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

April 1st can seem like consolation day for many gifted high school seniors. And it's no joke. 

College admissions offers have been received, and many families learn on April Fool's Day that their gifted child will not be attending the college of their choice. With acceptance rates less than 10% at many highly selective colleges, even exceptional students are shut out. 

When gifted children are young, many parents assume that high school success will translate into an array of college choices. Many are shocked and bitter when their child is rejected from a wide range of schools. They may believe they have been deceived and betrayed; their child’s hard work and effort was ignored, and raw talent and ability overlooked. 

I wrote a similar article about college admissions ten years ago. Both of my kids were in college and had already weathered the college application process. Despite some fun times visiting a variety of colleges, waiting for acceptances and then narrowing down their choices was... shall we say, a challenge. Fortunately, they landed at great schools that seemed an ideal fit for their social and academic needs.

Over the past year, I have spoken with parents whose children applied Early Decision to their dream school in hopes this would increase their odds of admission. These teens are all amazing, lovely, accomplished students with great potential. Yet, all were rejected. 

Those whose children applied for regular decision have all likely received their notifications. Some may be elated. Many might feel both excited and anxious about choosing between several colleges where they were accepted. But some are left to feel angry and deflated and must settle for a "safety" school they never assumed they would attend.Why do so many gifted children get rejected from colleges they are presumably qualified to attend?When highly selective colleges are inundated with applications, they have to draw the line somewhere. They have quotas, priorities and long-range goals, along with financial burdens. While most would likely prefer to admit the most talented, high-achieving students they can find, selecting who fits this criteria is complicated. And the sheer number of academically successful applicants is astonishing. National Merit Finalist Valedictorians with stellar SAT's are viewed as commonplace, and most will be rejected without some additional compelling qualifications. College admissions officers at these selective schools will tell you they are seeking a well-rounded, diversified class of students. They claim to use “holistic admissions,” viewing the whole student and not just grades and SAT scores. Yet, this term is often used as a thinly veiled excuse for achieving quotas based on geographic location, ethnicity, and athletic ability, along with wealth, and legacy connection (otherwise known as “hooks”). The highly publicized college admissions cheating scandal several years ago pointed to the dark side of college admissions, along with the extent some parents will go to advance their child's career. While many families rage about the unfairness of admissions policies, the reality is that most “unhooked” students will get rejected by many of their top choices. A Forbes article from over a decade ago highlights the disingenuous admissions process. Not much has changed over the past decade.What if your child is still in the college-planning process?Gifted students often need to create a profile that is quite exceptional and well beyond the norm. When a gifted, high-achieving student does not possess the "hooks" that boost the likelihood of acceptance, they will need to stand out from the crowd. This is especially true for those who attend public school or are homeschooled, since many private schools have counselors dedicated to maintaining connections with elite colleges. A 4.0 and top SAT scores may prompt a closer look, but without other outstanding qualifications, the elite, tippy-top schools will toss their application into the rejection pile. To garner a "second look," students need an application that conveys a depth of ability and achievement, such as performing independent research, excelling at college courses (taken as part of dual enrollment), exceptional mastery in the arts, awards from science fairs or other demanding competitions, or truly innovative extracurriculars or volunteer work. Sometimes, they need all of the above to demonstrate both breadth and intensity of focus. Their efforts need to clearly convey their aptititude as well as their motivation to tackle unique and challenging work.But not all gifted students need to attend one of the elite, tippy-top colleges!Before applying to highly selective colleges, parents need to clearly understand their child's social, emotional, and academic needs. They also must consider their child's realistic chances for admission. Look at the highest percentiles for acceptance rates at the colleges in terms of grades, SAT scores and other requirements. If your child is in that range, he or she may stand a chance. But realize that acceptance to an ivy league or comparable school (such as Stanford or MIT), is almost impossible to predict. There are a lot of benefits for gifted students at these elite colleges (including exceptional financial aid); however, there are many great colleges out there that should not be overlooked.It is essential that gifted students identify less competitive schools that would be a good fit and would readily welcome them. Many schools offer honors programs and other specialized tracks that can provide a great education. Gifted students can excel wherever they go and will find mentors, excellent professors and innovative programs that can stimulate their creativity. Attachment to a "dream" school is a set-up for disappointment in the capricious, uncertain world of college admissions.A note to current seniors:If you have just received your letters of admission, hopefully you are relieved and excited. If you received rejections, it is important to appreciate the competitiveness of these schools and not assume it is a reflection on your abilities. It may not seem fair that you didn't get into the school of your choice. But you can use your abilities to thrive wherever you go. And perhaps this experience will help you gain perspective and develop resilience when facing future challenges. Good luck with your decisions!This article is an update to April 1st is no joke for some gifted high school seniors. Photo above is courtesy of to Unsplash/Tim Gouw** For more insights about parenting gifted children, please see my book, The Gifted Parenting Journey. Available through the publisher and the usual bookseller sites, this book addresses a previously neglected topic in the literature: the needs and emotional life of parents of gifted children. For more information about this book, snippets from editorial reviews, and upcoming workshops and book events, please see this link.**
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