Parenting Articles

Parenting Teens

F.A.M.I.L.Y. Rules / Positive Parenting with a Plan was developed by Dr. Matthew Johnson, a licensed psychologist in Oregon.

Dr. Johnson’s book has some excellent tools for parenting teens and developing family rules in your household. We will feature more from his book soon, but here is some quick ideas to get you on your way.

The Seven Cardinal Sins of Teen Parenting :

1. Talking Too Much (nagging, lecturing, etc)
2. Tirades and Temper Tantrums
3. Tears (sadness and guilt trips)
4. Terror (threats of violence)
5. Inconsistency (within and between parents)
6. Disagreeing About Discipline in front of Children
7. Treating your Children like they are Slaves (lack of reciprocity)

Some sample family rules (very abbreviated) :

Treat people and animals with respect
“No!” means “No!” Don’t ask again
You must receive parental permission before you go anywhere at anytime
No swearing or talking about inappropriate subject matter
Be on time
Setting curfews (more flexible on weekends)
Complete all daily and weekly chores on time

Family Rules is an excellent resource for parenting teens for under $30.00. Well worth it!!!

Physical Problems

STD Statistics

Teen STD Statistics

When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the United States offers woefully inadequate education. The proof is in the fact that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 19 million new STD infections occur every year (February 2013 new information indicates this number is now 20 million). And, even more alarming, is that nearly 50 percent of these new cases happen to young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Not only that, but the American Social Health Association (ASHA) reports that half of all new HIV infections occur in teenagers. It is apparent that many of the current and alarming STD statistics could be reduced with proper education.

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease that was virtually wiped out (or at least under tight control) as been making a comeback, resulting in an increase in cases each of the last six years, reports the Centers for Disease Control. And while Gonorrhea has leveled off, there is an indication that it could be creeping back into the population.

Chlamydia is another STD that is making a comeback in the population. ASHA reports that it is most prevalent in young people aged 15-24. According to the CDC, from 2005 to 2006 reported cases of Chlamydia climbed from 976,445 to 1,030,911. In 2011, 1,412,791 cases of Chlamydia were reported. However, health care professionals worry that the rates are probably higher, perhaps as high as 2.8 million new cases a year. The problem is that Chlamydia is one of the most under-diagnosed diseases in the country. And young women are the hardest hit by the re-emergence of Chlamydia. Teenage girls have a Chlamydia rate three times higher than teenage boys, reports the CDC.

One of the biggest problems with the increase in STDs among teenagers is due to the lack of education. Abstinence-only education, reports Planned Parenthood, does not address measures one can take to protect oneself during sex. Also, instead of providing practical and actionable information about the importance of being screened for STDs, abstinence-only education ignores STDs, except to point out that they are bad, and that complete abstinence is the only full-proof way to avoid them.

While this is true, many teenagers are sexually active (about 2/3 of seniors in high school have had sex). Abstinence-only education does not address this fact, and it does not educate teenagers that oral sex can transmit sexually transmitted diseases. Many teens think that remaining “technical” virgins and engaging in oral sex, but not intercourse, can protect them from STDs.

The American Social Health Association reports that less than half of teenagers in the U.S. have had discussions about sexual health and STDs during health visits and in schools. Additionally, parents are reluctant and embarrassed to talk about this information. This is contributing in large part to the STD statistics that we see. ASHA also reports that screening guidelines for STDs are not being followed, and that significantly less than half of eligible teen girls have been screened for Chlamydia.

The best defense against STDs is knowledge. Studies have shown that teenagers who are equipped with the education they need to protect themselves are more likely to engage in protective behaviors during sex.


Physical Problems

Teen Sex Statistics

Teen Sex Statistics & Sex Facts

One of the things that provides many parents concern is teen sex. Most parents worry about whether their teenagers are behaving responsibly when it comes to sexual intercourse. Indeed, from worries about unplanned pregnancies to concerns over sexually transmitted diseases, many parents worry about how sexually active their teens are.

And, indeed, there is some cause for alarm. The Guttmacher Institute reports that the United States has the highest levels of teen pregnancy among developed nations. This is hardly surprising, since nearly 75 percent of teenagers have had intercourse by the time they turn 20; only 15 percent report remaining virgins until the age of 21. Additionally, the Institute reports that teens in the US are more likely to have sex before the age of 15, and to have more than one partner in a year, than teenagers in Sweden, France, Canada and the United Kingdom.

However, there is some good news. Child Trends Data Bank reports that condom use is increasing. The reported instances of having protected sex have risen from 46 percent in 1995 to 63 percent in 2005, and was 60 percent in 2011. (Child Trends reports that condom use has remained steady from 2005 to 2007.) Birth control use by teenage girls, however, has not followed this trend. Birth control pill use has remained steady at somewhere between 16 and 18 percent since 1993, and fluctuated between 16 and 20 percent since. This probably accounts for teen sex statistics that show that just under 33 percent of teen girls become pregnant (according to Teen Pregnancy Statistics The CDC has since reported that in 2011 the live birth rate for teens aged 15-19 years is at a rate of 31.3 per 1,000 women.

With a teen pregnancy rate that is nearly twice the rate of that in other developed countries, many parents rightfully worry what can be done. Interestingly, despite a recent government push for abstinence only sex education is schools, teen pregnancy statistics, and teen sex statistics remain in line with trends. As a result, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports, 80 percent of parents think that contraception and protective practices (such as condom use) should be taught as part of a comprehensive sex education course.

Teen sex stats remain relatively stable, but intercourse has dropped to 66.7 percent among 12th graders in the US to 60.3 percent. The Guttmacher Institute found that 50 percent of teens between the ages of 15 and 19 in the US have had oral sex . The indication is that oral sex is beginning to be seen as an alternative to intercourse. And, even though this can prevent come teen pregnancies, many teenagers are under-informed with regard to the fact that STDs can still be caught through oral sex.

The teen sex stats that we see today should serve as a reminder that teenagers need to be guided. They need education and knowledge of what’s available in order to help combat teen pregnancy and STDs. Teenagers should understand that there are physical, psychological and emotional effects that come with sex. They should also be taught that the choices they make now can affect them later in life. But this teaching should not be done with fear.

Teen sex stats show that making sex forbidden doesn’t have an impact on the trends. Perhaps treating teenagers as adults, with respect for their intelligence and decision making ability can help where other methods have so far failed to stem the tide of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the US.

Physical Problems

Sexually Active Teens

Sexually Active Teens – we explore the teen sex facts and statistics. Includes info on condom use, talking to teens about sex, and more.

Teen Sex Statistics: It is no secret that teenagers in the United States are likely to be sexually active. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that by the age of 20, nearly 3/4 of teenagers have had sexual intercourse. But, the CDC reports, that number is declining. Among seniors in high school, the number of teenagers who have had intercourse has dropped to 60.5 percent, from 66.7 percent in 1991.

However, the Guttmacher Institute reports that the rate of teens that have had intercourse before the age of 15 is higher in the United States than in other developed nations. One study by the American Public Health Association, put the percentage of teens that had sex by the 9th grade at 33 percent. The CDC reports that today’s adults report that only 16 percent had sex by age 15. While the incidence of sexually active teens may not be going up, they are having their first sexual experiences at a younger age.

This presents an interesting question: why are teens in the U.S. engaging in sexual intercourse earlier? The answer may lie in what teenagers themselves believe about sex.

Sexually Active Teens and Peers: The American Public Health Association (APHA), reports Psychology Today, did a study and found that one of the biggest reasons that teenagers engage in sexual activity is because they think their peers are also having sex. Peer pressure is a factor in the sexual landscape for American teenagers. Even if their peers really aren’t having sex, the perception that they are encourages some teenagers to become sexually active. Many of the teens that were sexually active reported that most, or nearly all, of the other teenagers in their grade had had sex – even though this wasn’t the case in reality.

Teen Sex in Media: According to the American Social Health Association (ASHA), one of the factors that increases the perception that peers are having sex is media content. Teenagers that watch sexual content in the media are more likely to overestimate the amount of sex their friends and acquaintances are having. They are also more likely to feel permissive of sexual activity and multiple partners.

Teen Sex Issues: Teenage girls have more interesting challenges. The APHA study found that the earlier a teen girl became sexually active, the more likely it was that her partner was older. The younger the girl, the larger the age gap with her partner. APHA found that the gap in girls who lost their virginity by age 12 usually had partners at least five years their senior. This is troubling, in that it indicates that older partners may pressure young teen – and even preteen – girls into having sex.

Teen Oral Sex: One of the sexual behaviors increasing amongst teens is the incidence of oral sex. 50 percent of teenagers ages 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex, reports the CDC. That number increases to 70 percent when the oldest – 18 and 19 year olds – are taken out of the mix. The main reason that oral sex is increasing among teenagers, some think, is because it is perceived as safer than intercourse. Additionally, with the rise of interest in virginity and movements to “save” themselves for marriage, many teenagers consider themselves “technical” virgins if they have not engaged in intercourse. Oral sex doesn’t “technically” count as losing one’s virginity.

This behavior, though, is not entirely out of the ordinary. Indeed, the incidence of teen sex doesn’t appear to be increasing. The CDC did a study of adults, and found that only 15 percent of them waited until 21 to have sex. This means that most of the adults that are worried about their kids having sex most likely had sex themselves as teenagers.

Perhaps of greater concern is the fact that teen pregnancy has not abated. The Guttmacher Institute points out that the United States has a much higher rate of teen pregnancy than any other developed nation. Planned Parenthood places this trend squarely on the shoulders of the current push for abstinence-only sexual education. Teen pregnancies have not gone down in the meantime, but diseases like Chlamydia and syphilis are making a comeback in some states.

Teen Condom Use: Interestingly, protective practices seem to be catching on in younger students. The Child Trends Data Bank reports that among sexually active 9th graders, condom use is at 75 percent. This is encouraging. However, as students get older, they seem less likely to engage in this protective behavior; only 55 percent of 12th graders use condoms. Is it because by senior year many teenagers are down to “steady” partners and engaging in monogamous sex?

This may be the case. The Guttmacher Institute points out that 9th graders in the United States are more likely to have multiple partners, in addition to being more likely than their foreign counterparts to engage in sexual activity.

Teen Sex Talk: APHA maintains that the best way to encourage protected sex, as well as limit early sexual activity in teenagers, is to provide a supportive environment. Openness about sex and sexual issues, as well as supportive discussions of family values, can help teenagers make better informed decisions about their sexual activity.

Talk to your teen about sex. You can help them learn the teen sex statistics and teen std statistics. This could help prevent a teen pregnancy or STD. Sexually active teens are at risk and should learn about teen condom use. Click here for more on pregnancy statistics.

Social Problems

School Bullying Statistics

What is school bullying?
Bullying includes a wide variety of behaviors, but all involve a person or a group repeatedly trying to harm someone who is weaker or more vulnerable. It can involve direct attacks (such as hitting, threatening or intimidating, maliciously teasing and taunting, name-calling, making sexual remarks, and stealing or damaging belongings) or more subtle, indirect attacks (such as spreading rumors or encouraging others to reject or exclude someone).

How common is teen bullying?
Almost 30 percent of teens in the United States (or over 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in school bullying as either a bully, a target of teen bullying, or both. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6 to 10, 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being the target of school bullies, and another 6 percent said they bullied others and were bullied themselves.

Limited available data suggest that teen bullying is much more common among younger teens than older teens. As teens grow older, they are less likely to bully others and to be the targets of bullies.

School bullying occurs more frequently among boys than girls. Teenage boys are much more likely to bully others and to be the targets of bullies. While both boys and girls say others bully them by making fun of the way they look or talk, boys are more likely to report being hit, slapped, or pushed. Teenage girls are more often the targets of rumors and sexual comments. While teenage boys target both boys and girls, teenage girls most often bully other girls, using more subtle and indirect forms of aggression than boys. For example, instead of physically harming others, they are more likely to spread gossip or encourage others to reject or exclude another girl.

How does school bullying affect teens who are the targets of bullies?
Teen bullying can lead teenagers to feel tense, anxious, and afraid. It can affect their concentration in school, and can lead them to avoid school in some cases. If teen bullying continues for some time, it can begin to affect teens’ self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. It also can increase their social isolation, leading them to become withdrawn and depressed, anxious and insecure. In extreme cases, bullying can be devastating for teens, with long-term consequences. Some teens feel compelled to take drastic measures, such as carrying weapons for protection or seeking violent revenge. Others, in desperation, even consider suicide. Researchers have found that years later, long after the bullying has stopped, adults who were bullied as teens have higher levels of depression and poorer self-esteem than other adults.

What are the long-term consequences of teen bullying behavior?
Teen bullying is often a warning sign that children and teens are heading for trouble and are at risk for serious violence. Teens (particularly boys) who bully are more likely to engage in other antisocial/delinquent behavior (e.g., vandalism, shoplifting, truancy, and drug use) into adulthood. They are four times more likely than nonbullies to be convicted of crimes by age 24, with 60 percent of bullies having at least one criminal conviction.

Mental Health

Eating Disorders

What are teen eating disorders?
Teen eating disorders often are long-term illnesses that may require long-term treatment. In addition, teen eating disorders frequently occur with other mental disorders such as teen depression,substance abuse, and anxiety disorders (NIMH, 2002). The earlier these eating disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better the chances are for full recovery. This fact sheet identifies the common signs, symptoms, and treatment for three of the most common teen eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder (NIMH, 2002).

Who has teen eating disorders?
Research shows that more than 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25 (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 2003). However, increasing numbers of older women and men have these eating disorders. In addition, hundreds of thousands of boys are affected by these disorders (U.S. DHHS Office on Women’s Health, 2000).

What are the symptoms of teen eating disorders?
Teen anorexia nervosa – People who have teen anorexia develop unusual eating habits such as avoiding food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating them in small amounts, weighing their food, and counting the calories of everything they eat. Also, they may exercise excessively.

Teen bulimia – People who have teen bulimia eat an excessive amount of food in a single episode and almost immediately make themselves vomit or use laxatives or diuretics (water pills) to get rid of the food in their bodies. This behavior often is referred to as the “binge/purge” cycle. Like people with teen anorexia, people with teen bulimia have an intense fear of gaining weight.

Teen binge-eating disorder – People with this recently recognized eating disorder have frequent episodes of compulsive overeating, but unlike those with teen bulimia, they do not purge their bodies of food (NIMH, 2002). During these food binges, they often eat alone and very quickly, regardless of whether they feel hungry or full. They often feel shame or guilt over their actions. Unlike anorexia and bulimia, binge-eating disorder occurs almost as often in men as in women (National Eating Disorders Association, 2002).

How are teen eating disorders treated?
Teen anorexia nervosa – The first goal for the treatment of anorexia is to ensure the person’s physical health, which involves restoring a healthy weight (NIMH, 2002). Reaching this goal may require hospitalization. Once a person’s physical condition is stable, treatment usually involves individual psychotherapy and family therapy during which parents help their child learn to eat again and maintain healthy eating habits on his or her own. Behavioral therapy also has been effective for helping a person return to healthy eating habits. Supportive group therapy may follow, and self-help groups within communities may provide ongoing support.

Teen bulimia – Unless malnutrition is severe, any substance abuse problems that may be present at the time the eating disorder is diagnosed are usually treated first. The next goal of bulimia treatment is to reduce or eliminate the person’s binge eating and purging behavior (NIMH, 2002). Behavioral therapy has proven effective in achieving this goal. Psychotherapy has proven effective in helping to prevent the eating disorder from recurring and in addressing issues that led to the disorder. Studies have also found that Prozac, an antidepressant, may help people who do not respond to psychotherapy (APA, 2002). As with anorexia, family therapy is also recommended.

Teen Binge-eating disorder – The goals and strategies for treating teen binge-eating disorder are similar to those for teen bulimia. Binge-eating disorder was recognized only recently as an eating disorder, and research is under way to study the effectiveness of different interventions (NIMH, 2002).

Eating Disorder Information obtained from SAMHSA

Mental Health

Learning Disability

A learning disability is a disorder that affects one’s ability to effectively learn or use basic skills such as reading, writing and mathematics. Knowing how the brain works, will help you to understand what can go wrong. Basically, there are four steps our brain goes through when processing information; input, integration, memory/storage and output.

Input – the brain receives information through either auditory or visual channels
Integration – the brain integrates or organizes the information
Memory/Storage – the brain retains the information so that it can be used appropriately
Output – the information is presented either verbally or visually (writing, visual expression)

When your teen is suffering with a learning problem, one or more of these steps are being affected.

Learning disabilities are quite prevalent in our schools. According to LDA (Learning Disability Association of America), about 1 in 7 people suffer from a learning disability and “among school-age children, more than 6% are currently receiving special education services because of learning disabilities”. 1

Learning disabilities are not indicative of intelligence. Your teen can have normal to above normal intelligence and still suffer from a learning problem. Knowing the signs and getting help immediately is the best way to deal with the situation.

Signs of a Learning Disability

Although the various types of learning disabilities can display different warning signs, there are common signs to all of them.

* Short attention span/easily distracted
* Frustration
* Disorganization
* Hard time remembering things
* Difficulty understanding directions
* Falling grades

Types of Learning Disabilities

Some teens may suffer one particular type of learning problem, while others may have difficulty in a combination of areas. While ADD/ADDH is not a learning disability, it does have an impact on learning. A lot of teens who are diagnosed with ADD/ADDH also suffer from another type of learning disability as well. The most common types are listed below.

* Involves mixing up words/letters while reading and/or writing language
* Genetic – most teens will have a relative with this disorder as well
* Signs include reading slowly, trouble with spelling, substituting words with one another

* Difficulty understanding and applying mathematical concepts
* Signs include having problems with time, value, simple math, sequencing and money to name a few.

* Difficulty in writing
* Signs include ineligible writing, mixing small/upper case together, mixing print/cursive together, spaces words incorrectly, misses words and/or letters while writing. Usually the teens writing will be slow and they might hold a pen/pencil awkwardly.

* A disability that involves problems with motor coordination and Sensory Integration Disorder (a neurological disorder in which the brain has difficulty integrating sensory information)
* Signs include stumbling, breaking things, trouble with fine motor skills, sensitivity to touch and/or sounds

Treatment for a Learning Disability

Learning disabilities are a life-long battle. Although they cannot be “cured”, with the proper support and treatment teens can learn to effectively cope with them and improve their daily lives. First and foremost, check with your teens medical doctor to rule out any physical causes such as problems with their sight and/or hearing.

If you suspect your teen is showing some of the symptoms, talk with your teen’s school. All schools have special education programs that are there to help with these types of disorders. You will be able to sit down with your teen’s teachers and other staff to set up an IEP (Individualized Education Program). This is a program designed specifically for your teen to address their particular needs. When appropriate, your teen will be involved in this process as well.

It’s also important to know that there are laws set up to help protect your teen. Section 504 is a federal law which was created to prevent discrimination for people with disabilities. Schools are required to show what accommodations they will be providing for children with such disabilities.