Prince Harry addresses teen struggles

Through adolescence, it’s normal to go through common teen struggles. As a teen, it can be difficult to discuss our emotions or express ourselves, teens haven’t fully developed a strong understanding of their self-identity yet. Teens are infamous for keeping their feelings bottled up, letting them build and build until–much like a volcano–they erupt. In a recent article by The Guardian, Prince Harry spoke about his regrets surrounding not opening up about his mother’s–Princess Diana–death earlier. She died in a car crash when he was 12 years old, but only 3 years ago did he actually begin to speak about it.

Any of us can have mental health issues

“The key message here today is that everyone can suffer from mental health. Whether you are a member of the royal family, whether you are a soldier, whether you are a sports star, whether you are a team sport, individual sport, whether you are a white van driver, whether you’re a mother, father, a child, it doesn’t really matter.” –Prince Harry

After leaving the army, Prince Harry decided to take on the stigma of mental health issues and shatter it. He founded the Invictus Games, which is for men and women injured in service. His idea was based off of the thought that these men and women are often ignored, not just their physical struggles, but their mental struggles as well. By creating the Invictus Games, it gave those wounded a chance to be celebrated by society and acknowledge by all.

Prince Harry’s new campaign for mental health awareness is Heads Together–which he, Prince William, and the Duchess of Cambridge run together. The point of Heads Together is not only to create a greater awareness among the public, but also to inspire those with adult and teen struggles in mental health to come forward for treatment. Without good mental health, there is no way to maintain physical health, the Royal Family is trying to educate everyone about how connected the two are, and the importance of maintaining one to achieve the other.

Finding treatment for your child

You’re not alone in this. It may feel like the world is against you and your child’s mental health issues, but there are options for your family. If you truly believe your teen struggles with mental health issues, it’s extremely important to seek out a professional for guidance on what steps to take next.

For more information about working with your teen through teen struggles, check out Solstice East.

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-18.

Is There an App for That? Measuring Your Emotional Well-Being

It’s normal for parents to what their children’s emotional well-being to be perfect and in tip-top shape. We’re always thinking, if we can just make them a little happier, they would excel more in school, with friends, and in life. But we can’t read their minds, which means we never actually know if they’re happy. But can we measure it or improve it? Let’s say…with an app?

An app for emotional well-being, aka “happiness”

Can we have happiness in our pocket through an app? The Atlantic recently published an article discussing an app called Happify. This app’s mission is to create “paths” for you. Every “path” comes with activities and games based on the app’s assessment of your “signature strengths” and general information. The goal is to improve your overall emotional well-being through these exercises.

So, can it work?

Well, let’s start with measuring happiness and if that’s possible. Will Davies, a senior lecturer of politics at Goldsmiths University of London and author of the book The Happiness Industry, says, “Of course you can measure happiness. Measurement is always a type of abstraction and a type of simplification, and you can apply it wherever you like. The question is whether it’s useful or not.”

Happiness is looked at by many people as the ultimate goal–especially by Happify. In the app, it kind of gives off the vibe that feeling negative emotions isn’t okay–which I don’t think is okay. Teens (and adults) should be very okay with feeling our entire range of emotions, it’s what makes us human. It’s whether we can control and cope with those emotions that’s important.

I think it’s naive to think that happiness equals emotional well-being. Emotional well-being is the ability to cope with negative emotions in an effective and constructive way–not never ever feeling negative emotions (that’s impossible). Thus, while Happify has gotten the discussion going on self care, I don’t think it’s a magic app that will make everyone happy and no one should rely on it like it is.

For more information about emotional well-being and helping your teen work through emotional and behavioral issues, check out BlueFire Wilderness.

BlueFire Wilderness Therapy is a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 11-17.

Certain Parenting Styles Linked to Unhealthy Eating Habits

Every parent’s parenting styles are different It all depends on how a parent themselves was raised, how their children act, and how their own personal experiences have shaped them. In a new study, researchers discovered that parents who are more “hands-off” with snacking often have children with overeating issues.

Link between unhealthy snacking & parenting styles

The study was conducted by the University of Michigan, Baylor College of Medicine, and Temple University’s College of Public Health over the course of 18 months. The researchers discovered a link between snacking habits and weight control in children. They also found a link between snacking habits and parenting styles.

More than 40 percent of children’s consumption of added sugars came from snacking in the study. “Hands-off” parenting styles were associated with excessive snacking in children.

When snacking becomes unhealthy

Snacking (or small meals) can actually be a much more beneficial way of eating compared to eating 2 to 3 large meals a day. When a child’s snacking goes unsupervised, it can often become an issue. Parents being more uninvolved with what their child ate created a greater risk of overeating and unhealthy snacking habits.

Yes, it can be difficult to convince children to eat the right foods with the proper nutrients for their health, but otherwise it could lead to struggles with obesity and health issues. Foods most children–and adults–prefer tend to be sugary, fatty, and salty. Soda, candy, cookies, potato chips–we’ve all experienced the almost addictive allure these foods have, it’s just as hard, if not more so, for children to say no. Being watchful, but not necessarily overly so, can help your child develop better eating habits that will aid them in the future.

Getting your kid to eat healthier foods

A great way to make sure healthy foods make their way into your child’s diet is by keeping all junk food out of the house. This removes the temptation of unhealthy snacking foods. Instead, having veggies, fruits, whole grains, and other healthy snacks around the house will force your child into eating foods that are good for them. And to their surprise, they’ll probably like them!

If you have a daughter struggling with self control or some other emotional or behavioral issues, check out Asheville Academy for Girls.

Asheville Academy for Girls, a therapeutic boarding school for girls ages 10-14, can help your daughter find success. Call today.

Tips for Improving Teen Mood

The teen mood is infamously unstable. Teens not only have a high load of stress, but they have puberty on top of all of that. Puberty is the main cause of those nasty teen mood swings experienced often. So how can you help relieve teen mood swings? Psychology Today recently wrote an article outlining ways to improve your teen’s mood and keep their brain healthy and happy.

Improving teen mood by rewiring the brain

No, this isn’t brainwashing–well, it’s kind of positive brainwashing. These tips for helping your teen’s mood swings will help your teen cope with their mood swings in a more effective and efficient way. The tips trigger your brain to release “happy chemicals” which help improve the adult or teen mood. These can not only improve your teen’s mood, they can improve yours, too!

  • Think about your best self. By focusing on what you have rather than what you lack, you can get your brain to release serotonin (the “happy” chemical) to get yourself from down in the dumps to happy!
  • You’re frustrated because it’s easy. It’s easy to get frustrated, but just remember when you’re frustrated it’s merely a product of electricity flowing through your brain. By focusing on a positive new choice every day for 45 days, you can get the electricity to flow to a different part of your brain, thus improving mood.
  • Don’t forget to laugh. Laughing really is some of the best medicine. It releases endorphins–which make you happy.
  • Offer up rewards. The idea of a reward being at the end of a long tunnel can really improve teen mood. For example, tell your teen you’ll pay $5 for every A they get–that’ll motivate them and get the dopamine to kick in (making you happier in general).

Finding treatment

If your teen’s mood swings are out of control and disrupting daily life, it could be an indicator of something much worse. In this case, it’s important to seek out professional guidance on what steps to take in order to help your child reach their full potential in life.

For more information about helping improve teen mood, check out ViewPoint Center.

Michael Phelps: Creating Hope for Teen Addiction

Many people have heard of Michael Phelps struggles with substance use over the course of his Olympic journey. Phelps was struggling with alcoholism and drunk driving, but he decided to seek treatment. Now, Michael Phelps is back in the game. He’s on his way to his fifth round of Olympic Games, which he qualified for by exceling in the 200-meter butterfly—a feat he stated was the hardest swim of his life. Phelps will be the first American male to attend five Olympics. His qualification was not just a victory in the pool, but a metaphorical victory over his own personal struggles.

His story of strife and victory sends a positive message to adolescents around the world, struggling with substance use: It is possible. NPR recently released an article covering the story of him battling and overcoming his substance use.

Everyone Has Issues

After his treatment, Phelps’ life has blossomed. He’s engages, recently had a child, and has won a multitude of medals. His life wasn’t always this stable though. He describes the large difference in him after being sober for a year:

“I see a complete change in my body. (I have a) completely clear head. (I) don’t have a headache which is really awesome sometimes when you wake up. I’m actually happy every day. I’m actually able to be productive every day. That’s something I’m very proud of.”

Phelps spent six weeks in a treatment facility in Arizona, which he states changed his life. He had struggled without the structure of swimming after leaving the sport for good—but now that he’s sober and feels recovered, he’s ready to take on one last journey to the Olympics.

Building a Positive Message for Youth

The Olympic Games, is not just something watched throughout the U.S., it’s something people all over the world—young and old—watch and connect to. Many people look up to Phelps, not just for his athletic accomplishments, but for his determination to overcome his personal issues. Adolescents struggling with teen addiction are often looked at as burdens, who are doomed to continue to make the same mistakes later in life. Phelps stands as a worldwide example of a young individual being able to overcome multiple challenges—whether that is alcoholism or teen addiction.

With the large stigma against mental illness and addiction, many people don’t seek the help they need. Phelps act of seeking treatment and praising his process, is encouraging others to reach out for the support they need too. Hopefully, Phelps story will inspire individuals struggling with adult and teen addiction, to find the treatment they need to overcome their battle.

For more information about creating hope for teen addiction, check out Trails Carolina.

Coloring Books: A New Tool for Stress in Teens

As a child, coloring books were a common activity throughout each day. As we get older, coloring and art become less and less of a priority. Until recently, a new fad of coloring books was recently released that are designed for adults. That’s right, coloring books are making a comeback! New research has been coming out about the benefits of taking time out of your day to sit down and color–no matter the age. For older kids and adults, coloring has a stress-relieving effect. Many professionals believe coloring books could be a new way to treat stress in teens. CNN recently published an article discussing the benefits for young and old people alike.

How coloring can combat stress in teens

Teens regularly face a large amount of stress in their daily lives. Not only do they have to worry about college, they also have to worry about current exams, friends, family, afterschool activities, and more. It may not sound like a lot to an adult, but remember: adults have developed coping mechanisms for stress–we already know how to handle it. Teens haven’t achieved this yet.

Teens rarely have a moment of calmness. An instance where they can focus on something relaxing. Even if your teen frequently plays video games, even though he or she enjoys it, they’re not actually relaxing their brain. Coloring books allow this time. Many of you have probably heard of the new research being released about mindfulness—coloring books provide teens with a time where they can be mindful. They can focus on the moment instead of worrying about an upcoming test or how they’re going to do in this week’s soccer game.

Not only is it a time for them to calm down, but it actually combats stress in teens. Less than an hour of coloring had a cortisol-lowering effect on individuals in one study. The researchers in the study now want to expand their study because the results were so promising.

Seeking treatment

While coloring books seem to be a promising new way to help handle and process stress, sometimes it’s more than one family can take. Stress in teens can’t always be handled–but there are options available for your family. If you believe your child may be struggling with high levels of stress or even anxiety, it’s extremely important to reach out to a professional for further guidance on what to do next.

For more information about helping your child work through stress in teens, check out ViewPoint Center.
ViewPoint Center is a teen mental health hospital which provides comprehensive diagnostic assessments and treatment plans for struggling teens. Call today.

Don’t Let Your Manipulative Teen Bully You

When you think about bullying, what comes to mind? For most people, they think of traditional or cyberbullying among middle schoolers and teens. But sometimes it’s towards parents. If you have a manipulative teen, it can feel hard to put your foot down–they can make you feel helpless. In these moments, it’s important to remember who the parent is and it’s your responsibility to stop this type of behavior in its tracks.

Why a manipulative teen turns to bullying

A manipulative teen usually turns to bullying because they think you’ll put up with it and cave. Many parents struggle with this, it’s usually due to parents being too permissive and not enforcing consequences enough.

Why would a parent allow this type of behavior? According to Sean Grover LCSW, author of When Kids Call the Shots, it could be due to parents being bullied by their parents when they were growing up. Oftentimes, parents who were bullied by their parents take a vow to never treat their children that way–leading to overly lax parenting and a situation with a manipulative teen.

While bullying a child is never the answer, there is a certain amount of discipline a parent needs to use to help their child excel in life. Too little discipline can lead to your child falling in with the wrong crowd, turning to drugs, and getting into other types of trouble. Letting your child turn into a bully will only cause them more issues later down the road.

Controlling this type of behavior

As a parent of a manipulative teen, it can be difficult to make the first move, especially since you love them with all your heart and want to give them the world. It’s incredibly important to put your foot down, though. Without doing this, your child won’t be able to reach success. Here are some tips for getting rid of manipulative teen behavior and bullying:

  • Just be honest. You may think your teen doesn’t know you’re lying to their face, but they probably know. They’re young, but they’re not stupid. Being honest doesn’t leave room for manipulative.
  • When arguing, take a moment. It’s easy to get hot-headed and just blurt out something during an argument. When you notice things getting heated, take a moment to steady yourself, stay calm, and be a role model by being reasonable.
  • Consequences, consequences, consequences. One of the best ways to lay down the law is to be consistent and fair with consequences for your child’s actions. When they try to be manipulative, shut it down every time. Let your teen know what the consequences are going to be. If you don’t follow through, they won’t mean anything–which means you have to be consistent and strong.

If you truly are struggling with manipulative teen behavior, it’s important to seek professional guidance for what to do next and how to best help your child succeed. For more information about working through manipulative teen behavior, Solstice East can help.

Media Influence on Teens

With technology today, it’s not uncommon for parents to worry about media influence on teens. There are so many shows today depicting sexual interactions among fairly young teens (Pretty Little Liars, for example) that are specifically made to target adolescents. But what evidence has been shown that proves parents need to be worrying about media influence on teens? According to a new study and extensive review by multiple departments from various esteemed universities, there’s not a need to worry. Psych Central recently covered the details of the study.

Media influence on teens not as strong as parental influence

According to the researchers, early sexual behavior in teens is due to parenting tactics and government policies, not media exposure. Government data has actually suggested that teens are taking a longer time to engage in sexual activity and teen pregnancy is at a historic low–even though teens are much more exposed to sexualized media today.

Christopher Ferguson states, “Evidence for an association between media and sexual behavior is minimal…That is to say, when information from parents or schools are lacking, media may become the only source of information on sexuality.”

This reveals that only when a parent or school system isn’t involved in educating a teen about the morals surrounding sexual behavior, does media influence on teens lead to early promiscuity. This calls for an increase in sex-education from not only parents, but from schools as well.

The media’s influence on teens shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat by schools and parents—it doesn’t solve the problem, and in fact increases the likelihood of poor decisions from teens. While the media may influence attitudes about sexual behavior, the analysis shows that it doesn’t significantly lead to actual actions.

Parents and schools hold the power

While talking about sex can be extremely uncomfortable, parents and schools have a large part in shaping how a student ends up acting. While media influence on teens may be stronger in areas of body image, self-esteem, and language, when it comes to sexual behavior, parents and schools hold the power. Especially for at-risk youth, parents and schools need to reach out and educate students about the dangers and risks associated with early sexual behavior.

 

For more information about media influence on teens, check out BlueFire Wilderness.

Being Aware of The Introverted Child

Some kids grow up and are quiet or shy, while others are sociable and outgoing. These kids who are quiet are often termed the introverted child. The child that never raises their hand in class. The child that doesn’t speak up even though they know the answer. So, how do you get the introverted child to speak up or get involved? According to a recent article by NPR, it requires more awareness from teachers and parents to get those children to blossom. We live in a society that largely focuses on and pays attention to those who are boisterous–even if a quieter person has a better idea.

Engaging the introverted child

Though extroverted, outgoing children get more attention, even though there are just as many introverted children around. This is why it’s important to create a learning environment in which both types of children have the chance to excel. Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, says we need to rethink the way our classrooms are designed to do this.

There are certain activities–writing, drawing, etc.–that an introverted child tends to excel at, rather than public speaking or answering questions aloud. All an introverted child needs, is some attention and encouragement to get them to build self-confidence and get comfortable with helpful life-skills, like speaking up when you clearly know the answer or being assertive when you think you have a great idea.

This isn’t just about helping the introverted child, it’s also about helping the extroverted one. Extroverts can be overbearing and speak without thinking, teachers need to help children learn to gain self-control over their skills to be the best they can be. In the article, they discuss a tactic called W-A-I-T. It stands for: “Why Am I Talking?” This is a way for extroverted children to sort through their ideas and be more meaningful in their actions and words.

Helping your child reach success

Not only do things need to change in the classroom, but they need to change at home too. Especially if a child has a more outgoing sibling, it’s important to create activities that incorporate both of their interests–even if you’re personally into one child’s interests more than the other’s.

Though, if your introverted child is seriously struggling in school, it may be due to a larger, underlying issue. In this case, it’s important to reach out to a professional for further guidance on how to best help your child.

For more information about helping your introverted child, please check out BlueFire Wilderness today.

A Common Misconception: Alexithymia and Autism

It is a common misconception that all children with autism can’t understand emotion and will never be empathetic towards others. This stereotype is incredibly untrue. While it may seem that people with autism don’t show emotion the same way others would, they can understand emotion- just in a different way. According to researchers at the University of East London and King’s College London, many people with autism express empathy, sometimes even an excessive amount of it. However, there are some that still have difficulty understanding emotion. This led the researchers to examine the overlap between alexithymia and autism.

What is alexithymia?

Alexithymia is a construct, not a diagnosis. It’s how those in the psychological field identify people who have difficulty understanding their own feelings and reading the feelings of individuals around them.

About ten percent of the population and fifty percent of individuals on the autism spectrum have alexithymia. People with alexithymia may think they are expressing some sort of emotion, but they often can’t determine what it is. They could be feeling angry, upset, or sad without understanding what they are actually feeling.

Connecting alexithymia with autism

Many people associate alexithymia with autism and may even point to the 50 percent statistic, believing that autism somehow causes alexithymia. It’s important to note, however, that 50 percent of individuals with autism don’t have alexithymia. There is also an extremely large amount of people who have alexithymia, typically found in those struggling with eating disorders, substance abuse, schizophrenia, and a selection of other psychological conditions.

Measuring empathy

So is alexithymia the reason behind that aforementioned stereotype about individuals with autism? Possibly. In the same study, researchers measured empathy in four different groups of people: individuals with autism and alexithymia; individuals with autism but not alexithymia; individuals with alexithymia but not autism; and individuals with neither autism nor alexithymia.

They found that individuals with autism but not alexithymia displayed normal levels of empathy. Those who had alexithymia were overall less empathetic. They also found that autism is not associated with an overall lack of empathy, but alexithymia is.

Individuals with alexithymia may still care deeply about others emotions. In another study, individuals with alexithymia showed far more distress to seeing the pain of others than those without alexithymia. The perceived lack of empathy may come from their inability to understand feelings and what others are feeling around them.

For more information about autism and alexithymia, check out Seven Stars.
Seven Stars combines residential treatment and wilderness therapy to help teens with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.