My Teenager’s Bedroom Looks Like A Disaster

My Teenager’s Bedroom Looks Like A Disaster

An issue that comes up daily with teenagers in psychotherapy is their bedroom. Many parents tell me that their teenager’s bedroom is like a junk yard. Parents are embarrassed by the bedroom and feel the teenager is being disrespectful. Many parents ask me should they demand that their teenager clean their bedroom. Also many parents ask about is it appropriate if they search their teenager’s bedroom. Let’s deal with this one issue at a time.

Parents it is very important to remember to pick and choose your battles. There are a lot of issues you will need to discuss with your teenager. Therefore, it is important to ask, is it worth an argument? Teenagers are at a point in their life where they do need their privacy. They are also at a point where they are trying to find their own identity. Their bedroom is a place they use for part of this process. Also you want your teenager to learn responsibility. Their room is something they can be responsible for.

My recommendation is not to make an issue of their bedroom. You have more important issues such as school, how late your teen wants to stay out, where they want to go and the common issues of alcohol, drugs and sexual activity. Therefore, their bedroom really is a minor issue. In my opinion it is not worth the fight. Arguing about their bedroom, which they view as their private space, can lead to bigger problems with some of the other issues I listed above. Also remember these are only some of the issues you will need to set guidelines and expectations about your teenager’s behavior. This is why I strongly recommend leaving the bedroom alone.

Many parents ask me, “then I should just let them live in a junk yard?” The answer is yes. However, there are some guidelines I do set with teenagers. I tell them that Mom and Dad are not going to clean their room as long as they comply with the following guidelines:

1. The bedroom door must be able to be closed so no one else has to look at the mess.

2. People can walk by the room without smelling anything such as rotting food.

3. There are no ants or bugs going into or coming out of the room.

4. They do not keep dishes in their room so Mom has dishes when she needs them.

5. They are responsible for getting their clothes out of the room and cleaned. They are also responsible for putting away their laundry.

If they do not follow these guidelines, then they are giving Mom and Dad permission to go in and clean the room as they see fit. I ask the teenager and parents to both agree to these guidelines. I also recommend writing down the guidelines. Therefore, two months from now if someone remembers the agreement differently, you have a document you can refer back to which states what everyone agreed to.

Therefore, I recommend to parents if their teenager can agree to these guidelines, let them live in a junkyard. If they forget to get their clothes to the washer then they will be the one wearing dirty clothes. This is helping them to learn responsibility. It also gives them a sense of independence which they need.

I remind teenagers, if you do not want Mom and Dad cleaning their room then they need to abide by the guidelines. I also remind them it is their responsibility to get their clothes to the washer. If they don’t then they will be wearing dirty clothes to school. I also remind them that they cannot stay home from school because they do not have any clean clothes. I am basically telling the teenager that their parents and I feel they are responsible enough to take care of their room. This again helps the teen feel more mature and understand that they have to start assuming more responsibility for theirselves.

Now for the next issue, searching your teenager’s room. I do not think it is something parents should do on a regular basis just because their child is a teenager. As parents you have a responsibility to make sure you are raising a responsible young adult and if they need help, you have an obligation to provide them with the help they need. Therefore, if you have valid reasons to believe your teenager is using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, then yes search the room. A valid reason would be noticing the smell of marijuana on their clothes or coming from their room. Finding marijuana or alcohol bottles in their backpack or car that they use. Other signs could be changes in their behavior and grades that are associated with drug use. However, before searching the room, I would recommend when your child enters middle school that you discuss with your child about the conditions which would make you search their room. If you feel it is necessary, tell your teen that you will be searching their room. Obviously, you do not tell them a week a head of time so they can hide things. I suggest you calmly inform them when they are home that you will be starting to search their room in a few minutes. It is important you explain the reasons why you are searching their room.

Parents may be concerned about an argument. This may start an argument, but this argument is worth it. Remind your teen about the agreement the two of you had made about searching their room. If you feel your teenager is not mature enough to abide by the agreement and is likely to start a physical fight, then you do not tell them and search it when they are out of the house. Remember you are only searching the room if you feel your teen is having a serious problem and need professional help. As a parent, it is your responsibility to get them help when they need it. You will want to remember this fact because your teenager may be very angry with you. However, it is better to have an angry teenager than a dead teenager. Many of the drugs teens are using today can kill someone very quickly and teenagers are not usually aware of all the risks.

Therefore, in general respect the privacy of your teenager’s bedroom, however, if you notice signs that indicate your teen is having difficulties then search the room.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist who teats teenagers and children. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino 3.

Is My Child Suicidal?

Is My Child Suicidal?

Many parents ask me about what to do if their child is suicidal. The concern is worrying more parents with the recent suicides of survivors involved in mass shootings. The idea is very scary especially because we do not discuss mental health issues in our society. However, suicide rates are at an epidemic level for children ages 10 to 18 years old. In fact it is the third leading cause of death for children ages 10 to 18 years old.

A successful suicide attempt is definitely a tragedy for the entire family. However, an unsuccessful attempt can be a tragedy for the child and the family. Depending on the method used, a child who has an unsuccessful attempt may have to live the entire life with major medical complications. They can cause brain damage which may cause them to lose the ability to speak or the ability to breath on their own. Therefore, they may spend the rest of their life on a ventilator. Guns are one of the main three ways teenagers attempt suicide. However, teenagers forget that guns have a kick when they are fired. Many teens who use a gun do not kill themselves, but they do shoot off their face. The result is they have to have numerous surgeries to reconstruct their face, but their face and life are never the same.

I read this very good article describing what to do if you think your child is suicidal. It provides the steps you need to take in a non-threatening manner. It also addresses issues parents often may not think about, if they are concerned about their child being suicidal. The most important step is don’t be afraid to ask your child if they are feeling suicidal. It is a myth that if you ask someone if they are suicidal that you will cause them to become suicidal. In fact, you may save their life by asking them if they are suicidal. By asking you let them know it’s ok to talk about their feelings. Also by asking you reassure them there is nothing wrong with them and that you are emotionally strong enough to cope with the situation. Therefore, you may save their life by asking.

I have included the link to this article and I encourage parents to read it and to save it. What to Do if You’re Worried About Suicide |. https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/#.W9PRyfwKel8.twitter.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating suicidal children and teenagers. For more information on his work or private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3.

Is My Child Suicidal?

Is My Child Suicidal?

Many parents ask me about what to do if their child is suicidal. The concern is worrying more parents with the recent suicides of survivors involved in mass shootings. The idea is very scary especially because we do not discuss mental health issues in our society. However, suicide rates are at an epidemic level for children ages 10 to 18 years old. In fact it is the third leading cause of death for children ages 10 to 18 years old.

A successful suicide attempt is definitely a tragedy for the entire family. However, an unsuccessful attempt can be a tragedy for the child and the family. Depending on the method used, a child who has an unsuccessful attempt may have to live the entire life with major medical complications. They can cause brain damage which may cause them to lose the ability to speak or the ability to breath on their own. Therefore, they may spend the rest of their life on a ventilator. Guns are one of the main three ways teenagers attempt suicide. However, teenagers forget that guns have a kick when they are fired. Many teens who use a gun do not kill themselves, but they do shoot off their face. The result is they have to have numerous surgeries to reconstruct their face, but their face and life are never the same.

I read this very good article describing what to do if you think your child is suicidal. It provides the steps you need to take in a non-threatening manner. It also addresses issues parents often may not think about, if they are concerned about their child being suicidal. The most important step is don’t be afraid to ask your child if they are feeling suicidal. It is a myth that if you ask someone if they are suicidal that you will cause them to become suicidal. In fact, you may save their life by asking them if they are suicidal. By asking you let them know it’s ok to talk about their feelings. Also by asking you reassure them there is nothing wrong with them and that you are emotionally strong enough to cope with the situation. Therefore, you may save their life by asking.

I have included the link to this article and I encourage parents to read it and to save it. What to Do if You’re Worried About Suicide |. https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/#.W9PRyfwKel8.twitter.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating suicidal children and teenagers. For more information on his work or private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3.

Children and Families Need Help with Vicarious Trauma Due to Mass Shootings

Children and Families Need Help with Vicarious Trauma Due to Mass Shootings

Many people tend to assume only people who were directly exposed to a trauma will experience issues related to the trauma. However, this is not the truth. Many people may not have lived through the trauma, but they know someone who did or they were exposed to very explicit images of the trauma or have been hearing about the trauma a lot. This can cause vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma is when someone is traumatized by an event but they did not experience the event themselves. The knowledge of the event is traumatizing to them. This is happening to many children and families.

Today in most United States schools, the classroom doors are kept lock while class is in session and no one can enter a school campus without checking in with the main office and they must wear an identification badge while on campus. In fact, all school employees must wear official school identification badges while at work. Many elementary students have noticed these changes and have asked why the door must be locked? Students are told it is for their safety. The school is preventing any people who do not belong at the school from getting near the students. No one mentions someone with a gun, but children hear about all the mass shootings and they know why the door needs to be locked. I have many elementary students mention this to me during their therapy sessions.

Now when we were in school we had fire alarm drills in case there ever was a fire in the school. No one thought much about them. Some students felt the fire alarm was too loud but no one really worried about a fire happening at school. We never worried about it because we never heard about any school fires and people dying.

Today students face more than fire alarm drills. Schools routinely have active shooter drills. During these drills students are taught to shelter in place and to remain very quiet so the shooter will not enter their room. Therefore, besides hearing about mass school shootings, school students are practicing what to do in case there is a shooter at their school. Therefore, they hear about the shootings on the news, they are practicing what to do at school in case of a shooter, so they worry about could a shooting happen at their school and could they die. As a result of this fear, I am seeing anxiety disorders increase in children significantly and some even have trauma reactions such as nightmares. The CDC has documented that anxiety disorders have been significantly increasing in children since school shooting have been increasing.

In addition to these drills, if there is an incident, such as a bank robbery, involving someone with a gun near a school, the police put the school on lock down. The students must shelter in place and they don’t know if the person with the gun will come to their school or not. This creates a significant amount of anxiety for children and many are traumatized by the incident.

Another issue which adds to this trauma is gun control. Since the shooting last year in Florida many students have been actively campaigning for sane gun control. However, nothing has been done to enact sane gun control laws. High school students know nothing is being done and elementary children are hearing nothing is being done about guns. This makes them worry because they know guns are still out there that can be used to kill them. The recent shooting in New Zealand is very confusing to high school and elementary students. Our government has done nothing even though students and parents are demanding safe gun laws. While our government debates the issue, more students have been killed. However, New Zealand in a matter of 3 weeks after the shooting banned all assault weapons. This makes students wonder why we have not done anything when we have a bigger problem with mass shootings. Also it doesn’t make them feel safe at school because they do not feel like a priority.

As I have stated anxiety and trauma reactions have been significantly increasing for children who have not experienced a mass shooting, but because of what they know and are seeing they are afraid one may happen at their school. Many parents worry about what signs they need to be looking for in their children and what to do if they notice symptoms they are concerned about. The American Association of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry has put out the following guidelines. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in your child it explains how to start to talk to your child and how to find the appropriate psychotherapist for your child. It is important to get a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders and trauma issues http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Talking-To-Children-About-Terrorism-And-War-087.aspx.

One final aspect about vicarious trauma has emerged this week. The issue is suicide by family members and survivors of mass shootings. This week 3 people have committed suicide who either survived a mass shooting or their child died in one. This has been occurring for a long time. It has been occurring since Columbine. Family members feel they can no longer cope with the pain. Survivors can’t cope with the guilt of surviving. Family and friends of some one who was killed or injured in a mass school shooting have had their lives changed forever! They are dealing with depression, anxiety and trauma reactions on a daily basis. However, we do not have adequate mental health resources to help these people. Also people assume after a few months, most people may be grieving but can handle their situation. This is not true. They are experience anxiety and trauma that for many of them is very confusing. This only increases the anxiety and trauma. The children experiencing the shooter drills are also confused by their anxiety and traumatic reactions. They do not know what to do and this causes isolation and the feelings increase.

We must eliminate the stigma associated with mental health issues. We also need to make sure that anyone who is even remotely exposed to a mass shooting (including first responders and emergency room physicians) have access to mental health care. Not just for a month or two but for as long as they need psychotherapy and they should be able to receive the therapy without worrying about the cost.

We have a generation of children growing up with anxiety and traumatic reactions. If we don’t help them now, they will only get worse as time goes on. May be we need to take a lesson from New Zealand and act. They banned assault weapons after one shooting. We have been having shootings for 20 years and have done nothing, why?

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers and specializes in treating trauma. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Suicide Epidemic

Suicide Epidemic

Another myth about suicide. Asking someone if they are suicidal won’t make them suicidal. We can’t eliminate myths without eliminating the stigma.

Also suicide impacts the entire family. Everyone is traumatized and impacted by the stigma. However, family members seldom receive the help they need die to the stigma.

We need access to mental health care. Suicide is at epidemic rates for teens. When do we act? https://onwordswings.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/suicide-cant-be-predicted-by-asking-about-suicidal-thoughts/

Helping Children Grieve

Helping Children Grieve

In our society we do not cope well with tragedy or grief. However, we experience tragedy almost daily. The killings in New Zealand in another example of the senseless killings that are occurring too frequently in our world today.

These events have an impact on children. Besides hearing about death on the news, they also experience trauma and the lost of loved ones in their own lives. Many parents are not sure how to address this subject with children. Many parents ask me how to explain a death to a child or if their child is responding appropriately to a trauma or a loss. I saw a video on CNN which address the issue of children and grief. I think it can be helpful to someone dealing with a child who is grieving.

Children who experience a trauma or the lost of a loved one need to grieve. However, they often need help with the process. Here is someone helping kids grieve in a healthy way. We need more programs like this one more mental health care. https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/14/health/cnnheroes-mary-robinson-grief-loss-death-of-a-parent/index.html.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working as a psychotherapist with children and teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com

It Is Normal to be Stressed When You have A Teenager

It Is Normal to be Stressed When You have A Teenager

I often hear for the teenagers that I see for psychotherapy how stressful it is to be a teenager. I hear about difficulties with school and parents. However, being the parent of a teenager is stressful for parents too. Parents also have to deal with school issues and other teen issues.

One on the first concerns parents face when their teen is in high school is the fact that their child is going to have more exposure to alcohol, drugs and sex. Many parents I talk to are shocked at the drugs high school kids are using today. For example, Heroin is now common on high school campuses and parents are shocked. They are also shocked that middle schools are passing out condoms. They cannot believe how sexually active some teenagers are and how teens think oral sex is not sex.

So what should parents do? Parents need to educate themselves about drug and alcohol use on high school campuses and about sexual activity rates for teenagers. After educating themselves then parents need to talk with their teenagers. Explain the risks associated with alcohol, drugs and sex. Also explain how to protect themselves if they decide to engage in any of these activities. This is not giving your teen permission, but you cannot control their choices. Therefore, if they decide to use drugs or to be sexually active, you want them to be safe. Also explain your concerns about if the decide to engage in any of these activities. Also explain why you feel it is safer for them to wait until they are older. You do not want to preach, but it is important that your teenager is aware of your expectations. You cannot control their decisions, but you do not have to approve of their choices. This is something your teenager needs to understand. If they feel they are old enough to make these choices, then they are old enough to deal with your reactions.

Another major stress for parents is curfew. This is a common argument I hear in my office. Before high school starts it is a good idea to sit down with your teenager and agree on a curfew time, expectations for grades and consequences if they use poor judgement and make a mistake. Find out what time curfew is for your city. It is not asking too much that your teenager is home at a decent hour. For Freshman, 11pm really is a realistic time. When you discuss curfew I suggest a contract where you specify the time and consequences for breaking curfew. If you have it in writing, if there is a disagreement you can settle it easily by referring to your contract.

Another major concern for parents is driving. Parents worry about who will be driving and how well do the drive. The other concern is the driver driving drunk or high. Parents worry about getting a call in the middle of the night that there was a car accident and there child is in the Emergency Room or dead. With the recent changes in driving laws they decrease the chances of teen accidents. However, they do not stop teenage driving accidents. As parents you need to again sit down and discuss your concerns and agree on a contract. Agree about who they can drive with, who they cannot and keeping you informed. Again agree on consequences and write out a contract to decrease arguments.

Another major stressor for parents is money. Your teen wants to go out with friends and they need money for food, Starbucks or going to a movie. Parents also have to deal with the bills if a teen wants to play a sport or play an instrument or be a cheerleader. Parents have to pay for uniforms and a wide range of extras. Plus parents have to drive their teen to and from practices and games. For some sports such as football, there is practice daily.

These are only a few issues parents face when their child is in high school. They have to adjust to these issues and the fact that their child is getting older and is no longer a little kid. They are now young adults. We expect parents to adjust to all of these changes over night. Just like we need to give teenagers time to adjust to being in high school, we need to give parents time to adjust to having a child in high school. We also need to understand that parents will make mistakes during and after this adjustment period. It is also important to remember that being a parent is not a popularity contest. At times, you will need to make decisions your teenager does not like. However, as a parent sometimes you must make those unpopular decisions.

Parents you need to remember that you are going through a big adjustment just like your teenager. Also just like your teenager you need to allow yourself time to adjust and accept that you will make mistakes. You need to be patient and kind to yourself. Also if your teen is getting frustrated with you, do not be afraid to mention that you are going through an adjustment period too and they need to be patient with you. By being honest you are modeling this is a stressful time of life and hopefully your teen will open up to you when they are stressed and feeling overwhelmed.

Dr. Michael Rubino has worked with teenagers and their families for over 20 years. If you would like more information on Dr. Michael Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website http://www.rubinocounseling.com or his Facebook page facebook.com/drrubino3.