Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Stop Bullying Now!

So you're being bullied, huh? That can feel pretty awful. But, no matter how bad it makes you feel sometimes, you should know you're not alone. That's right ... there are plenty of kids all over the world who go through the same things you do every day. And, even though you may feel helpless sometimes, there are a lot of things you and others can do to help stop the bullying. Give these tips a try.

Always tell an adult. It's hard to talk about serious things with adults sometimes, but they can help put a stop to bullying. Tell an adult that you trust and can talk to—your parents, your teacher, your school counselor, your coach, your neighbor. If you've told a grown-up before and they haven't done anything about it, tell someone else. And if you're afraid to tell an adult that you have been bullied, get another person—like a friend or a sister or brother—to go with you. Having someone else there to support you can make it a lot less scary. Tell the adults exactly what has happened—who did the bullying, where and when it happened, how long it's been happening to you, and how it's making you feel. If you talk with an adult at your school, ask them what they will do to help stop the bullying. It is their job to help keep you safe. Most adults really care about bullying and will do everything they can to help you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why is My Child so Distressed?

By Jane Hersey
Author of "Why My Child Can't Behave"

Many things can lead to the development of behavior problems in children, and there are many ways to address them.

If the reasons for a child's problems stem from a family situation, interaction with peers, events at school, etc., then the place to look for resolution is clearly there. But if the child has always been hard to parent, the answers might be as close as your kitchen pantry. Here are some children whose families have found answers in their kitchen.

Joshua had a history of social and behavior problems and was expelled from several day care centers and private schools. He did not cope well in special classrooms with a ratio of six children and three teachers. His diagnoses included: severe ADHD, ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), Tourette syndrome and mood disorder syndrome. He was angry, aggressive, compulsive, threatening to kill others and himself, and nothing helped. The counseling, drugs, and even the psychiatric facility did not impact on his downward spiral.

Betsy was only 7 years old, but was haunted by thoughts of death; one of the pieces of art work she brought home from school was a black paper with three tombstones, bearing the initials of her parents and herself. She quietly planned on ways that she could end her life, which held no joy for her despite a loving family that desperately tried to help her.

Sean was expelled from preschool for his violent aggression and uncontrollable behavior. His family tried a therapeutic preschool, and he was at risk of being kicked out of a hospital treatment center because even they could not deal with this little boy's behavior. No amount of medicine controlled his “bi-polar behavior” and psychotic episodes, and his parents were told that Sean was “seriously mentally ill” and would require life-long support.

Frank had a history of violent behaviors and at age 17 it was only a matter of time before he would be incarcerated. But he heard about a special diet and decided he wanted to try it. His meeting with the doctor who was using this diet to help children like Frank, Sean, Betsy and Joshua meant flying from Tennessee to California. Because his mother was afraid of him, Frank's older brother accompanied him to visit with the doctor, Ben Feingold, who was chief of allergy at the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in California.

Dr. Feingold discovered that some of the many chemicals routinely added to foods have the ability to affect any system of the body, including the brain. When a child is predisposed to be sensitive to these chemicals, they can wreak havoc. In order for a brain to function well, there are many chemical and electrical processes that must work appropriately; in other words, a lot things have to “go right.” When you add in a potent chemical such as an illicit drug (or even a legal one) our brain chemistry can be dramatically affected. Our bodies handle food additives and drugs in a similar manner.

All of these children described above have stories with happy endings once the offending chemicals were identified and removed. Joshua is an outstanding young man who has won numerous honors in school, in sports, and is a leader in an Air Force program for future officers.

Betsy is a normal, happy girl, Frank is a successful adult and Sean has no remnants of any “permanent mental disorder.” In fact, his mom reports he has recently joined the church choir.

Our bodies are composed of the food we eat; this is where we obtain nutrients of all types, including essential fatty acids, trace minerals and the many vitamins a healthy human body requires. But more and more children are no longer consuming food. Instead they are existing on a diet of synthetic substances that do not deliver the needed components to keep bodies working well and keep our brains operating rationally. These so-called foods might look like real food, fooling our eyes. They might even taste like food, fooling out taste buds. But our bodies are not fooled and when they do not receive the nutrients they need in order to function, things begin to go wrong. In addition to the nutrients they do not receive children today are ingesting a chemical stew of foodless ingredients, many of which are derived from crude oil (petroleum).

Dr. Feingold's experience with troubled children showed that there are a few food additives that appear to be the worst offenders, and removing them brought about significant – often dramatic – changes in behavior, mood, and the ability to focus and learn. These additives include synthetic food dyes (such as Yellow 5 and Red 40); they are created from crude oil, and most of the dyes added to our food start out in petroleum refineries in China. Common preservatives, artificial flavors and even fragrances typically are created from petroleum; rose petals no longer are the source of those pretty scents!

The Feingold diet has been helping families for decades, and the non-profit Feingold Association continues to offer information and support to those who want to learn more. Parent volunteers show others how they can find the foods they enjoy, but minus the unwanted additives; most of them are available at neighborhood supermarkets. See www.feingold.org .

In addition to removing the offensive additives, researchers have found the many benefits of adding supplements to nutrient-starved bodies.

Researchers at Oxford University have shown that the behavior of young male prisoners calmed down when their diet was supplemented with a combination of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (EFAs). Other British research has shown the dramatic benefits of the EFAs, including help for children with ADHD and autism. In the US EFA research has been ongoing at Purdue University for many years.

When nourishing food was given to teens in juvenile detention facilites the improved behavior was documented. And when the Appleton Alternative High School in Wisconsin switched from the usual school food to fresh, healthy food, the behavior problems evaporated and learning improved.

Another risk factor for children with behavior and learning problems.

The drugs that are generally given to children with these problems offer additional concerns. While they may bring about improvements, they are not risk-free. The Food and Drug Administration now requires ADHD drugs to carry warning labels that some children might have reactions that include:

psychotic behavior, depression, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, violence, as well as a host of health effects including cancer, liver damage, strokes and heart attacks.

Risk factors with antidepressants and related drugs

Psychotropic drugs are routinely given to children who are diagnosed as depressed, bi-polar, etc., and these also carry warnings that side effects can include depression and violent behaviors. It can be difficult to sort out whether a behavior is originating within the child or is a side effect of some of the medications he is taking. The fact that all of these drugs are now being given to children who are still infants raises many red flags. Who knows what long-term effects they will have?

While it's comforting to think that only a minority of children experience the most dangerous reactions, the number of children now being medicated means that a minority can be a very large number of children. (It has been estimated that 10% of all 10-year-old boys in the United States are now on drugs for ADHD.)

A new awareness in Europe

The scientific evidence for the harm caused by petroleum-based food dyes is now so compelling that the British government is seeking to ban them and the European Parliament has voted to require warning labels on foods that contain them. While dyes are not the only additives that can cause adverse reactions, they are the most notorious, the easiest to replace, and offer no value to the consumer.

So, for the child whose behavior has gone over the edge, or if you worry that your youngster is on this path, one simple change that you can implement with no risk, very little cost, and relatively small effort, is to replace those mixes, cookies, candies, sodas, and fast food with nearly-identical versions that are free of the worst of the additives. And while you're at it, try eating the good food yourself; every parent needs to have their brain cells working at optimum levels as they deal with that temporary insanity called “adolescence.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sue Scheff: Are Your At Your Wit's End?

P.U.R.E. is based on reality - especially with today's teen society of technology including MySpace and other Internet concerns for children. Today we are educating children at much younger ages about substance abuse, sex, and more. The latest wave of music and lyrics, television, and movies help to contribute to generate a new spin on this age group. This leads to new areas of concern for parents.

We recognize that each family is different with a variety of needs. P.U.R.E. believes in creating Parent Awareness to help you become an educated parent in the teen help industry. We will give you a feeling of comfort in a situation that can be confusing, stressful, frustrating, and sometimes desperate.

Desperate? Confused? Stressed? Anxious? Helplessness? Frustrated? Scared? Exhausted? Fearful? Alone? Drained? Hopelessness? Out of Control? At Wit's End?...


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sue Scheff Launches Wit's End!

From the same publishers that brought you the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, now offers you "Wit's End!"

My story if filled with inspiration and hope as well as offers parents and people that work with today's pre-teens and teens, advice and resources for today's struggling teens.

The response has been overwhelming since we launched the book! I am very proud of my daughter who spoke for the first time publicly in Wit's End! Hear her story of what she endured at Carolina Springs Academy.

Most importantly- learn from our mistakes so you don't make the same ones.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Anxiety

Teen Anxiety

The lesser known relative of depression, anxiety, afflicts people of all ages and can be especially detrimental for teenagers. It is completely normal and even common for individuals to experience anxiety, particularly during stressful periods, such as before a test or important date (think Prom). For many, this is beneficial, serving as motivation to study hard and perform well; however, for many, anxiety goes beyond standard high-stress periods. While occasional stress is nothing to worry about and can even be healthy, many people experience anxiety on an ongoing basis. People, especially teenagers, who suffer from anxiety disorders, find that their daily life can be interrupted by the intense, often long-lasting fear or worry.

Anxiety disorders are not fatal; however, they can severely interfere with an individual's ability to function normally on a daily basis. The intense feelings of fear and worry often lead to a lack of sleep as it makes it very difficult for people to fall asleep. Those with anxiety disorders also commonly suffer from physical manifestations of the anxiety. The anxiety can cause headaches, stomach aches, and even vomiting. In addition stress can cause individuals to lose their appetite or have trouble eating. One of the more difficult aspects for students to deal with is difficulty concentrating. When one is consumed with worry, his or her mind continuously considers the worrisome thoughts, making it considerably harder for teenagers to concentrate on school work and other mentally intensive tasks. These affects of anxiety can make it difficult for teenagers to simply get through the day, let alone enjoy life and relax.

While there seems to be no single cause of anxiety disorders, it is clear that they can run in a family. The fact that anxiety disorders can run in families indicates that there may be a genetic or hereditary connection. Because a family member may suffer from an anxiety disorder does not necessarily mean that you will. However, individuals who have family members with this disorder are far more likely to develop it.

Within the brain, neurotransmitters help to regulate mood, so an imbalance in the level of specific neurotransmitters can cause a change in mood. It is this imbalance in a neurotransmitter called serotonin that leads to anxiety. Interestingly, an imbalance of serotonin in the brain is directly related to depression. For this reason, SSRI medications, more commonly referred to as anti-depressants, are often used to help treat an anxiety disorder. Medication can provide significant relief for those suffering from anxiety disorders; however, it is often not the most efficient form of treatment.

In addition to medication, treatments for anxiety disorders include cognitive-behavioral therapy, other types of talk therapy, and relaxation and biofeedback to control muscle tension. Talk therapy can be the most effective treatment for teenagers, as they discuss their feelings and issues with a mental health professional. Many teens find it incredibly helpful to simply talk about the stress and anxiety that they feel. Additionally, in a specific kind of talk therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy teens actively "unlearn" some of their fear. This treatment teaches individuals a new way to approach fear and anxiety and how to deal with the feelings that they experience.

Many people attempt to medicate themselves when they suffer from stress or anxiety. While individuals find different ways to deal with the intense worry that they may experience, self medication can be very detrimental to their body. It is not uncommon for people who suffer from anxiety disorders to turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve the anxiety. While this may provide a temporary fix for the afflicted, in the long run it is harmful. By relying on these methods, individuals do not learn how to deal with the anxiety naturally. Reliance on other substances can also lead to alcohol or drug abuse, which can be an especially significant problem if it is developed during the teen years.

Statistics on teen anxiety show that anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental disorders among adolescents:

8-10 percent of adolescents suffer from an anxiety disorder
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include: anger, depression, fatigue, extreme mood swings, substance abuse, secretive behavior, changes in sleeping and eating habits, bad hygiene or meticulous attention to, compulsive or obsessive behavior
One in eight adult Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder totaling 19 million people
Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem among American women and are second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men
Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. $46.6 billion annually
Anxiety sufferers see an average of five doctors before being successfully diagnosed
Learn more about Teen Anxiety.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) 10 Quick Tips for Parenting Teens

Parenting Tips by Sue Scheff

1. Communication: Keeping the lines of communication of your child should be a priority with all parents. It is important to let your kids know you are always there for them no matter what the subject is. If there is a subject you are not comfortable with, please be sure your child has someone they can open up to. I believe that when kids keep things bottled up, it can be when negative behaviors can start to grow.

2. Knowing your Children’s Friends: This is critical, in my opinion. Who are your kids hanging out with? Doing their homework with? If they are spending a lot of time at a friends house, go out of your way to call the parent introduce yourself. Especially if they are spending the night at a friends house, it important to take time to call the parents or meet them. This can give you a feeling of security knowing where your child is and who they are with.

3. Know your Child’s Teachers – Keep track of their attendance at school: Take time to meet each teacher and be sure they have your contact information and you have theirs if there are any concerns regarding your child. In the same respect, take time to meet your child’s Guidance Counselor.

4. Keep your Child Involved: Whether it is sports, music, drama, dance, and school clubs such as chess, government, school newspaper or different committees such as prom, dances and other school activities. Keeping your child busy can keep them out of trouble. If you can find your child’s passion – whether it is football, soccer, gymnastics, dance, music – that can help keep them focused and hopefully keep them on track in school.

5. Learn about Internet Social Networking: In today’s Cyber generation this has to be a priority. Parents need to help educate their kids on Cyber Safety – think before they post, help them to understand what they put up today, may haunt them tomorrow. Don’t get involved with strangers and especially don’t talk about sex with strangers. Avoid meeting in person the people you meet online without you being there. On the same note – cell phone and texting – don’t allow your child to freely give out their cell numbers and never post them online.

6. Encourage your teen to get a job or volunteer: In today’s generation I think we need to instill responsibility and accountability. This can start early by encouraging your teen to either get a job or volunteer, especially during the summer. Again, it is about keeping them busy, however at the same time teaching them responsibility. I always tell parents to try to encourage their teens to get jobs at Summer Camps, Nursing Homes or places where they are giving to others. It can truly build self esteem to help others.

7. Make Time for your Child: This sounds very simple and almost obvious, but with today’s busy schedule of usually both parents working full time or single parent households, it is important to put time aside weekly (if not daily at dinner) for one on one time or family time. Today life is all about electronics (cell phones, Ipods, Blackberry’s, computers, etc) that the personal touch of actually being together has diminished.

8. When Safety trumps privacy: If you suspect your teen is using drugs, or other suspicious behaviors (lying, defiance, disrespectful, etc) it is time to start asking questions – and even “snooping” – I know there are two sides to this coin, and that is why I specifically mentioned “if you suspect” things are not right – in these cases – safety for your child takes precedence over invading their privacy. Remember – we are the parent and we are accountable and responsible for our child.

9. Are you considering outside treatment for your child? Do your homework! When your child’s behavior escalates to a level of belligerence, defiance, substance abuse or God forbid gang relations – it may be time to seek outside help. Don’t be ashamed of this – put your child’s future first and take steps to get the help he/she needs – immediately, but take your time to find the right placement.

10. Be a parent FIRST: There are parents that want to be their child’s friend and that is great – but remember you are a parent first. Set boundaries – believe it not kids want limits (and most importantly – need them). Never threaten consequences you don’t plan on following through with.

Learn More at www.helpyourteens.com