Kristin's Comfy Couch Family Counseling Kristin Perry, LMFT
Kristin's Comfy Couch Family CounselingKristin Perry, LMFT
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Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble It can be terrifying when you see a sudden change in your teen and don't know what to make of it. Sometimes, you may wonder: "What's normal?" "Am I making too much of this?" "Does she just want attention?" "Am I really the only parent who has a problem with this?" "Am I too hard on him?"The fact that you're asking these questions shows excellent parenting radar and a real concern for your child. While this list is not exhaustive, it's a solid start. It captures many of the problems I see come up in teen therapy. If any of the things listed below are happening with your kid, you're not making too much of it. It isn't about attention. You're right to be worried. Your child needs help, right away!Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble:1. Sudden negative change in peer group, friends they are not willing to introduce2. Social Isolation3. Bullying: either being the perpetrator or the victim of abuse is a concern and requires help.4. Self-harm: cutting, picking, burning, self-starvation, or high risk sexual behavior. If you notice a sudden dramatic weight loss, see any unexplained marks or scars, or if your child suddenly starts wearing long sleeves or more concealing clothing, look more closely. Ask questions. Get help!5. Any break-up with a best friend or first love that is being taken particularly hard: excessive crying, expressing feelings of hopelessness, or obsessive thinking, talking, or social media mentions about the loss are significant signs there's a problem.6. Substance abuse7. Falling or failing grades8. Dramatic change in appearance or lack of interest in basic grooming, extreme irritability or aggression, crying, expressing feelings of numbness and disconnection, change in appetite, or sleep pattern are all signs of DEPRESSION, and should be taken seriously.9. Lying or secretive behavior10. Expressing ANY thoughts of suicide: verbally, by gesture, or in writing The need for help is URGENT: if your teenager has a specific plan for how to commit suicide, access to the means of self-harm they describe, or an expression of intent to actually do it.If your kid starts giving away emotionally significant items, seem to be trying to tie up loose ends, or say "goodbye" to anyone, these are also RED FLAGS. If you see this behavior. or you have any doubts, get help immediately. Go to your nearest emergency room, call 911, or call the police Psychological Emergency Response Team (PERT). It's okay to err on the side of caution. In fact, it's a really good idea to call, if you have any doubt at all.Teenagers can get in over their heads really fast. It's alarming how quickly they can get into real trouble. They are more impulsive, while being less able to think long-range and problem solve, than adults. Teens can suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, addiction and serious anger management problems, just like adults. When this happens, teens really need help. If you're a parent and this is happening with your child, you probably need some help, too. These are complicated scary problems. It's important to have a person with professional psychological training assist you. There's a lot at stake. Things can get better, with the right guidance.Please, act quickly, if you notice any of the Top Ten Signs Your Teen is in Trouble. If you aren't sure, or have any questions, you can call me: Kristin Perry, MFT at: 760-978-6071. If you can't reach me and think it might be serious, please, call 911.A little rebellion is normal teenage stuff. A little moodiness is normal teen emotion. Being kinda bratty is normal teenager behavior. Raising a teen is tricky. An adolescent's process of becoming independent can be quite hard on everyone concerned. They're a little bit prickly, sometimes. Counseling can help with these normal developmental issues, too. Teen therapy can improve family relationships, communication and coping skills. Counseling can help get things back on the right track. It can also save your kid's life.Whatever your particular situation, I wish you much luck, love and peace as you care for your family.Take care!Kristin Perry, MFTKristin's Comfy Couch Family Counseling760-978-6071
Gail Post, Ph.D.
As parents, we witness the ups and downs our gifted children experience within the education system. It almost seems like a random gallery of mishaps and roadblocks, with some occasional bursts of brilliance. We know that advocacy and a good relationship with our children's teachers are critical in order to formulate creative solutions. But disappointments abound, and just like our kids, we are in for a bumpy ride.

 The following is one real-life example of the twists and turns, roadblocks, and surprising support that emerged during one gifted child's education:The criticism Sam (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) faced boredom and frustration during heterogeneously-grouped middle school classes. However, he found a refuge in Latin class, where the topic was more challenging. He grasped the information quickly easily excelled. But he was repeatedly chastised by his teacher for raising his hand to answer questions too often and conveying an attitude that the material was easy, and was accused of arrogance, While not the most socially aware student, Sam had no intention of criticizing his classmates; he just was enthused and energized by the subject matter. 

The brilliant idea

During his yearly GIEP meeting (and yes, Sam was fortunate enough to live in a state where GIEP's provide some legal safeguards for gifted education), Sam's gifted supervisor suggested that he subject accelerate in Latin at the start of high school. His parents had not considered this option, as Latin was not Sam's favorite subject; he was much more interested in math and science. But it sounded like a great idea, especially since Latin was a small class, and he would receive individualized instruction that would allow him to catch up to the other students. His parents were grateful and frankly, somewhat amazed that the gifted supervisor enabled this transition.

The implementation

Sam blazed through Latin. He subject accelerated not only one year, but two, and by the end of 10th grade, had completed coursework for Latin 5, the highest level offered at the school. In addition, he received an almost perfect score on the Latin Subject SAT's, and a score of 5 on the Latin Vergil AP test. 

The roadblocks

Clearly talented and enthusiastic about Latin, Sam wanted to continue Latin studies the following school year. However, the school could not provide any accommodations. His Latin teacher offered to provide guidance for Independent Study; however, this was blocked because the public school administration did not want to set a "precedent" where a teacher offered more instruction/time/energy to an individual student than was in his contract. The head of the Language Department had two inappropriate suggestions: either Sam repeat Latin 5 (despite his mastery of the subject, and the above listed exceptional scores on the SAT and AP tests) or he could work on an Independent Study on his own, without receiving any course credit or notation on his transcripts. Essentially, the message/challenge implied that if he really liked Latin, he would study it on his own without any recognition of his efforts.

Another brilliant idea

Sam's Latin teacher was furious - both for how Sam was treated by the school and the Language Department, but also because the teacher was curtailed in his desire to offer even a minimal amount of time to provide enrichment for Sam's education. So the gifted supervisor stepped in. Several Latin departments at local colleges were contacted, with an inquiry about whether they could provide further enrichment in Latin. 

The kindness of strangers

Two local colleges offered to help. Sam (with the insistence of his Latin teacher, who was thrilled with the options) chose to take a 300-level college class offered by a nationally-known Latin scholar at a local ivy league university. Although Sam was able to attend a few of the in-person classes, most conflicted with his high school schedule. As a result, this kind professor offered individualized, online instruction. Sam did well and received a good grade in the class. Sam's parents found out much later that the professor offered his time free of charge. Neither his parents nor the school were asked for payment. 

A bitter pill to swallow

Despite Sam's exceptional talent and clear enthusiasm for Latin, once his education was no longer offered through the public school, his abilities were ignored. At "Senior Awards Night," Sam's parents had to politely applaud while another student received the Latin award. In fact, Sam only received an award for his excellence in a creative arts field; he failed to receive any awards for academic excellence. He excelled beyond his classmates in several subject areas, had excellent SAT and AP scores, was ranked second in his class, was a National Merit Scholar, and quietly tutored some of his classmates (some of whom received the awards). However, since he was taking dual enrollment classes at a nearby college, he was overlooked for any recognition. Sam's parents knew that in the scheme of their son's academic career, these awards were arbitrary and meant little. Yet it was a challenge to sit by and applaud the awards decisions, knowing how the school blatantly disregarded their son's accomplishments.

With gratitude 

Sam's gifted education in the public school system was replete with opportunities and disappointments. However, this example of creative thinking on the part of his gifted supervisor, and the kind professor who generously offered his time, was a high point. Furthermore, this professor provided a supplementary letter of recommendation for Sam's college applications. Sam was accepted to that particular ivy league university, along with numerous other colleges. He chose to attend a different ivy league university, and although he never majored in Latin, took several Latin classes. Sam gave the professor a gift at the end of his ongoing education with him - a CD of some music he learned that the professor enjoyed. His parents sent a note of extreme gratitude. But the gift of generosity on the part of this professor cannot be overstated.

A final word

Gifted education is often a patchwork of what is available in school and in the community, and what parents can offer from home. There are occasional moments of brilliance - where teachers "get it" and have the time to engage these students. Other times, there are disappointments where gifted students' needs are overlooked. Sam's situation typifies the uncertainties, roadblocks, unexpected surprises, and random luck that accompanies gifted education. Please feel free to share your own stories below.

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