Help A Child Who is Crying Out For Help

Help A Child Who is Crying Out For Help

Why do we do this to kids? Making them feel worthless as a 3rd grader can destroy their self-esteem and their lives. If a child is struggling with school or life, ask why? Don’t judge them and assume they are a lost cause. They are asking for help so help https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6520728624033779712

Allowing Teenagers to Learn from their Mistakes

Allowing Teenagers to Learn from their Mistakes

Working with teenagers, I hear very often from parents that they feel their teenager is not responsible and they have concerns about trusting their teenagers. I also hear from teenagers how they are upset with their parents for not trusting them and not allowing them to make decisions. I understand the parents’ concerns, but at times they are being unfair and unrealistic about their ability to control their teenagers’ decisions.

We routinely tell teenagers that they need to be responsible for their choices and actions. However, we seldom allow teenagers the ability to make their own decisions. It is not uncommon that parents have set rules and curfews for their teenagers. Also with the advancement in technology many parents have software installed on their teenagers’ cellphones so they can read their teenagers’ emails or texts. Also they have GPS programs so they can determine where there teenager is and try to figure out what they are doing.

Teenagers are aware that their parents have software programs on their cellphones so they can read their emails or texts or use a GPS program to determine where they are and what they are doing. This usually makes teenagers upset that their parents do not trust them. Teenagers’ tell me if they want me to be responsible how can I be responsible if they do not give me a chance? Also most teenagers have found ways to bypass these programs or they have developed a Texting code so parents will not know what they are texting about to their friends.

Teens there are some facts you need to be realistic about too. You cannot demand that your parents treat you like adults, but if you get into trouble, you want mom and dad to fix it. If you want people to respect your choices and opinions, then you must be prepared to accept the consequences and reactions from other people regarding your choices and opinions. You cannot have it both ways.

The other fact that parents need to accept is you cannot control everything your teenager is doing. You can monitor your teen all you want, but if a teenager wants to do something they will figure out away to do it. Also if you want your teen to be responsible you have to learn to accept their decisions and the consequences that may result from their choices. Additionally, your teenager needs to learn their decisions have consequences and teenagers need to learn to accept the consequences for their actions.

What parents need to do is have a calm conversation with their teenager. During this conversation you discuss issues that your teenager will be facing such as alcohol, drugs, sex and their futures. Explain what you expect and what you are willing to do or not to do. Therefore, they may begin to understand what consequences they will face depending on the decisions they make. They also may start to understand that you will not always be able to solve their problems. If they want to be treated as adults, they need to be able to deal with the consequences of their actions.

This is an important lesson for teenagers to learn. They need to understand that their actions have consequences and they are responsible for dealing with these consequences. One consequence may be that as parents you may be upset with their decision. This is a consequence that they need to be able to accept. Not everyone is going to always accept or approve of your choices. Teenagers need to learn this fact. It is important that they understand that their choices have consequences and they are responsible for their choices.

It is important that parents learn to accept the fact that they cannot control their teenager’s choices. Allowing them to learn from their choices is the best way for them to learn responsibility. It is also away for parents to learn to allow their teenagers to grow up and be responsible adults. Yes at times this may be difficult, but parents need to be realistic that they cannot control their teenager. Also it is better if they make mistakes before they are 18 years old. Typically these mistakes can be resolved easier if they are under 18 years old. When they are over 18 years old, they face the same consequences as a grown adult. Parents it is important to remember that part of your teenager becoming an adult is allowing them to make choices and to learn from those choices. Also the time to start educating them about choices and right and wrong is when your child is in elementary school. If you wait until they are teenagers, they think they know more than they do and they are less likely to listen to you.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and their families. He is considered an expert working with teenagers. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work and private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/drubino3.

Issues related to Smartphones as Graduation Gifts

Issues related to Smartphones as Graduation Gifts

In today’s society many people including teenagers view cell phones as a necessity of life. However, cellphones are a privilege not a necessity. We need to remember that fact.

In a few weeks many 8th grade students will be graduating from Middle School and moving on to High School. Many of those 8th grade students, who do not have cellphone already, will be asking for cellphones as graduation gifts. For those 8th grade students who have cellphones, they most likely will be asking for better cellphones as graduation gifts. The cellphone or smartphones are very popular graduation gifts.

Many people have forgotten that cellphones are privileges especially teens and children in Middle School. This is a common argument I encounter between children and parents. The other argument that is common between parent and children is how much and where the cell phone is being used. Teens basically accuse parents of child abuse if they say no to a phone or if the parent set limits. You are not being abusive, you are being a responsible parent. Remember being a parent is not a popularity contest. You need to do what you feel is best for your child. Also there are now enough research studies showing teens are spending too much time on smartphones and it is not good for them.

This is an area where technology has moved faster than our ethics. If you think about it, IPhones and Smartphones were not around in the year 2000. Now everyone including a majority of teens have an IPhone or Smartphone. In my opinion an adolescent does not need a cellphone until they enter Middle School and at that point all they need is a basic cellphone. They need a basic phone so they can check-in with you if their plans change or if they feel they are in need of help.

There is no reason that a teenager really needs a Smartphone. They are not taking care of a family nor are they running a business. Therefore, a basic cellphone should be adequate for what they need it for. I understand that given the way our society has changed some parents may find that it is helpful to their family if a child in middle school has a cellphone. This is a decision that every parent needs to make based on their family’s situation.

The parent needs to make this decision, not let the child guilt them into buying them a cell phone as a graduation gift. If you are divorced and have children, this may be extremely difficult, but the decision about if your child gets a cellphone as a graduation gift or not, should be a joint decision by both parents and a decision you both agree on. One parent should not buy a cellphone without consulting the other parent and they should not use it as a weapon in the divorce.

If you decide that your middle school child is mature enough for a cellphone as a graduation gift, you should discuss the rules and guidelines about using the phone prior to getting a phone. Some things to discuss are who they give their cell number to, not texting during class and not taking it into the bedroom at night so they can text most of the night. Many kids will text with their friends until 2 or 3 am and then be too tired for school the next day.

Also there should be a discussion about sharing photos. You never know what someone will do with a photo if they get mad with you. Also there needs to be a discussion about the law. It is not uncommon for teens to send their boyfriend/girlfriend nude photos of themselves. What they don’t understand is they are under the age of 18 years old. Therefore, if they have a nude picture of their 15 year old girlfriend, they can be charged with possession of child pornography. Many may say this won’t happen to me, but I have had a number of teens in psychotherapy because they were charged with having child pornography. Also you need to remember, once those pictures are out on the internet, they are out there forever. There also needs to be a discussion about on-line perpetrators too. There are many pedophiles on line trying to lure unsuspecting teens into their plans. Your children need to understand this is a real risk and what to watch for.

Finally, it should be made clear that the phone does not belong to the child — the phone belongs to you the parent. Yes you are giving them the phone as a gift, but it still belongs to you. If you ask for it back, then the child hands it over no questions asked. Also if you feel they are using their phone in an inappropriate manner, all you need to do is call your cellphone carrier and request that their phone line be suspended. It cost you nothing and it is an easy way to control the phone. When you feel that your child has earned the right to have the cellphone back all you do is call your carrier to reinstate that phone line.

It is very important that you and your teen have an agreement about conditions regarding their cellphone use. All of these conditions and agreements should be written down in an agreement that you sign and the child signs. You each get a copy of the agreement and one copy is posted on the refrigerator. If there are any disputes about a rule, you simply go back to the agreement and you follow what is written. A written agreement is very important because I have seen parents have conversations, make agreements and then 6 months later there is a disagreement and everyone’s memory is slightly different so you have a big fight.

Also given how many adults have gotten into trouble with their Smartphones, if you are going to allow your child to use any kind of cellphone you must discuss the pros and cons so the child does not get into major trouble with the phone.

Below I have included a sample contract that you can use with your child and modify as you need. I will not bring my cellphone to the family dinner table. I will not go over our plan’s monthly minutes or text message limits. If I do, I understand that I may be responsible for paying any additional charges or that I may lose my cellphone privileges. I understand that I am responsible for knowing where my phone is, and for keeping it in good condition. I understand that my cellphone may be taken away if I talk back to my parents, I fail to do my chores, or I fail to keep my grades up.

I will obey rules of etiquette regarding cell phones in public places. I will make sure my phone is turned off when I am in church, in restaurants, or quiet settings. I will obey any rules my school has regarding cellphones, such as turning them off during class, or keeping them on vibrate while riding the school bus. I promise I will alert my parents when I receive suspicious or alarming phone calls or text messages from people I don’t know. I will also alert my parents if I am being harassed by someone via my cellphone. I will not use my cellphone to bully another person.

I will send no more than _____ texts per day I understand that having a cellphone can be helpful in a emergency, but I know that I must still practice good judgment and make good choices that will keep me out of trouble or out of danger.

I will not send embarrassing photos of my family or friends to others. In addition, I will not use my phone’s camera to take embarrassing photos of others. I understand that having a cell phone is a privilege, and that if I fail to adhere to this contract, my cell phone privilege may be revoked.

Cell Phone Contract: Parent Responsibilities I understand that I will make myself available to answer any questions my tween might have about owning a cellphone and using it responsibly. I will support my child when he or she alerts me to an alarming message or text message that he or she has received. I will alert my child if our cellphone plan changes and impacts the plan’s minutes. I will give my child _______ warning(s) before I take his or her cellphone away Signed ______________________________ (Tween) Signed ______________________________ (Parents) Date ______________________________

Dr. Michael Rubino has been working with middle school and high school students for over 20 years. He is considered an expert in this field. Dr. Rubino is one of the founding members of the National Alive & Free Program, a program designed to work with teens. For more information about Dr. Michael Rubino’s work and private practice visit his websites at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com, http://www.rcs-ca.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

Your Divorce Is Not Part of Your Teen’s Graduation

Your Divorce Is Not Part of Your Teen’s Graduation

Since Spring Break is over and everyone is returning to school, this means the Junior and Senior Balls are around the corner and so is High School Graduation. In a family where there has been a divorce this can complicate graduation. This article address the issues associated with divorce and High School Graduation.

Divorce brings a lot of new situations in to a people’s lives 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 too. Parents argue about pick up times 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 start. 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 your father 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 teenager 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 who can attend graduation and how graduation day will go 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 and adults. 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, at some point during High School. 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 teenager’s graduation a happy day for them.

What you need to do is you and your ex spouse need to sit down together or email each other and discuss how the two of you can put your issues on hold for one day so your teenager can have what they deserve, a happy graduation. The two of you need to talk with grandparents too 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 to each other. 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 there will 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 teenager 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. Do not allow your divorce to deprive you from enjoying your child’s High School graduation day with them. They only graduate from high school once.

Dr. Michael Rubino has 20 years experience working with teenagers and families coping with divorce. He is an expert in providing psychotherapy treatment for children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino or his private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com.

Helping Teenagers Cope with the End of the School Year

Helping Teenagers Cope with the End of the School Year

The end of the school year is around the corner and it is that time of year again – it’s Finals time.

Your teenagers are probably very stressed or getting stressed. There is a lot of things going on right now, Junior Prom, Senior Ball, acceptance letters for colleges are arriving so are letters of denial arriving too. There are also other end of the year activities. For some seniors, their acceptance into a university may be conditional on their final grades. Therefore, they will be very worried about finals.

As I stated besides finals, there are the Prom and Ball to worry about. Many of the teens are stressed about who to ask, will they get asked, what to wear and how much will it cost? Also then there are the after parties. They worry about which one to go to and there is the issue of drinking that night, using drugs and having sex that night. Parents remember when you were in high school and all the issues associated with the Prom or Ball.

If that was not enough, there are final projects due, research papers and many high schools require community service hours too. In addition to this there is the normal homework and finding time to study for finals.

In many classes the final may be worth fifty percent of the students grade. The final grade in a class is very important. This grade will be part of their overall GPA which can affect what colleges Juniors can apply to and their ability to get scholarships. Also as I mentioned above for some Seniors, colleges have put a condition on their acceptance. The student must get a certain grade in a class or maintain a particular overall GPA in order to be accepted to the college.

As you can see there is a great deal of pressure on high school students during this time of year. Also since the competition to get into colleges has increased and the competition for scholarships have increased so has the stress on high school students.

Many students will do what ever they need to in order to survive this time of year. This includes using alcohol or weed to help them relax or sleep. They will also take friends ADHD medication, use cocaine, or start taking caffeine pills or start drinking a great deal of coffee or energy drinks so they can stay awake and study. They don’t realize how much caffeine those energized drinks contain. Also the combination of weed to sleep and caffeine to stay awake can cause mood changes, psychosis, heart rates to race and even death.

Most teens want to do things on there own so they will tell you everything is fine and they have it covered. They think it is fine because of the substances they are using and they think they have the substances under control. Remember a teenagers prefrontal lobes are not fully developed yet. Therefore, they only focus on the here and now and not on the future. Also they do not have the reasoning skills adults do. Therefore, teenagers have a tendency to be impulsive.

If your teenager is getting anger very easily or crying easily this is a sign that something is going on. If you notice a change in their eating habits such as going from eating a lot to eating nothing, this is another sign. Also if you notice a change in their sleep pattern such as awake all night and falling asleep at odd times this is also a sign.

What do you do if you notice anything that is making you worry, you sit down and talk to them. Explain you know there is a lot of stress right now and point out the changes you have noticed and what you are concerned about. Reinforce you are not having this conversation because you are mad or they are in trouble, you are having this conversation because you love them. If they are using things or doing things because they think it will help them study, let them know you are there to help. Explain some of the dangers associated with what they are doing. Remind them no grade is worth their life.

Hopefully they will listen to you and confide in you. If they continue to deny everything and you feel they are using some type of substance, then go to any local pharmacy and buy a drug testing kit. Explain you are only doing this for their safety and they are not in trouble. They may be afraid or embarrassed to tell you. They may feel like a failure in your eyes. As their parent they need your love and support right now not a lecture. Again remember when you were in high school and how difficult it was to tell your parents certain things. Good luck.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with teens and has over 20 years experience and his work is nationally recognized. To find out more about Dr. Michael Rubino visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page at facebook.com/Drrubino3.

We Often Expect Children to Act Older than They Are

We Often Expect Children to Act Older than They Are

We often expect children to be able to do things they are not emotionally ready for yet. One example I see quite often are teachers or parents expecting little kids to be able to control their emotions like an adult. They expect the child to be able to rationally analyze a problem. This also occurs with teenagers. Teenagers look like adults so we expect them to act like adults. The problem is they are not adults.

The common issue in both these situations is the brain development of the child or teenager. We see children and teens doing things that we expect from someone older so we assume they can do other things too such as control their emotions. However, typically a child’s brain is not totally developed until the age of 18. This is why if a child experiences a trauma to the brain or spinal cord their chances for a full recovery are better than a grown adults. A child’s brain and central nervous system is still developing and can over come the injury. However, this also means they do not have the analytical or reasoning skills that adults do. Therefore, they may have difficulties with their emotions at times.

This is an issue that comes up very often with the children I see for psychotherapy. At times teachers or parents are expecting to much from a child in the second grade. I have also written articles about this fact to. While reviewing recent research studies I came across an article by Dr. Mona Delahooke. I felt she explained the issue in a very easy way for parents and teachers to understand. I felt it was so well written that I am including her blog below for you to read.

Five-year-old Nathan was excited about a family outing to the zoo, but his mother worried he would not be able to control his behavior. So she explained her carefully devised plan. She had ten gummy bear candies with her. If Nathan behaved well, she would give him all ten at the end of the visit. Each time he misbehaved, though, he would lose one.

After just half an hour, Nathan was down to five gummy bears. Then he tossed French fries at his brother at lunchtime, and his mother told him he was down to three. Upset, Nathan leaned back in his chair so far it toppled over, much to his mother’s chagrin.

Unfortunately, her plan was doomed from the start. Why? It was based on a false assumption: that Nathan was capable of controlling his behavior. Amidst the popular focus on “self-regulation” among professionals, educators and parents, too often we miss a significant point: we cannot really teach a child to self-regulate. Self-regulation is a developmental process that we can nurture and encourage in one way: through the experience of emotional co-regulation with caring and attuned adults.

So how do children develop the capacity for self-regulation? Over time, as a child experiences what it feels like to have his or her emotional and physical needs met, she develops a robust brain-body connection, which, in turn enables the child to exercise “top-down” control of behaviors and emotions. Children start acquiring this capacity at age three or four, and continue to develop it throughout childhood.

But the ability to self-regulate requires the brain development that help kids carry it out. When we expect children to control their behaviors when they lack the foundation in their brain-body connection, we are asking for the impossible.  And unfortunately, we expect the impossible from too many children who don’t yet have the neurodevelopment in place to self-regulate.

Too often what we expect from children makes a false assumption: that children possess “top-down” control that allows them to think about their bodies and minds and control their behaviors. The truth is that may behaviorally challenged children don’t yet have this ability.

Parents tend to believe that if a child sometimes displays control, then the child always has the ability to do so. That mistaken belief reveals an expectation gap—a disparity between adults’ assumptions and a child’s abilities.

When children lack top-down control, we need to start with emotional co-regulation—when caring, attentive adults notice and attend to a child’s physical and emotional needs. We do this through relationships. In my subspecialty, infant mental health, we call this approach “the therapeutic use of self.”

In other words, we help build a child’s brain from the bottom-up. If a child has chronic difficulties controlling emotions or behaviors, it’s a sign that her top-down foundation is weak. She needs loving, attuned and non-judgmental adults who “see” her suffering. It’s these relationships that support a child’s ability to gain emotional and behavioral self-control.

Too many educational and social-service programs overlook the crucial importance of relationships, instead focusing on behavior management.  That’s why I spend so much of my time teaching providers and parents about social and emotional development. A basic grasp of neuroscience and social-emotional development can help us understand how to avoid asking too much, too soon of children. It also helps us avoid inadvertently causing shame or embarrassment to children who can’t understand why they can’t behave or meet adult expectations, even though they want to. We must be especially mindful of this need in our populations of children exposed to ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and toxic stress. Reward and punishment paradigms, in wide use today on these populations are not advised. I explain the reasons why in my new book on challenging behaviors.

When we ask too much of children too soon, we can inadvertently provoke self-criticism and shame. Kristin Neff, the world’s primary researcher on self-compassion, offers a solution: we can show children early on how to have compassion for themselves and accept their own vulnerability. In other words, when behaviors are a problem, we can help children have compassion for themselves and look towards adults for help.

When we are present with children, and compassionately aware of our own emotions, we preserve the most precious factor in a child’s process of developing self-regulation: human connection.

I hope this helps you understand that we need to allow children’s brains time to develop and we can help them during this time to help avoid arguments and temper tantrums.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. 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.