Monday, August 17, 2009

Ask Dr. Dana

Why does my 13 year old get so emotional and overwhelmed about everything? She’s only in middle school.

The number one complaint we hear from kids is that parents pooh-pooh their fears, concerns, and stressors. Many parents’ think that since they survived middle and high school unscathed, so can their kids. They also compare all of the stress and responsibility they face in their adult lives with their children’s stress and come to the conclusion that their children don’t have anything to be stressed about. In other words, their children’s lives are simple compared to their own (what does Billy really have to worry about?)

What these well meaning parents fail to take into consideration is that stress is relative and feels real and overwhelming to their child. Adolescents don’t “experience” their situation from an adults’ perspective or by comparing their level of stress to an adult’s. They can’t.

Cognitively speaking, children’s frontal cortex isn’t fully developed until age 23. So, your 13 year olds’ brain is only half as developed as an adult brain. They can’t see solutions or manage their emotions the way an adult can.

Although their objective degree of stress may be less than an adult’s, they don’t experience their situation as less stressful. They feel the pressure to achieve, perform, fit-in, and form connections with others, as strongly, if not more strongly than adults.

They need help; your help. If you aren’t willing to really listen to and validate their concerns and stressors, guess what? They will turn away from you and towards their friends who are going through similar emotions. The problem here is that other teens are as emotionally ill-equipped to deal with their stress as your child.

To teach your children how to manage stress start by listening and validating their specific concerns, struggles, and fears. Teaching them how to prioritize, manage their time, and confront peer conflicts will reduce their level of stress. Similarly, role playing peer conflict situations with your children can provide the self-confidence they need to stand up for themselves or begin a difficult emotional conversation.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ask Dr. Dana

Scottsdale Prevention Institute Phone: 480-443-3100
6908 E. Thomas Rd. Fax: 480-443-3272
Scottsdale, AZ 85251 United Way # 0077

Ask Dr. Dana:

What are the most commonly used drugs for middle and high school students?

· OxyCotin
--Individuals abuse OxyCotin for the euphoric effect it produces--an effect similar to that associated with heroin use. Street names include: Cotton, Hillbilly Heroin, Kicker, OCs, Ox, Os, Oxy, Pills, 40 (a 40 milligram tablet), 80 (an 80 milligram tablet)

· Soma--Soma causes drowsiness, giddiness, and relaxation. Street names include: Ds, Dance, Las Vegas Cocktail (combination of Soma and Vicodin), Soma Coma (combination of Soma and codeine)

· Ecstasy—Ecstasy has stimulant properties, enabling kids to dance for hours at all-night parties and nightclubs. It also has hallucinogenic effects. Street names include: MDMA, Ecstasy, XTC, E, X, Beans, Adams, Hug Drug, Disco Biscuit, Go, Adam, hug, love drug)

**Kids tell our Prevention Specialists that they can “order” any kind of pill at school and get it by the end of the school day.

What can you do?
1) Monitor your kids’ whereabouts (i.e., where they are, who they are with, what they are doing);

2) Take time to communicate with and validate your kids’ stressors;

3) Give kids practical, realistic coping skills to deal with pressure.

If you have a parenting or social/coping skills questions for Dr. Dana send questions to

Dana Sherman, Ph.D.
School Program Director
Scottsdale Prevention Institute
480-443-3100 x 222