Archives for September 2016

The War On Bullying – Where Do You Stand?

The War On Bullying - Where Do You Stand?

Bullying threatens a young person’s sense of well-being. It can have an adverse impact on the social, emotional and academic functioning of everyone involved, and when it’s violent, it can result in physical injuries. Bullying can happen in person or electronically through cyberbullying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 20 percent of high school students in the United States say they were bullied in school during the past year, and nearly 15 percent admit to being bullied online.

Our understanding of bullying and its prevention is still developing. While many bullying prevention programs are being implemented in schools, they’re not always evaluated for their effectiveness. However, one systematic review found that anti-bullying programs in schools reduced bullying by about 20 percent.

Best Practices that Schools Can Implement

According to Stopbullying.gov, a website that’s managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, best practices that schools can implement to prevent bullying include:

  • Developing a clear mission statement, emphasizing the goal of maintaining a safe environment free from bullying
  • Supplying a code of conduct that informs students of their expected positive behaviors
  • Increasing supervision of students and stopping bullying on the spot
  • Establishing a reporting system for rule violations that will allow consequences to be given to students who break the rules, which will also enable the school to track patterns across time.

These ideas can help schools prevent bullying among their students. However, individuals, kids, teens and adults have the powerful potential to help in the war against bullying.

Roles Kids Play in Bullying

When it comes to bullying, we often think only of the bully and the victim. However, children play other roles in bullying. For example, a child might be both a perpetrator and a victim of bullying. Some kids assist bullying by encouraging the behavior and occasionally taking part in it.

Other children stand by and observe the bullying, even though they aren’t personally involved, which can reinforce the bad behavior. These kids might laugh or otherwise provide encouragement to the children engaged in bullying behavior.

Children who observe but don’t respond can also help perpetuate the behavior because just providing an audience might spur on the bullying behavior. These children might want to help but don’t know how. Finally, some children defend the victims.

Studies show that students who experience bullying find that involvement from other students affects them more than actions from educators. Often, bullied students say that other students spending time with them or helping them get away from the bully were the most helpful behaviors. One study found that 57 percent of bullying situations stopped when a peer intervened on behalf of the bullied student.

How Kids and Teens Can Help

Anyone who wants to do their part to stop bullying can start by treating everyone with respect. Resist the urge to be mean to someone. Remember that everyone is unique. A person who seems different isn’t better or worse than anyone else. They just have their own strengths and weaknesses.

When a kid or teen sees bullying, they should tell an adult they can trust, such as a parent or teacher. Also, it’s helpful to treat the person being bullied with kindness. Talk to them in school, sit with them at the lunch table, go out of your way to treat them kindly or do anything else you can think of to help them feel included.

How Parents Can Help

A child might not tell their parents that they’re being bullied. Only 36 percent of bullied students report the bullying, according to one survey. Parents should watch their child for signs of bullying such as:

  • Reluctance to go to school
  • Diminished appetite
  • Torn clothing and
  • Crying, general depression and anxiety.

cyber-bullying

Parents need to educate children about cyberbullying and instruct them to tell someone responsible about any threatening emails or messages. Provide a family computer that’s in a public, visible place in the home so that the child can be monitored when they’re online. Parents should friend their child on social media and watch their activity closely for any signs of bullying behavior.

If a parent decides to provide their child with a cellphone, they should think twice about giving them a phone with a built-in camera.

Dealing with a Child who Bullies Others

If a parent finds out their child is doing the bullying, they can take specific steps to stop the aggressive behavior. Children who bully have an increased risk for academic problems, substance abuse and violent behavior into adulthood. A child who is engaging in bullying may not know how harmful his or her actions are. Educate children about bullying and let them know that bullying can have legal consequences.

Model positive examples of behavior. Children learn by watching their parents, and if they’re treated in an overly aggressive or strict manner at home, they might bring this behavior to school in the form of bullying.

Additional Resources

As awareness grows about the importance of preventing bullying, the number of available resources increases, including:

  • Stomp Out Bullying is the most influential anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization in the United States that provides a HelpChat line for kids and teens who need help with related issues.
  • PACER is a national bullying prevention center that provides a wealth of information and resources for people of all ages.
  • StopBullying.gov is a federal government website with an abundance of anti-bullying information, toolkits and training materials.
  • National Crime Prevent Council, with McGruff the Crime Dog as its mascot, has a wealth of tips and strategies for preventing bullying in schools. They also provide a kid-friendly website at McGruff.com that teaches younger children about bullying.
  • The National Education Association has an extensive list of anti-bullying resources that can be used to teach children and teens about bullying.

Through education, communication and action, we can put an end to bullying.

Contributing Factors of Adolescent Addiction to Recreational Drugs

Contributing Factors of Adolescent Addiction to Recreational Drugs

Though many parents believe their children are too young and naïve for addiction, it can happen at any age. Addiction to recreational drugs usually starts very young, which can contribute to significant developmental defects.

Contributing Factors to Addiction

As a parent, it’s important for you to recognize the signs and factors of addiction. There are many contributing factors to a drug addiction. Here are a few of the most common.

A Change in Friends

Has your teen been hanging out with new friends lately? It could be that there’s nothing going on, but it’s very common for this to indicate drug use. Oftentimes teens begin spending time with new people to gain access to and do the drugs without judgment of their previous friends. If you get a bad feeling about your son’s new friends, it’s important find out if there is any drug use happening.

Trouble in School

Drugs can be a way for kids to cope when they’re struggling with schoolwork or other students. It provides a sense of mental escape for them. Though it’s extremely unhealthy and dangerous, drugs let teens remove themselves from a situation, which can be comforting for them at the time. They can’t see the negative consequences of this action, however.

Mental of Physical Illness

A common way for teens to become addicted to drugs is through self-medicating. They may have depression, anxiety, ADHD, or another illness that alters their thinking or they may have a physical ailment that makes it hard for them to do things once loved. Either way, teens often see drugs as a medication for their illness, and it can quickly turn into addition.

How Addiction Takes Over

Overcoming addiction is not so simple as telling your teen to stop doing drugs. The brain changes with addiction, and it takes therapy and a strong will to overcome. Addiction can take over your teen’s desire for basic functions of life, like showering, eating, and sleeping. Very few are able to quit without treatment.

Where to Get Help

Getting your teen help for their drug addiction is very important. A therapeutic rehab center and boarding school is an excellent option. It gives teens the professional help they need while taking them out of the dangerous atmosphere where their addiction began. Teens can receive specialized therapy and attend group sessions to overcome their addiction and return to normal life.

At Liahona Academy, we know how to handle teens struggling with addiction. Our program is designed to help boys both professionally and through peer interactions in order to rehabilitate and detox from their drug addiction. For more information about our services and how your teen can overcome his addiction, call us at 1-800-675-8101.

Teaching Youth the Value of Delayed Gratification

Teaching Youth the Value of Delayed Gratification

If there’s one talent most kids don’t have, it’s being patient. It’s hard to instill the value of delayed gratification in children. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. It’s a scientific phenomenon that children have a difficult time visualizing and achieving rewards.

During one study, children were placed alone in a room with a single marshmallow. They were promised that if they didn’t eat the marshmallow right away, they could have two marshmallows. Though s select few persevered during the time limit, most ate the marshmallow before the time was up.

This is a principle youth often face, particularly when it comes to school. They’re uncomfortable doing it now, so they don’t feel like it will be worth it later. No matter how much you try to explain that finishing high school and attending college will lead to a better lifestyle, some kids won’t have it.

The trick is teaching them the value of delayed gratification early on. Here are some strategies for doing so.

Put Less Emphasis on the Rewards

Sometimes thinking about the reward at the end of the journey is too much of a distraction for teens. They want what’s there, but thinking that far ahead deflates their motivation. Instead, emphasize the importance of getting through one day, week, or month at a time. This helps to break things down and make the reward feel more attainable.

Point out the Good in the Journey

Positivity is always useful in having patience. Point out how things are going well now, and they’ll continue to progress with the right attitude and some perseverance.

Understand Your Youth’s Point of View

Sometimes there’s a very good reason your child can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sit down for a good chat. Listen carefully to their point of view, and give advice only when prompted. Understanding their reasoning for hating school can lead both of you to a better solution, one that will lead to boundless rewards in the end.

Teach Problem-Solving Skills

The emotions that arise when solving a problem are much like the ones that come out when you delay gratification. It’s a feeling of ultimate satisfaction in knowing that you did something hard. As you teach your adolescents how to solve problems, they’ll understand the rewards of working hard and achieving something wonderful at the end.

Give Them Opportunities to Practice

Find ways for them to practice delaying gratification and receiving ultimate satisfaction at the end. A great way to do this is by giving them a savings account. Have them put some money into savings each month in order to save up for something better. They’ll want to buy soda, candy, and small toys at first, but as they save, they can buy something much bigger like a bicycle or a gaming system.

Get Help at Liahona Academy

We’re an all-boy boarding school that focuses on helping teens learn valuable life skills while obtaining a quality education. If you’re struggling to help your teen value an education, we can help. Call us at 1-800-675-8101 for more information.

Sometimes the Best Solution for Your Troubled Teen is to Give Them Space

Sometimes the Best Solution for Your Troubled Teen is to Give Them Space

Parenting teenagers requires a delicate touch. Saying or doing the wrong thing may cause them to draw away from you and your family, which is something no parent wants to see. It can tear families apart.

Yet, sometimes the best way to close the gap between you and your teens is to allow them some distance. It’s natural for kids to become more distant from their parents as they grow and develop. It’s part of gaining independence and discovering themselves as separate beings from those around them.

Sometimes the best solution to behavioral problems is allowing them the space and respect they need to grow independently. However, you have to be careful when doing this. If you allow too much space, your teen may end up out of reach. Here are some suggestions for giving teens space without losing them.

Designate Quiet Spaces

Provide places your teens can go without being disturbed sometimes. Their bedrooms, a tree house, or a special spot in the backyard all fit into this category. It’s good to give your teens some alone time, but it’s better if they can be alone at home. That way you know they aren’t getting into trouble.

Don’t call them the “designated quiet spaces” in front of your teen. That will counteract the purpose. Instead, create a silent mantra not to disturb your teens when they need time to cool off.

Give Them Boundaries

Alone time is great if it can be slightly regulated. You can do this by creating boundaries, whether formal or informal. Make your teens aware of the boundaries you’ve set so they know they’ll be in trouble if they cross the line. Hold yourself accountable to your rules as well.

Don’t Make All Their Decisions

Parents of troubled teens often want to make all the decisions. When your teens struggle with behavioral problems, it’s hard to trust their decision-making skills. However, this is an important requirement because it allows them to learn from their mistakes and grow into their own independence. Taking away the power to make choices is like taking away their agency, and they won’t respond well.

Hold On

While you must give your teen some space, don’t let go entirely. It’s tempting to throw your hands in the air and let things happen as they will, but it’s still your reasonability to guide your troubled teens, even if they don’t seem interested in what you do or say. Behaviors will test your limits, but you can get through this difficult time, and your teens will thank you later for your perseverance.

Give Your Son the Space He Needs at Liahona Academy

Oftentimes the best way to give your teens space is to send them away. Liahona Academy is an all-boy therapeutic boarding school with your son’s best interest in mind. For more information about the strong values and behavioral strategies he can learn, call us at 1-800-675-8101.

Uncovering Depression in Teen Boys

Uncovering Depression in Teen Boys

Uncovering depression in teen boys is not always easy. The teenage years can be particularly difficult for your son, as he is navigating hormonal changes as well as changes and inconsistencies with how he is perceived. As an example, some people treat teenagers like children, while some treat them more like adults; this discrepancy can cause confusion and frustration for your child. It can be a difficult time, and having some emotional ups and downs is perfectly normal. You may discover, however, that these ups and downs are more than just a bad mood or a bad week.

Your child could be battling depression.

Depression in teens is very similar to depression in adults. The difference is that teenagers often lack the necessary life experience to put things into context, so they can have a more difficult time managing their emotions on a day-to-day basis as a result. It can lead to long-term feelings of sadness or in more severe cases, teen suicide.

Your teen may be experiencing depression for a number of reasons, including everything from poor grades, bullying, romantic rejection to confusion over sexual orientation. To make sure your child gets the help that he needs and deserves, it’s important to be able to identify the symptoms and understand what measures to take to resolve his issues, whether minor or life-threatening.

Identifying depression symptoms

Identifying depression in your teenage son can be difficult if he doesn’t want to talk to you about his problems. It may be up to you as a parent to make observations yourself to see if your child may be suffering from depression. Mental Health America has a comprehensive list of symptoms, which is included below:

  • Poor performance in school
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation
  • Anger and rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
  • Poor self-esteem or guilt
  • Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Substance abuse
  • Problems with authority
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

The difficult part is determining the severity and frequency of your child’s symptoms because what teenager hasn’t displayed at least a few of these characteristics before? If your teenage son is engaged in any of the above behaviors consistently -- or any of the more severe behaviors like suicidal thoughts or substance abuse -- then you may want to explore treatment options or consult a professional. If your child is displaying a few of the minor behaviors occasionally, then he might be more in line with a normal spectrum of emotions.

Treating depression in teen boys

When dealing with your teenage son’s depression, it’s important to know that not all depression is the same. Your son’s disposition could improve with just a few small adjustments, or you may have to explore more substantial options like a residential treatment center if you notice more extreme warning signs like suicidal thoughts or violent outbursts.

Level 1: The parental level

While at times it may feel like your teenager no longer listens to what you say, the truth is that you are one of the biggest influences in his life. By encouraging your son to participate in healthy activities, you can help guide him in the direction of behaviors that may help them pull him out of depression naturally or help him cope. A parenting style based on positive reinforcement tends to produce higher self-esteem than if you focus more heavily on punishment and inciting feelings of guilt or shame. A few behaviors that promote healthy self-image and self-esteem include:

  • Having a job
  • Participating in after-school activities
  • Playing sports or exercising regularly
  • Making friends
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating nutritiously

These behaviors are just a sampling of a what you could encourage your son to do to create a healthy lifestyle. They combat social isolation and encourage feelings of well-being, self-esteem, and independence. Try to discuss these activities with your child in a non-judgmental, open way.

Level 2: The health care level

If you find that your son isn’t responding to your encouragement -- or he is but isn’t experiencing noticeable benefits -- you may want to consider seeking the services of a psychiatrist or psychologist who can conclusively diagnose your son. He could have depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, or any other number of psychological disorders that may require therapy and medication to treat effectively.

There are many different types of therapy available and many different therapists to administer them. Try to get your child’s input as you make decisions. The more committed your child is to treatment, the more likely he is to experience relief. Including him in the decision-making process is a great way to encourage a higher level of commitment.

Level 3: More urgent cases

Teen suicide is a very serious concern. It’s the second-leading cause of death among teenagers, and if your teenage son is exhibiting symptoms of depression, then he is at an increased risk. If your child is battling with depression and begins to exhibit any of the following symptoms, seek immediate professional help:

  • Joking about suicide
  • Threatening suicide
  • Obsession with death
  • Overwhelming negative emotions
  • Large downturn in grades
  • Violent outbursts
  • Withdrawing socially

If therapy and medication alone don’t seem to solve your child’s problems, you may want to consider a residential treatment center such as the Liahona Academy, where your child can receive comprehensive care and supervision in order to create the best possible long-term recovery plan for your child.

Remember that it’s a process

Teen depression can be an incredibly overwhelming challenge for a family. It’s important to keep in mind that treating your child is a process. He may not get better overnight, and it’s important to stay positive, patient, and understanding. By identifying depression symptoms, developing a parenting style that supports depression recovery, and by seeking professional help when necessary, you can ensure your child gets the best-case outcome as he battles with depression.