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The teen years are a critical developmental phase as children become adults.

During adolescence, preteens and teens going through puberty become increasingly conscious of their body image. They develop their sexual, gender, and ethnic identities. Peer relationships become increasingly important. School responsibilities increase and some teens get a job. Many teens experiment with drugs and alcohol. The teen years have unique stresses and pressures. Teens may not always let on—but parents and other caring adults play a vital role in providing support and helping teens achieve their best on their way to adulthood.

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Is Your Child Resilient?

Read on to discover how to become more confident, stronger & resilient...and teach it to your kids!

Teens Sleeping with Cell Phones: A Clear and Present Danger

You may already know that many teens sleep with their cell phone on or near the bed. As an adult, you yourself may sleep with your cell phone and see no problem with this behavior.

A closer look at the reasons that 4 out of 5 teens sleep with their phone, however, gives cause for concern. While for some teens, the night use of the phone is as a clock or alarm, for most the phone is on all night to connect with peers.

Confronting Social Disparities

One of the most troubling realities of the struggling teens industry is that many of the youths with the greatest needs have the least access to high-quality services.  The hard, cold fact is that low-income teens are overrepresented in many, although not all, risk areas.

Programs for Struggling Teens: Ideal Features- Part VI

The professional literature on adolescent development and programs for struggling teens suggests that, ideally, programs should have a number of key features.  These principles should underpin any efforts to help struggling teens and their families along every point in the continuum of care, including initial assessment, crisis intervention, home-bas

Programs for Struggling Teens: Ideal Features- Part V

The professional literature on adolescent development and programs for struggling teens suggests that, ideally, programs should have a number of key features.  These principles should underpin any efforts to help struggling teens and their families along every point in the continuum of care, including initial assessment, crisis intervention, home-bas

Bios

Samantha Madhosingh, Psy.D.

Samantha Madhosingh, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist and professional coach with expertise in child development, family issues, parenting, and trauma. She has a private...

Benjamin Hodge

Ben Hodge is the sole acting teacher at Central York High School in PA where he has been on staff since 2002. He studied...

Dana Markey

Dana Markey serves as the program coordinator for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, working with the NAMI Child and Adolescent Action Center....

Frederic Reamer Ph.D.

Dr. Reamer is Professor in the Graduate Program of the School of Social Work, Rhode Island College, where he has been on the faculty...

Jude Cassidy Ph.D.

Dr. Cassidy is Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland at College Park, and Director of the Maryland Child and Family Development Laboratory....

Is Your Child Resilient?

Read on to discover how to become more confident, stronger & resilient…and teach it to your kids!

Teens Sleeping with Cell Phones: A Clear and Present Danger

You may already know that many teens sleep with their cell phone on or near the bed. As an adult, you yourself may sleep with your cell phone and see no problem with this behavior.

A closer look at the reasons that 4 out of 5 teens sleep with their phone, however, gives cause for concern. While for some teens, the night use of the phone is as a clock or alarm, for most the phone is on all night to connect with peers.

Confronting Social Disparities

One of the most troubling realities of the struggling teens industry is that many of the youths with the greatest needs have the least access to high-quality services.  The hard, cold fact is that low-income teens are overrepresented in many, although not all, risk areas.

Programs for Struggling Teens: Ideal Features- Part VI

The professional literature on adolescent development and programs for struggling teens suggests that, ideally, programs should have a number of key features.  These principles should underpin any efforts to help struggling teens and their families along every point in the continuum of care, including initial assessment, crisis intervention, home-bas

Programs for Struggling Teens: Ideal Features- Part V

The professional literature on adolescent development and programs for struggling teens suggests that, ideally, programs should have a number of key features.  These principles should underpin any efforts to help struggling teens and their families along every point in the continuum of care, including initial assessment, crisis intervention, home-bas

The Benchmarks of Caring

A student of mine recently asked me why I care so much about young people.  For a moment, I didn’t know what to say.  How do you answer a question like that without sounding fake or cliche?  I believe I answered with some basic response about understanding respect and the principles of caring, but I don’

Programs for Struggling Teens: Ideal Features- Part IV

The professional literature on adolescent development and programs for struggling teens suggests that, ideally, programs should have a number of key features.  These principles should underpin any efforts to help struggling teens and their families along every point in the continuum of care, including initial assessment, crisis intervention, home-bas

A Virtual Community for Young Adults Living with Mental Illness

We all want someone to understand us when we nervously admit to some quirky, obsessive habit or finally acknowledge that maybe we are not as happy as we seem. We all, at one time or another, have taken the risk of self-disclosure in the hopes that someone we relate to on so many other levels will respond with, “Oh yeah, me too.” This small, simple acknowledgement can have us breathing huge sighs of relief.

Programs for Struggling Teens: Ideal Features- Part III

The professional literature on adolescent development and programs for struggling teens suggests that, ideally, programs should have a number of key features.  These principles should underpin any efforts to help struggling teens and their families along every point in the continuum of care, including initial assessment, crisis intervention, home-bas

Programs for Struggling Teens: Ideal Features- Part II

The professional literature on adolescent development and programs for struggling teens suggests that, ideally, programs should have a number of key features.  These principles should underpin any efforts to help struggling teens and their families along every point in the continuum of care, including initial assessment, crisis intervention, home-bas

Programs for Struggling Teens: Ideal Features- Part I

Parents of struggling teens often feel desperate to find the “right” program or school for their child.  Parents typically feel a sense of urgency, particularly when the teen and family are in a crisis situation.

Protecting Teens in Crisis: Constructive Oversight of Programs

One of the greatest challenges facing the struggling teen industry is the lack of conscientious, constructive, and sustained oversight at regular intervals by external organizations.

Abuses in Programs for Struggling Teens: The Legacy of Scandal

Most programs and schools for struggling teens are run professionally and are reputable.  Sadly, however, some are not.  Parents who are eager to find programs and schools for their teens should be aware that some have been notoriously abusive and unethical.

Embracing a Strengths Perspective

Since the advent of efforts in the 1800s to intervene with struggling teens and their families, we have learned a great deal about what to do—and what not to do—to be helpful.  In recent decades we have learned much about the ways in which properly run schools and programs can have profoundly useful, meaningful, and lasting positive influences on struggling teens and their families.

The Effectiveness of Programs for Struggling Teens

The most reputable programs and schools for struggling teens are those that base their services on research that has been published in peer-reviewed professional journals. The peer review process offers some assurance that the research satisfies widely accepted scientific standards.

Programs for Struggling Teens: Day Treatment Programs

Day treatment programs provide teens with nonresidential services to help them address their mental health and substance abuse issues.  The goal is to provide teens with structured and comprehensive services without hospitalization or residential care.  Typical programs require youths to participate in individual, group, and, when feasible, family counseling.  Educational services may be included to help teens stay on track academically.  Some day treatment programs are affiliated with hospitals and some are independent.  The program’s schedule may provide significa

Programs for Struggling Teens: Mentoring Programs

Mentoring programs provide struggling adolescents with trained, caring adults who provide teens with support, guidance, advice, and friendship.  Mentoring programs encourage teens to stay focused on their education; provide support during crises; offer constructive ways to spend free time; and expose teens to career paths and options.  Mentors seek to enhance, but not replace, the roles of parents, guardians, and teachers.  Mentors and teens may begin their relationships by participating in a variety of activities.  Depending on the type of mentoring program – and the pr

Programs for Struggling Teens: Youth Diversion Programs

Youth diversion programs typically attempt to help struggling teens who have had contact with the police avoid more formal involvement in the juvenile justice system (that is, juvenile courts and correctional facilities).  Typical youth diversion programs offer first-time offenders individual and family counseling, links to other needed services (such as psychiatric medication), and education.  Teens enrolled in diversion programs typically meet with probation officers who provide the court with periodic progress reports.  Teens who comply with youth diversion program require

Programs for Struggling Teens: Alternative High Schools

Alternative high schools in the home community provide education, including special education services, to teens who have foundered academically or socially in traditional high schools.  The schools may be freestanding or sponsored by a community mental health center, family service agency, school district, or “collaborative” composed of several social services and educational programs.  Some alternative high schools, especially those affiliated with a community mental health center, offer “in house” mental health services for students who struggle with significant emotional and b

Programs for Struggling Teens: Substance Abuse Courts

Many different kinds of services and programs are available for struggling teens.  Some provide relatively short-term crisis intervention, and others provide long-term care and treatment.  Parents may find it useful to think about services and programs as a spectrum of options.  At one end of the spectrum are services and programs that emphasize educational issues and, in addition, pay attention to teenagers’ emotional needs.  Examples include traditional high schools and alternative, community-based high schools that work with teens and parents to develop an IEP (Indivi

The Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Program or School

Parents of a struggling teen sometimes feel lost, fearful, frustrated, and angry.  They mayfeel torn between their love for their child and their outrage over their child’s misbehavior.  Parents may hope that what has not worked in the past will finally show positive results.  Slowly they may realize that different, new interventions are needed; something must change, and quickly.

Despite the pressure to act decisively and immediately, it is important to avoid several common mistakes in choosing a program or school.

Finding the Right Program or School

Parents (and their advisers) must thoroughly examine schools and programs before deciding which is likely to be most appropriate.  Parents should not select a school or program on the basis of superficial reputations, glossy brochures, videos, Web site information, or word of mouth.  Parents need to look deep beneath the surface and probe for detailed information from multiple, informed sources.  Hasty and impulsive choices can backfire and lead to more disruption and distress.  Parents should ask the following questions:

Finding Skilled Educational Consultants

Selecting the right educational consultant is vital when parents need to find a specialized school or program, especially when parents feel the need to find a school or program outside of their home community (that is, when all local options have been exhausted).  Competent and ethical educational consultants have specialized training and expertise; they provide a thorough assessment and comprehensive information to help parents make wise choices.  Some people who call themselves educational consultants, however, have little formal education and training.  They may have confl

Finding Services and Programs

Programs and services for struggling teens can be found in many ways.  Parents can start by contacting school personnel (for example, guidance counselors, social workers, student adjustment counselors, administrators), community-based family service agencies, mental health centers, neighborhood centers, other social service programs designed specifically for at-risk youths and their families, public child welfare agencies, family and juvenile courts, specialty courts (such as truancy and drug courts), and clergy.  Some communities provide structured programs that offer families co

Parenting a Struggling Teen: Thinking Beyond the Crisis

Understandably, parents of struggling teens often are preoccupied with immediate crises.  When teens spin out of control at home, in school, or in the community, parents need to respond quickly: Do we intervene this time or do we let our child go under and experience the consequences, so she or he learns a lesson?  Of course, in the face of crises, it can be hard to take the long view and appreciate how complex and slow the process of change can be.  In the heat of the moment, parents may feel intense pressure to figure out immediately how to get their child reinstated in sch

Parenting a Struggling Teen: The Importance of Self-Care

Parents of struggling teens need to take care of themselves. A solo pilot flying through extremely turbulent weather is in a risky predicament; the pilot must be vigilant and alert, or the plane will crash.  When exhaustion sets in, disaster is more likely.  Living with intense stress without support or relief can seriously erode one’s health and ability to cope with the next crisis.

Parents of struggling teens may show signs of severe stress, including the following typical symptoms:*

Parenting a Struggling Teen: Learning How to Cope with Shame and Isolation

Parents of struggling teens know the unparalleled pain associated with unwelcome news that their child is in some kind of trouble.  They are all too used to telephone calls from the school guidance counselor, teacher, vice principal, police, or summer camp director that begin with something like, “We need to talk – it seems we have a serious problem here with your child.”  Parents of struggling teens usually have a large collection of stories about their trips to school, the summer program, police station, or elsewhere for yet another meeting to talk about their child’s mischief,

What can you do to lower your kids’ future therapy bills?

“You’re right, I’m the worst mom ever, this will give you another thing to tell your future therapist,” you say to your daughter. While kidding – at least halfway – the modern parent is beginning to see therapy in their child’s future as inevitable, a necessary part of being a mentally healthy adult. In these tough economic times parents are struggling to keep up with the college tuition fund. Imagine thinking you need to start the therapy fund as well!

Parenting a Struggling Teen: Accepting Painful Truths

Most people enter parenthood with dreams about having deeply satisfying, rewarding relationships with their children as they grow and develop successfully.  Typical parents fantasize about their children’s successful futures, achievements, and budding personalities.  They imagine their precious child maturing into an accomplished adult and their rich parent-child relationship.  When a teen begins to struggle, parents often view the descent as a reflection on their parenting abilities.  After all, what makes a parent look perfect?  A perfect child!  The struggli

Parenting a Struggling Teen: Let Go . . . and Hold On

Parents of children who have struggled for a long time have lots of experience stepping in to pick up the pieces.  For instance, your 10-year-old goes to school, accidentally leaving his writing assignment on the kitchen table and you drive it to school so your child will not receive a failing grade; but when your 16-year-old does the same thing, it may be time to let your child experience the natural consequences of his forgetfulness.  When your 17-year-old gets a speeding ticket, it is important that it be paid out of the teen’s own savings.

Parenting a Struggling Teen: Forming a United Front

Parents of a struggling teen sometimes find it difficult to coordinate their parenting styles and strategies.  In two-parent families, it is extremely helpful when the teen’s parents are on the same page, forming a united front, asserting the same rules, expectations, and consequences.  This is true when both parents are in the home, when there is divorce or separation, or with never-married parents or step-parents.  All teenagers, not just those who act out and defy authority, can be masters at splitting parents and playing one off against the other.  Teenagers who hear

Parenting tips

Parents of struggling teens often find it challenging to find the best way to respond. It may help to keep the following tips in mind.∗

Responding to struggling teens: The need for balance

Many struggling teens rebel against structure.

How to assess struggling teens’ special needs

To find the right services, schools, or programs for struggling teens, it is important to have a good understanding of his or her unique challenges and needs.

Am I depressed or just deep?

Yes. I admit it. I am a recovering angry youth.

What’s a struggling teen?

What, exactly, is a struggling teen? The term struggling teen describes
youths who show signs of distress, some subtle and some obvious. Common warning signs include the
following behaviors:

Finding help for struggling teens: First steps

As all of us know, the adolescent years can be challenging.

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