to get started with as your teen enters high school.

Dr Michael Rubino has been working with teens and their parents for over 18 years and is recognized as an expert working with teens. For more information about Dr Michael Rubino’s practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com

The Importance of knowing Your Teens Friends

Having friends and hanging out with them after school and on weekends is what most people think about when they think about teenagers and their friends. No one really thinks about being concerned. It seems harmless and it’s part of being a teenager. However, with the advancement of technology and the rapid changes in society, this has changed. It now is necessary for parents to be concerned about who their teen has as a friend and what they are doing.

Now with the Internet and such things as Facebook, teens face a number of different issues. One issue is the number of friends they have. Teens are looking at Facebook pages and see that people claim to have 400, 500 friends. They look at their page and they have 50 and they start to worry what is wrong with them. But they fail to stop and think no one can have 500 close friends. The person has acquaintances or they just sent out a bunch of invitations, but it is impossible to know 500 people closely. Also the number of friends you have, has nothing to do with who you are as a person.

Another issue teens are facing with the Internet is cyber bullying. It is very easy to say very mean cruel things when you can hide behind a computer and no one knows who you are. However, the target of the bullying can feel like their world is falling a part and feel their life is hopeless. They may see suicide as a way out. Suicide in teens is now the 3rd leading cause of death for kids 10 to 18 and the rate is increasing every year. We also have seen a tremendous increase in school shootings. The teen who usually does the shooting is a teen that feels powerless and that no one cares about him.

A very important issue that this has exacerbated is the need to feel accepted by their peers. Teens will do anything to feel accepted. They are using drugs, stealing, beating up other kids, anything they are being asked to do by the group. In the Alive & Free Movement, we refer to these as “”fearships.” Teens are doing things because they are afraid of being rejected by the group. The group leaders are intimidating other teens into doing these dangerous things so they feel important and worthy. This is not a friendship. A friend accepts you for who you are and they don’t intimidate you into doing things that might get you killed or arrested.

This is why parents need to get to know their teenager’s friends. If you think they are involved in a fearship you need to talk to your teen and you may need to forbid them from hanging out with these kids.

Also parents need to talk to their teenagers about what a real friendship is and how friends act. A friend accepts you for who you are they don’t demand changes. They are there to support you during difficult times and friends don’t want to see you hurt. If you are doing something that could get you in trouble or hurt you a friend will tell you to stop. Parents many teens are still figuring these issues out. This is why you need to talk to your teens about friends and why you need to get to know their friends.

Dr Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teens and their parents. For more information about his work or private practice please visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com

Girls & Camouflaging

A new behavior for teenage and tween girls has been identified by an adolescent psychologist. The behavior that has been identified is called “Camouflaging.” This behavior left unidentified can lead to low self-esteem, depression, cutting etc.

Camouflaging is when an adolescent girl changes how she looks, her opinions or things that she does in order to be accepted by the other girls. The real problem occurs when the girl is changing so much about herself or does it for so long that she forgets or losses track of her real self.

As a result, she starts acting like someone she is not just to be accepted. This fear of not being accepted and forgetting her real self because she has been covering it up for so long or denying her true feelings for so long can result in the girl having low self-esteem or feeling depressed.

This low self-esteem and depression can result in such behaviors as cutting or an eating disorder. Often girls cut just so they can feel. The constant denying of their emotions can cause girls to lose a sense of their true feelings. Therefore, cutting can occur so girls feel. Denying their feeling or who they are can result is girls feeling very confused. Therefore, they look for behaviors that help them remember who they are and help them identify their true feelings. They also seek behaviors that help them deal with denying their feelings or changing their behaviors. This can trigger eating disorders or drug abuse. This helps numb out the feeling and confusion of denying their feeling and trying to forget their true self. This can cause feelings of depression and anxiety.

What should parents look for in their daughters? If your daughter tries to stop wearing her glasses or if she all of a sudden changes how she dresses or acts. Another change could be not doing as well in her classes because she is afraid of looking too smart.

While it is normal for teenage girls to make changes in their attitudes or how they dress, we are talking about something that goes beyond normal self-expression.

This is what we are talking about. If girls are changing their hair or how they dress as a way to express themselves that is normal teenage behavior. If the girl is doing it just to fit in and she is losing a sense of her true self this is camouflaging.

Camouflaging results in depression or low self-esteem because the girl is forgetting herself. If she is doing it as a way of trying to experiment with her self expression, the girl is happy and confident. This is the main point. Camouflaging results in the girl losing a sense of herself and the girl shows signs of being unhappy. This is the main thing for parents to watch for in their adolescents behavior.

If you go onto Yahoo and look up Camouflaging you will find a segment on Good Morning America about Camouflaging. In fact, here is the link to the GMA segment https://gma.yahoo.com/video/parents-worry-tween-teen-camouflaging-122935763.html?soc_src=copy. Also if parents look at the February issue of Teen Vogue, you will find an article about Camouflaging.
Dr Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teenagers and their families. Dr Rubino is considered an expert psychotherapist in the treatment of teens. For more information about Dr Rubino and his private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com