How Structure and Freedom Can Go Hand in Hand in Your Teens Success

What do you think your teenager really wants in a parent? Someone to be their best friend? A parent that lets them get away with anything? Lax rules and the ability to go where they like, until whatever time they like?

Believe it or not, teenagers are actually more likely to want parents that do their job and set boundaries. Not only is it more comfortable for the teen, it is better for their development and health.

Perhaps most surprising of all, teenagers who have a sense of structure in their home can feel a greater sense of freedom than those who don’t.

The True Meaning Of Freedom

At face value you can assume teenage freedom is one where there are no rules binding them from certain behaviors. As a parent you can see how that would be far from a positive in your home. What you might not consider is that freedom doesn’t mean that, at all.

Let’s say that Mary is 16. Her parents decided a few years before to take a hands-off approach and let her make her own decisions. After all, she is almost an adult. Why not allow her to make her mistakes and solve them? It would let her get ahead of her peers!

What choice does Mary make? She stays out late, goes to parties and eventually gets busted for underage drinking. Worst still she had an open container in the car while behind the wheel and now has had her barely-acquired license taken away for a mandatory five years. Which is a shame because now she will have to get mom or dad to take her to her community service, which will take up her entire summer.

Does Mary seem like she is free? Not even a little bit. Lack of guidance and parental structure led her down an irresponsible road, which is far from surprising. Teens have been proven to be hard wired to make reckless decisions. It is something their brain has to develop beyond.

Laying Down Hard Lines

Being a parent isn’t always fun. Your teens probably won’t thank you for setting boundaries and making sure they toe the line. But in the end you are helping them to remain safe, happy, health and - even if they don’t see it - free.

They might not thank you for it right now, but just wait a few years. Once they have grown enough to understand the value of stability they will be singing your praises.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

Setting A Positive Example Of Phone Use For Your Teen

Here is an interesting fact: teens are using alcohol and drugs less than ever before. Researchers are not entirely certain of why this is, but they do have a theory. They believe that it could be the use of smartphones and other electronic devices. With easy access to stimulation, coupled with the threat of videos and images being posted on social media, teenagers seem to be happy with their phones instead.

There is a downside to this trend. Teens are spending more time on their phones, which includes late into the night. Screen use at night may be having a serious impact on their overall physical and mental health. It is clear that, as parents, we have to help our teenagers moderate their electronic use.

Setting an Example...Why We Find It So Difficult

The most obvious way around this problem is to show our teens good habits. But we don’t do so well ourselves...admit it, you have spent more than one night laying in bed skimming Instagram or playing Candy Crush. The draw of a smartphone can be hard to fight, especially after a long and stressful day when you just want to let your brain veg.

Some ways to help yourself do better - and so show your teenager how to be better themselves - are:

  • Put phones in another room at night. Set up a powerstrip of chargers in the kitchen and require all family member's devices be plugged in by a set time every night. It will lessen the temptation to look at the screen right before bed.
  • Unplug every day for some family time. Have meals together and spend some time every evening as a family just talking or doing something fun. Maybe it is taking the dogs for a walk together, or hitting a bowling alley. It could be as simple as sitting down for a board game. It shows teens that they don’t need a phone to be entertained and provides excellent relationship-growing time.
  • Have them install a blue light app. These filters are kind of a last resort. They automatically filter the screen light at night to make it easier on the eyes and to reduce the impact of blue light on the brain. Experts say that this can reduce headaches, give you more quality sleep and lessen eye strain.
  • Talk to them! Teenagers are intelligent and have a vested interest in their own health. Let them know why smartphone use can be damaging if they don’t give it a rest from time to time.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

How a Lax Parenting Strategy Can Jeopardize Your Teen’s Future

Being a parent is exhausting work. Between your family, career, and other commitments, you have all sorts of demands on you. Sometimes, parents find it easier to take a more relaxed approach to parenting. Because they already have so much on their minds, perhaps they are too mentally and physically taxed to parent more actively. Or, maybe they're just laid-back people who don't see the harm in a more permissive approach.

While it's important to let kids experience failures and endure the naturally-occurring consequences for their actions, a parenting style that's too relaxed (or conversely, too strict) can have a negative long-term impact on the success of kids and teens. Having relatively few rules and demands in place may mean they'll have to learn about grownup responsibilities the hard way -- from the "school of hard knocks."

Potential Effects of Lax or Permissive Parenting

Kids and teens raised by parents who are too relaxed or overly permissive often experience negative outcomes. These effects are displayed not only while growing up, but later in life when they find themselves in the "real world."

  • Lack of self-discipline -- They may lack the ability to drive themselves toward goals or limit their own behavior
  • Poor social skills -- They tend to be more difficult to get along with, and be hesitant to share
  • Selfishness -- A tendency toward being self-involved and more demanding of others to meet their needs
  • Insecurity -- A lack of boundaries and guidance often leads to feeling less secure about oneself
  • Poor decision-making -- Difficulty solving their own problems and making wise choices
  • Low achievement -- Growing up without having to meet parental expectations, they may not be motivated to set and achieve goals in school and life
  • Poor self-management -- Lack of structure doesn't allow for learning limits and boundaries. They may waste hours watching TV, overeat, or miss appointments
  • Delinquency -- Higher likelihood of misconduct in school and work, leading to higher risk of breaking the law
  • Aggressive behavior -- Inability to handle emotions constructively or effectively. Lower emotional intelligence in dealing with feelings of themselves and others.
  • Substance abuse -- Higher likelihood of abusing alcohol and / or drugs as kids, teens, and adults

How to Prevent Lax Parenting

If you're worried that your parenting style may be too relaxed or permissive, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have basic household rules, and do you enforce them consistently?
  • Are consequences, both natural and applied, appropriate for the infraction?
  • Do you follow through with punishments in a firm, but loving way? Do you help your kids understand the relationship between their behavior and the punishment?
  • Do you enforce curfews?
  • Are your kids expected to meet certain standards in schoolwork?
  • Do you reward your kids for their good behavior, and let them know you notice?

If you see symptoms of permissive parenting in your own family, try to implement some changes -- one rule at a time. Make your expectations clear, and let your kids know what consequences will follow if rules are broken. Above all, be consistent, and do everything you can to support your teens in living by the rules. If you're having trouble with a teen who constantly acts out, or you fear he or she needs additional help, reach out.

How Impulse Control Is Vital In Your Teens Social & Professional Life

An interesting study was released in 2014 that found that teenagers have the ability to control their impulses better than adults when they are in a neutral environment. However the moment emotion is introduced their impulse control plummets. This seems to correlate to what we see in teenagers on our own, as they struggle to maintain their equilibrium in times of extreme stress.

Likewise, teenagers may have trouble saying no to things they consider pleasurable, or just denying their peers when offered things they know they should reject. This is the essence of peer pressure, which could be worsened by that impulse control issue.

Unfortunately a lack of control can lead to serious problems arising in both personal and professional situations. They can see their social life decline, or miss out on opportunities in their work like that could improve their lives.

Trying to teach impulse control to teenagers, especially those with behavioral issues, may be a struggle. But there are some simple ways to get started.

Encourage Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities

Depression and restlessness can lead to your teen making bad decisions. Having something such as a hobby or extracurricular activity to focus on keeps the mind from stagnating. It may also encourage them to stay away from decisions that could impact those activities and connect them to others who are a good influence.

Begin Monitoring Their Sleep and Diet Habits

Food and sleep impact so much in our lives. If your teen is tired they may be more prone to making decisions without thinking. Being hungry could lead them to snapping or doing something they will regret. You want to promote general health and give them the tools they need to control their impulses. These two factors are the simplest biological elements you can help your teen to control.

Encourage Them To Be Open With You

How wonderful would it be if your teen felt they could call you if they were facing a decision they knew was wrong? Or if they were feeling out of control and knew they could open up to you? Try to suspend judgement and be there to listen to your teen. It isn’t always easy but it could be the difference between a life altering reaction and moving past a serious issue.

Start a Meditation Practice

This is one idea that can benefit you and your teen, both. Start sitting down in the morning or evening for twenty minutes with your teenager and meditating. This could be silent, set to music or guided. You could even choose a walking meditation if you think it would be better for your child.

Get Them Some Professional Help

In some cases the impulse control problem is big enough that you need to seek professional help to deal with it. Therapy or even a structured school dedicated to helping troubled teens may be your best option.

Find out more at Help Your Teen Now.

Building Your Teens Work Ethic That This High Demand World Requires

Lazy. Selfish. Entitled. Spoiled. You’ve probably heard these words applied to the rising generation, maybe accurately or inaccurately. One thing is certain, however, and it’s that you absolutely do not want those words to be applied to YOUR teen. You want your teen to be healthy, happy, hardworking, and well-adjusted in today’s fast paced, highly competitive world. You want them to succeed in whatever they choose to do, and to find value in their lives. In a world where everything is expected to be fast and easy, you can greatly improve your teen’s chances of success and happiness by building their work ethic. We’re here to show you how.

Building Your Teen’s Work Ethic

It’s completely normal to love your teen and want them to have a happy and easy life. You’re not alone if you look back and realize that you’ve required too little of them. It may be hard to shift gears and change direction to help them develop a greater work ethic, but it’s well worth the effort. Begin now.

  • Do less for them. The first way to begin developing their work ethic is to stop doing so much for them. Assess the list of things you do for them and begin delegating things back onto their responsibilities. Let them pack their own lunch. Have them find their own rides to friend’s houses. Allow them to make their own appointments for hair cuts or dental cleanings.
  • Teach basic skills. You may notice that many of the things you’re doing for your teen are things they will eventually need to learn to do themselves, so take some time to teach them now. Choose one task at a time and teach them to do it themselves. Laundry is a great task to teach and then expect your teen to do themselves. Have them do the grocery shopping or prepare a meal for the family.
  • Tackle a Difficult Project. Choose a task or project which you’ve been avoiding due to difficulty. It works especially well if you can choose one in which your teen will be invested – like a finished basement, theater room, outdoor fire pit, restoring an old car, or other rewarding project. Tackle this project with your teen, and be sure to talk through any roadblocks or challenges. It will teach your teen to be persistent and the satisfaction of completing something difficult.
  • Teach strategies. It’s not just about learning to work hard – it’s also how to work hard when you don’t want to. Teach your teen strategies like taking breaks, giving themselves rewards, setting goals, making lists or schedules, asking for help, and anything else that can help them keep going when they feel overwhelmed.
  • Don’t bail them out. Occasionally they will fail. They may forget their huge science project at home, forget to do their chores before a big night out with friends, or run out of money for something they really wanted to buy. It can be painful, but teaching them work ethic means letting them learn from failure so they make smarter and better decisions next time. Expect anger and frustration, but do it with love and be there to talk and listen.

One day your teen will be a full-fledged adult, expected to succeed and contribute to society. How will they do when they leave the nest? Building a strong work ethic can make or break them, but if you find they need more structure and correction than you can provide in order to learn the skills and work ethic they need – there is help out there. Find it now and let your teen learn to fly.

Sibling Rivalry Put To Good Use In Your Home

In the young years the sibling infighting may have threatened to break your patience. The impossibility of sharing toys and space, or constant bickering, or even physical blows in the backyard… remember those days? My how things have changed – or maybe they haven’t. The teenage years change nearly everything, but sibling rivalries can survive the changes and remain healthy. Thankfully, those sibling rivalries can actually be used for good.

Teen Sibling Rivalries

It is not uncommon for teens to feel rivalries with their siblings, and it may not look the way you’d predict. Certainly there exists the traditional rivalries in some relationships: who’s the favorite, who’s the smartest, who gets special treatment, who can get away with more. But it doesn’t always mean bickering. Even siblings who get along admirably may experience sibling rivalry within their relationship.

Using Sibling Rivalry for Good

Sibling rivalries get a bad rap, because they can cause fighting and self-esteem issues. Of course they should be monitored closely and toxic relationships corrected as soon as possible. Good parents can, however, use sibling relationships to improve their children’s lives and tackle head on the issues they face with a troubled teen. There are several ways to use rivalries in a positive manner to strengthen teens:

  • Family Games – keep them silly and inconsequential, just for fun! Play card games, board games, charades, anything that can be fun and help everyone build relationships.
  • Let Your Troubled Teen Win – we’re not saying fake a victory, but choose some kind of competition or new task that your troubled teen is particularly good at. Make a big deal about their winning.
  • Positive Peer Pressure – setting family goals or positive competitions can motivate your troubled teen to do good things. Try a reading challenge, a race to complete chores, rewards for good grades, or any other competition where your teen will want to beat their siblings – with positive consequences for all!
  • Teams – if you have siblings to struggle to get along, have them team up against mom & dad for a board game or other competition. Allowing your teen some time to get to know their sibling better and form some new alliances within the family can make a huge difference for a troubled teen in search of connection.
  • Talk – Talking to your kids about their siblings can be extremely helpful. Be careful not to betray trust, but you can help siblings understand why their brother or sister is acting out. You can also talk to your troubled teen about helping out more with their siblings, because giving them trust and responsibility can be pivotal.

Sibling relationships are so important for teen development and if you can navigate them well you may change the course of your troubled teen’s life. Do your very best to promote healthy relationships and lighthearted rivalries, but be prepared to correct if your troubled teen is unable to cope. If more serious help is needed, seek it now before relationships deteriorate or damage is caused. There is a way to develop lifelong healthy friendships between siblings, and to produce happy and productive adults.

Best Ways To Unplug And Promote Family Bonding

While popcorn and watching a movie at home can be fun, it doesn’t promote family bonding the same way unplugged bonding would. However, getting your family to unplug from their various devices can create resentment if not handled right.

In the interest in keeping the peace and making family bonding fun, here are some suggestions you can implement with your own family.

Discuss And Agree As A Family

There’s nothing like setting up arbitrary rules on your own that will get not just your children rebelling but also create problems with your spouse for making decisions without their input.

You will want to go over your concerns and goals with your spouse before you bring all the children into the discussion, since a united front is key to successfully implementing unplugged time. After you two have conferred, call a family meeting and discuss your joint concerns with your children.

Electronic-less Vacation

A good family vacation without vacation can be a great way to show your family that they can have fun without screen time and ease them into unplugging more often.

You can use tech to help you reach your destination, but it may not be a bad idea to do things the old-fashioned way. So instead of a GPS, you can use physical maps and teach your children how to navigate their location from one.

Some vacation ideas that naturally allow for less tech are:

  • Camping
  • Museum explorations
  • Walking tours
  • Beach/Lake trips

However, you don’t have to leave your home to get everyone away from their tech.

Unplugging At Home

There are many ways you can help your family unplug from their devices and bond while at home. Some of the best ways are:

  • Set regular unplug times - Maybe it’s a daily activity like no tech during dinner or just a weekly clear zone with no electronics until after noon on Saturday, with the early morning dedicated to family time. Either way, having a schedule to follow will make it easier to implement unplugged time.
  • Craft together - Whether it’s breaking out the paint supplies or making a puzzle, bringing the family together in a creative activity will promote bonding. Also, without any screen to distract from each other, your family can get creative and converse naturally while not feeling like they need to do something with their hands.
  • Explore your town - Whether you live in a city or a more rural area, there are things to see and places to be. Take your family and check out the history of your area, what services you may not know about, volunteer locally, and have everyone get more involved with where they are, not where they are surfing the web.

If further steps are needed to help bring straying family member together, Liahona Academy is here to lend a hand and help troubled boys both unplug from bad habits and re-engage with their families.

Trials & Struggles Prepare Our Minds For Creative Problem Solving

None of us can avoid the trials and struggles life sometimes throws at us. The only thing we can do is learn how to navigate life’s curveballs and use these challenges to better ourselves. No one grapples with this more than the youth.

You see, by the time most of us attain adulthood, we have become quite adept at identifying problems and finding solutions to them, admittedly with varying rates of success. However, teens are still maturing and finding their footing in the world, so they tend to have a harder time managing adversity.

Adolescents who become overwhelmed by the problems they face sometimes end up engaging in delinquent and self-destructive behaviors. While therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers are available to help troubled teens ditch their harmful habits, prevention is always better than cure. Which is why it’s crucial to teach our children to see life’s hurdles as opportunities to come up with creative solutions instead of running away from problems.

Overcoming Challenges By Encouraging Creativity

As a parent, you no doubt want your kids to grow up to be successful adults who can make sound decisions for themselves. One thing to remember though is that kids learn best through experience.

While it isn’t easy to watch them struggle or fail over and over, continuously shielding your kids from harsh realities might stunt their maturity and eventually do them more harm than good.

A better approach would be to encourage them to seek creative and innovative solutions to their problems. So the next time your child comes to you with a problem, step back and adopt the role of a guardian and let them work their way through it.

Instead of telling them what to do, urge them to look at the issue from a different angle, to challenge their limits and to question their assumptions. This way, they’ll strengthen their minds and learn how to develop vital problem-solving skills that are sure to come in handy in their lives.

Another way to teach your kids to creatively generate unique solutions to problems is to encourage them to take up extracurricular activities. Your kids will inevitably encounter new challenges while participating in sports and other hobbies. To tackle them, they’ll have to harness their innate talents while learning how to work as part of a team. Also, don’t forget that exercise is an excellent way to get the creative juices flowing and let off steam after a stressful day.

When More Help Is Needed

While adversity is part of life, some teens do require more help to get by than others. If you notice that your teen is struggling with emotional, mental or behavioral issues, contact Liahona Academy and our skilled team of professionals will do all they can to help them get their lives back on the right path.

How A Technology Fast Can Benefit Your Family’s Mental Health

How A Technology Fast Can Benefit Your Family's Mental Health

Our phones, tablets, computers and TVs have become our constant companions and we can seldom do without them. Thanks to these devices, we can stay in touch with our loved ones, know what is going on around us and even take our work with us wherever we go.

However, you might be surprised to learn that the amount of time you and your family spend interacting with screens can have a negative impact on your mental and psychological health. For instance, excessive internet usage has been linked to an increase in depression and various mental illnesses in both teens and adults.

Teens are also more susceptible to social media addiction which can contribute to increased suicide rates, sexual promiscuity, cyber bullying and violence. Troubled teens who struggle with these issues often require individualized treatment at a reputable residential treatment center in order to reform.

Benefits Of Unplugging

While you can’t force your family to completely ditch technology, regularly minimizing its use can offer some surprising mental health benefits including:

  • Reduced stress. Taking a break from the virtual world for a few hours after work every day can help you reduce stress by giving you time to rest. You can use this time to unwind and reconnect with your family, becoming a better parent and spouse as a result.
  • Enhanced concentration and productivity. Most of us mistakenly think that multitasking makes us more productive. Unfortunately, trying to respond to work emails or social media posts while helping your kids with homework and trying to watch a TV show at the same time only cuts into your ability to get things done. Something as simple as turning off your social media notifications can reduce interruptions and allow you to concentrate on the important tasks at hand.
  • Better sleep quality. The light given off by computer and TV screens has been found to reduce the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycle. As such, using your devices even a few hours before hitting the sack can decrease chances of having a restful night making you a prime candidate for a range of chronic health issues, not to mention a serious case of brain fog in the morning. A technology fast, therefore, allows you to get a good night’s rest which in turn makes you more energetic and alert during the day.
  • Improved memory and retention. Unplugging even for a day gives the brain enough downtime to reboot and recharge which goes a long way towards improving memory, enhancing retention and boosting an individual's mood.

Getting Help

If you are the parent of a troubled boy who is struggling with depression, substance abuse, porn addiction or any other negative effects of internet and social media addiction, contact Liahona Academy at 1-800-675-8101. We are ready to give your son all the help he needs to break these habits and get his life back on track.

How Siblings Can Aid In Helping Your Trouble Teen Feel Understood

How Siblings Can Aid In Helping Your Trouble Teen Feel Understood

There is no right answer when your teenager is in trouble. But there are ways to guide your teen, yourself, and your family on a path toward healing. There are avenues and resources to advise you on the right course of action. Wherever and whatever the situation may be, there is a therapy option out there to assist you.

A therapeutic boarding school's mission is to create positive change in a troubled teen's life. However, it is important to establish a strong and healthy communication bond in the family - especially between siblings.

Communication in the Key

Teenagers, although seemingly mature, are still developing and forming their own identities. Parents should be equipped with the right communication tools when talking with their teenager.

  • Open communication develops a bond between you and your child. If your teen feels like they can trust you, then they can speak up if they need help.
  • Establishing communication with your other children can help them process why their sibling is acting the way they are.
  • Letting your teen know you are available to listen to them without fear of consequences can allow for better understanding.

Your Teen is not the Enemy

Depending on what your teen is going through, it is important to remember to not make them the opposition of the family. How you talk about and how you communicate with them will send messages to other members of the family. For example, if your tone is always negative when referring to your troubled teen, their sibling(s) may begin to feel negativity toward them. Take into consideration that your children spend time with each other; if you make your teen the enemy then it will impact your other kids as well.

Thing to Remember:

  • Your troubled teen needs allies and turning to their brother or sister may be the only people they can trust.
  • Having open and positive communication can keep this level of trust between them as well as include you as the parent.
  • Don't use your other children to gain information about your troubled teen - this could cause conflict later on.
  • Support all of your children to the best of your abilities.
  • Be honest and trust that your kids will understand and can reassure you and their sibling.

Parenting is difficult and it can be tough to know what the right think to do it for your children. But remember, there are resources to help you and your teen. Love then, support them, and don't be afraid to reach out for help.