Online School: Making It Work for Your Child and Your Family

Girl in online school who may be struggling with mental health challenges from virtual classes

What we want back-to-school 2020 to look like: excited children, seeing friends and meeting teachers.

What back-to-school 2020 actually looks like for many Florida students: laptops, online platforms, and learning at home.

Whether online school is a temporary, permanent, or part-time experience this school year, it’s important to set up your children and the whole family for success right from the start.

If you’re having difficulty adjusting to a virtual school day, your children may be as well. Try these tips to help everyone settle into this ‘new normal’.

1. Build an online school routine.

Every family’s lifestyle, dynamics, and living situation is unique, and so is the routine that makes it all work, including remote schooling. As the school year begins, and as it progresses, hold regular family meetings, and ask your children for input. Creating and managing routines together will help them understand what’s expected, and also reinforces a sense of control and ownership.

Some online school options follow the school day period by period, while others allow students to work at their own pace. Be sure to understand the school’s expectations and those of the various teachers who work with your children. Communicate early regarding any issues concerning your children and the routine that works best for them.

As you work out your family’s daily and weekly routines, remember to block off specific times for your children to watch lessons, complete homework, and do assignments. Involve each child in determining the length of these timeStudent establishing routines for online school blocks. For example, one child may need more time for reading and less time for math, and the schedule you create together can reflect that.

Make sure you schedule plenty of breaks as well. Depending on the age of your child, take breaks for snacks, naps if needed, exercise and play, or just “doing nothing” to process and absorb what they’ve learned. Browse our Take a Break page for more ideas.

Remember, the plan works when not only your child but also you, the parent, follow it. Resist spontaneous ideas to alter the routine without good reason for doing so.

Routines and structure are helpful, even essential, but so is flexibility. Life happens. Children and teens have days when they’re tired or just feeling less than motivated – and, let’s face it, days that turn into complete meltdowns. It’s okay to adjust the routine, take the breaks they need, and if necessary, talk with teachers when it just isn’t working for you or your child.

2. Create your child’s remote learning workspace.

A designated workspace helps signal your child that it’s time to focus and to work. In deciding where your child can work most successfully, consider your home’s interior and exterior spaces, and the needs of working adults as well.

Think about supervision as well. Some children need more oversight, while others work well on their own. If you have an office in your home, consider making a space for your child to work alongside you. This may help to limit distractions from other family members and from phones, toys or other entertainment.

If your child’s workspace is part of a communal area, such as the kitchen, help family members understand the importance of staying as quiet and unobtrusive as possible during class time.

An inexpensive free-standing cardboard trifold poster, such as those used for school projects, is an easy, space-saving way to create some privacy, block out distractions, and serve as a bulletin board, all in one. Together with a kit of school items for each child, it creates a private workspace that is easily set up and put away at the end of each class day.

Try to make your child’s space both comfortable and as ergonomic as possible. If your child doesn’t work at a desk, consider getting them a comfortable chair cushion. No one wants to spend hours in a hard dining room table chair.

In a computer-based learning environment, physical problems can develop quickly. Look for ways to set up your child’s workspace with an eye to ergonomics. For example, when typing or using a mouse, your child’s shoulders should be relaxed, arms close to the body, wrists straight, and hands at or slightly below elbow level.

For further information: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169

In addition, blue light glasses are helpful in reducing eye strain, and good headphones can both limit distractions and make it easier for your child to hear their teachers and classmates.

3. Become familiar with your online school platform.

Both you and your child should take time to get to know the online learning platform that your school uses. This may seem obvious, but in the chaos of getting used to a new routine, it can be easy to overlook. Take advantage of any training available. Make sure you review any parent-specific features, such as how to communicate with teachers and keep track of your child’s schedule, homework and project deadlines, and tests.

Even for computer-literate students and parents, every platform has its quirks, and taking time to understand it can avoid frustration later. Find out who to contact, should issues arise, and it might also help to pool your knowledge with that of other parents.

4. Understand that everyone needs to show extra patience and understanding.

Students and parents alike need extra patience for online school

It’s normal to feel increased stress during this time. Online school is still new for everyone involved in the learning process. It’s a time that calls for extra levels of stress management, patience with self and others, and regular communication with the school, teachers, and family members.

You are an advocate for your family and your child, but don’t forget to look after yourself as well. If you feel the stress building up, take a break. Take some deep breaths or go for a quick walk. Talk to your spouse or partner, or to a trusted friend. Hold family meetings to work out difficulties and adjust routines and expectations, if needed.

Professionals like our team at The Bougainvilla House are here to help. Explore our website resources or call us for support anytime. We are also continuing to offer our Wellness Wednesday webinars, with new videos every week. You can explore past topics and register for upcoming sessions on our Wellness Wednesday page.

5. Communicate with your child.

Your child knows what he or she needs. Check in regularly to see how they are doing. Cultivate a relationship that allows them to be open and honest, without fear of being reprimanded. Ask them how they’re feeling, and give them space to vent their frustrations.

If you’re not used to open communication with your child, try adding in a weekly check-in to your routine. Make it clear that their honest feelings are welcome during this time, and that you’re there to listen. This will go a long way toward helping your child feel supported.

6. Respect classroom relationships.

Online school offers you an unusual window into your child’s day-to-day classroom life. This can be useful and illuminating, but also requires restraint on your part. Respect the relationship that needs to exist between your child and his or her teacher, and between your child and other classmates. Before acting on anything you overhear, talk to your child, and resist the urge to intervene unless necessary. If ever there was a time to ‘pick your battles,’ this is it.

7. Work together.

This is a strange time, with few rules to guide parents, students, and educators. What may work for you may not work for your children or your spouse/partner. It’s okay to have disagreements and frustrations. Create opportunities to promote honest communication within your family. Listening, understanding, patience, a sense of humor, and an ongoing effort to work it out together will make all the difference as your family adjusts to the new normal.

 

Looking for even more resources? Browse our various Wellness Wednesday Workshops, which offer topics such as communicating with your child, dealing with family dynamics, the importance of role models and more.

Talk To Your Kids

When communication falls short, teens and adolescents take other measures to express their emotions. That’s why it’s so important for parents to talk to their kids about the challenges they face every day. Our youth is experiencing a new wave of bullying and social anxiety like we’ve never seen it before. Whether or not they make all the right choices, it’s imperative that their voices be heard and supported. 

Here at The Bougainvilla House, we’ve received a lot of phone calls recently from kids in distress. So we put together a list of crisis prevention tips to share with your family and friends.

Tip #1: Learn the warning signs.

These won’t be obvious, so you’ll need to look hard. Really, really hard. Reckless behavior often indicates a lack of direction. Increased substance use or social withdrawal may be associated with depression. The red flags are there. We just have to see them.

Tip #2: Don’t just hear, listen.

Pay close attention to what your teens say, the way they talk about themselves, and the people around them. Be mindful of their feelings and avoid interruptions. Most importantly, be present and open in times of sorrow. That’s when they’ll need your support the most.

Tip #3: Encourage transparency.

Keep an open line of communication and talk about therapy as a healthy alternative. The benefits of seeing a therapist are endless, even for people who seem to manage bullying and anxiety well. Make sure they understand it’s okay to ask for guidance.

Tip #4: Reach out for help.

Sometimes it’s hard for family members to talk openly about their concerns. Find someone your teen or adolescent can chat with. Whether it’s a teacher, family friend or our team of trained behavioral health specialists. It’s not about when they’ll talk. It’s about who they talk to.

Know whatever your family is facing, we’re here to lend a helping hand. The Bougainvilla House is committed to reconnecting relationships through guided child and family therapy. If your teen is showing signs of distress, don’t wait for a crisis to occur. Help is just a phone call away.

How Is Social Media Effecting American Teenagers?

For many teenagers, social media is a fun and easy way to stay connected with friends. However, there are dangerous risks in every new profile created. And Child Psychologists are starting to take notice! While there is still much to be learned about the implications of social media, here are the facts…

  • Over 75% of teenagers in the U.S. are using social media. 
  • Over 50% of teenagers in the U.S. use social media on a daily basis. 
  • Over 25% of teenagers in the U.S. are considered “heavy social media users” 

Social Media Is Addicting 

According to scientists, American teenagers are becoming addicted to social media. Why? It’s all about the likes! A study at UCLA observed that likes, especially on personal images, send a positive signal to the reward region of the brain. The brain’s reward region is significantly more sensitive during adolescence, leaving teens vulnerable to the gravitating effects of social media and the risk it poses on their mental health. 

Behavioral Health Risks

At The Bougainvilla House Family Therapy Center, we work closely with our clients to identify and resolve sources of teen anxiety and depression. The 21st Century is a fast-paced and interesting time to grow up in! Phones now serve as mini-computers, social apps connect users with major influencers across the globe, and risky behavior is propagandized throughout every media outlet. 

Now, more than ever, teenagers are pressured to conform their bodies, minds, and habitats to follow mainstream status quo. Furthermore, expecting to capture every moment perfectly, creating virtually appealing posts and avoiding scrutiny from cyber-bullies. Bullying has long threatened the likelihood of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem amongst teens. And social media creates a new platform for bullies to lurk victims and attack users without confrontation. It’s difficult for anyone to handle! 

Working Together 

Social Media is affecting American teenagers in ways we haven’t even begun to measure. While we can’t do much to stop negative user activity, we can teach teenagers how to manage the anxiety they are feeling about their social media. The Bougainvilla House Family Therapy Center helps families to establish healthy routines together and dissolve risks of social media on adolescent behavioral health. 

If your teen is showing signs of socially induced anxiety or depression, please reach out to us. We’re always here to answer your questions. Fill out our online form or call now to schedule an appointment.

⦁ Over 75% of teenagers in the U.S. are using social media.
⦁ Over 50% of teenagers in the U.S. use social media on a daily basis.
⦁ Over 25% of teenagers in the U.S. are considered “heavy social media users”

What is a Community?

There are two popular definitions of the word community. The first is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” This definition is how perhaps people from the outside might view people who come to a treatment facility. It is definitely true, on the surface, everyone is living there and they are there for the common purpose of beginning recovery from various types of mental health challenges and addiction.

However, at The Bougainvilla House, there is so much more to treatment than just people getting together in a shared space with a common characteristic. The sense of community is maybe not something that is visible on the surface. Rather, it is something that truly binds people together. When we choose recovery, we become more like the second definition, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

More than Commonalities

It would be easy to come together with all that we have in common and just form groups of people in recovery. But recovery isn’t like having a barbecue or other social event. Recovery is where we dig into the depths of our souls. We find the very best and the very worst in ourselves, and everything in between. We suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And we make life-changing transformations, too.

At The Bougainvilla House, we are never asked to do all of that alone. Amongst the people with which we have both differences and commonalities, we also find fellowship. We are all on this path together, even many of the employees, and so when one of us is suffering, we all suffer. When one of us has a breakthrough, we all rejoice. We cry together, laugh together, and help each other stand when maybe alone we didn’t feel like we could.

Although each of us has our own journey in recovery, it is impossible to do it all on our own. So we reach out to those around us who support us, and we support them. They are people with commonalities and differences, people with strengths and weaknesses, people who have good days and bad. They are just like us and yet different from us, but ultimately, we all share the same goal: to be well. It becomes a fellowship of freedom from our addictions and a family of warriors for life.

Building Relationships in Recovery

Friendships made in recovery are made stronger because of the incredible things we go through during the treatment and recovery process. Also because we are learning to be present, sometimes for the first time, we are able to learn about healthy relationships. We can ask for help, learn to trust, and we can reciprocate help, too. Despite the fact that we are all pretty raw, we can build a support system of friends that we can lean on and they can lean on us.

These friendships are different from some we may have had before because we are all healing together. We all share the same guidelines, we are learning together how to set healthy boundaries. We know better than to be distracted by romantic relationships because we are carefully rebuilding our lives and our hearts. Instead, the relationships we build while starting out in recovery are the kinds of friendships that will fortify us and help us to find our feet again. The kind of friends that we know we could call at any time, and we know they will be there for us.

The Community of Family

Within recovery, those who believe in us, stand by us, and lend us a hand when we think we can’t go on become closer than typical friends, they become like a family. They understand what we have been through, because they have been there, too. They understand where we are at, because they are right here with us, too. And we know they will be a part of our future because together, we are stronger. Not only do they reach out for us to lift us, but we can reach out and help them, too. 

The friends and family we have had prior to recovery may or may not understand us, it may not even be healthy to keep them in our lives. But the family that we make while in recovery will not let us get away with anything, will call us out when we need it, and love us for who we are, no matter what. And we can do the same for them. It is truly a gift in our lives to join this fellowship of wellness.

Do we feel alone and helpless?

At this time of the year, wouldn’t it be nice to become part of something bigger than ourselves? This is the perfect time to recover our lives and give ourselves a new kind of family,  the gift of community.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges and/or addiction, don’t fight it alone.

Call Now: 954-764-7337

The Gift of Community

community family friends

The holidays are approaching, and regardless of whether we are making the decision to enter into recovery, or are well on our journey, it can seem depressing in comparison to the ways that other people might be celebrating the holidays. But if we step back and look, we have just given ourselves the greatest gift we could ever receive. Recovery is not the only gift, either. Along with recovery comes the gift of community.

What is a Community?

There are two popular definitions of the word community. The first is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” This definition is how perhaps people from the outside might view people who come to a treatment facility. It is definitely true, on the surface, everyone is living there and they are there for the common purpose of beginning recovery from various types of mental health challenges and addiction.

However, at The Bougainvilla House, there is so much more to treatment than just people getting together in a shared space with a common characteristic. The sense of community is maybe not something that is visible on the surface. Rather, it is something that truly binds people together. When we choose recovery, we become more like the second definition, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

More than Commonalities

It would be easy to come together with all that we have in common and just form groups of people in recovery. But recovery isn’t like having a barbecue or other social event. Recovery is where we dig into the depths of our souls. We find the very best and the very worst in ourselves, and everything in between. We suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And we make life-changing transformations, too.

At The Bougainvilla House, we are never asked to do all of that alone. Amongst the people with which we have both differences and commonalities, we also find fellowship. We are all on this path together, even many of the employees, and so when one of us is suffering, we all suffer. When one of us has a breakthrough, we all rejoice. We cry together, laugh together, and help each other stand when maybe alone we didn’t feel like we could.

Although each of us has our own journey in recovery, it is impossible to do it all on our own. So we reach out to those around us who support us, and we support them. They are people with commonalities and differences, people with strengths and weaknesses, people who have good days and bad. They are just like us and yet different from us, but ultimately, we all share the same goal: to be well. It becomes a fellowship of freedom from our addictions and a family of warriors for life.

Building Relationships in Recovery

Friendships made in recovery are made stronger because of the incredible things we go through during the treatment and recovery process. Also because we are learning to be present, sometimes for the first time, we are able to learn about healthy relationships. We can ask for help, learn to trust, and we can reciprocate help, too. Despite the fact that we are all pretty raw, we can build a support system of friends that we can lean on and they can lean on us.

These friendships are different from some we may have had before because we are all healing together. We all share the same guidelines, we are learning together how to set healthy boundaries. We know better than to be distracted by romantic relationships because we are carefully rebuilding our lives and our hearts. Instead, the relationships we build while starting out in recovery are the kinds of friendships that will fortify us and help us to find our feet again. The kind of friends that we know we could call at any time, and we know they will be there for us.

The Community of Family

Within recovery, those who believe in us, stand by us, and lend us a hand when we think we can’t go on become closer than typical friends, they become like a family. They understand what we have been through, because they have been there, too. They understand where we are at, because they are right here with us, too. And we know they will be a part of our future because together, we are stronger. Not only do they reach out for us to lift us, but we can reach out and help them, too. 

The friends and family we have had prior to recovery may or may not understand us, it may not even be healthy to keep them in our lives. But the family that we make while in recovery will not let us get away with anything, will call us out when we need it, and love us for who we are, no matter what. And we can do the same for them. It is truly a gift in our lives to join this fellowship of wellness.

Do we feel alone and helpless?

At this time of the year, wouldn’t it be nice to become part of something bigger than ourselves? This is the perfect time to recover our lives and give ourselves a new kind of family,  the gift of community.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges and/or addiction, don’t fight it alone.

Call Now: 954-764-7337

How to Avoid a Holiday Relapse

holiday sobriety

One of the most difficult parts of recovery is the reality of relapse. Typically, between 40-60 percent of people will relapse within their first year of recovery. While those numbers decrease the more years we are in recovery, it is possible for anyone to relapse at any time. It is what we work to protect ourselves against every single day.

Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the average American drinks as much alcohol as they do the whole rest of the year. That is a 100 percent increase. Which means that the likelihood of relapse is probably at least double for us as well. 

With all of that alcohol flowing, all of the parties and social engagements we are invited to, especially family gatherings, how do we maintain integrity in our recovery? How do we manage what are often stressful family events, the pressures of time, money and more at this time of the year without turning to drugs or alcohol for help? 

Be Gentle with Ourselves

The holidays are hard for everyone. Exponentially hard for us. So let’s be kind to ourselves. We can double-down on our spiritual habits, especially prayer and meditation. The holidays are a great time to evaluate the past year, so we can make a list of all our accomplishments, highlighting our progress in recovery. It is a time to be grateful, and along with acknowledging ourselves, we can acknowledge those people in our lives who have helped us reach this point.

Remember it is okay to feel, it is okay to cry. It is also okay to feel joy and to laugh. If we are alone, we don’t need to be lonely. Think about what we would like to hear from someone, in that moment, if we start to feel lonely and then reach out and tell someone else that. Loneliness disappears when we reach beyond ourselves and create joy for others.

Keep our Wellness Schedule

The old adage is “Eat, drink and be merry.” Perhaps around the holidays, we should use “Eat, exercise, and be wary.” It is twice as important to keep our wellness habits around the holidays. Imagine if we were diabetic and we failed to eat or ate poorly. Addiction is a disease just like diabetes, and we are more susceptible to substance cravings and therefore relapse if we are careless about our wellness.

Exercise needs to be a regular habit for us and is another way to fortify us mentally and physically. Additionally, it helps us to stay on our schedule and keeps us meaningfully occupied. Even if the holidays are very busy, our wellness habits need to be the first priority. Not only to keep us healthy but also to show ourselves and others in our lives that our health matters. We matter.

Find Alternative Events

If there is an event or situation that we know will be a trigger for us, we can politely decline it. Yes, even work or family events. Our health and recovery are far more important than anything else. If we feel we must go, we should make a plan. We can bring something that we like to drink, or practice declining offers of substances. It is also a great idea to set an alarm for ourselves and leave an event earlier rather than later.

The safer bet is to just to find something else to do where we won’t be tempted to drink or use. There are so many things going on at the holidays, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a community event where substances are not even served. Or we can plan our own event – find some recovery friends and have them over, go out to dinner, or even just see a movie or have a game night together. We can make our own new holiday traditions and not risk throwing away all of our hard work by relapsing.

Reach for Support

We know when we get to that point. We may be down, lonely, or just flat out too emotionally exhausted to resist the cravings. Whatever the case, we can always ask for help. We can call our sponsor, a friend, family member or someone who loves us. It might also be helpful to organize a holiday support group, in addition to our normal meetings. Get some friends from recovery to help organize a group from November through January, and meet more than once a week, if needed. Being fiercely vigilant with ourselves and our recovery will bless our lives as well as the lives of others.

Volunteer

People tend to be a little selfish at the holidays. Or they drop some change in a can and feel like they have done a good deed. But we can roll up ourselves and truly get involved in our community and give our time and our hearts. This is rewarding for us and for others and is like a protective shield for us to keep us well.

The holidays can be a magical time,
or they can be the catalyst for relapse.

We can prepare ourselves and strengthen our bodies and minds, taking each day as it comes. With the help of The Bougainvilla House, you will get you the individual help you need along with group and family therapy sessions to help you build a new community of health and happiness. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t fight it alone.

Call Now: 954-764-7337

Do as I Say: A Message to Parents

parenting by example

We’ve all heard the expression, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” It means to follow the rules, follow what someone says, but don’t follow their actions. It means the person using the phrase is telling you to do something, but they, themselves, refuse to do it. Unfortunately, too many people are living by these words, but when it comes to parenting, this phrase can make or break the relationship we have with our kids.

We want our kids to be better than we are, to strive for more, and live a life of success, but when we follow this adage, we are forgetting what it means to be human. Kids, by nature, soak up their surroundings and internalize them. What they see is literally what they do because that’s exactly how humans learn, especially in their formative years. This means, as adults, it’s time to call our integrity into question, especially if we are doing the same for our kids. It’s time to ask ourselves if we are being the best role model possible, and if not, what can we do to get there?

How the ‘Do as I Say’ Method Backfires

There are two things that happen when we don’t act as role models, and they work together. First, whether we want to believe it or not, our children start picking up our behaviors because they live with us and see us every day. From day one, everything we do and say becomes an internalized narrative. Think about how kids learn to eat their food, speak, and play. We are the gatekeepers of knowledge, modeling all behaviors. But when kids grow older, the stakes grow larger.

For example, if you tell your kids not to get in a car with someone who’s been drinking, and you have a beer or two at dinner then drive your family home, you’re teaching your child it’s okay. If that doesn’t resonate, think about how you speak to your friends and even how you speak to your kids about others. If you are constantly name-calling, blaming, or refusing to take ownership of your behaviors, then how do you expect your kids to know any differently? You set the bar for kindness, compassion, and ownership because they have no other outlet to learn in the first 5-6 years of their lives. And the older they get, the more aware they become to who you are and what you are saying.

The next piece stems from respect. As parents, if we are constantly asking things of our kids, and we are doing the opposite, then we are providing mixed messages. Therefore, it’s easy for them to lose respect. You might say, “They are my child; they should respect me.” While that may be true if you’d tell your child to watch out for a specific behavior, yet you are exhibiting said behavior, your child is caught in a place where they aren’t sure what to think. And the more we act in ways we deem wrong, the more our child is going to pick up on it and see us in that light. For example, say you tell your child lying is wrong, but they watch you lie to your boss or your spouse. They may be young and naïve, but they can surely spot a liar. Now, since you’ve done it, they may feel it’s okay to lie occasionally, too.

This all boils down to integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. If we aren’t doing the right thing when they are watching, they have no way to make the best decisions for themselves when we aren’t around.

How Can We Teach Our Kids to Have Integrity?

The easiest way to teach good behaviors is to lead by example. No one is asking you to be perfect, but the more we can model compassionate and morally sound behavior, the more likely our kids will pick up on those traits and behaviors, as well.

Think about it this way. Have you ever had a boss you simply didn’t respect? Think about the worst boss you’ve ever had and analyze those behaviors. Maybe they had an attitude, they didn’t follow through with their objectives, or simply did nothing to contribute. What did you gain from that environment? How did you feel when they didn’t follow through or simply did nothing in their position? Now, think about your kids. In a lot of ways, you are their boss for the first 18 years of their lives. You organize, you provide structure, and you give them the tools to succeed. How would they rate you as a boss? Are you following through? We can’t expect kids to follow a meaningless command and retain their respect. We wouldn’t want our kids to do the same with others in their lives, so it’s time to step up and be the leader we all need.

Leading by example can be hard when it comes to addiction. If you or a young adult you know is struggling with addiction, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337, or use our convenient Contact form.

Bullying

Bullying amongst adolescents and teenagers has been going on, in one form or another, since the beginning of human relations. Unfortunately, we have only really established the ability to engage in a serious dialogue about the negative effects of bullying since the early 2000’s. In 2005, the first data on bullying began to be collected by the federal government and at this time, according to the US Department of Education, the prevalence of bullying was shown to be at approximately 28%. As of 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that the prevalence rate had dropped to 20.8%, showing that while bullying overall has shown a decrease, the prevalence of it in middle and high schools is still 1 out of every 5 children.

The Effects of Bullying
Although overall, we may be seeing a decline in bullying nationwide, we cannot afford to become content with these numbers as just one instance of bullying can be a traumatic event for the victim. Generally speaking, victims of bullying do not experience one instance but rather on average, experience bullying at least 1-2 times per week. Bullying can induce a myriad of horrific effects on the victim such as increased isolation, shame, low self-esteem, anxiety, decreased performance in school, and symptoms of depression. Due to the consistent and persistent nature of bullying that is left without intervention, the long-term effects of bullying include potential PTSD, anxiety and depressive disorders, substance abuse, loss of trust, and even an engagement in self-harm as well as suicide. While there are some individuals who argue that bullying behavior can be a natural part of growing up, and they may be right, this notion doesn’t provide solutions for the victims and families who experience very real suffering due this type of behavior left unchecked.


What Are Some Possible Solutions To Bullying?

As the ability to engage in open dialogue about the effects of bullying becomes more realistic, we ought to first look at assertive communication as a primary mode of recourse. Typically, the bully has some real or perceived advantage over the victim which is manifested through physical strength, verbal aggression, or intimidation techniques. Bullies look for what they believe to be individuals who are weak-willed, shy, or defenseless; one way we can fortify ourselves against this kind of susceptibility is to let the bully know, verbally, that we will not stand by and be victimized. The “Three Strikes” rule is effective because it communicates to the bully that we will not stand passively by and allow this behavior. Upon the first incidence of bullying we let them know that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated; upon the second incident, we communicate that should this happen again, we will notify the relevant authorities. Often times, this will signal to the bully that we will not stand for this treatment, and also that we are willing to make it difficult for them to continue this behavior without punishment. Clearly, this is not a catch-all solution, however, the establishment of confident and assertive language in the potential victim is often enough to deter further attempts at bullying.

Victims Become Victimizers
One of the most primitive psychological defense mechanisms is what’s known as displacement. This occurs when an individual is stripped of their power through the tyrannical actions of another; they cope with this loss of power by reclaiming it through disempowering another, often times through bullying. In other words, bullies tend to have difficult home lives, often times having to endure abuse and neglect of their parents which they can, in turn, take out on classmates in school. In order to address instances of bullying effectively, it is advantageous to understand the forces driving the bullying behavior, so we look to create a connection with bullies in order to show them compassion and understanding.

Cyberbullying
With the rise and ubiquitous nature of social media in contemporary society, cyberbullying has become a prominent subtype of bullying due to its accessibility, convenience, and potential anonymity. While typical bullying can have its limitations due to the fact that many individuals wouldn’t bully another if it required a face to face engagement with the person, social media allows for individuals who might not otherwise bully to engage in intimidation, slander, and humiliation via a medium that alleviates some personal connection and responsibility. Another reason cyberbullying is arguably as harmful as traditional bullying is due to the tendency for a pack mentality to arise in the context of social media where typical constraints on bad behavior might otherwise be regulated. It creates a landscape where, because of the distance of the interactions, individuals feel less personally responsible for their actions and therefore might act crueler than they would should they be faced with the victim in person.

Where Do We Go from Here?
Now that we have examined the effects of bullying, the possible solutions, and the importance of trying to connect with the victims as well as bullies themselves, what can we do in the meantime? Coordinating and communicating with school administrators in order to understand their bullying policies and what should be done in the event that an individual is bullied is a good place to start. Encouraging our children to speak up when they see bullying is another effective way of combatting bullying as well because it communicates to the victimizer that their behavior will not be tolerated. Finally, it is imperative that we seek the help of professionals, such as The Bougainvillea House, in order to foster open communication and compassion for families and children faced with bullying. Remember, we are not alone and The Bougainvillea House can help!

Social Anxiety Among Teens – The Bougainvilla House Cares

Teenage years come with a number of stressors. Social and cultural pressure can take a toll on a teen’s mental health. Social Anxiety among teens is on the rise due to Social Media use, and other modern social pressures. Although most teenagers go through periods of normal anxiety related to the changes that go along with adolescence, those with Social Anxiety Disorder experience fear that is out of proportion to the situations that they face. For some teenagers, social anxiety becomes chronic, affecting school performance, extracurricular activities and the ability to make friends.
Teenage years come with a number of stressors. Social and cultural pressure can take a toll on a teen’s mental health. Social Anxiety among teens is on the rise due to Social Media use, and other modern social pressures. Although most teenagers go through periods of normal anxiety related to the changes that go along with adolescence, those with Social Anxiety Disorder experience fear that is out of proportion to the situations that they face. For some teenagers, social anxiety becomes chronic, affecting school performance, extracurricular activities and the ability to make friends.

Interacting with Peers

Teenagers with social anxiety often have trouble interacting with their peers both in school and in social situations. This can lead to poor performance in school. Students with Social Anxiety can often show the following behaviors:

  • is uncomfortable in group settings
  • has few friends
  • is afraid to start or participate in conversations
  • is afraid to ask others to get together
  • is afraid to call others
  • avoids eye contact
  • speaks softly or mumbles
  • appears to always be “on the fringes”
  • reveals little about him/herself when talking to others

Social Media

Modern technology has made it easier to connect with others throughout the world. With this new accessibility, comes a new set of challenges. Often times young people can hide behind the screen, causing avoidant behaviors in real life.

While social networking sites may help those with social anxiety to more easily initiate and establish social connections, there can be drawbacks as well. These online connections may not be as strong as those created in real life.

On the other hand, social media can give teens a twisted view of reality. On social media, many people present the best version of their lives. This can cause feelings of envy or inadequacy in teens that may already have feelings of social anxiety.

Building Self Esteem

When it comes to reducing feelings of social anxiety, building self-esteem is the best way to reduce feelings of self-doubt. Being generous with praise is a good first step. Teens need to be acknowledged for what they do well.  Commend your child not only for accomplishments but for effort—including those times when it fails to bring the desired results. Teens with social anxiety may feel awkward accepting praise, so make sure the compliments are natural and not forced. It is still ok to criticize the teen when necessary, just try to be constructive, and never speak in a hurtful or demeaning manner.

Encourage your teen to cultivate their talents and interests. Everyone excels at something and helping your teen focus on what they are good at can help develop confidence. Getting involved in activities can also be a great outlet for a socially anxious teen. They can make connections with others that have similar interests. This can give an easy outlet for conversation and social connections.

If you are a parent of a teen that has been struggling with Social Anxiety, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Contact The Bougainvilla House today to see how we can help. 954-764-7337 Or use our convenient Contact form.

Mental Health Cases Increase, but so do Solutions

If you or a loved one has suffered from mental illness, you know the impact it can have on their life and the lives of people around them. But mental health is one of those things that people often underestimate. For those who don’t have a tangible context for mental illness, it’s critical to remember that it’s not just a feeling in someone’s head. Mental illnesses can seriously impact daily life. More than 18% of adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year and the risk of mental illness is even greater in children. Studies show that over 20% of children, either currently or at some point during their lives, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. Mental illness is a frighteningly relevant topic. Thankfully, new studies show that there is also relevant hope.

To understand the progress being made, it’s helpful to understand the actual problem. A mental illness can range from what health professionals define as “Any Mental Illness” (AMI) to “Serious Mental Illness” (SMI).  AMI is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that can vary in impact, ranging from no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment. SMI is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in a serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. The burden of mental illnesses is particularly concentrated among those who experience disability due to SMI.

The impact is real. But so is the progress towards providing help for those experiencing mental illness.

If you or a loved one has suffered from mental illness, you know the impact it can have on their life and the lives of people around them. But mental health is one of those things that people often underestimate. For those who don’t have a tangible context for mental illness, it’s critical to remember that it’s not just a feeling in someone’s head. Mental illnesses can seriously impact daily life. More than 18% of adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year and the risk of mental illness is even greater in children.

A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that 14-year-old adolescents who had contact with mental health services had a greater decrease in depressive symptoms than those with similar difficulties who didn’t have contact. This Cambridge study is believed to be the first study in adolescents to support the role of contact with mental health services in improving mental health by late adolescence. Previous studies had reported that mental health service use has provided little or no benefit to adolescents, but the researchers argue that this might have been because the design of those studies did not consider whether service users had a mental disorder or not. The approach taken on the new Lancet study enabled comparison between people with similar disorders.

The study produced another positive finding, that young people with mental health problems who have contact with mental health care services are significantly less likely to suffer from clinical depression later in their adolescence than those with equivalent difficulties who do not receive treatment.

It’s clear that mental health is not something that can be underestimated any longer, not if over 450 million people around the world live with mental illnesses. It’s also clear that there are steps we can take for those who need help.

Whether we have a personal context for mental health or not, these findings mean we need to focus more efforts and attention on the utilization and improvement of mental health care, because it could change the statistics, and therefore change lives.

THERE IS HOPE! Call 954-764-7337 or email info@tbhcares.org today to get help for your family. Our counseling office is open every day from 10 AM to 8 PM. Our business office is open Monday-Friday , 8:30 AM to 6 PM.

Common Mental Health Disorders Seen in Teenagers

Teenagers who are struggling with addictions would be well advised to undergo screening for mental health disorders, since these two issues commonly go hand-in-hand. This is partially because teens with mental health disorders may attempt to self-medicate with substances of abuse in order to achieve relief from symptoms. Co-existing disorders present unique challenges, but fortunately, rehabs in Fort Lauderdale can offer treatment programs for both issues.

Anxiety Disorders

There are several types of anxiety disorders, ranging from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) to panic disorder to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety disorders can significantly reduce quality of life and interfere with a teen’s ability to carry out day to day functions. These disorders can be particularly tricky to diagnose in kids because it can be difficult to differentiate symptoms of a disorder from the normal psychological challenges that occur during the teen years. This is one reason why anxiety disorders in teens often go untreated.

Depressive Disorders

Many teens who have substance abuse problems and anxiety disorders can also have depressive disorders. And much like anxiety disorders, depression is difficult to detect because teens are ordinarily expected to be occasionally moody. When depressive symptoms persist; however, it’s important for parents to consider getting their teen screened. Psychotherapy and other treatments can help adolescents feel more like themselves again.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that requires the attention of a trained provider. When adolescents have schizophrenia, they generally display the gradual development of signs and symptoms that can last for about six to nine months. This is known as the prodrome. It can include signs such as social withdrawal, unusual behaviors, substance abuse, paranoia, poor personal hygiene, and obsessiveness regarding philosophical ideas. Schizophrenia is also associated with delusions and hallucinations.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder often develops between the ages of 15 and 30. It involves significant mood swings, such as from depressive symptoms to euphoria or mania. The adolescent’s mood may persist for a matter of hours, days, or much longer before it shifts to the opposite end of the spectrum. Teens with bipolar disorder are generally treated with medications and psychotherapy.