LifeLineLifeLine

By LifeLine

Connecting with your teen

Like this Infograph? Feel free to share it. We just ask that you link back to this site!

Connecting with your teen can be difficult...

...We can help! Look, sometimes connecting with your teen can seem as fun as saying 'thank you' for a root canal, but it is a very important and vital component of their well being, and integral to the fabric of your family life.

 

We all know that bonding with your teenager starts way before they reach adolescence. Ideally it should start when they were new and full of promise and potential, back when it was easy and you were their hero.

 

But here in the present, things are quite different. You might feel like you've been through a rough simulation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and are now forced to conduct your life around someone whom only faintly resembles that cherub you once swaddled.

 

Before you go file a missing person report, let's summarize the importance of connecting with your teenage son or daughter. Being aware of challenges we face in today's world, and learning to adjust our expectations and form habits that are conducive to good communication are vital. Your offspring will thank you. When they're 25...but still. 

--You might feel like you've been through a rough simulation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

Momma's boys and Daddy's girls...

A healthy connection is crucial to your developing child, even into the precarious teen years. Children that have regular interaction with a father are found to have greater success socially, academically, emotionally and run a lower risk of being overweight. These benefits also follow children who are more likely to be at a higher risk for behavioral issues, into the educational forum. They are found to have better reading scores, less behavioral issues, and if the father is active with school volunteering the statistics for A+ grades increases significantly.

 

Being engaged with their father finds teens better in social situations, and boosts their confidence and self-esteem. So dad, set up some one on one time with your son or daughter. Go on a date, play catch, or just get goofy together. You'll find that not only will your relationship become more powerful, but your kids will be more confident and feel better about themselves. Power on Dad!

 

One study showed that boys with a closer relationship with their mothers found a multitude of benefits. Among them was better performance in school accompanied by better articulation, less likelihood of engaging in risky behavior, better self-image, friendships and less inclination towards anxiety and depression.

 

Connecting with your daughter is equally important and can prevent risky and dangerous behaviors by showing her she doesn't need to look outside of the home for affirmations of worth and care.

--Children that have regular interaction with a father are found to have greater success socially, academically, emotionally and run a lower risk of being overweight.

What Does A Good Relationship with My Teenager Look Like?

We all have ideals of what it would be like to live in the “perfect family”. Yeah, you saw those little quotation marks. Obviously, life can greatly differ from what we imagine, and what we really end up with. Gone are the days of Wally and the Beaver and the familial Hollywood utopia. Suddenly you find yourself Googling “staying connected to your teenager” while you're waiting for them to come in after curfew, yet again.

 

Here are a few tips that might help:

Relaxed Openness

If a teen suspects criticism or condemnation there's going to be a shut down faster than a bank on a national holiday. So what do you do? Well, if you feel like you are nagging, you probably are. No one (not even you) feels like producing their best behavior when motives, energy level, and priorities are always called into question to be picked apart like a frog in biology class.

A  no-pressure platform can help build trust that you are still a safe haven and an emotionally secure place to fall back on. Even though they might not use the opportunity to talk as often as you'd like, being able to talk if they feel the need is a great comfort in this jumbled time of sorting through themselves.

Bottom line: let them know you are open to listening.

Physical Touch

Throughout your child's younger years, hugs and kisses and snuggles were a prime source of reassurance when they needed boundaries or attention. Even though it can seem awkward to express affection for the teenager before you, who is now more man or woman than a child, touching and affirming that you're there for them if they need it, is just as important as ever.

Because each child has his or her own personality, the amount and type of touching may be more or less, but should always be noted. Monitoring could be necessary as well for the giver if you are not naturally inclined to touch, or perhaps are more of a giver than the child is comfortable with.

Boys, in particular, are harder hit when it comes to the famine of physical touch. Believing it is childish, they pull away in an effort to define themselves as “manly” or mature. This can also be why a breakup of a first love is harder on young men. Sacrificing physical touch with their parents have created a physical and psychological need – and thus a body or touch-hungry individual.

You don't need to go overboard and smother your child. Anything from a shoulder squeeze to a goodnight kiss, pats on the head or a full-on hug....Just be aware of the physical needs of your teen. If you are there to supply it whenever it's needed and every chance you get, you can dramatically change how you relate to your teen.

Quality (and Quantity!) Time With Your Teen

It's often said that quality is better than quantity. Well we say, make the most of what you have! 

Find natural times to spend time with your son or daughter. You don't have to insert yourself into your teen's life against their wishes or make outrageous demands on their time. Especially if you want great results.

Finding different ways to spend time with your teen may be as easy as taking advantage of the normal activities of everyday life. Some examples could be:

  • Cooking and eating together
  • Chores or volunteering for a shared cause.
  • Go shopping! Let them know the spending limit and make sure it is something they want, not you.
  • Learn something together. Ask them, "What have you always wanted to learn how to do?" or "Is there something you've never done, but would like to?"
  • Letting your teen have you for an unplugged hour or afternoon for whatever they want to do (cue the relaxed openness!)

Spending time with your child can open up a new avenue of shared interest and create meaningful communication with your teen and a connection that they aren't quick to put aside.

Bottom Line:

Bonding with your son or daughter involves a decent amount of communication as well as quality and quantity family time. One-on-one activities teach you and your child about who they are and where they fit into this great chaos we call life.

Though suggestions given here are best seeded when children are young, don't give up hope! They are still applicable to today and all the gnarly situations you find yourself wading through with your ever-changing teenager.

Lifeline For Youth stands behind families and aims to educate and help families heal. For more suggestions and tips give us a call at 1-855-968-8443 today.

By LifeLine

How do I know if my teen is using drugs or alcohol?

“How can I tell if my teen is using drugs or alcohol?”

Drugs leave physical and behavioral symptoms, just like a cold or chicken pox, and if present, can be indicative of use. Depending on what type of drug or drugs your child may be using, different markers may be present. Let’s look at some of the signs of teen drug use. We’ve broken them down into 3 categories: Physical, Behavioral, and Psychological.

Physical Signs of Substance Abuse

The Eyes

Have you ever really looked into someone’s eyes? Almost every type of substance abuse presents physical changes in the appearance of the eyes- from very enlarged pupils (pupil dilation), to very tiny pupils, called pinning. Also, other common effects seen in the eyes are redness, called “bloodshot” eyes (Conjuctiva), and watery or “glossy” looking eyes. Common with some stimulants like amphetamines (think Ecstasy and MDMA) are blurred vision and rapid eye movements or quivering (called nystagmus). Half closed and droopy eyelids register a “stoned” look that is all too common.

Rapid Changes in Weight

You've been accustomed to the thick and thin of your teen's weight fluctuations since they were born. Weight is put on to supply growing bodies with the nutrients it needs to progress, resulting in thinner bodies after the growth spurt is over. However if you start noticing rapid changes in weight without the added increase in height or muscle mass, it may be time to pay attention.

Certain stimulants like Adderall used for ADHD and the like, if abused can cause weight loss.

Also the use of other substances can cause a dulling of the senses and lack of awareness to hunger and inattention to the needs of the body, thus affecting weight loss.

Changes In Hygiene and Grooming

Some teens don't pay much attention to the details of physical upkeep, especially during times when their bodies are changing considerably. However,  a decrease in attention to appearance can be a clue to the puzzle if your teens habits take a drastic turn. Look for out-of-the-ordinary smells. Pay special attention to their breath and clothing. If they have developed a sudden interest in air fresheners or perfumes, they may be trying to hide the smell of drugs or smoke.

Paraphernalia

This is the most obvious of the signs of drug use in teens. Indisputable are the tools of the trade, and they can range from small cases and tins to unsuspected items like gum wrappers, modified pop cans, cut up straws, or dollars curled up with residue. Snack size bags and zip-lock style plastic bags can hold all types of drugs, from marijuana to prescription pills. Pay attention to kitchen items your child may be taking off to their room and not returning.

You are your child’s parent, not their friend so that means you have every right to look through their room and belongings! Especially if you suspect something like substance abuse is a problem for your teenager.

"You are your child’s parent, not their friend so that means you have every right to look through their room and belongings! Especially if you suspect something like substance abuse is a problem for your teenager."

LifeLine for Youth

Behavioral Signs of Substance Abuse

Decline in School Performance

Big changes in grades and attendance that happen within a short time and have no explanation (family stress, sickness etc.) and are atypical of your child, might mean an intervention could be necessary. Combined with other physical and behavioral markers, poor grades, attendance, downturn of participation in class and sports, or getting into more trouble (fights, arguments) than is normal can be a big red flag for drug use in teens and young adults.

Changes in Social Circles

During the time of discovering one’s autonomy likes, dislikes and interests will change. With this vacillation of interests will come changes in the friends your child hangs around with. This is to be expected. But drastic changes in the number of friends, either increase or decrease should raise some eyebrows. If you see your child wanting to isolate themselves or withdraw from family that may be a sign of substance abuse. When a child spends a lot of time with unnamed friends and acquaintances, or several that you've never heard of or seen before, pay attention, parent! Teens will fall in with those that share their interests and it merits your attentive eye.

"If you see your child wanting to isolate themselves or withdraw from family that may be a sign of substance abuse."

LifeLine for Youth

Missing Money or Prescriptions

News flash – drugs cost money. When you’re a teenager, you don’t have a ton of disposable income lying around. So, if money or valuables or prescriptions seem to go missing in your home, or your child is asking to borrow more than usual this may be a red flag.

Problems with Family

Among all the ups and downs of a child learning to become an independent young adult, one of the most frustrating is the disagreements and fall-outs with parents and those in the family. Heightened and unexplained anger, paranoia, blaming others for problems, and an overly emphasized amount of time alone or out of the house means serious business. Wanting to be alone, isolated, withdrawn, or silent is an indicator that something is wrong.

Psychological Signs of Substance Abuse

Mood Swings

True, mood swings are just part of the changes that come with puberty, but the keyword here is DRAMATIC mood changes. Is your child suddenly irritable for no good reason? Often they will develop a lack of interest in things they previously enjoyed that appears out of the blue.

Everybody reacts differently to drugs, but watch for the two extremes:

  • Suddenly becoming hyperactive or exteremly agitated. Your child seems to have developed an unhealthy sense of paranoia, irrational fears, and anxiety.
  • A sudden loss of motivations and inability to focusRelated to mood swings is a sudden or dramatic change in sleeping habits or appetite.

If you feel like there is an unexplained, abrupt change in attitude or in personality, it may be time to intervene.

Feel free to share this infographic. We just ask that you link back to our site.

You are not alone!

Raising children is difficult, no one will contest that. Second guessing yourself becomes second nature. Sometimes taking the time to second guess your teens odd behavior could have critical, and perhaps even deadly consequences. When you see questionable behavior out of your already moody teen, it can lead you to wonder “How can I tell if my teen is using drugs or alcohol?

Thankfully, according to a 2016 report teen drug and alcohol use are declining. Sadly though it was reported that still nearly 40% of teens had “been drunk” within the year. When these substance use and drug abuse behaviors touch your household, the effects can be devastating. Knowing where to turn and who to trust for youth care in Utah can be confusing. Lifeline for Youth can help families overcome the crisis of substance abuse, depression, and provide restorative addiction treatment for teens and their families.

Hiding a drug habit involves a lot of subterfuge so we thought you might appreciate a little help with some of the more popular slang that exists:

DRUG SLANG 101:
• Dexing: Abusing cough syrup.
• Triple C: This stands for Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold.
• Special K: Ketamine – a medication used as an anesthetic in humans and animals.
• Crank: The stimulant methamphetamine.
• Antifreeze: Heroin.
• Crunk: This is a verb that means to get high and drunk at the same time.
• Snow: Cocaine.
• X: Ecstasy or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).

For a more detailed list of drug slang, download it here: dea-drug-slang-code-words-may2017

So, what do I do now?

Bringing up the topic of alcohol or drug use with your teen as soon as possible is important, but should never be done before you are prepared to do so, while you are angry, or while your child is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you and your child have an open line of communication already, talk with them about the issues they are facing to determine if they need therapy or support. Remember, just because your child is using drugs or alcohol doesn’t automatically mean you are a bad parent or that your child is a bad kid. So, do your best to set your personal feelings to the side while you discuss the issues with your child.

There are many reasons teenagers begin using drugs or alcohol. Some begin using them as a coping mechanism to help deal with unpleasant feelings such as anger, depression, boredom, anxiety, trauma, or confusion. Drugs and alcohol are often used to simply escape the problems they face related to simply growing up. If anyone else in the family uses drugs or alcohol, research shows teenagers are more likely to experiment with them themselves. Family members are role models for children, whether it’s good or bad. Even if family members do not use drugs or alcohol, teenagers are also influenced by their environment and most especially by their peers.

"Bringing up the topic of alcohol or drug use with your teen...should never be done...while you are angry, or while your child is under the influence...."

LifeLine for Youth

Talking with your Teen

Once you are ready to talk with your adolescent, about using drugs or alcohol, don’t be afraid to be yourself. They need to understand that you are the parent and you are trying to look out for their best because you love them. Let them know you are truly concerned while also helping them understand that you want to support them and help them with any issues they may be facing. Never beat around the bush, though, because that may cause confusion and give them a way out of admitting their problems with drugs and/or alcohol.

It is very possible that your teen may react angrily. It is only natural for anyone to put up walls immediately to keep from having discussions that may be hard. Continue talking with your teen though, so they can be assured you are looking out for their best. It is likely you will need to use outside support to help your teen and family deal with the substance abuse. If your child is willing to move forward with help, it is important to have a treatment center ready immediately to get them on the road to recovery.

Check out our article about how to talk with your teen.

Parents, we want you to know that Life Line for Youth is there if know or suspect your teen has drug addiction or behavioral issues and you need help. We're here to lend a hand with supportive youth care to help repair the damage done when families don't know where to turn. Each child deserves a chance, each family deserves a future. Contact us today for more information

Each child deserves a chance! Each family deserves a future. Reach out to us today!

How did you hear about us?

Your Question

By Avant8

Dan on Studio 5 June 19, 2013

EMBED VIDEO

Clinical Director, Dan Scholz, with Lifeline, says if parents want to help their kids, it’s important to take care of themselves first.

By Avant8

Dan on Studio 5 November 28, 2012

LifeLine is a program for youth aged 13-17. Our belief is that “where there’s smoke there’s fire”, meaning when there are behavioral problems there are underlying reasons.

We commonly deal with behavioral problems or “Warning Signs”:

Warning signs include:
Declining grades
Truancy
Family conflict
Substance abuse
Mood changes
Isolation
Change in friends
Anger or aggression

Our belief is that drugs and other behavioral problems are a symptom, not the problem. We define this as a “Core issue”.

Core issues include:
Grief and loss
Shame
Divorce
Abuse/Rape
Depression/Anxiety
Change in living
Adoption

By Avant8

Dan on Studio 5, March 2012

EMBED VIDEO

Many families are affected by drug experimentation and addiction. It can start with teens who might start using drugs and it can quickly turn into an addiction that affects the entire family.

Dan Scholz, LCSW, is a the Clinical Director at LifeLine for youth and he helps breaks down what can lead to addictions and how to find help.

Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by changes in the brain which result in a compulsive desire to use a drug.

Teen substance abuse trends

  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Over the counters
  • Prescriptions
  • Spice
  • Mushrooms

Why do people take drugs?

  • To feel good
  • To feel better
  • To do better
  • Curiosity and
  • “because others are doing it”

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can impact every type of family regardless of background. We treat youth from all types of religions, socioeconomic background, gender, race, etc. Addiction impacts Utah families and can cause significant problems. As parents, spend time understanding prevention methods and warning signs of substance abuse problems. The more habitual the problem becomes the more difficult it can be to treat it. Fortunately there is hope. Addicts can change. We know that family support is critical in prevention as well as treatment.

By Avant8

Dan on Studio 5, February 2012

EMBED VIDEO

If you want to keep your kids safe and away from drugs or “at-risk” activities,  the best time to start is right now.   Research shows that even kids in high- risk situations can be successful in avoiding destructive behavior with the  right steps from parents.

Dan Scholz, Clinical Director at LifeLine for Youth – a resource for at-risk kids and outlines some  steps to take.

By Avant8

Shane on Studio 5, January 2012

EMBED VIDEO

In today’s world, it’s all too common for teens to make bad decisions. Even  the best kids – perhaps some you know and love – can lose their way. Life- line helps both teens and their families make positive changes for life.  Shane Petersen, Executive Director of the LifeLine for Youth Program  shares how parents can keep their kids  making the right choices.