Blogging with Dr. Susan

 

Blogging with Dr. Susan

Blog for screenagers and their parents

 

 

I know you moms and dads in parent land are practically perfect, but there is a case against perfection when it comes to your kids using technology and staring at screens for hours every day.   If you want to curb the use of screens dominating your children’s lives … take a deep breath, listen to my answer.    

Since the 50’s teens have been told what to do, talked into a pattern of staring, clicking, hiding information and escaping into their own universe.  Screen-silly kids are only a symptom of all those years of learning to write, do numbers, create pictures and read.  Home or school! Sports or no sports! 

Teens and tweens spend hours repeating info to the tune of instruction and direct teaching.  They go over the same boring and similar material every day…….the same spelling words, math problems, variations of the theme of the subject, for hours every week. Teachers know this method will reinforce learning and they try hard to think up strategies to stimulate and vary the experiences.  They mostly just talk, lecture, comment, and do their best.

The pattern of learning is deathly boring and seriously creating teenage monsters who hover, giggle, scream and text, sitting for hours doing something fun that we used to call forming (good or bad) relationships and friendships.   Mostly, they like all of us want attention, but what do parents do?  They give attention all right!  Negative feedback!  “Get up get away from that thing”…. Creating thousands and thousands of  “go away” teens, glued to screens and glad to have the privacy of not-so-positive attention.   

Listen Carefully…….!  The answer is that parents need the self assurance to monitor your kid’s friends, vital to keep asking who is on the internet and who is on the phone?   Most of all, fix your eyes and ears on what is good about your child, throw compliments their way and approve (most of the time) of your kids’ social lives. 

Even screenagers will work for your attention and your approval, so give kudos more often than you give criticism!   



Teens Troubled

 

Which Does Our Society Wish to Have in Our Midst?

There are many teenagers who feel lonely, disconnected and frustrated, during the 12-18 year-old stage of life. All of us remember what it feels like to have those emotions, but thankfully, there were people around, things to do, and the feelings came and went with the hormones that changes all teens. But now? This is a different world for teens and sensitive parents are finding ways to work, and support their teens in their absence. This is Susan's concise advice for those parents this month, with help from an expert. READ ON!

Parents are often not at home, peers can be the wrong role models, and isolation can be a perception as much a it is often the reality of life for a teen. Cell phones are good for staying in touch with teens, as are relatives and other close family friends who watch out for teens, much like neighborhood watch programs did twenty years ago.

The Teen Problem has more to do with connection, than it does with parenting and family life. There are ways to be sure your teen stays connected to a support system of family and friends who are good role models and are trustworthy. Dr. Turben's advice is in response to many emails on the topic that parents are the ones who must help kids choose their friends starting in the early grades and continuing through high school.

Even if religion does not play in important role in the family's daily life, religious activities are often directed at children and youth, providing an ideal environment for isolated and lonely teens. Parents need to monitor and asses their children's friends, and not be afraid to do so. Parents should call their local churches and ask for information on programs they offer, and explain their reasons.

While schools are increasingly able to provide before and after school activities, it is the community that should supply the connections teens need. Call Big Brothers and Big Sisters or enroll your teen and his friends on your approved list in Programs. Many have counselors and mentors on hand every day.

Teens who work after school also make friendships and connections that keep them happier and less lonely. It is parental control that needs to be established earlier in life, so that all teens can have their friends and connections to the community too! The following is excellent advice, as parents try to balance teens' use of the Internet and chat groups with real live healthy activities that connect teens to positive and goal-oriented experiences.

Everyone needs to be left alone from time to time but a teenager who shrinks from family and friends or avoids school or important social activities may well be struggling with problems beyond the normal stresses of adolescence.

Granted, it can be hard to tell. As Boston adolescent-medicine specialist Lydia A. Shrier, M.D., M.P.H., reminds parents, "How many times did you go upstairs and slam the door?" More often than not, a teen's moodiness is simply that. Bit if it continues for more than few days, or if it combines with behaviors such as fighting, overly aggressive sexuality or emotional outburst, a child may need professional help.

The trouble is, isolation or aggression can signify a multitude of woes, from physical illness (hormonal imbalances, brain tumors or even reactions to medication) to mental/emotional conditions (depression, anxiety or other mood disorders, eating disorders, undiagnosed learning or attention disabilities, substance abuse). It may also reflect low self-esteem or be a reaction to trauma such as divorce, illness, violence or sexual abuse.

Adolescents who have difficulty relating to others - misreading nonverbal cues, constantly interrupting or standing uncomfortably close during conversation - may suffer from a personality or thought disorder. It can take one or more experts to accurately assess child's condition and recommend the proper treatment. Depending on the diagnosis this could be individual or group talk therapy, a support group or a pharmaceutical regimen.

If you're concerned, ask your child's teacher, school counselor or psychologist whether he or she has noticed any social or behavioral changes or problems. you should also consult your primary care provider, says Dr. Shrier: "Some behavior changes may involve physical conditions." For instance, says "Suzanne," a Napa Valley vintner, when her teenage son developed schizophrenia, the first warning sign was a change in his sleeping patterns; he also grew quick to anger and increasingly withdrawn. "He was always much less social than the rest of us," she recalls, "and these seemed so much the problems common to any teenager. I now know they were symptoms?"

If your child suffers from a mental or emotional disorder, she says, "You need to network to find the right people and doctors." Her discussions with her family physician and with several friends led her to a psychiatrist who identified the problem and began treatment. "Getting the right diagnosis is absolutely critical," she says.

Your child's physician should make an assessment and, if necessary; refer you to the appropriate specialists or services. Other sources: The American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org. For a copy of AAP's brochure "Surviving: Coping with Adolescent Depression and Suicide," write to Department C - Depression, P.O. Box 927 Elk Grove, IL 60009. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) offers advice and educational and referral services, and sponsors support groups. 1-800-950-NAMI. The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) provides information and fact sheets on the warning signs of suicide. 1-800-829-8289