What to Expect as Your Teenager Starts High School

As your teen enters high school they are also starting to enter the adult world. This is now a time for them to start to take on new responsibilities and to consider the reputation they are creating for themselves. As parents your responsibility 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 to help.

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 maintain the minimum GPA, 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 making 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, if you agreed to something else already with your teenager. It is essential that you honor your word. 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 validating the fact that they are important and loved and you are encouraging them to keep trying.

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 is an expert in providing psychotherapy to teenagers and their parents. He has over 19 years experience working with teenagers. For more information on Dr. Michael Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teenagers & their parents and is considered an expert regarding teens. If you would like to contact Dr. Michael Rubino or would like more information about his private practice, visit his web site at http://www.rcs-ca.com

Tell Your Teenager I Love You

It’s the 4th of July weekend and many teenagers will be involved in various activities. It’s a popular weekend for teenagers to be out drinking and also swimming with friends. Most people assume these are every day activities and everyone will have a good time.

However, this is not reality. Every year 5,000 teenagers are killed in motor vehicle accidents and 400,000 are injured (CDC statistics). These injures may range from cuts and bruises to someone being paralyzed.

Also regarding swimming, there are 3,500 accidental drowning every year. And out of these drownings 1 out of 5 are teenagers (CDC statistics). This is the number who die. It doesn’t include brain injuries due to lack of oxygen to the brain or breaking a neck by diving. A broken neck can result in death, paralysis or being in a Halo Brace for 6 months. Again this is an activity we assume is safe and nothing would happen swimming in a friend’s pool.

With it being the Fourth of July weekend and there are going to be a lot of parties and drinking. There are also going to be a lot of drunk driving accidents, drownings and accidental overdosing. You have no way to know if you or your family might be one of the unlucky families this weekend. It could be your teen who is killed or it could be you.

You never know what is going to happen in life. Especially given everything that is happening all over the world. Also there was a threat against San Francisco that authorities are saying is legitimate, however, some say it’s not.

A mother experienced this fact when her son committed suicide. After that she wrote the following poem to her son. She also encouraged all parents of teenagers to remember to say “I love you,” to your teenager. You may not get another chance.

I Love You

How could you?
They asked you,
How could you?
But you could not answer
As you were not here.
Why would you?
They asked you,
Why would you?
But their questions fell onto
The world’s deafest ears.
I loved you!
They told you,
I loved you.
But they told you too late,
Through their tears.
I’ll miss you,
They told you,
I’ll miss you.
And in death now
They hold you more dear.
The point is don’t take the risk. Since you never know what may happen and many teens feel unloved or that their parents don’t care, take the opportunity while you have it to express your feelings. Don’t spend the rest of your life regretting I never told him I loved him or wondering if that would have made the difference.

Dr. Rubino is a therapist is Pleasant Hill with over 18 years of working with teens. To find out more about his work or to contact him visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com.

Getting Respect from Teenagers

High school and the teenage years are a very difficult time for many teens and parents. This time of life has become even more difficult with the advancement of social networking, smart phones and computer technology not to mention the increase in drugs that are available to teens. These drugs are designer drugs such as ecstasy and spice as well as prescription drugs such as Vicodin or Concerta can easily be obtained on any middle school or high school campus today. And yes, this is the truth.

Things are advancing and changing so fast that life is becoming overwhelming and confusing for teenagers and for parents too. Not to mention society in general. One thing that has not changed, is that parents are a child’s main role model and parents provide their teens with cellphones, laptops, cars etc. However, with the rapid changes in our society, a lot of parents have forgotten that they are their teenagers primary model and primary source for obtaining all the things teenagers feel they cannot live without.

One major issue is that parents don’t feel respected by their teenagers. However, very often, parents don’t require teenagers to be respectful. Many parents may set rules and their teenager blatantly ignores their parents and nothing happens. Parents tell me this often and I suggest suspending their teenager’s phone service or now that it’s summer not taking them on the family vacation. Many parents looked at me and say they cannot do that to their teenager. Their teen relies on their cellphone or has been counting on the vacation. Parents also tell me if they take such actions their teen will become very difficult to live with and might break things in the house.

So who is in charge? Your teenager is in charge. Remember they know you very well. They know you will be anxious or feel guilty about imposing tough consequences. Therefore, they are not afraid to disrespect their parents and do what they want because they know there will be little to no consequences.

Therefore parents if you want respect don’t be afraid to impose consequences. Remember your teenager needs you to pay their bills and give them consent to get a drivers license. Parents have more power than you realize. Also if you don’t expect respect and allow disrespect that is what you are going to get.

Any time I have explained how much their parents do for them and what would happen if mom and dad stop, I have never had a teenager not stop and think. If the teen still chooses to test the limits as soon as they see mom and dad will stand by what they say, they soon learn to respect mom and dad. Parents you must remember to only set limits that you are willing to see it through. If you don’t, teenagers will not respect your word or authority.

Parents it is also remember that you cannot just start this when your teenager turns 15 years old. By this point is that you have established patterns of disrespect. You need to start taking to your children at age 5 years old about following the rules mom and dad set and respecting mom and dad. It is a process that takes time. It is important that you remember this fact.

Since your child was born, s/he have been watching you and studying you about how to act and what actions are appropriate. They have been listening to what you have been saying to them about how to act as a responsible, decent member of society. I know many parents feel that once their child started middle school that their child stopped listening to them, but that is not true. They may act like they are not listening or that they don’t care about your opinion but they do.

I have teens come into the office all the time and complain that they feel like their parents do not care about what they do. Often teens make this assumption because they say their parents set no boundaries for them or they feel that the parent cares more about their careers than their children. At times parents do focus more on careers or stop setting limits because they feel that their child doesn’t listen to them. Parents often feel this way because their teen will say, “I don’t care what you think or I don’t care what you do”. However, they do care and often they say these things or act this way because they feel hurt.

Every child, no matter what they say, wants to know that they are important to you, that you care about what they say and you care about what they do. One major problem that I encounter with parents is that many parents do not practice what they preach. Yes you are an adult and you have a right to drink alcohol or engage in other adult behaviors, but you need to do so responsibly. If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Yes you are an adult but using marijuana is illegal no matter how old you are. Also watch how you speak to your teen and others. Do you do so in a respectful manner or are you rude to people?

A lot of parents will come in and tell me that their behavior doesn’t matter and that their child has no idea what they do so they can do what they want. The truth is, your behavior does matter and your children know what you are doing even if you think they do not know.

I have had eight year old children complain that “my mommy drinks too much wine”, or “my daddy smokes pot in the garage” or “my daddy talks mean to people”, or “my parents fight too much.”. When I try to talk to a teen about their behavior after they have said something like this, the teen responds if my parents can do it, why can’t I? This is difficult to argue with if the parents are using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol. Also the fact that eight year old children also make these comments demonstrate that if you want your teen to act respectful, then as a parent you need to model respectful behavior starting when they are born. Also children want to know that they are important to you and setting rules and enforcing rules communicate to your kids that you care about them.

The bottom line is that as a parent you have the most significant role in your child’s life. If you want your child to grow up to be a mature, responsible adult, then you have to act like a mature, responsible adult and you need to do so from the day they are born.

In this world where things are changing over night, children need to know they can rely on their parents to protect them and guide them. Again given how fast society is changing, this is not an easy job for a parent. The easiest way to sum it up is to remember to practice what you preach.

Dr Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teenagers and their parents. Dr Rubino is considered an expert in this area. For more information on Dr Michael Rubino and his private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com.

An Epidemic in Teenagers who Cut

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in kids 10 to 18 years old. In this article we are going to explore a teen behavior that can result in suicide and that is cutting. This is a very common behavior among teenagers and many parents know little about it. Cutting is usually used as a method to deal with emotions, but it can lead to permanent damage or suicide, if the teen is not aware of what they are doing.

Cutting is any behavior which results in self-mutilating. Therefore it could be cutting oneself, scratching, burning, erasing ones own skin etc. Anything that results in damaging ones own body. It is also a behavior that is on the rise in the teenage population.

A recent study by Rhode Island hospital found that 46% of high school students admit to engaging in some form of cutting over the past year and 20% of college students admitted to it. ABC news found that 1 in 12 teens engage in cutting. Girls are more likely to cut than boys, but boys still do cut. I have both teenage boys and girls admitting to some form of cutting. The CDC has found between 20% and 30% of teenagers engage in some form of cutting or self-mutilating behavior. One of the major treatment centers for cutting has found 1 out of 5 girls engage in cutting and for boys the statistic is one out of 7 engage in cutting. Most studies, including the CDC, report the average age for a teenager to engage in cutting or self-mutilating behavior is 14 years old. Furthermore, research studies indicate without treatment, 40% of teenagers who cut or self-mutilate will continue the behavior as an adult. This is a very serious condition and research is showing it is increasing every year. One study showed 30% of teenagers cut. Think about how many teenagers that is in reality. Also then consider without treatment most of that 30% will continue the behavior as adults. We need to address this issue.

You may ask, why would someone cut themselves? Most teens engage in self-mutilating behavior because they find it easier to deal with the physical pain than the emotional pain they are experiencing. Some teens prefer just to cut and that helps release the pain and others need to watch the blood or watch the act of cutting or erasing as a way to deal with the pain.

This behavior is very common now among teenagers. Most teens have engaged in one form of self-mutilating behavior as a way to deal with their feelings.

What they do not think about when they are engaging in this behavior is the risk. If they cut too deep or in the wrong area they can cut a major artery and bleed to death. They can cut a nerve or tendon and lose control over their arm or leg. The site they cut or erase can become severely infected and lead to a number of medical issues. Most teens who cut are not suicidal but they are looking for a way to cope with their emotional pain.

Signs that your teen may be engaging in cutting are personality changes, where long sleeves or not allowing anyone to see their body. They often cut on their stomachs, chests or thighs because it is easier to hide. Picking at scabs is another sign. Changes in their appetites and sleeping pattern. Also a tendency to withdraw from family and friends. They also have a tendency to act depressed.

If you feel your teen is cutting, don’t be afraid to ask. However, if you do ask don’t act shocked or like they are doing something bizarre. Teens who cut are very afraid of being shamed. If you act like you cannot cope with their behavior they will not tell you.

Obviously if your teen is cutting there are emotional issues going on. The first thing to do is to have them examined by their pedestrian. You want to make sure there are no infections or damage that needs medical attention. The next step is to have them see a therapist who specializes in teenagers and especially one who specializes in cutting. Again if the therapist acts uncomfortable with the subject the teen will not talk. The good news is that with appropriate care most teens learn how to deal with their emotions in a healthy manner and stop cutting.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teens and specializes in cutting and self-mutilating behavior. For more information about Dr Rubino and his private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com