Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Teen Moods

Surviving the Roller Coaster:A Teen's Guide to Coping with Moods

Have you ever been laughing one moment, and crying the next? How about so angry you could throw something, and then suddenly burst out laughing? All of us have experienced mood swings like this, and they're even more common during adolescence. Rapidly changing emotions, from contentment to irritability, anger to despair, euphoria to despondency, are common occurrences during your teen years.

What causes these shifts in mood?

The sources vary, but for most teens, two main agents are involved: brain chemistry and life changes. The same hormonal activity that brings about the body changes teens experience also triggers changes in your brain. At the same time, your relationships with your family and friends are changing, you have more responsibilities and freedoms than ever before, and you face a whole new set of pressures. All these things can turn your life into a series of emotional peaks and valleys. But there is hope. This book will help you understand what's happening to you, and it will offer practical coping mechanisms. Don't worry. You too can survive the roller coaster!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

HELP! My Teenager is an Alien

The Everyday Situation Guide for Parents
Every week, you can join best selling author and recognised teen expert Sarah Newton as she shares with you her secrets. Committed to giving you everyday solutions to everyday problems, Sarah will walk you through her non-psychobabble advice and support you in implementing her tips and techniques, which have been viewed around the world on her TV programmes. Based on her book, this show is a dynamic journey that will give you tips, tools and strategies for a healthy and enjoyable relationship with your teenager. If you want inside secrets from the first choice of experts when it comes to teenagers, then this is the show for you.
Type the Book Title in the Amazon Box on the Sidebar and order today!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: Helping Kids Deal with Bullying

Source: TeensHealth
Each day, 10-year-old Seth asked his mom for more and more lunch money. Yet he seemed skinnier than ever and came home from school hungry. It turned out that Seth was handing his lunch money to a fifth-grader, who was threatening to beat him up if he didn't pay.

Kayla, 13, thought things were going well at her new school, since all the popular girls were being so nice to her. But then she found out that one of them had posted mean rumors about her on a website. Kayla cried herself to sleep that night and started going to the nurse's office complaining of a stomachache to avoid the girls in study hall.

Unfortunately, the kind of bullying that Seth and Kayla experienced is widespread. In national surveys, most kids and teens say that bullying happens at school.

A bully can turn something like going to the bus stop or recess into a nightmare for kids. Bullying can leave deep emotional scars that last for life. And in extreme situations, it can culminate in violent threats, property damage, or someone getting seriously hurt.

If your child is being bullied, there are ways to help him or her cope with it on a day-to-day basis and lessen its lasting impact. And even if bullying isn't an issue right in your house right now, it's important to discuss it so your kids will be prepared if it does happen.
What Is Bullying?

Most kids have been teased by a sibling or a friend at some point. And it's not usually harmful when done in a playful, friendly, and mutual way, and both kids find it funny. But when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and needs to stop.
Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting money and treasured possessions. Some kids bully by shunning others and spreading rumors about them. Others use email, chat rooms, instant messages, social networking websites, and text messages to taunt others or hurt their feelings.

It's important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as something that kids have to "tough out." The effects can be serious and affect kids' sense of self-worth and future relationships. In severe cases, bullying has contributed to tragedies, such as school shootings.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: Prevent Inhalant Abuse Kit


Download this valuable kit today and learn more about inhalant use. It is a serious concern today - since most inhalants are found in your household.

The Alliance for Consumer Education launched ITS Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit at a national press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC. The kit was successfully tested in 6 pilot states across the country. Currently, ACE’s Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit is in all 50 states. Furthermore, the Kit is in its third printing due to high demands.

The Kit is intended for presentations to adult audiences. Specifically parents of elementary and middle school children, so they can talk to their children about the dangers and risks associated with Inhalants. We base the program on data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Statistics show that parents talking to their kids about drugs decrease the risk of the kids trying a drug.

The Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit contains 4 components: the Facilitator’s Guide, a FAQ sheet, an interactive PowerPoint presentation, and a “What Every Parent Needs to Know about Inhalant Abuse” brochure. Additionally, there are 4 printable posters for classroom use, presentations, etc.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Alliance for a Healthier Generation

About Us The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a partnership between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation. We have come together to create a new generation of healthy Americans by addressing one of the nation’s leading public health threats – childhood obesity.

Along with our co-leader Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, the Alliance focuses on preventing childhood obesity and creating healthier lifestyles for all children and targets several areas to spark change and reduce the increasing rates of childhood obesity in the U.S.Our Mission

To eliminate childhood obesity and to inspire all young people in the United States to develop lifelong, healthy habits.

Our Goals

The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015 and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices.

The Alliance will positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child’s health: homes, schools, restaurants, doctor’s offices, and the community.

Our Programs

Healthy Schools Program

Increasing opportunities for students to exercise and playPutting healthy foods and beverages in vending machines and cafeteriasProviding resources for teachers and staff to become healthy role models

Industry Program

Influencing restaurants and snack companies to make substantially healthier meals, drinks and snacks for kids.

Kids' Movement

The empowerME campaign is inspiring kids to make healthy behavior changes and become advocates and leaders for healthy eating and physical activity.Learn More About the Kids' MovementFor kids, check out

Healthcare Program

Giving tools to healthcare providers so that they can better diagnose, prevent and treat obesity.Learn More About the Healthcare Initiative

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Suicide Prevention Day

Today is April 22, 2009 which is Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol is a statewide event in which the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention and the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition are joined by advocates, survivors, grassroots organizations, youth and other state agencies to bring suicide to the forefront as a public issue. This year, the actual day is Wednesday, April 22 but we are holding several activities throughout the week of April 20th - 24th. Below, you will find the tentative schedule of events, but I encourage you to continue checking our website for the most current updates as they become available.

( Please see the attached flyer and Governor’s proclamation.

If you or someone you love is thinking about suicide, please reach out for hope by calling:1-800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)24 hours a day; 7 days a week


April 22, 2009 at 9:00 AM, Capitol Building Plaza RotundaEducational Display Booths and Legislative Advocacy

April 22, 2009 at 2:00 PM, Capitol Building Cabinet RoomSuicide Prevention Day Press Conference featuring:Director Bill Janes, Florida Office of Drug ControlSecretary George Sheldon, Florida Department of Children & FamiliesSenator Evelyn Lynn, Florida District 7

April 23 – 24, 2009; from 8:00 PM – 5:00 PM; Location TBAApplied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) (tentative)Don’t forget to also visit our portable billboard that will be in front of the Historic Capitol all week!

Please take a moment to post these events on your agency websites and forward on to your colleagues. We hope to see everyone there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sarah Maria - Body Image in Teens

Source: Break Free Beauty - Sarah Maria

If you're in high school, most of your friends are probably on a diet. A recent study shows that 90% of junior and senior girls are on a diet regularly, even though only 10-15% are actually overweight.

The modeling industry also promotes the idea that you need to diet and exercise religiously. Fashion models are actually thinner than 98% of American women. An average woman stands 5'4" tall and weighs about 140 lbs, while the average fashion model is a towering 5'11" tall and weighs under 117 lbs.

In reality no amount of dieting, exercise and discipline can earn you a magazine cover-ready body because those photos have been Photo Shopped, doctored and airbrushed. Don't waste your time attempting to be what you are not, instead; focus on cultivating who you are!

Body Image Tips
As you progress through puberty and your high school years, your body changes as fast as your favorite ringtones. But learning to appreciate your body and have positive self image is a task that few adults have even mastered. Here are some tips to help you learn to love yourself:

Learn to Cook- It is never too early to learn to cook. In just a few years, you will be on your own and you will be expected to feed and take care of yourself. Get some practice at home by preparing some family meals or meals for just yourself. Try some new foods by looking through cookbooks and online. Impress your friends by having a dinner party. This also helps you understand how food functions within a regular diet. Learn how to cook healthily so you can eat healthily, but don't spend too much time worrying about food!

Don't Diet!- Dieting is a great way to ruin your eating habits and your relationship with food and your body. Instead, learn about healthy eating and exercise habits. The healthy habits you learn while you are young will serve you throughout your life!

People Watch- Go to the mall or a public space and people watch. How many are fat or thin? How tall are most women? Men? What do you like or dislike about people's styles, looks or body type? How much of their appearance is "style" and how much is their actual body types? Cultivate the ability to see style and beauty in everyone. As you learn to do this, you can be a trend-setter instead of a trend-follower.

Keep it Real- Remember, people only pick the best photos to be on their MySpace or Facebook page. Remind yourself that they all have bad hair days, the occasional zit or an unflattering outfit choice.

Stay Well Rounded- Sign up for activities that you have never tried. Join an intramural sport or speech meet. Build up your college resume by participating in extracurricular activities. It's a great way to broaden your social circle and prepares you for college or a job.

Be a Trend Setter- Don't just follow the crowd - create your own crowd by being a trend setter. Find your own style and look by experimenting with your hair, makeup and clothing. What is your look trying to say? Does it match what you want people to think about you? Someone has to set the trends. Why not you?

Learn to meditate- It is never too early to learn to meditate. You will find that this is a skill you can use all your life. By focusing inward, it is easier to distill the truth rather than listening to outside influences. It will also help you manage the stress of your busy life.

Parental Tips
If you are a parent of a teen, you know the challenges of living with an emotional, possibly aloof teenager who begs for guidance but disregards most of what you say. Their alternating moods and attitudes make approaching a touchy subject like body image feel dangerous. The following are some tips to help with a positive body image:

Have an Open Door Policy-You'd like your teen to approach you with any problem she is facing but often you aren't sure if she's coming to you, going to her friends or suffering alone. Encourage regular candid conversation by noticing what times and places your teen is most likely to talk. Is she a night owl? Does she like talking on a long drive? Is she more comfortable emailing? Use the time and venue that is most comfortable for her and encourage open sharing.

Limit Harmful Media- Put your teen daughter on a media diet. Don't feel you need to restrict website, magazine or TV shows entirely. Just be cautious of what mediums she concentrates on. Be especially mindful of any one celebrity that she idolizes or photos that she tears out and stares at repeatedly. Discuss how all magazine photos are airbrushed and doctored.

Compliment Her and Her Friends- Make a point to compliment both your daughter and her friends on a well-put together outfit or a new hair style. Teens are trying on new looks and personalities as their bodies change. Let them know that they have hit on a good look when they experiment in the right direction.

Make sure to compliment them on things not related to their appearance as well. A good grade, a valiant sports effort or kind deed also deserve notice. Try to practice a 90/10% rule. Let 90% of your comments and insights be positive and only 10% should be carefully worded constructive criticism.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Love Our Children USA - Learn How To Help Children Today Against Violence

THE ISSUE:Every year over 3 million children are victims of violence and almost 1.8 million are abducted. Nearly 600,000 children live in foster care. Every day 1 out of 7 kids and teens are approached online by predators, 1 out of 4 kids are bullied and 42% of kids are cyberbullied.

THE SOLUTION: PREVENTION! Getting to the root of the cause through education and changing behaviors and attitudes. Loving and nurturing children. Stopping Violence BEFORE itstarts -- creating happy and healthy children ... Keeping Children Safe
Love Our Children USA™ is the national nonprofit leader in breaking the cycle of violence against children. The organization has become 'the Go-To' prevention organization for all forms of violence and neglect against children in the U.S.

Since 1999, Love Our Children USA has paved the way in the prevention of violence and neglect against children … keeping children safe and strengthening families.Love Our Children USA eliminates behaviors that keep kids from reaching their potential. We redefine parenting and create kid success with prevention strategies and positive changes in parenting and familyattitudes and behaviors through public education. Honoring andrespecting children of all ages ... empowering and supporting kids, teens, parents and families through information, resources, advocacy and online mentoring. Our goal is to keep children safe and strengthen families -- Our message is positive ... one of prevention, empowerment and hope.

The funds we receive go towards: Assisting Children and Families with Information and Resources, Public Education, Community Outreach and Awareness, Youth For Youth Partnership, National Love Our Children Day, Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention, Internet Safety, Positive Parenting Education, National District Attorney's Child Protection Task Force, Darko Rapotez Memorial College Scholarship Fund For Aged Out Foster Youth, National Block Parenting Progam, Youth Safety Programs, a Wish Program for child victims and foster kids, creating a 24 Hour Toll-Free Hotline, Speaker Bureaus and Advocacy. Funds enable us to produce and distribute over 35 guides for parents and children, maintain and enhance our extensive web resources, conduct the necessary research to help us focus on the trends of violence against children and produce effective anti-violence messages.

Take time to learn more at: You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook too!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Locks of Love - Get your Teens involved

Summer is coming - if your child is considering cutting their hair - make it worth something. There is not a better feeling than giving to those in need, especially with an organization such as Locks of Love. See if your child is a good candidate to help out other kids that need their generosity of love.


Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Tattoo's

This can be a hot topic today - each parent has their own beliefs, however learn more about getting tattoo’s and important information for keeping it safe.

Source: TeensHealth

It seems like everyone has a tattoo these days. What used to be the property of sailors, outlaws, and biker gangs is now a popular body decoration for many people. And it’s not just anchors, skulls, and battleships anymore — from school emblems to Celtic designs to personalized symbols, people have found many ways to express themselves with their tattoos. Maybe you’ve thought about getting one. But before you head down to the nearest tattoo shop and roll up your sleeve, there are a few things you need to know.


A tattoo is a puncture wound, made deep in your skin, that’s filled with ink. It’s made by penetrating your skin with a needle and injecting ink into the area, usually creating some sort of design. What makes tattoos so long-lasting is they’re so deep — the ink isn’t injected into the epidermis (the top layer of skin that you continue to produce and shed throughout your lifetime). Instead, the ink is injected into the dermis, which is the second, deeper layer of skin. Dermis cells are very stable, so the tattoo is practically permanent.

Tattoos used to be done manually — that is, the tattoo artist would puncture the skin with a needle and inject the ink by hand. Though this process is still used in some parts of the world, most tattoo shops use a tattoo machine these days. A tattoo machine is a handheld electric instrument that uses a tube and needle system. On one end is a sterilized needle, which is attached to tubes that contain ink. A foot switch is used to turn on the machine, which moves the needle in and out while driving the ink about 1/8 inch (about 3 millimeters) into your skin.Most tattoo artists know how deep to drive the needle into your skin, but not going deep enough will produce a ragged tattoo, and going too deep can cause bleeding and intense pain. Getting a tattoo can take several hours, depending on the size and design chosen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: ADHD and ODD: Parenting Your Defiant Child

ADHD behavior issues often partner with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) -- making discipline a challenge. Try these strategies for parents of ADD kids.

Every parent of a child with attention deficit disorder knows what it's like to deal with ADHD behavior problems -- sometimes a child lashes out or refuses to comply with even the most benign request. But about half of all parents who have children with live with severe behavior problems and discipline challenges on an almost daily basis.

That's because 40 percent of children with ADHD also develop oppositional defiant disorder, a condition marked by chronic aggression, frequent outbursts, and a tendency to argue, ignore requests, and engage in intentionally annoying behavior.

How bad can it get? Consider these real-life children diagnosed with both ADHD and ODD:
Read entire article here:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Google Bomb Book Available for Pre-Order

Pre-Order Google Bomb on today!

Our society has reached an all-time low. Simple keystrokes can now literally ruin lives, reputations, and cause years of suffering, and require exorbitant amounts of time, money, and sanity to rebuild a life and/or career that has been shattered by cyberbullying, Internet defamation, identity theft, privacy invasion, and so much more. There is even a term that has emerged into our lexicon that describes the practice of manipulating the ranking of web pages: Google Bomb.

Sue Scheff knows first hand about the devastating effects of Google bombing and Internet defamation. Her reputation was destroyed and she almost lost her business because of false and libelous statements about her and her business that went viral. Falling into a deep depression accompanied by agoraphobia, Sue could not escape the abusive attacks from strangers and the paranoia that accompanies such abuse. However, she fought back, and sued the figure head who launched the attack campaign and was awarded a jury verdict of $11.3 million--a case that has set the precedent for a massive debate on Internet regulation vs. free speech and Internet etiquette and safety policies.

Because there is so much to navigate and know about the unknown and mostly unchartered legal territories of Internet usage, Sue has rounded up some of the world's most preeminent experts on the newly emerging business of Internet law, including attorney John W. Dozier. In Google™ Bomb, Dozier and Scheff offer a hybrid of memoir and prescriptive self-help, as well as a timely call to action that will arm readers with what they can do to avoid falling victim to cyber abuse, rebuild their own ruined reputations, or avoid unknowingly committing a crime against strangers on the Internet.

Written with two markets in mind: those hundreds of thousands of people who are victims of Internet harassment and cannot afford legal council to help clean up their reputations, and those who have built a career, business, and personal reputation and want to be armed with protection and prevention techniques that will help them avoid falling victim to cyber bullies, hackers, e-vengers, and Phreaks.

The true-life story of Sue Scheff's landmark lawsuit and the lessons she learned coupled with invaluable expert advice from a top Internet legal and reputation defense expert, Google™ Bomb is a heavy-hitting, one-of-a-kind book that will likely spark debate, controversy, and save lives at the same time.

Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender which is one of the pioneers of Online Reputation Management Services, writes a compelling, informative and engaging foreword. This book is a book that will touch almost everyone that uses the Internet today.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sue Scheff: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Building Blocks for a Healthy Future Building Blocks for a Healthy Future is an early childhood substance abuse prevention program developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that educates parents and caregivers about the basics of prevention in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. Designed for parents and caregivers of children ages 3 to 6, Building Blocks will help you open up the lines of communication with young children—and make it easier to keep those lines of communication open as they grow older.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sue Scheff: Power Moms Unite


Power Moms are moms working to successfully balance the needs of child, family, and self. Some work outside the home, balancing a career with the needs of their child, family and personal self. Other moms are working from home, managing families while managing a small home-based business or managing large families and a homeschool. There are a wide range of us- all power moms- looking to do our best at our many hats as mom- be that nuturer, coach, educator, cheerleader, psychologist, disciplinarian, party arranger, role-model, etc. The roles are vast and numerous, the balance often difficult to strike. This site hopes to empower these moms by providing timely, valuable and informative resources for celebrating family life and successfully managing ADHD.

Visit for more great articles, parenting tips, ideas and much more!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and The Choking Game

“It’s something that’s not talked about, it’s not well known, and there’s a lure to that.”

– Sarah Johnson, 20, witnessed kids choking themselves

Initially ruled a suicide, 13-year-old Chelsea Dunn may have accidentally killed herself by what some kids call a game.

“They call it something dreaming,” says twenty-year-old Kelly Pilger. Sarah Johnson remembers, “They call it fainting each other.”

Self-asphyxiation-choking each other or themselves, which produces a kind of high. “Press people up against a wall, until they didn’t have any oxygen, until they passed out,” describes Kelly. Jessica Fuller says “[they] probably do it for about four hours at a time, like repeatedly, over and over again.”

They use bags, belts, ties, or even their own bare hands, causing hypoxia, a shortage of oxygen. “Basically, it’s a very dangerous play where the person deprives his brain of oxygen,” explains Dr. Ashraf Attalla, child psychiatrist, “By reducing the blood pressure the brain basically starts an irreversible process of dying.”

And he says the result can be permanent brain damage, or in cases like Chelsea Dunn- death.

Obviously there is no drug test, but there are clues that parents need to watch for. “Any unusual marks around the neck. Parents might find some ties, or ropes tied in unusual ways, complaints of headaches, blood shot eyes,” explains Dr. Attalla.

He says some kids may be fascinated by this strange and dangerous play. As Sarah Johnson says, “It’s something that’s not talked about, it’s not well known, and there’s a lure to that.”

And that’s why experts say- take away the mystery. Teach your kids that this is no game. “It’s a very, very dangerous practice,” says the doctor, “and I think the community and parents need to know about this.”

Related Information
By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.

The occurrence of teens choking themselves to get a rush is just one instance of bad decision-making by individuals in an age group notorious for making bad decisions. However, a recent study of 2,500 teenagers by the Minneapolis Star Tribune found that studen ts overall feel they make good decisions. The newspaper asked its readers the following question: “Have you ever made an important decision that you believe changed the course of your life? If so, describe the situation and your thoughts about it now.” Here are some of the findings:

Life or Death – Students wrote about the decision to wear a seatbelt, take the keys from a drunk driver and ride in one car versus another … that crashed on the way home. They also wrote about their own reckless behavior, such as surviving a game of "chicken" with speeding sleds or snowmobiling over thin ice.

Sports – Another topic centered around school and sports activities. Many students wrote the decision to participate in basketball or hockey, softball or track, had a huge impact on who their friends were, and on their thoughts about their abilities, hopes and dreams. One young man said that even though his leg was broken during a football game, he didn't regret the decision to play.
The Arts – Similarly, the decision to play a musical instrument, go to camp, or take dance or figure-skating lessons often changed students' lives. One student wrote the decision to cave in to his teasing friends cost him the enjoyment and enrichment of joining his high school choir.

Families – Students wrote about making decisions that affect their family life. Most common were heart-wrenching essays about having to decide which parent to live with after a divorce, or about deciding to break off relations with an absent or unreliable parent. Several said they were able to share in the decision about whether the family should grow – with a marriage, a new baby or an adoption. Students also wrote about deciding to treat their families better, to cherish their siblings or spend one more day with a dying grandparent.

Friends – Many essays also addressed friendships. Some students were grateful for their choices, while others wrote about the difficult decision to break ties with friends who they felt were leading them down the wrong path.

Difficult Choices – From a surprisingly early age, students wrote about facing pressure to drink, smoke, use drugs or to have sex, from their peers and also from their elders. One girl wrote that her baby sitter asked her to join him in doing drugs. Many wrote about having a dreaded confrontation where someone asks them, "Do you want to … " and having to summon the courage to say, "No thanks." Others wrote about saying yes, and the impact it had on their lives as they struggle to quit smoking or stay clean and sober.

Parenthood – Sometimes a decision affects more than the student, such as one resulting in a new role never anticipated: Parenthood.

Making Good Choices – Still, most students who wrote in seemed proud of their decisions, and felt they were capable of making more good ones.

Tips for Parents

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.

As your teen begins to make important life decisions, the National PTA advises that you keep the following points in mind:

Help your teen understand that decisions have consequences both for himself or herself and others. For instance, a teen might decide to take up smoking because it looks “mature” without considering that smoking carries a variety of consequences including yellow teeth, smoker’s breath, an expensive habit, and increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

Show your teen that not making a decision when one is needed can be as bad as making the “wrong” decision. Your teenage son can’t decide whether to rent a black or white tuxedo for the prom. In the meantime, all the tuxedos are rented, and now he must buy one.

If you are not sure what kinds of decisions your teen is mature enough to handle, give him or her the chance to try making some decisions. Be supportive, friendly and ready at-hand to save the day, if necessary. This will help you and your teen know what he or he is ready to do for himself or herself.

Accept your teen’s decisions. Remember, no decision is perfect. Support his or her ability to make decisions.

Understand that many of your teen’s decisions will be based on his or her personal tastes and needs and, therefore, may not match the decision you would have made for him or her.
Lay ground rules or limits for decision-making. If your teen wants to do something that is clearly harmful or unacceptable, explain why you cannot allow him or her to act on that decision.
According to the American Psychological Association, many times you can offset dangerous risk-taking behavior simply by being there. Knowing what is going on in your child’s life is the most effective thing you can do to keep your teen physically and emotionally safe:

Encourage positive risk-taking.

Having a solid relationship with your teen, preferably begun when he or she was young, can help him or her make judgment calls when you are not there to supervise. At the least, it will keep the door open for your teen to talk to you about the issues he or she faces.

Be able to speak frankly with your teen about addictive substances and dangerous behaviors. Most important, set a good example.

Establish a pattern of asking and, as much as possible, knowing where your teen is and with whom he or she is spending time.

Another essential method of keeping your teen free from risks is to keep the lines of communication open. Keep in mind these points about communication from the Child Development Institute:

Let your teen know that you are interested and involved and that you will help when needed.
Turn off the television or put the newspaper down when your teen wants to converse.
Avoid taking a telephone call when your teen has something important to tell you.

Unless other people are specifically meant to be included, hold conversations in privacy. The best communication between you and your teen will occur when others are not around.
Embarrassing your teen or putting him or her on the spot in front of others will only lead to resentment and hostility, not good communication.

If you are very angry about a behavior or an incident, don’t attempt communication until you regain your cool because you cannot be objective until then. It is better to stop, settle down and talk to your teen later.

Listen carefully and politely. Don’t interrupt your teen when he or she is trying to tell his or her story. Be as courteous to your teen as you would be to your best friend.

If you have knowledge of the situation, confront your teen with the information that you know or have been told.

Keep adult talking (“You’ll talk when I’m finished.” “I know what’s best for you.” “Just do what I say and that will solve the problem”), preaching and moralizing to a minimum because they are not helpful in getting communication open and keeping it open.

Reinforce your teen for keeping communication open. Do this by accepting him or her and praising his or her efforts to communicate.

Minneapolis Star Tribune
National PTA
American Psychological Association
Child Development Institute