Why Some Teenagers Act Out

Why Some Teenagers Act Out

It seems that many adults do not really understand what children want from adults. It also seems from what I have seen and heard that many adults do not understand that children are not bad. Children are not born bad, we make them bad by how we treat them. Yes you do have children with loving parents and families who make very poor choices in their lives. As a result, they end up in jail or hurting people. However, these are the rare cases.
The most important relationships in a child’s life is his/her relationship with his/her parents. A child wants love and to feel wanted by their parents. Parents are a child’s safety net. As long as Mom and Dad are okay then they are okay. If their parents are not okay, then a child’s safety and life is in danger. Children cannot tolerate this fear. Therefore, if their parents have a problem instead of seeing their parents with problems a child changes the situation so their parents are great and the child is bad.

I have seen this many times with foster children. Their parents are usually great people and Social Services are being mean to their parents. They can be living is the best foster home in the world and if you ask them if they want to return to their natural parents, they say yes. They are desperate for that validation from their parents.

The problem is many parents do not know how to express love to their children because they never experienced it themselves as children. Therefore, they do the best they can do and feel they are good parents because they are better than their parents. However, when they hear their children asking for more they get mad at their children. They want their children to validate them for being good parents. They do not understand that a child doesn’t have the cognitive abilities to do so.

Therefore, a child tends to feel unloved, unwanted and form a belief they are useless. They tend to hang around people who reinforce this belief. They are afraid of people who might love them. They are afraid these people will discover the truth about them and leave them. They feel safer with the people who tell them they are worthless.

Walking around with this feeling can hurt a great deal. As a result, kids start to do drugs, alcohol and hang out with gangs. The drugs and alcohol help to numb out the pain of feeling worthless while at the same time it reinforces the belief that they are worthless.

Most often these kids act out at school and tend to get arrested for stealing or drugs. Some people try to help but the child pushes people away. It is better to leave someone than to be left. Most people get tired and say there is nothing else they can go and give up. Once again, reinforcing the child’s belief.

These are the children and teenagers who really need our help. The harder they push us away, the harder we have to say we won’t go. There have been many times that I have hint to Juvenile Hall to do sessions. The teen is shocked! I tell them that I told them they can push as hard as they want, but I won’t believe they are bad or walk out. At times this is difficult because they often test me over and over to see if I am for real. If they see I am for real, I am only one person they need other people to stay.

What I have seen in working with teens who act out for over 19 years, is they are looking for someone to say I care and you are important. They prefer that it comes from their biological parents, but once they accept their biological parents cannot provide this, they look to other adults.

Those of us who work with acting out teenagers as therapists, teachers or foster parents need to understand how severely these children have been hurt by their biological parents and the hard work it takes helping them over come that wound.

Extended family such as aunts and uncles, you too need to understand how deep the wound is for these kids. If you are not dealing with your own wounds, they need you to be in it for the long run.

This may seem like I am asking for a great deal, but look at how many teens are dying from suicide, drug overdose, shootings etc. When you see the number of young lives being lost you can see that it is worth the effort.

Yes it takes a great deal of effort but when you communicate to a teen that yes you are worth something, you are love able and I care about you. Watch how they go out into the world and help others and share love with others. So the price is worth seeing a teen full of life and going out and sharing it with the world. Watch some of Challenge Day’s videos on YouTube to see the love teens can spread if we give them love.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 19 years experience working with high risk teenagers & foster children and is an expert in this area. For more information on Dr Rubino visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

A New Issue Related to Teenage Concussions 

A New Issue Related to Teenage Concussions 

Many parents of high school athletes are aware of the dangers of concussions. Even one concussion can cause permanent damage according to recent research studies. However, there is another condition that parents need to be aware of when their child plays sports. This disorder is CTE. CTE is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) it is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.
Our brain sits in our skull surrounded by fluid. Therefore, any time anyone hits their head or their head is jarred around, the brain moves in this fluid hitting the front and back of your skull or the sides of the skull depending on what direction the force came from. When the brain hits the skull it can cause bruising and microscopic tears of very fine nerve fibers. Nerve fibers that are too small to be seen on an MRI or a CT scan.

Physicians have known that CTE effects boxers for many years, however, it was just recently that evidence showed that football players are at risk too. This was the main focus of the movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith. The NFL did everything they could to stop the filming of this movie. The movie shows how CTE results in the patient becoming severely depressed and psychotic. Many of the patients with CTE commit suicide. Also many CTE patients were football players.

Why is this important for parents to know? It is important because CTE is caused by chronic head injuries. Head injuries that date back to when a teenager was playing high school sports. Therefore, it is important for parents to ensure that their teenager’s school is using the latest safety gear, especially for the head, and to take any head injuries seriously. There is no way to tell what will happen when these teenagers become adults.

As an adolescent psychotherapist who has been practicing for 19 years, I am seeing more evidence of this every year. Every year I am seeing more teens with Post Concussion Syndrome. This may occur after a concussion and can be associated with headaches, mood swings and memory difficulties. The teenagers who experiences this Syndrome become very frustrated because they are aware of the changes and because no one can say how long the symptoms will continue. In fact, no one can guarantee that the symptoms will disappear.

This becomes very frustrating to the teenager and their parents. Some teenagers are so overwhelmed that they start self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Anything that they think might help. Others become so depressed because they fear that the symptoms are permanent that they become suicidal and may attempt suicide. 

For many years these head injuries in teenagers were down played because there was not enough evidence to indicate that teenagers could be impacted by head injuries. Well the research clearly indicates that teenagers can suffer long term results from a single concussion. Additionally, this can create symptoms that are overwhelming for the teenager and their family. Imagine being a parent and you see your child suffering with Post Concussion Syndrome and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Parents also become depressed and nervous that their child may never recover.

Another issue to consider, in CTE, patients have mood swings and feel like they are going crazy. They do not understand what is happening inside their head. Many teenagers who act out often report the same feelings and the fear that they are going crazy. Many of these teenagers have had head injuries. It is possible that teenagers may also suffer from CTE?

Everyone’s brain is different and so is the recovery process. This means we have no way of knowing how many Concussions or head traumas it takes before CTE is started in someone. It also means we have no way to determine how long it will take for someone to recover from a concussion or if they will have permanent impairments. We only can tell after it occurs not before.

We do know that patients recovering from Post Concussion Syndrome or dealing with CTE can benefit from psychotherapy. Often this option is not given to teenagers because again many people believe teenagers are very unlikely to suffer with these issues. However, if you look at the research it indicates that teenagers can and do suffer from Post Concussion Syndrome and teenage head injuries can cause CTE.

 As a psychotherapist who treats teenagers with head injuries, I strongly encourage every parent to watch the movie, Concussion. Also before your child starts playing any competitive sports, such as football or soccer, go online and research head injuries and signs and symptoms of concussions. Also if you teenager does sustain a head injury while playing sports or just playing have them evaluated. You never know how severe a head injury is by just looking at someone. A few years ago an actress fell in the snow and her friends said to go to the doctor she said she was fine. Two hours later she was dead. When she fell she caused her brain to bleed and she died.

Above all, use your best judgement as a parent. Do not be afraid to ask for a CT scan or an MRI if your child suffers any type of head injury. If your teenager does sustain a concussion and you notice a personality change or memory issues do not hesitate to seek psychotherapy for your child and for yourselves. Also don’t hesitate to talk to your teenagers high school. If the teenager is having problems concentrating after a head injury, the school may need to provide them with accommodations until the child recovers.

This can be an overwhelming and frightening topic to consider but the more you educate yourself, the easier it will be to manage. If you have additional questions regarding the personality changes or neuropsychological changes with head injuries, please feel free to contact me.

Dr. Michael Rubino has been treating children and teenagers for over 19 years. He also has training in neuropsychology. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or his website that deals with accommodations at school http://www.lucascenter.org

The Importance of Extended Family

The Importance of Extended Family

In our fast pace world and chaotic lives we sometimes forget the importance of passing on traditions from generation to generation. Another problem that impacts this is our society has become very mobile. We no longer live close to our relatives. It’s not uncommon for grandchildren to live in California and grandparents to live back east. And with jobs becoming more difficult to find and the cost of living increasing families are moving where ever they can find a job or to a place where the cost of living is affordable.
The problem is the close family provided support and help for the family. Children could establish close relationships with grandparents and aunts and uncles. These adults could serve as additional role models and inform parents if something seemed off with the child.

The other thing that the close connection to generations was a sense of security. If there was a problem a child knew they could turn to their parents, aunts or uncles or cousins. It also helped a child’s self-esteem. You had the adults who could reinforce that you were worthy and you had cousins who would defend you at school or in the neighborhood because you were worth it. Also your older cousins could help you learn what to expect as you went from grade to grade. There was a sense of support and security that most children don’t have today.

The advancement in computers and communication may provide a way to try to recreate this sense of family. With such things as Skype where you can talk and see the other person, it’s almost like being with the person. Children can Skype with grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins too. We just have to make time for it. For those families that live close to each other, you need to remember the value of family and make time for family. At times it may be difficult, but you will find that the time and effort are worth it. I have found that children with close family ties and connections to their cultures do better. They have a sense of pride and a sense of where the came from that other children don’t.

I have attached a link to an article with a link to an article about sharing traditions with family. Check out this article from First 5 LA: http://www.first5la.org/index.php?r=site/article&id=3615&utm_content=buffere936a&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.

I think you will find it interesting.

Dr Michael Rubino has been working with children/teens and their families for over 19 years and is well respected. For more information at Dr Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com.

Kindness in Divorce 

Kindness in Divorce 

Kindness During Divorce

by Dr. Michael Rubino | Rubino Counseling Services | Pleasant Hill, CA 

Couples often complain and criticize each other during a divorce. Can you find a way to respect and cooperate with one another? If you can, and you have children, you will be setting a positive example of kindness and gratitude your children can follow.

People typically act in a civil manner towards those they respect. Conversely, hate and mistrust usually trigger a fight that no one wins. When I work with couples that are trying to repair or end a relationship, I ask them to think back to the beginning of their relationship. What were you attracted to and what did you admire and appreciate about your spouse? I know it sounds crazy but remembering the good you once recognized in each other, can cultivate mutual respect and make a divorce easier.

As a psychotherapist who works with teenagers involved in high conflict divorces daily, I’ve witnessed that teenagers, in particular, tend to repeat and share the experiences they live in their daily lives. When teenagers are exposed to kindness and gratitude even when parents are divorcing, they continue to focus on their schoolwork, don’t turn to drugs or acting out, and they respect their parents. Teenagers can do amazing things when they express gratitude in the world.

In the long run, gratitude feels better. Rather than feel like you wasted years of your life, you can view the marriage as something that just didn’t work, even though you are both good people. Continuing this respect and appreciation after the divorce is very important, too. If your former spouse remarries and she or he is marrying someone who cares about your children, be grateful for this fact. Your children can have two homes in which everyone loves and cares about them.

Dr. Michael Rubino has worked with children, teenagers and divorce cases for over 19 years. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino, visit his website http://www.rcs-ca.com or Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RubinoTherapy. 

Pink The New Drug in Town

Pink The New Drug in Town

Parents the name you need to know right now is Pink. This is the street name of a new synthetic drug being used by teenagers and college students. The legal name for this drug is U4. The DEA of the United States has banned the sale of this drug in all 50 states. However, the drug is still for sale on the internet. It is being sold by companies in China and it is being sold at a very cheap price. Therefore, teenagers can get it very easily.
This drug is twice as strong and heroin and seven times as strong as morphine. People often die the first time they use it. So far 100 deaths in the U.S. have been linked to Pink. It is currently mainly on the east coast but it is spreading across the country very quickly.
The drug comes in a white powder. Many teens assume they can use the same amount as if they were using morphine or heroin. However, this assumption is wrong. The drug is so deadly that the amount equivalent to a few grains of sand can kill someone. They call it Pink because teenagers typically snort it off their pinky. Teenagers who are buying this drug online often ignore the warning on the website that this drug is not for human consumption.
The DEA became aware of the drug two years ago and put a temporary ban on it. Now after further studies they have banned the sale of U4 or the street name for the drug, Pink, in all 50 states. Remember this drug is twice as strong as heroin and seven times as strong as morphine. We already have an epidemic of accidental overdosages from heroin in the U.S. The CDC estimated that in 2014 there were 50,000 deaths due to accidental heroin overdosages and a majority of these deaths were teenagers. Furthermore, the CDC statistics show a 62% increase over the past ten years in the number of accidental heroin deaths. Again most of the deaths are teenagers and children as young as 12 years old. Pink has the possibility to be far more devastating than any other drug.
As parents you need to go online and educate yourself about this drug. You also need to educate your teenagers and children in college about how dangerous this drug is in reality. Maybe they have already used it and nothing happened so they think people are exaggerating how dangerous this drug can be. However, this is the point you really need to understand this drug comes as a powder and using the size of one grain of sand too much can kill. There is no way to tell if you have too much on your pinky. Also since it is very new, we do not know the long term effects of this drug.
So again as parents educate your children about this drug and point out it states not for human use on many of the websites. Also if you notice any packages or bank charges by your teenager for buying items in China, check it out. This drug is not for sale in this country and the main way that people are obtaining it is via the internet from companies in China who still sell this drug.
Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating high risk teenagers. Those are teens who are suicidal, engage in cutting and drug use. These are a few examples but he is also an expert in providing psychotherapy to children and teenagers in general. For more information regarding his work or private visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.
 

Psychotherapy is not a “dirty word”

Psychotherapy is not a “dirty word”

In our society there is a huge negative stereotype about mental illness and treatment for mental illness. Given we live in the United States in the 21st century, this is quite surprising. Especially since statistics show the 1 in 5 people could benefit from psychotherapy (CDC, 2014).  

Most people when they think about psychotherapy or mental illness, think of someone sleeping in the street or some one with severe schizophrenia. Because of this stereotype many people feel ashamed or embarrassed if they are told they need therapy. Family members also feel ashamed and embarrassed and never mention it to other people if someone in their family needs psychotherapy. People are afraid that other people will think they are “crazy” too, if someone in their family is going to therapy. However, most people who need treatment for a mental illness need treatment for depression or anxiety not schizophrenia.

Research studies show that most depression is due to a chemical imbalance in brain. Diabetes is due to the pancreas not being able to coordinate glucose levels in the body. We don’t make a person with diabetes feel embarrassed or ashamed so why do we make someone dealing with depression feel embarrassed or ashamed?

What is the cost of this stereotype? People who have depression are at risk for suicide. The 2014 Center for Disease Control statistics show that suicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged10 to 24. Yes ten year old children are suffering from depression and are killing themselves. One of the most common methods is a gun. People assume this is a guarantee. Wrong, a gun is not a guarantee. Quite often the gun jumps and the person lives. However, they have to undergo multiple surgeries to try to rebuild their face. However, no matter how good the surgeon, the person is left with multiple permanent scars. Psychotherapy and medication might have prevented the suicide attempt.

However, because of our negative stereotype, depression and suicide have never been taken seriously. The Golden Gate Bridge is the most common place in the world for people to jump off when they are trying to commit suicide. It wasn’t until just recently that the Bridge District voted on what type of anti-suicide barrier they are going to build. However, even though they have voted for an anti-suicide net, last week they were still debating the details. The Golden Gate Bridge is 78 years old. It has taken 78 years to do something about a life or death issue and they are still debating over minor details. BART has been around for decades and people have been jumping in front of trains for years. This year BART is starting an anti-suicide campaign. How many lives were lost needlessly to suicide, prior to this campaign and why have they waited so long to put one in place?

Often we assume it is a money issue. Only poor people commit suicide because they cannot afford treatment. The suicide of Robin Williams destroys that myth. He had plenty of financial resources for treatment and had been in and out of treatment centers for years. In an interview with Dyane Swayer he described how overwhelming depression is, he said, “no matter what there is always that little voice in the back of my mind saying jump.” If that voice is always there but society is saying there is something wrong with you for having depression in the first place or because you have not over come it, are you going to ask for help or keep seeking help? No.  

Yes society often blames the patient. Why don’t they try harder? Why didn’t they think of their family? After Robin Williams’ suicide a number of comedians and actors talked about their silent struggle with depression. Rosie O’Donnell stated it best, “when you are that deep down in that black hole with intense emotional pain, the only think you can think about is how to stop the pain. You don’t think about your family or anything else.”

 May was Mental Health Awareness Month, think about your opinion or thoughts about mental illness. Think about a 10 year old boy feeling that suicide is the only way out of his pain. Think about the fact that he is dealing with a medical diagnosis similar to diabetes or high blood pressure. If this is right, why is there this negative stigma about mental illness? If a child has diabetes he receives medical treatment, there are summer camps and there is no shame put on the child or the family.

 We need to make a change in how we view or react to mental illness. We live in the United States of America and we are supposed to be the super power in the world. You wouldn’t think that in the most powerful nation in the world that the third leading cause of death for our children is suicide. We must change this ridiculous stereotype we have about mental illness and start providing people and children with appropriate treatment for their mental illness. The life you save might be your’s child’s life or the life of a family member or friend.

We may want to look at England. The Duke and Duchesses of Cambridge and Prince Henry have formed a program called, Heads Together. The goal of the program is to eliminate the negative stereotype about mental health and to make sure people who need psychotherapy receive it. In fact, the Duchess of Cambridge said publicly that if either of her children ever need psychotherapy that they will receive it. We might want to follow their example.   

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating children and teenagers. He is very active in eliminating the stereotype about mental health. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s practice or his work visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

How to Avoid Thanksgiving Day Stress

How to Avoid Thanksgiving Day Stress

The Holiday Season is coming up fast. For many people this is a happy time and for others it is a stressful time. The Holidays can bring up family issues that have not been resolved yet or everyone is trying to make the day prefect that it becomes a stressful day not a happy one.
Thanksgiving is coming up first so let’s deal with that day. Thanksgiving with family can mean an increase in chaos and stress. Having a Thanksgiving plan can reduce anxiety, decrease the likelihood of arguments and increase the likelihood that everyone has a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving that they were expecting.
Lori Lite who writes about stress uses the acronym G-R-A-T-E-F-U-L as her Thanksgiving stress guide. It helps her and others get through the day in a peaceful manner. Each letter reminds you of something to do or a way to view the day so you do not get upset.
So here is how to use Gratitude as your Thanksgiving Stress Reliever.

  

G- Gratitude is the opposite of stress. It is difficult to feel stressed out when we are feeling gratitude.
R- Relax your expectations and let the day unfold. You might be surprised by the outcome.
A- Acceptance is the opposite of judgment. If we accept our family member for who they are and what they are capable of we can relax and enjoy ourselves.
T- Teens can be a part of Thanksgiving. Ask them what they would like to bring to the table. Let them bring it.
E- Empower children and let them help with age appropriate assignments. Putting the nuts out or making the centerpiece. Let them do it their way…not your way.
F– Focus on family for this day. Put all work and worries on the shelf
U– Unplug the electronics for dinner so that everyone can be fully present.
L- Love is often overlooked when we are busy. Cook with love… Speak with love… Show your love and gratitude for your family on this Thanksgiving Day.

This might seem very simple and obvious, but at times the best solutions are rather simple. Also you may want to practice using this in your daily life. It may seem simple, but it may be harder to do than you think because you are accustomed to doing things and viewing life in a certain way. This idea may challenge you to reassess how you approach life in general. Also this acronym may be helpful in your daily life.

Many of us are not use to looking at our lives in terms of what we have to be grateful for. Also many of us have a hard time relaxing and not worrying about work or other things we need to do. I have found that just being in the moment is difficult for most people. Most of us believe we always have to be doing something. This creates stress and disappointment. Finally, since we feel we must always be doing something, disconnecting from cellphones and other electronics can be very difficult for many people. However, think about it? How can you have fun and enjoy the day with your family, if your mind is not fully present? You can’t. Furthermore, this can create tension for others because they feel ignored and for you because you feel they don’t respect how important what you are doing at the moment is to you. As a result, you have stress which can turn into an argument and everyone is upset. A day of happiness becomes a day of anger and disappointment.

Therefore, in order to avoid this possibility trying use the word GRATEFUL and following its guidelines for the day. What do you have to lose?

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with children, teenagers and their families. He has over 19 years experience. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or visit his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3.