When parents should seek professional help for an out-of-control teen

  • Written by ARA

Adolescence can be a tough time for children and their parents. While it is a natural part of childhood development to test boundaries and explore autonomy, how can a parent tell when to call in a professional for help with an out-of-control child?

It can be difficult to tell what is normal development and what is beyond the pale, especially between 12 and 16 years of age. There is an established rise in difficulty in the parent-child relationship in the late middle school and early high school years, says Devin Byrd, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health Professions at South University.

“Around this age, children are developing abstract thought and autonomy,” says Byrd, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is an expert in child and adolescent psychology and development. “Children and teens are finding that their friends have opinions they may want to agree with, which can lead to a loss of authority for parents.”

While some level of boundary-testing is natural, Byrd says that there are signs that parents can look for to tell if their child needs help.

“Some children exhibit externalizing behavior: acting out in school, fighting, stealing and being less tolerant of others’ behavior. Some will internalize things. They will become anxious or depressed, withdraw from friends and family, and be less interested in activities and schoolwork,” he says.

Other signs could be bad grades, a change in peer groups and a tendency toward daring, high-risk activities. Sometimes these changes can be tied to a life-changing event, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. But the changes may also occur so gradually that a parent may not be able to recognize how bad things have become.

Byrd suggests talking to your child’s teachers and even your friends and family members to gauge whether a child has gone too far. Overall, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is better to get help too early than too late.

Once you have decided to seek professional help, you may be able to find a referral for a therapist from your child’s doctor or from school or church officials.

Another option may be to go through your health insurance provider or workplace employee assistance program.

When you have chosen a therapist, Byrd offers a few suggestions for your first visit:

• Talk to your child about why you want to seek help, and be open about the process. Don’t think you can trick your child into therapy.

• Take any notes you have made about your child’s behavior, along with any drawings, poems or stories that the child has created.

• Go in with your child for the first visit. It will show your child that you are committed to the process. After that, the therapist may or may not invite you back for future sessions.

• Be ready to talk in an open, honest manner  and be prepared to make changes alongside your child. Byrd says to remember that “you are not dropping your child off to be ‘fixed.’ You may well be part of the problem.”

Depending on the issues involved and the style of the therapist, the length of time your child may spend in therapy will vary. But in general, be prepared for a commitment of two to three months or longer.

Therapy can and does help adolescents through what can be a very difficult period in their lives, and you can demonstrate a healthy pattern for living by addressing issues with the help of professionals.

“As with any therapy, having a professional take an outside view at the situation can be quite beneficial,” says Byrd. “It is much easier for someone else to see what is going on with us than it is for us to see what is going on with ourselves.”

Do you hear what I hear?

  • Written by ARA

What you need to know about noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in adolescents

Due to the increased use of earbuds, adolescent hearing loss is up 5 percent over the last decade, which now affects 20 percent of U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 19, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. It’s no surprise the increase in popular portable digital media player ownership from 18 percent to 76 percent over the past five years, along with frequent use at loud volumes, has contributed to young people losing their hearing.

“Since hearing loss in children and teens is on the rise, it is important for adults to play an active role in prevention and seek out methods to minimize hearing loss, such as understanding safe volume levels,” says Michelle Atkinson, vice president of Energizer North America Marketing. “Ensuring your children have the appropriate products can make a big difference in their lives.”

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud sounds and usually occurs gradually over time, according to the Better Hearing Institute. Since this form of hearing loss is painless and invisible, it would be difficult for you to detect the problem in your children and grandchildren. But, there are things you can do to help prevent NIHL.

“Even minimal hearing loss can result in educational and behavioral problems in children,” said Lara Noble, Au.D., CCCA, chief audiologist of the Center for Hearing and Speech of St. Louis. “It is important for people to practice safe listening habits with the kids in their life.”

Safe listening tips

• Turn it down. Get into the habit of listening to the TV, radio and personal audio devices at a softer level.

•  Get high-quality earbuds with noise cancelation or sound isolation properties.

• Use 60 percent of a device’s volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time, since the longer the duration of exposure, the greater the risk.

• Download a noise meter app to determine the sound levels in your environment.

• For an affordable and effective way to protect your hearing, use earplugs.

Do you need a hearing aid?

Don’t miss out on important moments in your life. If you experience any of the symptoms below, you should contact your physician and ask for their referral on a hearing specialist:

• Your lack of hearing starts to interfere with your normal way of life.

•You have trouble understanding people on the phone.

• You have a hard time following conversations when people are speaking at the same time.

• You misunderstand others when they are talking to you.

• Your family and friends complain you’ve got the volume too loud on the TV or radio.

For more information on these symptoms, visit

For those who need a hearing aid, Energizer ZEROMERCURY hearing aid batteries are a superior solution. The batteries are recently improved and more powerful than ever, and with EZ Turn & Lock packaging that allows for hassle free battery dispensing, Energizer is a reliable choice. Find out more at

Step into summer with tips for family fun in the sun

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) - Summer days do not have to be lazy. Children may be used to action-packed schedules in school, but by stepping up their planning, families can enjoy outdoor activities that are engaging and help keep children active. Whether camping or simply exploring the park down the street, it’s important to plan ahead for summer fun, especially when it comes to sun protection.

Alison Sweeney, host of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and mother of two, says family routines do not have to be complicated. Simple things such as hiking and bike-riding are among her family’s favorite summertime activities, and she does everything she can to keep her family healthy in the process. “I always encourage my family to be active outdoors as part of a healthy lifestyle, even if it’s just a quick walk around the neighborhood or an impromptu scavenger hunt in the backyard. No matter what activity we are doing, practicing sun safety habits is a must,” explains Sweeney.

Having long been an advocate for daily sun protection, Sweeney has four practical tips for families as they gear up for outdoor fun this summer:

• Develop a sun-safe program for your family. Just like brushing your teeth before you go to bed, it’s important to teach your children to practice the proper sun safety habits before heading outside for some time in the sun. Any good routine includes the use of essentials such as broad spectrum sunscreen, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.

• Choose the right sunscreen for your activities. If you plan on engaging in intense outdoor activities that will make you sweat a lot such as rock-climbing or hiking, try Coppertone Sport Pro Series. These lightweight formulas stay on strong, but also allow your skin to breathe while keeping it hydrated. “It’s so important to find a sunscreen that can keep up with the activities you have planned for the day. I love to use Coppertone Sport Pro Series during long bike rides because it doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight or greasy,” says Sweeney.

• Time flies when you are enjoying the outdoors, but be sure you are making time to reapply sunscreen. Look for some new sun protection options that help simplify reapplication so that you can get back to having fun with your family more easily.  “I make sure we reapply every two hours or after towel drying, swimming or sweating,” says Sweeney. “My children love to be in the water, which is why I use Coppertone Wet ‘n Clear Kids. It cuts through water on wet skin and sprays on clear, so you don’t even need to towel dry the kids before reapplying.”

• Know when to break. It’s important to take breaks and get out of the sun for a while, especially on hot days and between the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  When it’s time to grab a snack with the family, find some shade and relax.

Coppertone is teaming up with Alison Sweeney to help find the next Little Miss Coppertone through a nationwide search on Facebook. For contest details, visit

Top national parks for families

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) - Each year, hundreds of millions of people visit the 397 destinations that comprise the country’s National Park System. Summer is the ideal time to explore many of these parks, as the kids are out of school and activities in the parks are in full swing. Here are four national parks that are worth putting on your family’s life list.

Yellowstone National Park

Spanning parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park tops the list. Yellowstone was the first national park, created on March 1, 1872, in an act signed by then President Ulysses S. Grant, and it is the eighth-largest national park in the United States, which means there is a lot to see and do. It is home to the most geologically active lands on the planet. The gushing geysers and bubbling hot springs are the park’s signature features. But the wildlife is famous, too. Get ready for the priceless look on your children’s faces when they first see a bison crossing the road. With all this action, it is no wonder that Yellowstone is one of the country’s most-visited parks as well. “If you want to miss the crowds, enter the park early in the morning, which is a great time to see the wildlife, too,” says Nathan Borchelt, an editor and national park aficionado at “Or better yet, stay the night in the park for sunset views that day-trippers rarely see.”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Covering more than a half a million acres, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee is the most-visited national park in the country (drawing in around 10 million visitors annually). This park makes the list because it provides easy access to nature and is within a day’s drive of nearly a third of the U.S. population. The park has nearly 800 miles of hiking trails and 16 mountain peaks higher than 6,000 feet. Families will see plenty of diverse wildlife, such as black bears, elk and a diverse collection of fauna and flora. Also, the park encompasses more than 90 historic buildings to explore.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, Maine, delivers the full outdoor experience. It was the first national park created east of the Mississippi, and it is best known for its boulder-lined coast and former carriage-path trails that wind through the forest. Go hiking or trail running on Cadillac Mountain and enjoy the beautiful views and fresh mountain air. Also, explore the shores and islands with the family by kayak or canoe; areas such as Eagle Lake and Porcupine Island are stunning. Be sure to snag some of the area’s famous lobsters and blueberries. And if you have time, plan a day-trip to Nova Scotia on the ferry.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park, also jokingly known as the eighth wonder of the world, brings in more than 5 million visitors each year. Hiking below the canyon rim or rafting a section of the Colorado River will ensure the whole family experiences more than just a panoramic view from the top (though that’s one stunning view). Tell the children that the rock they just touched is more than 2 billion years old, and you will most certainly see a look of wonder. If you are really adventurous, you can plan a mule-trek into (and out of) the canyon, but be sure to drink lots of water and put on sunscreen, as it will get hot as you ascend almost 4,500 vertical feet.


  • Written by Susan VerGowe, Bellevue Christian School
While this may seem like a silly question, (Camp IS for FUN!), there is so much more that goes into a successful and truly FUN camp experience.   There are as many different definitions of FUN as there are different children.

As a parent, how do you find the best camp for your child? By focusing first on who your child is, the process of choosing a camp is greatly simplified. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

•    Where does my child thrive?  In small intimate settings or large groups, in high action or quieter activities?

•    Is my child a hands-on learner or more contemplative?

•    Does my child like to dream and imagine stories and characters?

•    Where does my child naturally excel? Where does my child struggle more?

•    Is making new friends easy or hard?

•    Is an overnight camp exciting or stressful?

•    What type of activities truly excite my child?

Once you’ve sorted through these questions you are on your way. And by now, your heart likely has an idea of what general type of camp would be the most fun for your child: dance, overnight,  adventure, drama, Spanish,math, art, technology, swimming, cheer, video, wrestling, basketball or horses.

Now it’s time to add in the “where.”  Here is where your goals as a parent come in, too.  First and foremost, look for a reputable organization and read closely their program missions and goals. Camp IS about FUN — but true fun, for any child, requires safety, comfort, trust, respect and a deep sense of individual recognition and personal value.

Good questions to ask are:

•    What is the student/instructor ratio? This varies by type of camp but needs to be low enough to ensure good individual attention.

•    What are the qualifications of all individuals who will be supervising/teaching your child?

•    What is the daily structure/schedule of the camp, Keep in mind you are looking for an environment YOUR child will thrive in — no camp “fits all”

•    What is built in to the camp for developing positive relationship between the campers?

If, after covering all these questions, a camp sounds exciting for your child and you don’t know the organization well, ask for parent referrals of prior campers.  A brief conversation with another parent, or two, can quickly make it clear if this is a good match for your child.

So, now you’ve found the camp that you and your child are both excited about.  It’s time to send them off, enjoy your time off, and welcome them home with a willing heart to hear about their adventures.

After it’s all over, how do we know if it was worth the time and cost?  Here are some exceptional,  and perhaps unexpected benefits, besides FUN, to be watching for:

•    A child busting with stories to share

•    Refreshed children and parents

•    Children with a renewed vigor for new activities and challenges in their lives

•    Great family discussion topics about the camp experience-what they loved and what they would do different if they were the camp director.  You’ll be amazed at what you will learn about your child in these discussions!

•    New older mentors for your child found in your child’s counselor/instructor.  Campers admire and adore their camp counselors and from watching them they learn how to serve others

•    A desire for your older child to work as a camp counselor, (may sound far away now, but many great camp experiences build future counselors who in turn feed positively into other children’s lives).

•    The building of responsibility and shared positive experiences in camp help develop strong self-esteems and self-awareness.

And finally, remember that if your family enjoys lying with their backs in the cool lawn while gazing up to find rhinos and piglets floating by in the blue sky….camp time will enrich this quiet pleasure of the slower summer days!