Making and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

The New Year’s resolution: love it or hate it, it’s a time-honored way to start fresh with new goals for a new year. However, we all know how difficult it can be to stick to those resolutions by the time February rolls around. It is no easier for your child than it is for you.

Age-appropriate New Year’s Resolutions

Should your child set New Year’s resolutions?  Yes, but they need to be achievable and age-appropriate. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers focus on specific ‘helping’ goals like picking up toys each day; ‘health’ goals like washing hands, or ‘social’ goals such as sharing toys with friends.

The AAP says children ages 5-12 can understand and tackle specific goals, from improving health and study habits, to speaking up if they see or experience bullying. Teens 13 and up can set goals that encourage them to take responsibility for their choices and actions, e.g. volunteering more, self-care, family responsibilities, academics, and use of leisure time.

Take Time To Reflect

Start by having a reflective, open discussion with your child about the previous year. What did they enjoy? What gave them a sense of accomplishment? What attitudes, actions or habits would they like to improve – or leave behind? Is there anything that they didn’t get the chance to explore? Talk about areas where you, as parent, feel some goal-setting would help, and encourage these to become your child’s goals as well as yours.

Listen and work with your child to choose just a few important resolutions.  Then give your child the best chance to succeed by framing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, time-bound) goals. Make sure they understand what these goals will require of them, and that you’ll be there to encourage them every step of the way.

Which New Year’s Resolutions Are On Your Child’s List?

Resolutions are as unique as your child. He or she may want to focus on any of the following areas – or they may have completely different ideas about what matters!

Make Friends

If your child’s ultimate goal is to make friends, help them to set smaller goals such as ‘talking to two new people a month’ or ‘planning one Zoom hangout a month’.

Earn Better Grades

If your child has been struggling with schoolwork, help them set specific goals, such as earning one letter grade better on tests. From there, create a game plan, such as studying for an hour per day for a week leading up to each test. As well, your child’s teacher might have insights that will help your child succeed in his or her academic goals.

Eat Healthier

NYE Resolutions

Healthy eating goals are well worth pursuing, with benefits that include controlling weight, preventing disease, improving mood, and more. If your child wants to eat healthier, help them set SMART goals; e.g. eating one cup of vegetables three times a week for a month. This diet change helps your child shift toward healthier eating practices, but sets a time limit for trying it out. At the end of the month, evaluate this approach with your child, and decide how to continue. Bon appetit!

Read More

If you and your child set a goal to read more in the coming year, think about quantifying it (for example, ‘read 12 books in 2021’) and plan to make a monthly trip to the library or bookstore. Remember to consult your librarians or bookstore staff for enticing titles that appeal to your child’s reading preferences and level.

Save Money

If your child has a job or an allowance, it’s never too early to start teaching them the value of saving a little for the future. The general rule of thumb is to save 20% of a paycheck: this might be achievable for your child if they don’t need to help with other expenses. Another approach might involve saving a certain amount of money by year’s end. Those first big purchases like cell phones, cars and college aren’t far away, so teaching your child the patience to save now will pay off all their lives.

Tips for sticking to New Year’s Resolutions

Do it together (if possible). Consider making family resolutions. If your child’s goal is something that would benefit everyone, like exercising, reading more, or eating more healthy foods, make it a family goal. Not only is it a great bonding opportunity, you’re increasing your child’s chances of successstick to your NYE resolutions and doing something that’s good for all of you. Some families might enjoy setting up a competition, but keep it healthy and never force anyone to compete if they don’t enjoy it.

Be flexible. Even with specific milestones to achieve, life can get in the way. If your child doesn’t meet his or her monthly goal, don’t make an issue of it. Do encourage them to keep right on trying. If you’re too strict or show too much disappointment, your child may not want to continue, so keep it positive and focused on ‘next time’.

Don’t nag them. Of course you want your child to succeed and to know the satisfaction that comes from achieving their goals. However, putting the work in to meet that goal is ultimately up to your child. No amount of pestering will make them achieve it faster and in fact, too much pressure will make them resent the process.

Be ready to adapt. Be comforting, empathetic and supportive, both when they succeed and especially when they don’t. If your child is having trouble making progress, think about whether the goal should change. You’ll only know by checking in with your child. If motivation is the issue, think about little incentives that could encourage them: e.g. for each book read, they get to pick the dinner menu. Be creative and always communicate with your child.

If you and your child need a break, visit our Take a Break page or sign up for one of our fun and free Wellness Wednesday Webinars.  Good luck!

Why your child could be suffering holiday stress

sad-holiday-1024x581

The holidays can be an especially anxious time for anyone. If you’re noticing more tension than usual, your child may be experiencing similar feelings. Your child might seem a bit withdrawn or irritable, may sleep more than usual, or is exhibiting other signs of stress. Some stress is okay, but when these feelings start to overwhelm your child, it’s time to intervene.

Reasons for holiday stress and anxiety

 

fewer daylight hours and changes in routine

The ‘holiday blues’ are real, and have many underlying causes:

  • Fewer daylight hours. The decreased number of daylight hours can have a significant effect on mental health, including your child’s. Even in the Sunshine State, many begin to feel the effects of seasonal depression during these shorter winter days.
  • Changes in routine. When your child is off from school for winter break, the whole routine changes. Even if they don’t recognize it, your child could be affected when the familiar daily structure of school, bedtime, and mealtimes becomes less rigid.

Tips to help your child with holiday-related stress and anxiety

 

Even if your child isn’t showing any particular signs of holiday stress, these tips are great for fostering a healthy and strong family connection.

  1. Take care of yourself. Kids are attentive, and they pick up on family ‘vibes’ more than you might think. If you are in a bad mood, it can affect their mood as well. When you are stressed and anxious, it can increase their levels of anxiety as well and make them more irritable. Although the holidays can be a busy time, make sure you set aside time to take care of yourself and unwind. Your body and mind will thank you for it and so will your children. You can start by exploring these ideas for taking a break.
  2. Stay active. Staying active as a family can be difficult, but keeping up with physical activities is crucial for a happy family and healthy children – and parents! If your child plays a sport, winter break might be their off season, but that doesn’t mean that all physical activity should stop. Physical activities aren’t just limited to sports, either. Here are some ways to help your child and your family stay active:
    1. Start a dance party in your living room with a fun dance cardio routine
    2. Start a small garden and celebrate that we can do that in Florida in December!
    3. Do some family-friendly yoga
    4. Create a scavenger hunt
    5. Here’s a list of even more fun activities 
  3. Eat well. Eating well is another crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle, but it can be difficult and sometimes inconvenient for busy families. It’s also difficult during the holiday season when many want to simply indulge. Along with their holiday treats, make sure your children are getting the proper nutrition they need daily. Involve your children in menu planning, shopping, and cooking!
  4. Meditate. Meditation can be intimidating at first, but can be extremely beneficial to anyone experiencing high levels of stress and take time to relaxanxiety. A guided body scan meditation can be a great introduction to meditating because the purpose is to check in with yourself and your feelings. Try this body scan meditation as a way to relax for yourself, or for your family to unwind together.
  5. Foster open communication. Talk to your children about your holiday traditions and be open to their answers. If they don’t like a certain tradition, talk about ways to change it and make it more special for your family. If family dynamics have changed (such as a divorce, new partner, or a death in the family), talk about that too. Let your child know that it’s okay (and encouraged!) for them to come to you and to be open with their feelings.
  6. Give your child control. During winter break and without a set routine, life can feel a bit unsettling. Talk to your child about what they want the winter break routine to look like. Having a discussion with them about their new schedule will give them a sense of autonomy and ownership over their own lives.
  7. Manage gift expectations. Gift-giving comes with its own stress, both for you and your child. If you know your child wants something out of your price range, be honest with them ahead of time. If your child believes the gift will come from Santa, be ready to deal with those expectations as well.
  8. Get crafty. Being creative is a lot of fun and a great family bonding activity. Have your kids choose and help with a new recipe, make some cookies that they can decorate, or create some fun holiday decorations and gifts. The possibilities are endless and anything that gets the creative juices flowing is a great stress reliever.
  9. Enjoy holiday stories, movies, and music. Even though some favorite community and school events have been canceled due to the pandemic, there are still many wonderful events happening online and through the creative programming of libraries and museums. Enjoy!

Don’t let the holidays get you and your family down.

If you need help talking to your child about changing family dynamics or just want to learn more about parenting, browse our parenting workshops or call us to schedule an appointment.

Coronavirus and Vaping – What Parents Need to Know

vaping

No one could have predicted the difficult times 2020 would bring. With the Coronavirus pandemic now in its third wave, people everywhere are taking extra precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.  

Experts believe that because the Coronavirus can cause respiratory infections, those who smoke or vape may be at a higher risk of complications if they contract the virus. If you haven’t already, now is the time to get informed about vaping, and be prepared to start a conversation about it with your family if the need arises. 

What is Vaping?  

Vaping is a type of e-cigarette. In a vape, a battery heats up a liquid that produces vapors, which can then be inhaled. Many of the tanks, which hold the liquid, contain nicotine. Vapes can also be used with marijuana, hash oil, or other potentially harmful substances. Although there are laws in place preventing the sale of e-cigarettes to adolescents, there has been an increase in the popularity of vaping among young people. About 37% of 12th graders reported vaping in 2018, compared with 28% in 2017. 

What are the dangers of vaping? 

While vaping isn’t new, there is still a lot that is unknown about the negative effects of vaping.  Some people tend to think that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, but with the liquid cartridges that contain nicotine, it can be just as unsafe.  

Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco and when inhaled or ingested, it can negatively affect the brain development of youth and adolescents. Cigarette use by teens has been trending down in recent years, but teens who vape are more likely to begin smoking cigarettes in the future.  

Studies also suggest that vaping can lead to respiratory or gastrointestinal issues and even some types of cancers. EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury) can also occur. Symptoms of EVALI can include cough, shortness of breath, and chest pains.

Vaping statistic

Dr. Brendon Stile is an associate attending cardiothoracic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and an associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. He speculates that because vaping can lead to inflammation, profound lung disease, and even a malfunction of the immune system in the lungs, those who vape may be more susceptible to pulmonary complications following a Coronavirus infection.

According to the FDA, youth and adolescents who vape are also at risk for seizures. This could be due to the list of toxic chemicals that are in many vape liquids. These chemicals can include: 

  • Nicotine  
  • Propylene glycol – commonly used in antifreeze, paint solvent, and in fog machines 
  • Acetaldehyde and formaldehyde – both are carcinogens, which are substances that are known to cause cancer 
  • Acrolein – a herbicide primarily used to kill weeds 
  • Diacetyl – a chemical linked to a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans aka “popcorn lung” 
  • Diethylene glycol – a toxic chemical used in antifreeze 
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, lead 
  • Cadmium – a toxic metal found in traditional cigarettes  
  • Benzene – a volatile organic compound (VOC) found in car exhaust 

What the CDC Recommends 

The CDC’s official recommendation is to avoid using vapes or other e-cigarette products 

The tanks used in vapes are not regulated by the FDA and therefore may contain harmful ingredients other than nicotine. 

How Teens Perceive Vaping 

Most teens believe that vaping is generally harmless. Some e-cigarette companies, such as JUUL, have been under fire for specifically targeting youth in their ads. Advertisements made multiple false claims that JUUL is safer than cigarettes and that the FDA would approve it soon. They also paid for advertising space on children’s networks, further pushing their message to adolescents. Vaping fact 

The product itself also plays into the appeal to youth. Vape pens look harmless and they’re cheap, which makes them less threatening to teens. The tanks of liquid also tend to come in a variety of sweet flavors that smell good, which attracts teens and adolescents. Currently, studies aren’t conclusive as to how vaping among the younger population connects to Coronavirus, but there has been an increase of younger patients who become very sick and require intubation and ventilation.

How to Prevent Your Child from Vaping 

The best way to prevent your child from vaping is to foster an environment of open communication with them. Let them know the dangers of vaping in a realistic and honest way that doesn’t rely on slippery slope logic or overt scare tactics.  

Be a support system for your child without judgment and they will feel more comfortable talking to you. If they tell you that someone in their class or group has started vaping, don’t freak out. Ask them how they feel about it and talk about the risks in a calm manner, if necessary.  

What to Do if Your Child is Vaping 

If you discover that your child is vaping, don’t overreact. The first instinct may be anger because you love your child and the anxiety of keeping them safe is stressful. It can also be incredibly frustrating if you have already talked to your child about the risks of vaping. However, your child will shut down if you start the conversation by yelling.  

Take a few breaths. When you’re in a calm place, ask your child about vaping. Give them room to talk without trying to fill in their silences. Let them know that they can be honest with you without fear of judgment. If they are honest, keep your promise and don’t judge or yell at them.  

Try to avoid lecturing them. Chances are they already know that you disapprove of their actions. Don’t let those feelings cloud your discussion with them.  

In your talk, try to determine if they are vaping because of a bigger issue.  Maybe they are stressed from schoolwork, their job or they have friends that pressured them. If this is the case, you can work with them to find a solution to their stress or help them gain the confidence to refuse peer pressure.  

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Teens and adolescents are facing more stress than ever and need our support. If you would like some help trying to navigate parenting in the 21st century, sign up for one of our upcoming Parenting Workshops.

If you need a fun break or some guidance on how to create a healthy lifestyle, sign up for our Wellness Wednesday Webinars 

 

You Need Exercise – and So Does Your Child

you need exercise

We know staying active is part of a healthy life. Regular activity can help you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress. So why is it so hard to build good exercise habits? 

The habit of staying active often starts in childhood. Without a strong foundation, it’s hard to prioritize an active lifestyle as an adult. If you help your child stay active regularly, it can help them build strong muscles and bones, stay mentally healthy, and decrease their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.  

Regular activity is also a great way to bond with your child through playful competition. 

Make Exercise Funencourage kids

You and your family can have fun and be active at the same time. Kicking a soccer ball or throwing a baseball aren’t the only ways to get movingListen to your child as they express their level of interest in different activities. If they’d rather do a “Ninja Warrior” style obstacle course than play a team sport, encourage them to pursue it. 

Even when they choose an activity they enjoy, don’t put too much pressure on them to excel and become a prodigy – let the focus be fun and exercise.  

Create an Exercise Plan 

Make a weekly exercise goal with your family. If this is the first time that you’re trying to be active, avoid setting unrealistic goals. This will deter you and your family and make it harder to stick to a plan. For example, consider starting with a family walk or easy bike ride instead of running. 

When you are exercising, listen to your child’s needs. Take a break if they need water, a rest or simply don’t want to play anymore. They’ll have more fun next time if you don’t push them past their limits this time.  

Be a Good Example of Healthy Lifestyles 

Parents are often a child’s first role models. If you want your child to live a healthier and more active life, it helps to be a good example. Approach your activity plan with a good attitude. Your child will feed off your energy. If you’re having fun, there’s a better chance that they will have fun too.  

Exercise as a Family 

Exercising as a family can help make staying active fun. If you or your partner are passionate about a sport, then that’s a great place to start. Grab the ball, bat, glove – whatever it is – and spend some time teaching your child the basics. They will learn a new skill and spend valuable bonding time with you.  

If you and your family aren’t sports fanatics, there are still plenty of ways to be active.  

Non-sports Exercises: 

  • Go for walks/walk the dog 
    • If you have a dog, then exercise should be easy. Take your children with you when you take the dog for daily walks. If you don’t have a dog, taking a family walk is still a great and easy way to exercise. Block off time in the day when everyone is free and take a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. If 20 minutes is a lot, start off slow with a 10-minute walk. You can make it a family competition and try to add 5 minutes to that walk each week and see how far you can go as a family. 
  • Have a dance party 
    • Clear some floor space, get some fun lights or decorations, and have a dance party! Create a Spotify playlist of kid friendly songs to dance to or turn on the radio. Dancing is great cardio and a great way to relieve stress. If you want to follow along to some dance moves, there are great YouTube videos that feature family-friendly dance cardio workouts 
  • Garden 
    • If you have the space in your front or back yard, gardening can be a lot of fun. You may not even realize you’re getting a workout! Gardening is a great full-body exercise and with just 30 minutes of gardening you’ll workout your arms, legs and back. Go to the store with your kids and let them pick out a few flowers to plant. This will include them in the process and can get them excited to participate. 
  • Go to the park 
    • The park is full of endless possibilities. Play tag, hide-and-go-seek, or create a scavenger hunt. Make some sandwiches or snacks for break time and bring plenty of water.  

exercise with kids

Exercising doesn’t have to be tedious. Make a plan. Make it kid-friendly. Make it fun.

For an easy way to be active with your kids, sign up for our newsletter and view our Wellness Wednesday Webinars. We often have Zumba, Yoga, How to Grow Your Own Garden and more!  

Past Wellness Wednesday Webinars: 

Why Your Child Refuses to Do Homework (And How You Can Respond)

child-refuse-to-do-homework

Homework battles can turn into an exhausting nightly struggle that stresses both you and your child Addressing this family issue can be challenging, but good communication and early action can make a big impact.   

Get in the Right Mindsetparent stress

Before talking to your child about avoiding homework, take a step back. How are you feeling? Anxious? Angry? These emotions can affect how your child responds to you. Take a few deep breaths, stay calm and approach the topic with empathy.   

It’s important to be okay with your child failing a few assignments so they can learn that their choices have consequences. It shows them that failing is part of life, but it doesn’t make them a failure.   

Talk to Your Child 

You can make plenty of assumptions about why homework isn’t getting done, but your child is the only one who really knows the answer. Give them a chance to explain without the fear of your angry reaction or rapid judgment. Listen to their answer and work together to find a solution. Encourage your child to take ownership of their education.  

Why Your Child Could Be Avoiding Homework 

There are many reasons, major and minor, why a child might refuse to do schoolwork. Take the time to understand what could be affecting your child.  

  1. Academic Reasons

    Your child’s teacherare a valuable resource. Talk to them about how your child seems to be progressing with important concepts and skills. Work to understand details such as: 

    • Is your child struggling with a particular subjectunit, concept, or skill  
    • Is there an unreasonable homework load across all your child’s teachers? 
    • Is your child getting along with his or her classmates? 
    • How well is your child responding to his or her teachers? 
    • If your child struggles with a particular assignment format, would the teacher consider offering options for students to choose? (e.g. write a paragraph, draw a picturecreate a diorama)
  2. Behavioral Reasons

    Your child may be testing his or her limits. Make sure they understand what you expect as well as the consequences for not meeting those expectations. Be consistent with established boundaries and follow through with consequences. If they must complete homework before watching TV, stick to that. Your child needs a reliable, consistent structure surrounding homework routines.

  3. Family Pressures & Attitudes

    Look in the mirror. Think about how your attitudes might be influencing your child’s attitudes toward schoolwork. Are you contributing to the problem in any way? This might include nagging, hovering, or trying to do the work for the child rather than stepping back.  

  4. Health Reasons

    Your child could be struggling with health issues that make it harder to do homework. Sleep, physical activity, healthy eating, fresh air, and positive social relationships all influence success in school.  Issues with vision or hearing or physical issues such as wrist pain could deter your child from doing work, particularly if he or she is attending school onlineYou may also need to talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of a learning challenge such as dyslexia, processing deficits, or ADHD.  

How to Help Children Focus at Home create a routine

Some children don’t view home as a place to work, so the right routines and workspaces can help them settle and focusDon’t be discouraged if it takes a while for you and your child to find a structure that works. Ask for your child’s input and work together

Creating a new routine:
 

  1. Establish a schedule

    Plan an afterschool schedule with your child: for example, math homework 3 pm – 3:30 pm. English homework 3:30 – 3:45 pm, etc. Your child knows if he or she needs more time for one subject and less for another. Make sure your child understands which days the routine is in effect, especially as holidays come and go.

  2. Include breaks.

    Plan breaks in the schedule so your child can have a snack, play with a pet, or get some water. Ican be difficult to redirect attention away from devices, so avoid electronics such as TV, video games or phone time until homework is done for the day.

  3. Start homework together.

     Starting each homework assignment with your child can help them feel confident that they’re on the right track. If the homework topic is unfamiliar to youmake it a fun journey of figuring it out together. Even more empowering – get your child to teach you! 

  4. Change the homework location.

     Set up your child’s homework area in the kitchen, dining area or living room. You can keep an eye on their progress and be more available if help is needed. 

Encourage Your Child 

When you’ve found a routine that works for you and your childencourage your child with praise and occasional rewards 

Stickers aren’t just for little kids – tracking good habits can help to keep any child motivatedConsider offering rewards if your child collects a certain number of stickers. This could include a favorite meal or treat, picking the movie for family movie night, or hosting a sleepover with friends. 

Homework doesn’t need to be a daily battleground. Talk to your child. Listen with empathy. Create a plan and a new routine together. Once you find the system that works, your child and your family life will reap the rewards 

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

Saying “No” Stems from Self-Worth

teen drinking peer pressure

We are taught from a young age to say no. We are told it’s okay to stand up for ourselves and go against the crowd, especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol. But when we are put in a position where it’s time to say no, it can feel difficult, scary, and at times, impossible. Why is saying no to drugs and alcohol so difficult?

It’s not easy to go against the masses, especially at an age where everything feels like life or death and fitting in is what helps you survive the day. But when we choose another person’s path, their perspective over ours, we diminish our own and project negativity into our future. It means we are too afraid to put ourselves first. To get a better understanding of what this looks like, let’s look at an example.

Jayden loves to draw and desperately wants to get into art school so he can become a successful graphic designer. However, his group of friends is not as motivated. They don’t hate on him for his dreams, but they aren’t doing anything to better Jayden’s future. Jayden’s friends drink most nights of the week and smoke weed every day. Jayden used to think the weed helped him with his creativity, but now, it just makes him tired and lethargic. He hasn’t been drawing every day like he used to, and he’s noticed changes in his work. He wants to tell his friends that he doesn’t want to smoke anymore, but he’s afraid they won’t want to be his friend if he does.

What’s Jayden’s main concern?

He’s afraid he will lose friends if he stands up for himself and says no. It may not seem like it but saying no stems from self-worth. He has the first part down by knowing he doesn’t want to continue the behavior, and he knows the behavior is harming his future. But Jayden is afraid of the possibility of walking away from his friend group. He’s putting more value on his friends and their opinions over his own well-being.

Let’s say Jayden’s worst fear comes true, that his friend group won’t hang out with him anymore. Are they really Jayden’s friends if they are willing to throw the friendship away over drugs? Absolutely not. If he does choose to walk away, it will be a blessing in disguise because it’s clear these friends aren’t loyal and caring. Some may even go so far as to say that rejection is protection. If Jayden does lose the friend group, it might make him sad and lonely at first, but the change can lead to new friends who are like-minded, supportive and encourage creativity. Wouldn’t you say Jayden is better off?

Here’s where most of us get stuck. We only think of the worst-case scenario, but when we do this, we forget about the other possibilities. What if Jayden tells his friends and they support him? What if they think it’s a great idea? Part of this scenario is about the integrity of his friends, but it also goes back to Jayden’s self-worth. If he believes in himself and knows he is a valuable friend, then it doesn’t matter if his friends choose to stay or leave because Jayden knows he will be successful and find new friends that truly care about him. But if his friends choose to stay, then he can continue building relationships with them as he grows and changes.

This is the key takeaway when it comes to connecting to your life’s purpose.

It’s about taking care of you and putting you first. When you do that, the rest will fall into place. This can seem scary because friends and hobbies can change, but doesn’t it seem worth it to do the things that are important to you? When we have confidence, when we believe in our convictions, and when we know we don’t want to do something, we find the strength to say no and walk away. That’s not to say the moment isn’t scary. It means we value ourselves more than the approval of others.

It’s Okay to Not Go to the Party

It’s okay to not go to the party, it’s okay to not accept the drink, and it’s okay to call home for a ride if you get stuck in a sticky situation. What’s not okay is dropping down to the level of others and saying yes simply because it feels easier. It’s okay to listen to the voice inside your heart and honor its wishes, even if it means losing friends in the process. It’s about realizing that sometimes we have to make sacrifices to gain the life we are dreaming of.

It can feel like life or death when it comes to saying no, and that’s okay! If you or an adolescent you know struggles with boundaries that are leading to 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.

Vaping and Teens

Vaping is certainly not a new phenomenon, but e-cigarette use has become increasingly popular over the past two years. Sometimes referred to as “Juuling”, a term coined after people began using the Juul brand e-cigarette device, vaping is the inhaling and exhaling of a blend of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals as a vapor.

There is a common, but inaccurate, belief that e-cigarettes contain fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes, so they are said to be less harmful. This is likely why there has been quite a boom in e-cigarette sales across the nation – and why this has become more popular with teens in particular.

The sudden increase in vaping amongst teens has taken the medical community by surprise. A study done by the University of Michigan found that nearly one in three high school students in the U.S. has tried vaping in the past year. That number may grow as e-cigarette companies have begun to broaden their appeal and market products specifically for teens and young adults. With a wide array of flavors to choose from, the trend shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

Many parents have become concerned about their teenaged children vaping, and this is with good reason. There are plenty of concerns and risks to consider. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. As teens still have developing brains and bodies, it is far easier for them to get “hooked” on substances.

Also, e-cigarettes still contain potentially toxic chemicals. While they haven’t been around long enough to conduct thorough long-term studies about their effects on the body, doctors, researchers, and others have unequivocally stated that e-cigarettes are not safe for teens and young adults. There is also the risk of poisoning, device explosions, and allergic reactions. There have been cases where e-cigarettes are laced with illegal drugs.

If your teen or young adult is vaping, and you are concerned about their safety, here are some tips regarding how you should approach the issue:

Have Honest Conversations

As teens and young adults are still forming habits, impulse control, and experiencing several changes throughout their brains and bodies, it is critical that you approach the issue without engaging in a “lecture”. Ask them questions about vaping that are not accusatory. If you pass someone vaping, ask your teen what they think about it. Begin with open-ended questions that spark conversations.

Also, be prepared to have honest conversations about the risks involved. Teens tend to be more impulsive than adults, so your teen may not be considering the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. Discuss the fact that there are many unknowns about vaping, and that doctors have decided that it is not a healthy habit. Be clear about your expectations, but open to an exchange of ideas.

If your teen mentions that “everyone is doing it” or that “vaping is safer than smoking” you can face these comments with facts easily. The truth is that most teens in the U.S. do not vape, and while e-cigarettes do contain fewer chemicals, they still contain nicotine and toxic substances. No long-term studies have been done yet to assess the likelihood of illnesses like cancers, addiction, breathing problems, or the effects of vaping on young brains. Just because something is popular doesn’t make it safe or healthy.

Role Modeling

Teens and young adults are often more aware of their surroundings than you think. If you vape or you smoke, remember that they are watching and will consider your actions as an “approval” of whatever they choose to do. If you do intend to keep vaping, keep your devices secured and try to vape away from their presence.

Seek Professional Help

If you feel that your teen or young adult is experiencing issues with vaping that make you feel frustrated or overwhelmed, or if you feel like their habits are standing in the way of success, it may be time to seek professional help. The Bougainvilla House offers comprehensive therapy for teens and young adults dealing with substance use or behavioral issues, all in a safe, supportive environment.

If you would like to learn more about our services, visit our website today at https://thebougainvillahouse.com/, or call our caring team at 954-764-7337 and schedule an appointment. We are committed to giving you and your teen or young adult the tools needed to succeed and thrive.

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!