But your adolescent can have a better experience.Â Your adolescent’s summer can be the time the two of you focus on building a foundation for their successful life.Â Plan on taking some time with your adolescent to talk about what they want for their lives and how to get it.
Researchers who have studied the process needed for adolescents to build successful lives have summarized their findings with the words “selection, optimization, and commitment” or SOC for short (Gestsdottir & Lerner, 2008).
- Selection: The adolescent selects goals that are appropriate and achievable.
- Optimization: The adolescent makes a “how-to” plan by thinking through resources available and resources needed.
- Commitment: The adolescent is able to keep on going for the goal when the planned strategy does not work.
Successful Life Strategies Require Selecting Goals
The mother in the picture above is using the opportunity of her daughter’s web search to talk about what her adolescent wants in life.Â As she passed her daughter in the living room, she noticed that her daughter had her “Pinterest” account open, showing a shiny, blue Hyundai Elantra.
Mother: “Oh, my, Jesse, you have great taste in cars!”
Jessica: “Hi, Mom!Â Yes, this is the car I want to buy when I get my license next month.”
Mother: “Oh, so you are planning on buying a car?Â Have you thought about how to do that?”
Successful Life Strategies Require a “How-To” Plan
Jessica originally had thought that her parents might buy her the car for her birthday.Â She was a little disappointed to hear that mom and dad had no plans for such an expensive, elaborate gift. Further, if she wants to drive, she will have to have car insurance–which must be paid monthly. This seems pretty overwhelming, but Jessica is a girl who is willing to work for what she wants.
Jessica: “So, mom, how much would it cost to buy this kind of car?”
Mother: “I was wondering the same thing. And of course, you would have to consider more than just the cost of the car.Â There would be an initial fee for the license plate and property taxes. There would also be a monthly bill for auto insurance. And fuel for the car–you would need to be able to pay for the gas to take that car wherever you want to take it. ”
Jessica: “It sounds like I would need a job.Â But I also need to keep up my grades at school. How can I do both?”
Mother: “I like how you are thinking.Â Have you thought about the information you might need to figure that out?”
Jesse: “I need a lot of information. First, I need an idea about how much it will cost each month to have the car.Â Then I will have to figure out how many hours I would need to work each month to make that kind of money.”
Mother: “You are right on target!Â And most important, you might look at whether you would be able to spend that amount of time working and still make good grades and spend some time with your friends.”
Successful Life Strategies Require Commitment
Jessica figured out that she would have to work about 15 hours a week to afford a two-year old version of her dream car.Â She would need to pay $1,000 down–and she only had $300 in her savings account.Â She also did not have a job. She could see that it was possible to get that car and fill her obligations at a job and school–but it might not leave enough time to have fun with her friends. Still, if she had a car, she could drive herself to school. It would also signal important people in her life that she was growing up and becoming independent. This would be especially true if she had a part-time job.
Jessica:Â “Mom, if I got the car, I might not have the time I need to hang out with friends. I would be working all the time that I am not studying or going to school.Â But I still want to get my own car and have a job.Â So maybe I need a less expensive car. How do I go about making this happen?”
Mother:Â “Jesse, you are showing good problem-solving skills.Â But I need to admit, I certainly don’t know much about buying cars at an affordable price.Â Do you know anyone who might have some ideas. . .”
The Positive Outcomes
Jessica, of course, was very happy when she drove a used car home from the auction lot (which was a plan she made after consulting with her dad). She enjoyed showing her car off to her friends. She even enjoyed working 8 hours a week at a local burger joint.
But best of all–she had learned that she is a “get-it-done” kind of girl.Â She can organize her behaviors to get what she wants in life and to be the kind of person she wants to be. She enjoyed holding the mature-looking car keys in her hand.Â But she also had the kind of keys to turn her behaviors toward creating the kind of life and lifestyle of her choosing.Â She like those keys best of all.
Gestsdottir, S., & Lerner, R. M. (2008). Positive development in adolescence: The development and role of intentional self-regulation.Â Human Development,Â 51, 202-224. doi: 10.1159/000135757
Summertime offers parents an opportunity to increase childrenâs competence by focusing on skill development. Â Skill development requires concentration, which instantly improves mental health and reduces complaints of being âboredâ. Here is Moxie Mental Healthâs list of Summertime Learning Opportunities for Children.Â Adults who love to learn may themselves be captivated by these sites.
Www.artistshelpingchildren.org/howtodraw.html . Artists Helping Children contains learn-to draw lessons and how to make crafts from paper and recyclables.
Www.drawinghowtodraw.com/drawing-lessons/improve-drawing/drawing-for-beginners.htmlÂ How to Draw contains links several learn-to-draw sites which are appropriate for children as well as adults.Â One of them is entitled âHow to See and Draw the Shape of Things and Figuresâ.
Www.kidsfront.com/how-to-draw-pictures.htmÂ Kids Front How to Draw Pictures contains step by step drawing of cartoon figures and other images.
Marshallbrain.com/kids-programming.htmÂ Marshall Brain provides parents with ideas and sources to engage their children in computer instruction through games that teach problem solving to the web sites that teach coding and programming languages.
Â Www.squidoo.com/teach-computer-programmingÂ Â Teach-Computer-Programming gives parents a graded sequence of programming languages children can learn and apply from ages 7 on. It also includes where to find the instruction for the languages. Â Languages include logo (for youngest kids) up through Java and Python (for older kids).
Child and Me has instructions on (would you believe it?) how to teach math to babies.Â It is an article from Science Daily describing games researchers have found work at teaching children math.
Www.aplusmath.com Â Â Aplus math teaches math to children from primary through middle school. The site uses a multimedia approach including games, flashcards, worksheets, and tutorials. The site also gives parents tips on teaching children math.
Www.enchantedlearning.comÂ A comprehensive site with activities for children that teach math, science, English, Spanish.Â The resource-intense site has an annual fee of $20.00 annually.
Www.khanacademy.comÂ site that helps parents diagnose and remediate math Â and skills.Â Includes over 3,000 videos on math (and many other subjects), as well as instructional materials . A google interface enables children to do the work, and parents to get reports based on their childâs work.
Clicknkids.com.Â This is a great site for parents who want to teach their children how to read. Price is a one time $58.95. Additional children can be added on to the program for $19.95 each.
Www.sciencenewsforkids.org/mysnk/for-kids Â Science news for kids includes pictures and information for kids on chemistry, geology, biology, and health.
Www.sciencekids.co.nz/geology.html colorful page from New Zealand has links for geology games, facts, and projects for kids
Www.kids.gov/6_8/6_8_science_geology.shtml This site from the U.S. government has links to sites that teach geology to children from kindergarten to grade 8.
Www.rockhoundkids.com Rock hound kids has links to many websites with information about how to find rocks and build a collection.
Library.thinkquest.org/J001539Â Think Quest has instruction on basic chemistry for kids for kids. The site includes glossary.
Faculty.washington.edu/chudler/introb.htmlÂ This is a large site with links about neuroscience for kids.Â This site has great illustrations about how the bodyâs nervous systems work.
Sciencespot.net/Pages/kdzbio.htmlÂ This is the biology section of sciencespot.net, and is designed for children and teachers of middle-school aged.
Writing Instruction and Contests
Www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/doc/resources/help_write.cspÂ The National Writing Project site has ideas for parents to encourage good writing .
Owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/680/1/Â The Owl site contains a plethora of guides for parents who want to encourage good writing in their children.
Www.time4writing.com/Â Time4writing offers eight weeks of online writing instruction for k-12 students with an instructor.Â Price: $99.00 for eight weeks.
Www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/basic/yngwrite.htmlÂ Noodle Tools has about 30 writing Â contests for young writers, third graders through high school.
Â About forty-two percent of high-school students claimed to have drank alcohol within the past 30 days.Â Alcohol kills more teenagers than any other drug taken to affect mood and behavior.Â Accidents, suicides, andÂ homicides are ways teenagers die from alcohol. They also die from alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol Poisoning and the Adolescent Body
Alcohol is a deadly toxin. It depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing, heartbeat, and the gag reflex. Adolescents can die from alcohol when their drinking depresses their involuntary actions too much or they become unconscious and cannot take corrective action for the feedback their body is giving them that help is needed.
- Alcohol irritates the stomach, frequently causing vomiting. If the vomiting occurs while the adolescent is unconscious, the adolescent can “drown” in their own vomit.
- Breathing can become so shallow it eventually stops and the adolescent dies of respiratory arrest.
- Â The heart can stop beating.
- Vomiting can cause severe dehydration, leading to seizures and permanent brain damage.
- Glucose (sugar) levels in the blood can become dangerously low, leading to seizures and coma.
- The body loses its ability to regulate temperature. Body temperature can go down too far, causing hypothermia.
The alternative to dying is to get to an ER in time to pump the alcohol out of the system. Adolescents who are aware of the danger can make sure that happens.
Adolescents who are aware of the signs of alcohol poisoning, however, have the power and knowledge to save their life or the life of one of their peers. Make sure that your teenager knows the signs of alcohol poisoning and what to do if he or she encounters it.
Why the “Wait and See” Approach Can Be Fatal for Teenagers Using Alcohol
The most important thing and adolescent needs to know to deal with alcohol poisoning is to get help as soon as they suspect the alcohol might be poisoning someone.
The “wait and see” approach can be fatal when it comes to alcohol. The reason?Â Alcohol levels continue to go up after the person has stopped drinking. Alcohol levels will jump up when the alcohol reaches the small intestine–and it takes some time for the alcohol to transit from the mouth to the small intestine.Â That teenager who is passed out over there is not drinking right now–but his or her alcohol levels are still going up.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
Adolescents should know to “get help” as soon as they notice any of these symptoms:
- Person can’t be roused after they have passed out
- Slow breath–breathing 8 times a minute or less
- Pale, bluish skin (a sign of hypothermia)
- Irregular breath (more than 10 seconds between breaths)
- Mental Confusion
What Adolescents Should Do When They Notice Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
The most important thing that needs to happen if an adolescent has alcohol poisoning is to get immediate medical help.Â In the USA, dialing “911″ will usually get medical help fast.
The second most important thing to remember is: Never, Never, Never “wait and see” when a person has symptoms of alcohol poisoning.Â It could be too late. Its better to have a false alarm than a dead friend.
Adolescents are very concerned about getting in trouble with their parents, and often fail to deal effectively with an alcohol crisis out of fear of getting into trouble. Parents should talk to adolescents about how staying alive, and keeping one’s peers alive trumps getting in trouble.
Do this Today
If you have an adolescent, whether or not you are aware they are drinking–have an adult conversation today about the dangers of alcohol poisoning , how to recognize it, and how to address it. Make sure your adolescent knows to do this:
1.Â Call for help–even if they are afraid someone will get in trouble.
2. Be vigilant about their own and peer’s state of body and mind if they are drinking.
3. Never, never, never “wait and see” if there are symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
Katrina Miller, PhD
The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation. (George Washington)
Have you been to war, or sent a loved one to war?Â You may remember the constant worry about whether or not you or your loved one was going to face death from enemy fire.
While soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors face the possibility of death on the battlefield, they face an even greater risk of death once they come home.
Risk of Suicide in Veterans is Triple
Veterans are more likely to die as a suicide victim then as a war casualty. Both male and female veterans commit suicide at two to three times the rate of their civilian counterparts. Veterans commit 20% of all suicides in the United States.
How You Can Help Yourself or Your Veteran
Is your veteran at risk?Â Be aware of these conditions associated with increased risk:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Veterans with PTSD continue to reexperience the trauma through nightmares, flashbacks, or daytime preoccupation. The inability to forget what happened impairs the veteran’s ability to function in the home, at school or work, or in the social environment.
- Substance Abuse.Â While moderate drinking is common, binge drinking or persistant over-drinking is a hazard.Â Substance abuse occurs when someone uses substances in a hazardous way. About a third of veterans do substance abuse. One study showed that 77% of the veterans who completed suicide both did substance abuse and had a mental disorder.
- Mental Disorders. The conditions of wartime killing and substance abuse make veterans more vulnerable to mental disorder than their civilian counterparts.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).Â A traumatic brain injury is the “signature” injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.Â Any veteran who has been in an explosion probably sustained a mild-severe TBI. A TBI tears and bruises brain tissue.
The rate of suicide completion and attempt is considerably lower if the veteran is receiving treatment.
Any veteran with one of these conditions should have access to treatment. This is currently a problem. Currently, only 6 million of the nations 22 million veterans are enrolled in Veterans health services.Up to last week, the Veteran’s Administration was hiding the fact that it takes about 50 days for about half of veterans to get their initial appointment for veteran’s care.Â The planned remedy is for the Veteran’s Administration to hire about 1600 more clinicians to help veterans. Contact your regional Veteran’s Administration hospital today to get the process started.
Veterans who are in care need to stay in treatment for the full recommended length of time.Â Currently only half of veterans with mental health problems are staying in treatment as long as has been recommended.
If medication is prescribed for the veteran, it is important that it be taken as prescribed. Most of the suicide completions involved the veteran not taking the medication as prescribed.
If you or your veteran is at risk for suicide, here is your checklist:
- Enroll today at a Veteran’s Center for Care.
- If there is a wait time longer than 1 week, talk to your primary care physician and follow his or her recommendations for care. This may include seeing a therapist or psychiatrist in the meantime.
- Stay the full course of recommended treatment.
- Take your medication as prescribed.
Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273- 8255
If you orÂ your veteran are having thoughts about suicide and need someone to talk to immediately, please call the crisis line. You can print out decals with the crisis line phone to attach to your phoneÂ or put in your wallet by clicking this link.
Katrina H. Miller, PhD
What about My âSelfâ
Psychology and religion often use the word âegoâ when they talk about the âself.â Ego, in Greek, means âI.â.
In psychology, the âegoâ or âIâ of is that part of us that balances out the inner conflict between the pleasure we want and the good people we want to be. A healthy âIâ or âegoâ has some virtues combined with some vices. The goal is to keep virtues and vices balanced.
Religions stress the importance of not letting the âegoâ or âselfâ bulldoze over the desires and needs of others. âSelfâ is used as the starting point in managing behavior toward others. âDo into others as you would have them do unto you,â known by Christians as âthe Golden Rule,â has a corollary in nearly every major religion.
The combined wisdom of psychology and religion looks something like this:
- Â Our âselfâ has virtues and vices Â (None of us are perfect and that is the reality of life. Period.)
- Each of us needs to keep the perspective that othersâ needs and our own Â are equally important.
What About Other âSelvesâ
There are many personal qualities starting with âselfâ that we would like others to have: âSelf-control,â âSelf-efficacy,â and âSelf-awareness.â
There are other âselfâ qualities that we want others to not have: Being âselfish,â âself-absorbed,â or âself-righteous.â We want them to have ample room for us.
We also want others to care for their selves. We expect: âSelf-esteem,â âself-efficacy,â and âself-sufficiency.â That way, others wonât become a burden.Â They will also enjoy richer lives.
Our emphasis on the vocabulary of self informs us that the behavior of others is extremely important to us. That is why is so tempting to try to manage the behavior of others.
So before trying to manage others, we might want to manage our own perspective about our self and the other self:
- We, ourselves, are not perfect and neither is the other person. We both have the right to be imperfectâbecause that is the only variety humans come in.
- We and the other both have many virtues
- We both have needs, which are equally important
Ideally, these facts about self and others would be mutually understoodâbut that usually isnât the case. Somebody, during a discussion about unwanted behaviors, is likely to let go of self-control. They automatically and mindlessly start running their mouths without engaging their brain.
We cannot stop the other person from losing self-control; but we can assure that our attitudes and behaviors remain true to our intention to value and accept others.
If the other person lets go of their steering wheel, and begins acting like a zombie (a mythical creature that moves but is dead and mindless), we can nudge them back to the living by using our own self-control.
Just for fun, letâs call a discussion where one participant goes mindlessly into the attack mode Â âan attack by a conversation zombie.â
One âconversation zombieâ, spouting off the negative thoughts and feelings that come from being emotionally swamped, Â had a very different experience when her husband made an important decision. . .
The Attack by a Conversation Zombie
Rick:Â âSo, Peg, talk to me about what happened at dinner .â
Peg: âThere you go, Rick, accusing me of being a âbad mother.ââ
Rick:Â âYouâre concerned that I might not support you as a mother.â
Peg: âI know you wonât support me.Â You never have!Â You only care about the kids.â
Rick: âMaybe youâre concerned that I donât notice how much effort you put into making sure our children have a mother who makes sure that they do well in school.â
Peg: âNot only that they do well in school, butâwait! You know–youâre right!Â I saw that look in your eye when I told Ben to leave the table! You think Iâm a **!## (short for âconversation zombie).ââ
Rick: âI care about your feelingsâI know that you care about how I feel about you. You are my sweetheart!â
Peg: âWell, Iâm really concerned that Ben always has an excuse for not bringing homework home. . .â
This tidbit of after-dinner talk started out very badly. Peg is not so good at reading Rickâs mind. Secretly, she worries about being grumpy, and would like Rick to put more effort into guiding Ben. When she feels discouraged, she feels she cannot do anything right. She often feels unlovable. And at night, after she is exhausted from a difficult day job, she often tells herself that it is all Rickâs fault.
Rick did not appreciate the continued attacks. He knew that it was just âPegspeak- after- a- long-day,â but he sometimes got tired of it.
They had a discussion like this last week, and he decided that next time he was not going to allow it to deteriorate into an argument about whether Rick or Peg was the âbad guy.â
Rick is not a therapist, and he has never had a class in communication. In fact, he works with numbers, rather than people (he is an accountant).
Rick simply did three things differently than what is ordinarily done when under attack by a conversation zombie.
- He refused to get defensive and take the bait when Peg tried to make the conversation about him
- He acknowledged her feelings without agreeing (or disagreeing) with her
- He consistently made comments that focused on her virtues
So, who won in this disagreement that did not happen?Â
Rickâs good self-control and acknowledgement of Pegâs feelings successfully dislodged her from the attack mode. As a result, she got out of her rut and talked about her real concern.
Rick was more energized as well. He had won at poker beforeâbut this is a much sweeter victory–not a victory over Peg, but a victory over his own impulses. He hoped that getting it ârightâ once would help him get it right again and again.
As for Ben?Â When his dad told him that he would not be playing computer games until after the homework was doneâBen found his homework and got it done. Ben saw the boundary his father set for him as evidence of his love.
If the conversation would have turned in the direction of Pegâs attacks, the homework thing would have been left unresolved. But tonight, nobody went to bed empty.
April is Autism Awareness Month in the United States.Â Why should you be aware of autism?Â Because if you do not have autism in your family, you surely know somebody who does. And they need your support.
What are Your Chances of Having a Child with Autism
Have you ever thought autism was something that happened to somebody else?Â Think again.Â Here are the rates reported around the world:
- United States, 1 in 88 childrenÂ (1 in 54 males; 1 in 252 females)
- Europe, 1 in 100 children
- Asia, 1 in 100 children
- South Korea, 1 in 45 children
What is Autism
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder are general terms for complex disorders of brain development. There are several types of autistic disorders that we are aware of:
- Autistic DisorderÂ (classic autism)
- Aspergerâs Syndrome (like autism, but with normal language development)
- Pervasive Developmental DisorderÂ (a catch-all term for autistic behaviors that donât fit any of the other patterns)
- Childhood Disintegrative DisorderÂ (a rare condition where the child learns skills, but loses them by age 10)
- Rett Syndrome (a genetic illness that occurs only in females)
The disability ranges from mild to severe. The impairment in brain functioning is demonstrated in three areas:
- Social interaction
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
- Repetitive behaviors
According to Autism Speaks, the leading advocacy organization, most persons with autism are verbal (75%) and many people with autism are average or above average in intelligence (40%). About one in ten autistic persons have extraordinary brilliance in areas such as music, math, or the arts.
In most cases (60%), autism is associated with retardation (having an IQ of less than 70) . Most autistic adults have significant disability and require the supervision of others.
Autistic children require a great deal more supervision than most children without autism.Â Parents and siblings of autistic children are usually under a great deal of emotional strain as the supervision of the autistic child requires extraordinary patience and every spare moment of time.
Autism is a Puzzle
The major epidemiology research Â (studying the rates of disease) in the United States is done by the Center for Disease Control. In conjunction with John Hopkins University, they have established the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM), which monitors the rates of autistic disorders in eight-year-old children each year in the United States.Â Â Here is some data from the report released by the ADDM in March, 2012:
- The rate of autistic disorders in the United States is on the rise.Â It has increased by 78% in the past 10 years.
- Though the same criteria were used for identifying autism in each region, the rates vary greatly. Utah has the highest rate, with 1 in 47 children born in 2000 were diagnosed with a form of autism. Alabama has the lowest rates, with 1 in 244 children born in 2000 diagnosed with autism. You can find a report about the rate of autism in your state here.
- Boys are five times more likely to have autistic disorders than girls
Autism is visually represented as a set of red, green, blue, and yellow puzzle pieces.Â The multiple colors represent the diversity of forms of autism. The puzzle pieces reflect the urgent need for answers to the unanswered questions that would enable us to get a grasp on improving the quality of life for persons with autism and their familiesâand perhaps someday find cures.
Early Intervention Leads to a Better Outcome
The earlier parents and doctors identify that a child has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, the more likely that specialized help can make a difference for the child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have the best change if they are diagnosed by age 3.
How to Identify Autism Before Age 4
Here are some indicators that a young child might have an autistic disorder:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- loss of language or social skills
- poor eye contact
- excessive lining up of toys or objects
- no smiling or social responsiveness.
Parents can ensure that their child is diagnosed in a timely manner by observing whether or not their child is meeting developmental milestones.Â A developmental milestone is a specific behavior that is expected to emerge by a certain age.Â You can act early in detecting autistic spectrum disorder and other developmental problems by reviewingÂ developmental milestones of each age.Â There is well-defined information on the siteÂ to help parents identify which concerns should be discussed with doctors.
There is usually funding through the school district and other sources available to help children with autistic disorders.Â You can find sources of help in your state by clicking this link.
How You Can Help
Now you know a little more about how to identify autism and what to do about itâmaybe you can help someone who needs to know today.Â With so many victims of autismâthere is likely to be someone in your family or neighborhood who could benefit from what you know. Mostly, they could benefit from knowing you care. Please reach out to them.