Why Kids are Stressed Today

In today’s society there has been a significant increase in depression, anxiety and suicide among teenagers and children. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death in children 10 to 18 years old. Yes 10 year old children are committing suicide.

In my practice I am seeing more and more children and teens reporting they feel depressed, anxious and overwhelmed. One of the main reasons I hear for these feelings is that children feel a great deal of pressure to succeed in school. I have kids in 5th grade and 6th grade worrying about grades. Not because their parents will get mad because if they don’t get As they wont get into a good college and won’t get a good job and won’t be able to afford a house.

This is a great deal for a 5th grader or 6th grader to worry about at their age.

I also see middle school students and high school students involved in several sports and other activities such as Boy Scouts. The kids are feeling pressured to do extracurricular activities not for fun but for their resume. They are again concerned about getting into a good college and being a success. This pressure is not coming from parents either. It is pressure kids are now placing on themselves.

Recent studies are showing a correlation between lack of fun and time to relax with the increase in depression in children and teenagers. A study in Psychology Today discusses this issue. I have included the link so parents can read this study and think about it. Also so you can look at your children and talk with them. See if they are enjoying life or feeling overwhelmed because they need to succeed. Money pays the bills but doesn’t guarantee happiness https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conceptual-revolution/201604/what-s-the-opposite-play

Dr. Michael Rubino is an expert working with children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino and his work visit his website http://www.rcs-ca.com

April Child Abuse Awareness Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. This is very important. We often think because we live in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek or Lafayette that our children are safe. This is far from the truth. Our children are at risk like any other child.

The reality is 889,000 per year are abused in the United States according to the United States Health and Human Services. This averages out to be 1 out of every 12 children in the United States are abused. This includes physical, sexual, emotional abuse and severe neglect to name a few. Every year 1,500 children die from child abuse. Children from birth to the age of 3 are at the highest risk for abuse. Children under 3 years old are 76% of the children who die every year due to child abuse (USDHHS). The statistics indicate that boys and girls are equally as likely to be a victim of abuse.

A common mistake we make is that we assume child abusers are strangers. This is a very big mistake we make. Most children are abused by adults that they know and trust and because the children have been taught to trust the abuser, they are afraid to say anything. They are afraid that people won’t believe them or be mad at them. Also it is very common the children who are abused by their parents. Often their parents are abusing drugs or alcohol or both. Therefore, most children who are being abused are in a situation where they see no way out. A child is dependent on their parents and have no choice but to suffer in quiet.

Another common mistake we make is we assume abusers are adults. Quite often the abuser is another child. Often when children are abused they turn around and abuse another child. They do this to try to restore their sense of security. Therefore, you may have a situation where an older sibling is abusing a younger sibling or a child maybe being abused by a friend who is being abused by their parents.

Another mistake we make regarding sexual abuse is that we assume girls are always the victims. This is totally wrong. Boys are abused on a regular basis. However, they are afraid to say anything because they are afraid that people will call them gay. Boys are also afraid of being blamed. Because people assume boys are strong and can defend themselves so they won’t be a victim of abuse, boys are afraid that people will think they did not fight hard enough to stop the sexual abuse or that they allowed it to occur because they liked it.

Another problem that occurs with abuse is that the family feels a sense of shame. They are afraid of how people will judge them as parents. Therefore, children who are abused pick up on the family cues not to say anything or the family decides not to say anything to avoid the possible shame. This fear of how the family will be judged allows abuse to continue. These are a few of the misconceptions that we have about child abuse and how our misconceptions allow abuse to continue. Due to this fear it is not uncommon to see a family where physical or verbal abuse has been occurring for generations.

We need to get beyond this fear and think of the children. Victims of childhood abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and are more likely to commit suicide. Also as I stated before, they are more likely to abuse someone else.

We often do not think about the abuser. As I stated above, odds are they are victims of abuse too. They are not happy repeating the cycle. They want help, but they hate themselves so much they feel they cannot be helped. People putting them down only reinforces this belief. We need compassion if we are going to help.

As you can see this is a very big problem. If you feel a child is being abused or that there is abuse happening in a family, consult a professional about what to do. You don’t want to make a bad situation worse.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with abused children and their families. For more information about Dr. Rubino and his work visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com

High School Graduation & Divorce

Your Divorce is not Part of Your Teen’s Graduation
With the large number of divorces, brings a lot of new situations in life especially if you have children. Hopefully, when you and your spouse divorced it was done in a civil manner and the children were not put in the middle of the divorce. This is the ideal situation, however, we do not always get the ideal situation. Very often divorces are high conflict and the two of you argue over everything and anything. Usually in these high conflict divorces, the children are put in the middle and used as weapons. The children feel they have to choose between their mother and their father. This is a very sad situation.
This conflict usually interferes with visitations and holidays. Parents argue about pick up and drop off times, how long they have the children for holidays and there is often arguments about can a child bring toys or clothes from Dad’s house to Mom’s house. In short, parents argue about everything and the children become sick and tired of the arguing.
The other factor that adds to this is grandparents saying negative things about the ex wife or ex-husband. This only increases the pressure and stress the children are dealing with after a divorce.

The final stressor is when one or both parents remarry or have a long term boyfriend or girlfriend. Then the arguments about she is not my child’s mother or he is not my child’s father and I don’t want them involved in my child’s life. Also a new girlfriend or boyfriend can cause teens to argue with their parents because they want their parents back together.

In short in a high conflict divorce, children live in a war zone. They become use to arguing about everything and often feel they must choose sides. At times some children do choose sides hoping to end the fighting or because they are so confused.
This type of divorce creates a great deal of issues for children and I cannot cover all the issues in this blog. I would need a book to cover all the issues.
Most the time, teens become sick and tired of the fighting and wish that their parents would stop fighting so they could at least not have to worry about what will cause the next argument.
Graduation is one of those issues. Parents will often start arguing about issues such as, “I paid for everything you needed for high school and now he wants to come.” Or “if your mother shows up, after everything she has done, I won’t be in the same room as her.” And of course there is always the issue of “he better not bring her to my child’s graduation.” What is a teen to do?
They have spent the last four years working very hard in high school and graduation is a day for them to celebrate their accomplishment. They also usually want the people who they love and care about to be there with them to celebrate their accomplishment. However, how does this happen when Mom and Dad and grandparents are stating their terms about how graduation will be because of the divorce.

Your teenager did not get divorced. You and your spouse divorced and even though you are no longer married, you are both still parents for your teenager and you need to act like parents. This means putting aside all your feeling and issues so your teenager can truly celebrate their day, their graduation. Most parents have told their teens to stop being selfish and to think about someone else. Well isn’t it time that you followed your own advice. Stop thinking about yourselves and your divorce and think about your teenager and how you can make your teen’s graduation a happy day for them.

What you need to do is you and your ex spouse sit down together or email each other and discuss how the two of you can put your issues on hold one day so your teen can have a happy graduation. The two of you need to talk with grandparents and other extended family and inform them what will be allowed and what will not. This doesn’t mean you have to act like best friends. You simply need to be civil. If you don’t think you can sit next to each other at the graduation, then one of you sits on the left and one sits on the right. You don’t have to have a joint party either. You can decide to have separate parties. The key is communicating with each other before the graduation and decide how you can do it civilly. This will be the best graduation present that you can give your teenager. If you can allow them to have their graduation day to celebrate their accomplishment without having to worry about what fight will there be. You are also teaching them a lesson about love, being parents and relationships.
The most important thing to do is remember this is a celebration. So let your teen celebrate and allow yourselves to celebrate with your teenager as their mother and father. Remember the divorce ended your marriage not your relationship together as parents