Coping with Teenagers Driving during the Summer

Coping with Teenagers Driving during the Summer

Its summer time and many things are reopening and many teenagers are looking forward to spending time hanging out with their friends. Many teenagers want to drive around town or go to Santa Cruz with their friends. Many parents worry about their teenagers driving other teenagers around and they worry about what the teenagers may be doing before driving. Parents worry about teens drinking and driving and driving late at night because typically teenagers still have a great deal to learn about driving. Parents have a right to be concerned because most motor vehicle accidents tend to involve teenagers (CDC). In other words, teenagers have the most car accidents. Therefore, parents worry about how their teenagers drive, who they are driving with and what they are doing before they are driving.

This is the reason that I have always stressed behavior contracts with teenagers. It gives parents a chance to discuss their concerns with their teenagers and to also set limits regarding appropriate behavior. No parent wants their teenager to fail school or to get hurt while out with friends. Since the prefrontal cortex of a teenager’s brain is not fully developed, at times they have difficulties making appropriate decisions. Again they may physically look like an adult, but mentally they are still very impulsive and at times act more like 5th graders. This is why contracts can help teenagers understand where their limits are and what will happen at home if they violate the limits.

Besides a contract regarding school and homework, a contract regarding driving is very important. Due to the new laws some teenagers are not driving at 16 years old and waiting until they are 18 years old. When they are 18, many of the new laws do not apply to them. However, whether they are 16 or 18 years old, they are driving your car so you are financially responsible if they are in an accident. Additionally, whether they are 16 or 18 years old, no patent wants their child seriously hurt in a car accident. With that being said, below is the contact I recommend patients use for their teenagers regarding driving. I recommend you use this contact whether they are 16 years old or 18 years old. Below are the essential parts of a driving contract that I recommend:

1. Have some baseline rules.

The driving contract for new drivers should include baseline rules to discourage behaviors that lead to accident and injury or death. These behaviors should include never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, never using a cell phone while driving, never speeding, and always wearing a seatbelt.

2. Include consequences.

The teen driving contract should also include specific consequences for violating the rules. Parents must be willing to enforce the rules in the teen driving contract. Otherwise your teenager will have no real incentive to follow them. Making the consequences specific—you will lose access to the car for a week, if … —is helpful. That way, everyone will be on the same page about what will happen if the rules are broken.

3. Always offer a “Safe Passage” clause.

Parents should institute a “safe-passage” clause in their contract. If they are ever concerned about getting into a car, as a driver or a passenger, you will pick them up. No questions asked. Save the discussion for the next morning or, better, yet several days later.

4. Be willing to enforce the contract.

The effectiveness of the teen driver contract directly correlates to your enforcement of it. These kinds of rules encourage teenagers to take the responsibility of driving seriously, while also helping them resist peer pressure.

The contract is basic and everyone understands the consequences if the contract is broken. This can prevent a lot of arguments. I recommend that parents and the teenager all sign the contract and all receive a copy of it. This is an example of a contract for driving, but you can use contracts for many issues such as homework. I have found that many parents become overwhelmed trying to write a contract. Therefore, I have included this link https://adayinourshoes.com/behavior-contract-templates-elementary-teen/. It has templates to over 27 behavior contracts you can use with teenagers and they are free to download. Hopefully, this will make using contracts easier.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 25 years experience treating children and teenagers and trauma victims. For more information regarding his work visit his website at www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/Drrubino3 or his podcasts on Spotify or Apple.

Graduation Parties & Summer Fun can be Risky

Graduation Parties & Summer Fun can be Risky

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, is around the corner and many teenagers will be involved in various activities. First, it’s a big weekend for High School and College graduation. Of course after working that hard to earn a diploma, there will be a lot of graduation parties. Many high schools do have Grad Nights as a safe way for seniors to celebrate, but many seniors want to have their own parties in addition to the Grad Night. In addition to graduation parties, many teenagers will have end of the school year parties. It’s also popular weekend for teenagers to be out drinking and also swimming with friends celebrating the end of the school year. At the graduation parties there is also usually drinking, dancing and swimming. Teenagers have been working hard all school year and dealing with the uncertainties of the pandemic so they are looking forward to celebrating life.

As I stated, with teenagers dealing with quarantines due to the pandemic and many places they would usually go to, such as the movies, many teenagers cannot wait to be with friends and feel free after being locked in due to the Coronavirus. As a result there will be a lot of teenagers going out and celebrating life, especially since there is a warning that we may experience another wave of Covid during the summer or fall. Since teenagers don’t know how this may impact their freedom, most are going to take advantage of the freedom while it exists.

However, this weekend is not just a weekend of celebration. It can also be a weekend of sadness and grief for many families. Every year at least 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. In other words, some of these injuries are for life and may dramatically change a teenager’s life. They may have left the house walking and return home having to live life in a wheelchair. There are also the numerous teenagers who will never be returning to their homes because they died.

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 Memorial Day weekend coming up, 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. Therefore, talk to your teens about their plans and about safety.

You never know what is going to happen in life. Especially given everything that is happening all over the world. The recent mass shooting in Buffalo, New York is an excellent example. A father went to the story to pick up the birthday cake for his son’s third birthday. He was shot and killed. These mass shootings are out of control and every weekend we hear about more mass shootings. The week of the Buffalo shooting was the 19th week of the year and there had already been 198 mass shooting in the United States (CDC). If you look at the above statistics, you never know when or if something is going to happen to someone in your family.

A mother experienced this fact when her teenage son committed suicide. Suicide is currently at epidemic among teenagers and the second leading cause of death for teenagers (CDC). After her son’s suicide, 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. You never know when they leave the house will they return safely. You also don’t know when you leave the house, will you return safely and see your children again. Therefore, given the current situation in our Country, I think her advice is very good advice. Remember to tell your teenagers that you love them and if you have an argument ask yourself is the argument worth it and is this the last memory you want to have about your teen. Also is it the last memory you want your teen to have about you?

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.

Again the point is don’t take the risk. Since you never know what may happen and many teens feel 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 psychotherapist with over 25 years experience specializes in treating children and teenagers. He has over 25 years experience working with trauma victims. To find out more about his work or to contact him visit his website at www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

What to do When Your 18 year old is Drinking

What to do When Your 18 year old is Drinking

In our society we assume teenagers will drink especially in college, but in college they are still underage. Here are some important issues regarding alcohol and teenagers that it’s important to address with your teenager. You may save their lives https://yourteenmag.com/health/drugs-alcohol/college-freshman-drink-home-summer

Dr. Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 25 years experience treating children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com

Using A Driver’s Contract with Teenagers

Using A Driver’s Contract with Teenagers

Raising teenagers is a difficult task especially raising teenagers in today’s world. Before the year 2000 most patients had to worry about school, amount of time the teenager was on the phone and what their teenager was doing when they went out with friends or a date. These are still major areas of concern, but they are made more difficult due to the internet. Take going out with friends as an example, teenagers often look online for parties to go to in the weekend. They will make arrangements to get there with people they just met online. Additionally, they have no idea for sure what is or isn’t allowed at the party and the party may go one until 4am. This would cause many parents to worry and it should.

This is the reason that I have always stressed behavior contracts with teenagers. It gives parents a chance to discuss their concerns with their teenagers and to also set limits regarding appropriate behavior. No parent wants their teenager to fail school or to get hurt while out with friends. Since the prefrontal cortex of a teenager’s brain is not fully developed, at times they have difficulties making appropriate decisions. Again they may physically look like an adult, but mentally they are still very impulsive and at times act more like 5th graders. This is why contracts can help teenagers understand where their limits are and what will happen at home if they violate the limits.

Besides a contract regarding school and homework, a contract regarding driving is very important. Due to the new laws some teenagers are not driving at 16 years old and waiting until they are 18 years old. When they are 18, many of the new laws do not apply to them. However, whether they are 16 or 18 years old, they are driving your car so you are financially responsible if they are in an accident. Additionally, whether they are 16 or 18 years old, no patent wants their child seriously hurt in a car accident. With that being said, below is the contact I recommend patients use for their teenagers regarding driving. I recommend you use this contact whether they are 16 years old or 18 years old. Below are the essential parts of a driving contract that I recommend:

1. Have some baseline rules.

The driving contract for new drivers should include baseline rules to discourage behaviors that lead to accident and injury or death. These behaviors should include never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, never using a cell phone while driving, never speeding, and always wearing a seatbelt.

2. Include consequences.

The teen driving contract should also include specific consequences for violating the rules. Parents must be willing to enforce the rules in the teen driving contract. Otherwise your teenager will have no real incentive to follow them. Making the consequences specific—you will lose access to the car for a week, if … —is helpful. That way, everyone will be on the same page about what will happen if the rules are broken.

3. Always offer a “Safe Passage” clause.

Parents should institute a “safe-passage” clause in their contract. If they are ever concerned about getting into a car, as a driver or a passenger, you will pick them up. No questions asked. Save the discussion for the next morning or, better, yet several days later.

4. Be willing to enforce the contract.

The effectiveness of the teen driver contract directly correlates to your enforcement of it. These kinds of rules encourage teenagers to take the responsibility of driving seriously, while also helping them resist peer pressure.

The contract is basic and everyone understands the consequences if the contract is broken. This can prevent a lot of arguments. I recommend that parents and the teenager all sign the contract and all receive a copy of it. This is an example of a contract for driving, but you can use contracts for many issues such as homework. I have found that many parents become overwhelmed trying to write a contract. Therefore, I have included this link https://adayinourshoes.com/behavior-contract-templates-elementary-teen/. It has templates to over 27 behavior contracts you can use with teenagers and they are free to download. Hopefully, this will make using contracts easier.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers and trauma victims. For more information regarding his work visit his website at www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/Drrubino3 or his podcasts on Spotify or Apple.

I Have a Teenager and I’m Stressed

I Have a Teenager and I’m Stressed

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 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. 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 about 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 decisions. If they decide to use drugs, you want them to be safe. Also explain your opinions about if you think they are ready for these issues or not. 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. As high school is starting you need to sit down with your teenager and agree on a curfew time. Ask 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. 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 your 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. Some sports such as football, there is practice daily.

These are only a few issues parents face when their child starts high school. They have to adjust to these 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.

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.

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.