Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Balanced Parenting

“Helping families successfully balance the joys and challenges of family life”

Welcome to Balanced Parenting!

Are you exhausted at the end of the day with your kids?

Do you feel like you argue or negotiate with your kids day and night?

Are you worried that your kids aren’t respectful?

Baby sleep issues?

Do you expect too little of your kids?

Do your kids expect too much of you?

Is your marriage suffering because all of your energy goes to your kids?

Together, we can tackle these issues and bring more peace and family togetherness into your home.

Visit for more information:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: A Parent's Guide to Middle School Years

By Joe Bruzzesse
This fantastic book is on book shelves now! Order on Amazon today - place the title in the Amazon Box on the side of the Blog.

Because today's children seem to grow up so fast, middle school has become the new high school. Concerns about homework, social issues, technology, and emotional health confront parents earlier than they would like or expect. Educator and parent Joe Bruzzese offers practical, empowering help for parents along with guidelines for their children, such as rules for using cell phones and tips for productive parent-teacher relationships.

This streamlined guide helps parents and their families move toward the goal of not just surviving, but thriving in the middle school years.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sue Scheff - Video Game Addiction

“When kids don’t have access to the computer, they feel unhappy, disphoric, bored, lonely. They need the computer and the computer game again to gain their sense of control, mastery and feel happy again.”

– Ashraf Attalla, M.D., Child Psychiatrist

For years Kristen Blosser has loved video games. She plays every single day.

“Four hours a day. Um you know if I don’t have anything to do that day I will try and play all day long,” says Blosser, 19.

Her current favorite? “World of Warcraft. It’s been a game that I’ve recently gotten addicted to.”

Kristen may joke about being ‘addicted’, but according to researchers at Iowa State University, nearly 10 percent of kids are video game addicts.

“Video games are very addictive,” says Dr. Attalla, “And some adolescents, children, become addicted to games. They play enormous amount of time on games.”

Experts say spending more than 14 hours a week playing is one indicator. “Consistent preoccupation with the game is another thing. Feeling euphoric and happy,” says Dr. Attalla, “Depressed and lonely when you’re not playing the game and the constant urge and need to keep playing the game to feel happy again. Those kids can’t finish their homework anymore on time. They’re socially withdrawn from their circle of friends. They’re not as interested in other things.”

Both Zachary Moore and his dad love video games, but they play no more than an hour per day.

“My mom or dad stops me when I get too much,” says Zachary.

“I mean it’s not something that they just turn off. I mean you have to basically manage and tell them to stop playing,” points out his father, Charles.

Dr. Attalla says it’s simple: “Access to the computer, the kind of games that they play, the amount of time that they spend should be tightly controlled by the parents.”

Tips for Parents

For many parents, video games are likely to be low on the list of addiction risks for their children. But as the video industry continues to grow, video game addiction is a problem being faced by more and more parents. This is especially true as the landscape of the video-game industry continues to change. Gone are the days of Super Mario and Donkey Kong. In their places are dark, adult-themed games like Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat.

While video games in and of themselves are not bad, excessive and unobserved game playing can lead to problems. According to experts at the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF), there are steps you can take to lessen the likelihood of your child getting addicted to video games. Consider the following:

Limit game playing time. (Recommended: No more than one hour per day.)
Play with your child to become familiar with the games.
Provide alternative ways for your child to spend time.
Require that homework and jobs be done first; use video game playing as a reward.
Do not put video game set in a child’s room where he/she can shut the door and isolate himself/herself.

Talk about the content of the games.

Ask your video store to require parental approval before a violently rated video game can be rented by children.

When buying video games for your child, it is important to purchase games targeted at his/her audience. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates every video and computer game for age appropriateness (located on the front of the packaging) and, when appropriate, labels games with content descriptions. The ESRB’s current rating standard is as follows:

EC – Early Childhood (3 and older)
E – Everyone (6 and older)
E10+ – Everyone (10 and older)
T – Teens (13 and older)
M – Mature audiences (17 and older)
AO – Adults Only
RP – Ratings Pending

There are also other considerations besides the rating to take into account when deciding whether to purchase a video game for your child. Children Now, a research and action organization, offers these additional tips for helping you to choose the right video games for your child:

Know your child. Different children handle situations differently. Regardless of age, if your child becomes aggressive or unsettled after playing violent video games, don’t buy games with violence in them. Likewise, if your child likes playing games with characters that look like him/her, purchase games with characters that fit the bill.

Read more than the ratings. While the ESRB ratings can be helpful, they do not tell the whole story. Some features that you may consider violent or sexual may not be labeled as such by the ESRB. In addition, the ESRB does not rate games for the positive inclusion of females. The language on the packaging may give you a better idea of the amount and significance of violence and sexuality and the presence of gender and racial diversity or stereotypes in the game.
Go online. The ESRB website provides game ratings as well as definitions of the rating system. In addition, you can visit game maker and distributor websites to learn more about the contents of a game. Some have reviews that will provide even more information about the game.
Rent before you buy. Many video rental stores also rent video games and consoles. Take a trial run before you purchase a game.

Talk to other parents. Find out which games other parents like and dislike, as well as which games they let your child play when he/she visits their house. This is a good way to learn about the games that your child enjoys and those that other parents approve of, and to let other parents know which games you do not want your child playing.

Play the games with your child. Know what your child is being exposed to and how he/she reacts to different features in the games.

Talk about what you see. If your child discovers material that he/she finds disturbing or that you find inappropriate, talk about it. This is a great opportunity to let your child know what your values are as well as to help him/her deal with images that may be troubling.
Set limits. If you are worried that your child spends too much time playing video games, limit the amount of time or specify the times of day that video games can be played.

Put the games in a public space. Just as with the Internet, keep your game consoles and computers in public family space so that you can be aware of the material your child is viewing.
Contact the game makers. If you find material that you think is offensive or inappropriate, let the people who make and sell the games know about it. Likewise, let game makers know if you think that a game provides healthy messages or images. They do care what you think!

Children Now
Entertainment Software Association
Entertainment Software Rating Board
Federal Trade Commission
Iowa State University
National Institute on Media and the Family

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Drug Prevention

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the MetLife Foundation today released the results of the 14th annual national survey of parents attitudes about teen drug abuse. The results show a strong increase in parental awareness of the dangers of one of the most troubling trends in teen drug use – the abuse of prescription medications.

However, not enough parents are talking to their kids about the risks. 1 in 5 teens has abused an Rx medication, and more than 2,500 teens per day use a prescription painkiller to get high for the first time. Steve Pasierb, President of the Partnership, is available to discuss the findings of the 2008 Partnership/MetLife Foundation Parents Attitude Tracking Study:

· The number of parents who mistakenly believe that abusing prescription medicines is “much safer” than using illicit street drugs dropped by nearly half—from 19 percent in 2007 to just ten percent in 2008.

· In 2007, 24 percent of parents believed that intentional abuse of prescription medicines would not be addictive. In 2008, that number decreased significantly to 11 percent.

· Despite this increased awareness, there has not been a corresponding increase in parents talking to their kids about these dangers. The study also highlights differences between the way mothers and fathers approach drug and alcohol issues with their kids:

Mothers are more likely to feel comfortable setting and enforcing rules about alcohol, tobacco and drug use—just 10 percent of mothers said they had difficulty enforcing these rules, versus 18 percent of fathers.

· Mothers were also less likely to prioritize “friendship” with their children– 59 percent of fathers versus 51 percent of mothers felt it was very important for their child to consider them a friend.

Feel free to email Candice Besson at to schedule an interview or receive a copy of the PATS research report, or visit for more information.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: Helping Kids Cope with Cliques

Source: TeensHealth

Your 10-year-old daughter comes home crying because the girls she's been friends with are suddenly leaving her out and spreading rumors about her. She's confused because it seemed to happen out of the blue. She doesn't know what she did wrong and is nervous about returning to school, unsure if she has any friends.

Given how prevalent cliques are throughout middle and high school, at some point your child is likely to face the prospect of being in one or being excluded from them. There's little you can do to shield kids from cliques, but plenty you can do to help them maintain confidence and self-respect while negotiating cliques and understanding what true friendship is all about.

What's a Clique?

Friendship is an important part of kids' development. Having friends helps them be independent beyond the family and prepares them for the mutual, trusting relationships we hope they'll establish as adults.

Groups of friends are different from cliques in some important ways. Friendships grow out of shared interests, sports, activities, classes, neighborhoods, or even family connections. In groups of friends, members are free to socialize and hang out with others outside the group without worrying about being cast out. They may not do everything together — and that's OK.

Cliques sometimes form around common interests, but the social dynamics are very different. Cliques are usually tightly controlled by leaders who decide who is "in" and who is "out." The kids in the clique do most things together. Someone who has a friend outside the clique may face rejection or ridicule.

Members of the clique usually follow the leader's rules, whether it's wearing particular clothes or doing certain activities. Cliques usually involve lots of rules — implied and clearly stated — and intense pressure to follow them. Kids in cliques often worry about whether they'll continue to be popular or whether they'll be dropped for doing or saying the wrong thing or for not dressing in a certain way. This can create a lot of pressure, particularly for girls, who might be driven to extreme dieting and eating disorders or even to ask for plastic surgery. Others may be pressured to take risks like steal, pull pranks, or bully other kids in order to stay in the clique.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Sexting and Teens

Source: Good Morning America

'GMA' Holds a Town Hall Meeting to Discuss the Growing Teen Trend

Sex easily and quickly integrated itself into the digital age; and now the teen trend of "sexting" -- where a user sends sexually explicit images or messages via text on a cell phone -- has parents struggling for a way to address the situation.

"We're seeing 14, 15 and 16-year-olds and up are very commonly sharing naked pictures or sexual pictures of themselves," said Internet safety expert Parry Aftab, of Wired Safety. "We're talking about kids who are too young to wear bras who are posing in them, and then topless and then actually engaged in sex or even in masturbation. So we are seeing a lot of kids who are sexually active."

There's nothing coy about this 21st century amorous pursuit. Children as young as 12, who aren't sexually active, are sending explicit, provocative and even pornographic images to their peers.

Click here to ask a question about sexting.
Click here for more Internet safety tips.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff: Driving While High

Everyone fears drinking and driving and the danger it can cause, today we need to add driving while high (smoking pot) and how your instincts are diminished to the point that it could cause accidents and worse. Learn more now.

Source: Connect with Kids

“Pot is the sneakiest of drugs because it takes out your functioning. It decreases reaction time. It messes up judgment. It messes up driving,”
– Steven Jaffe, MD, psychiatrist

For a young driver, there are so many dangers: speed, ego, inexperience and another often ignored danger: drugs.

“I think it’s very irresponsible and it could lead to a lot of dangerous accidents. It’s just as bad as driving drunk – quite possible even worse,” says 17-year-old Allison Meisburg.
Researchers from the University of Montreal studied the habits of 83 male drivers. They found that nearly 20 percent have been high behind the wheel.

“…and I would estimate at least two or three times that number have been in the car in which the driver was stoned,” says Dr. Steven Jaffe, a psychiatrist, who specializes in substance abuse issues.
“[Driving while high] is not as bad as drinking and driving, but it is still bad of course, because you know your reflexes are delayed and all that jazz,” says 16-year old Justin.
Experts say teens simply don’t realize the dangers.

It’s hard to believe, but some kids believe pot helps them driver better.

“They really think they do,” says Dr. Jaffe. “But they don’t. They really don’t. They don’t realize they are impaired. Pot is the sneakiest of drugs because it takes out your functioning. It decreases reaction time. It messes up their judgment. It messes up driving.”

Dr. Jaffe says parents should adopt a zero-tolerance attitude. Remind your kids that pot is a mind-altering drug and not to ride with drivers who are high on any drug. Then, remind them of the consequences.
“The biggest consequence would be you run into another on-coming car during traffic and you kill them and yourself. That’d be the biggest consequence,” says Reggie, 17.
Dr. Jaffe concurs. “It only takes one time to kill yourself and kill somebody else.”

Tips for Parents

According to government studies, nearly 11 million Americans, including one in five 21-year-olds, have driven while under the influence of illegal drugs. Young adults don’t consider driving while high to be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol, according to John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Therefore, his office is starting a campaign warning teens about driving while smoking marijuana. Concentration, perception, coordination and reaction time can all be affected for up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana, Walters said.

So how can you determine if your teen has been using drugs, namely marijuana? The experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggest looking for these trouble signs in your teen.

He/she may:

Seem dizzy and have trouble walking
Seem silly and giggly for no reason
Have very red, bloodshot eyes
Have a hard time remembering things that just happened
Seem very sleepy or groggy (after the early effects fade, sleepiness may occur)
In addition to these signs, parents should also be alert to changes in any of the following:
Behavior, such as withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with friends and family

Academic performance, including absenteeism and truancy
Loss of interest in sports or other favorite hobbies
Eating or sleeping patterns
Also be on the lookout for:
Signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia
Odor on clothes and in bedroom
Use of incense and other deodorizers
Use of eye drops
Clothing, posters, jewelry, etc., promoting drug use

National Institute on Drug Abuse
Parents. The Anti-Drug.
Office of National Drug Control Policy
University of Montreal

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: Girl Sex Boundaries

"It might be hard the first couple of times, but after you keep that standard for yourself all the time, then others will learn to accept it."-Tasleem Jadabji, a teen-

At parties, in school parking lots or when they’re just hanging out, girls are often pressured by boys to “fool around” and have sex. But now more than ever, girls are gaining the confidence to answer their male counterparts with a resounding “no.”

“It might be hard the first couple of times, but after you keep that standard for yourself all the time, then others will learn to accept it,” says Tasleem Jadabji, a teen.

“Just standing up for yourself over time will help give you that confidence,” adds her friend, Shoba Reddy-Holdcraft.

According to an analysis of survey data published in Context, a journal of the American Sociological Association, more girls are prolonging sexual abstinence and influencing boys to do the same.

“Guys are becoming more … tolerant, patient and aware of the fact that there are girls who don’t want to have sex and that the pressure is not going to change their minds,” Kristen Baker says.

“By doing that, they learn that you’re serious, so they take you more serious and you gain their respect, and you respect them for respecting you,” adds Courtney McIntosh.

The study’s findings reveal that girls are even becoming more outspoken about who they are and what they want.

“Girls are starting to watch programs that empower them, that say, ‘Hey, it’s OK to be free to respect your body, to respect yourself,’ and I think they’re also becoming more aware that not everyone is having sex,” says Sharina Prince, a health educator.

And sex isn’t the only area where girls are drawing the line.

“We don’t just go along with whatever, and we speak our minds more instead of just letting someone else tell us what to do about everything, what to wear, what we should do, who we should hang out with,” Courtney says.

Experts say that parents can play a key role in helping their teens make positive health decisions by giving them two powerful weapons: self confidence and knowledge.

“In developing or establishing a really positive relationship so that the teen feels empowered and feels like they understand, have an understanding about sexuality education,” Prince advises.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Teen Peer Pressure

Peer Pressure leads to "Good Teens Making Bad Choices" which is very common today.

Teen Peer Pressure can be extremely damaging to a pre-teen or teen that is desperately trying to fit in somewhere – anywhere in their school. They are not sure what group they belong in, and those that are suffering with low self esteem can end up fitting more comfortably with the less than desirable peers. This can be the beginning of a downward spiral. When a child doesn’t have confidence of who they are or where they belong, it can lead to the place that is easiest to fit in – usually the not the best crowd.

Keeping your child involved in activities such as sports, music and school clubs can help give them a place where they belong. We always encourage parents to find the one thing that truly interests their child, whether it is a musical instrument, swimming, golf, diving, dance, chess club, drama, etc. It is important to find out what their interests are and help them build on it. Encourage them 100%. They don’t need to be the next Tiger Woods, but they need to enjoy what they are doing and keep busy doing it. Staying busy in a constructive way is always beneficial.

It is very common with many parents that contact us that their child has fallen into the wrong crowd and has become a follower rather than a leader. They are making bad choices, choices they know better however the fear of not fitting in with their friends sways them to make the wrong decisions. Low self esteem can attribute to this behavior, and if it has escalated to a point of dangerous situations such as legal issues, substance use, gang related activity, etc. it may be time to seek outside help. Remember, don’t be ashamed of this, it is very common today and you are not alone. So many parents believe others will think it is a reflection of their parenting skills, however with today’s society; the teen peer pressure is stronger than it ever has been. The Internet explosion combined with many teens Entitlement Issues has made today’s generation a difficult one to understand.

It is so important to find the right fit for your child if you are seeking residential treatment. We always encourage *local adolescent counseling prior to any Residential Treatment Programs or Boarding schools, however this is not always necessary. Many parents have an instinct when their child is heading the wrong direction. It is an intuition only a parent can detect. If something doesn't seem right, it usually isn't. If your gut is talking to you, you may want to listen or investigate what your child is doing. Parents need to understand that teen peer pressure can influence adolescents in negative ways. Do you know who your child’s friends are?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: Stop Bullying Now!

Kids today, both teens and pre-teens, can be extremely mean and cause emotional issues to their target. What can parents do? Read more about how you can help stop bullying.

What Can Adults Do?

Welcome to the Take a Stand. Lend a Hand. Stop Bullying Now! adult pages. As an adult, one of best ways you can help stop or prevent bullying is to be educated about, and sensitive to, the issue. Bullying is NOT a rite of passage - an undesirable, but sometimes unavoidable, reality of growing up. Rather, bullying is a serious public health issue that affects countless young people everyday. Further, research shows that the effects of bullying can last well into adulthood. Whether you are a concerned parent, an educator or school employee, a health and safety professional, or someone else who works with children, there are many things you can do to help.