Teen Years 13-18

Preparing for college, dealing with peer relationships, substance abuse issues and more are all in these articles of interest to parents of teens.

Articles are organized by age in the categories below.
Early Years 0-6
Middle Years 6-12
Teen Years 13-19
All Ages

It’s all a Trap! Helping your Adolescent Identify the Thinking Traps that contribute to Anxiety and Depression

Ask the Experts by Amy E. Graham

Q: Depression and anxiety seems to run in our family. My older brother struggled with both anxiety and depression his entire life and had a lot of problems because of it. He did poorly in high school, drank a lot of alcohol, did not finish college, was never able to keep a job for an extended amount of time, and has pretty much excluded himself from family events. My 9th grade son was just diagnosed with both anxiety and depression. Are depression and anxiety just different words to describe a future of failures, substance use and misery?

A: Although depression and anxiety affect different people in different ways, they are both treatable conditions, and most definitely not a guarantee of future failures, substance use or misery. In fact, depression and/or anxiety may resolve with competent, informed care (psychotherapy, improved self-care, social supports, and in some cases medication).

Read more: It’s all a Trap! Helping your Adolescent Identify the Thinking Traps that contribute to Anxiety and Depression

Raising Empathic Children in a Disconnected Age

Ask the Experts by Bart Bronk

Q: I’m worried about the considerable amount of time my teenager spends staring at her phone, but I also recognize what a powerful tool technology can be. What are long-term impacts should I consider?

A: You are certainly not alone in your anxiety about screen time. Common Sense Media, a leading nonprofit dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, reports that the average teen today spends an incredible 6.5 hours per day staring at a portable screen.

First, let’s consider what your teen is experiencing. Her screen is a veritable Nirvana of the kinds of stimuli teens have always craved: dialogue with friends, interactions with the opposite sex, gossip, games, music, entertainment and, perhaps most enticing, a 24-7 reality show featuring the (heavily curated) lives of everyone she knows.

Read more: Raising Empathic Children in a Disconnected Age

Set the Right Tone when Talking with Your Teen

Ask the Experts by Lisa Kalinski

Q: I am worried that I am not setting the right tone in my home for open communication. I have a 13-year-old and hope that I’m not too late to change that as she moves further into the teen years?

A: It’s not too late to work one better communication and trust with your children. We have a system called pro-active parenting that includes these seven key behaviors:

  1. Show interest in their activities, likes and dislikes
  2. Listen carefully to what your child says without saying what they did wrong or should have done differently
  3. Find ways to agree with them; say “Yes” whenever you can
  4. Focus on the desired behavior, rather than the one to be avoided
  5. Build children’s images of themselves as trustworthy, responsible and cooperative
  6. Expect the best from them and encourage them often and vigorously
  7. Help them understand how their actions affect others

Read more: Set the Right Tone when Talking with Your Teen

Online College Search Tools

Ask the Experts by Milissa Pierce, MA, LPC

Q: What are some good online tools to help with my college search?

A: There are many easy-to-use and useful tools that parents and students can use to aid in their college search. Most are free of charge and many will often help you personalize your search.

In the Grosse Pointe Public School system we use a tool called NAVIANCE which is an all-in-one tool that can not only help students search for colleges, but also compare themselves to other students from the district. The students simply log into the website from the school website using their assigned username and password. Once there, students select the COLLEGE bar and can personalize as well as compare and search.

Read more: Online College Search Tools

Finding the Right College

Ask the Experts by Beth Walsh-Sahutske MA, LPC

Q: I think I should be doing something to prepare for college now that my son is in high school, but it feels a little overwhelming. Where do I begin?

A: Often when students are asked what they are looking for in a college they don’t really know either. The best way to start is to physically get on college campuses – even if they are not the ones he is thinking of attending.

Locally, we are fortunate to have many easily accessible colleges to consider. If your son is a Freshman that may be a visit for informal activities like sports or theater performances. But older students will want to be more intentional with their visits and take an official tour.

Read more: Finding the Right College

Finding the Best College for Your Academic and Financial Situation

Ask the Experts by Harry H. Gemuend, III

Q: I know there are many things to consider, but what would you say are the top two factors to consider prior to my child applying to college?

A: Finding the best fit for your son or daughters social and academic needs is difficult. Couple that with several myths surrounding affordability (i.e. out of state being too expensive, eligibility of financial aid) and the process becomes even more frustrating.

Academic preparedness and positioning your family’s financial situation are by far the two most important factors in assuring that your child attends “the best possible college at the lowest possible cost.” To ensure the best possible results you should consider attacking both of these areas as early as your child’s freshman year.

Read more: Finding the Best College for Your Academic and Financial Situation

Teens & Screens: Locked Into an Online World

Ask the Experts by Nicole Runyon

Q: I am witnessing my teenage son experience emotional problems and I think his screen is the culprit. I would like to remove the screen from his life in order for him to reset and get back to himself. However, I worry that he will be disconnected from his friends and risk feeling lonely and alienated. How do I help him find a balance?

A: This is a common issue among parents who are worried that screens are creating a situation for their children to be locked in to the online world and not engaged enough in the real world.

In my presentation, “Screenagers,” I refer to the many issues that plague our teens and young children due to the screens.

Many parents feel trapped between their instincts and what their child needs in order to have a social life. We have to begin and continue a conversation as a community in order to bring awareness to this issue.

Read more: Teens & Screens: Locked Into an Online World

Raising Young Men and Women in a Culture of Sexual Assault

Ask the Experts by Peter Henry and Mary Petersen

Q: With so much sexual assault rampant these days, I worry about raising teenagers in our society. How can you help me?

A: Human beings have lived in a culture of sexual assault for centuries. What’s different today is that we talk about it more, and thus we have a better chance to help our children consciously break the cycle.

Young men and women are in a particularly vulnerable position. They’re learning about themselves and how appropriately to interact with others on an intimate (and sexual) level, hopefully gradually and age-appropriately. Their culture, values, morals and beliefs are important.

Equally important is figuring out how to get their needs met in positive, healthy, respectful ways that don’t compromise the freedom of others.

Read more: Raising Young Men and Women in a Culture of Sexual Assault

Human Trafficking Exploits Children and Youth

Ask the Experts by Angela Aufdemberge

Q: I’ve been hearing the term human trafficking a lot lately. I don’t really understand it and wonder what is has to do with the internet and children. What should we be looking for?

A: Many of us understand human trafficking as the illegal movement of individuals across borders or the exploitation of vulnerable women.

However, human trafficking is much more and more prevalent than you might think. Human trafficking involves forcing or coercing another individual into work (labor) or sexual activity. Any commercial sexual activity involving a youth is illegal in the United States.

Read more: Human Trafficking Exploits Children and Youth

Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco Dangers: Discussions with Youth

Ask the Experts by Ghada Abdallah

Q. When is the right time to speak to your children about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes?

A. It is always the right time, but if your children are young and you haven’t done it yet, talk to them before they enter school.

Children will be exposed to all kinds of things from their friends, pop culture, TV, or the news. It’s better for your child to learn about these things from their parents before being confronted with making a decision. Be honest and don’t sugar coat or hide the truth from them.

If they are empowered with the knowledge about the risks, they can make a better decision when they are faced with a challenge.

Here are some tips for today’s modern families with children who are in school:

Read more: Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco Dangers: Discussions with Youth