Why Teenagers Drink and Drive

Catherine Lu is a 15 year-old from California. She loves reading novels and her favorite subject is English.

Drinking and driving is a serious (and deadly) issue, especially amongst teens. Every year, teens are killed in drug-related car crashes, causing grief and sorrow for all those involved. So what can parents do to warn their teens of the dangers of drinking and driving? Well, here is some information about drinking and driving, and what parents can do to make the roads safer for their teens.

Vanessa: What are some current statistics on teens drinking and driving?

(http://geoffreygnathanlaw.com/infographics/visualization-of-driving-under-the-influence/http://www.dontserveteens.gov/dangers.html & http://www.alcoholalert.com/teenage-drunk-driving.html)

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the leading cause of death among people ages 15-20 are car crashes. Approximately 19 people under the age of 21 die in car accidents that involve underage drinking each year.
  • Drinking drivers between the ages 16 and 20 are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash as drinking drivers aged 21 and older.
  • 12.8% of fatal car crashes were alcohol-related, and 40% of that number involved teens driving under the influence in the U.S. alone.
  • Each year, about one million people are involved in alcohol-related car crashes.

Vanessa: In what circumstances do teens usually drink and drive?

Teens usually drink and drive under social circumstances. Teens typically drink and drive after attending a party with friends where alcoholic beverages were served. This may be due to peer pressure and feeling the need to impress their friends by drinking. After having a couple of drinks, teens have the feeling of invincibility, like nothing can hurt them and no one can stop them. It’s feeling as if you’re on top of the world, but not in a good way. Excessive drinking results in a lack of judgment, and the inability to think of what’s in your best interest. While teens drink and drive, they tend to have slower reactions, often resulting in fatal car crashes.

Vanessa: What can parents do to prevent their teens from drinking and driving?


Here are some tips for parents to prevent their teens from drinking and driving:

  • First, parents must never allow underage drinking. Even if it’s a one-time thing for a dinner party, your teen may be tempted to experiment with drinking again.
  • Know where your teen is going and when they are scheduled to return home.
  • Set up curfews for your teen (possibly two different times for weeknights and weekends), and always wait up for them to make sure they arrive home safely. Also, watch for any signs of drinking such as the odor of their breath, slurred speech, the inability to focus their eyes, and if they are unstable when walking.
  • Teach your teen to be a safe passenger. In 50% of alcohol-related car crashes, those who are injured are actually the passengers in the car. Teach your teen to never ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking, even if they don’t seem drunk. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Lastly, set an example for your teen. Never let them see you drunk, or drive after a couple of drinks.

Vanessa: What should parents do if they catch their child drinking and driving?

There are various ways for parents to discipline their teens if they are caught drinking and driving:

  • The first thing a parent should do is to take away their teen’s car privileges. Car privileges would be restricted only for school purposes such as driving to and from school, and driving to a classmate’s house only for a group project.
  • Also, car privileges would be taken away on the weekends, meaning no social activities unless another driver is found.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t have a drinking problem by finding out how often they have drunk in the past, and make sure they don’t it again. To make sure your teen doesn’t drink again, one may consider sending them to rehab, or at the very least, group therapy.
  •  Also, make sure your teen knows the consequences of drinking and driving. This may involve showing them statistics and news articles of others who drank and drive who weren’t so fortunate. That way they realize how lucky they are, and to also understand the serious issue of driving while under the influence.

All in all, drinking and driving is a serious issue, and one that can have dire consequences. Parents should make sure to inform their teens of drinking and driving, since many teens are starting to drive around the young age of sixteen. Hopefully, some of these tips help. And happy safe driving!

Photo: The Herald Post from Flickr

7 Strategies for Highly Successful Teens


A life changing program for your teens.

I am so excited to announce I have a new program for Teens, Parents and Teachers.

In this fun, entertaining and inspirational talk I go over the 7 strategies for highly effective teens.

This is nothing like your typical high school presentation.

Here are some highlights:

  • Groundbreaking research insights about the teen brain and behavior
  • Hilarious and inspiring videos
  • Immediately applicable action steps to motivate and encourage teens from all levels
  • Relatable stories for teens to feel engaged and understood

I can’t give too much away, but in this talk we delve into both the lighthearted and serious issues teens face including:

  • Effective communication with peers, parents and teachers
  • Mastering the online environment–preventing cyberbullying, staying savvy online and building a digital reputation that lasts
  • School – life balance, reducing stress and finding the right outlets
  • How to have healthy relationships with the important people in a teen’s life
  • Planning for the future, smart college applications, resume building and finding your life passions

I am stoked about this new talk and have already booked out January, February and March at High Schools, youth conferences and Parent groups around the US.

Please contact our manager Lynn Campbell for pricing and date availability:


*Yes, of course, we have a tween version!

Teen Book Review: The Moon and More By Sara Dessen

This book review is written by our teen intern: Folasade Lapite

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 11.38.59 AMThe Moon and More by Sara Dessen

Everything is always the same in Colby, well at least for Emeline. She is having the typical summer as any other; however, this is her summer before college! She wants to have trips, adventures, and memories she will never forget, but she lives in Colby where nothing is out of the ordinary. Well, what she thought. Emeline and the rest of Colby will beg for everything to go back to how it used to be, when a few uninvited people drop off at their doorsteps.

Sarah Dessen takes the reader through the mind of a young women embarking on tackling her life. This young adult novel incorporates everything and anything a young adult is thinking: their future, romance, family, and friends. She shows young adults’ journeys and inner battles through the eyes of Emeline.

Emeline like anyone else wanted the moon and more, but when she starts on her quest to get it; she’ll find herself with people she swore she’ll never trust, traitors, and new friends. Through the course of the novel a variety of people appear in Emeline’s life that too is dealing with their own paths. Why is it that everyone is acting high-strung? Shady? Or even acting like another person? Well, because everyone, even the people in Colby, wants the moon and more, and they will do about anything to get it.

This novel is a great read for not only young adults but adults also. This book allows for both to learn more in the other’s perspective.  Parents can learn more about how to approach their children right before they leave the nest. While teenagers about to go off to college can determine what they would do about their romances and “missions” before heading off to college. This novel allows the reader to see that everyone wants the moon and more, but the true lesson is what the person will do to get it.


4 Ways Parents Can Help Teens Relieve Stress

stressed, stressed teens, anxiety, anxious, overwhelmed

Vatsala is a 16-year-old from Amritsar, India. She enjoys listening to music, reading books, writing, doodling and her favorite subjects are English and Math. She wants to grow up to be a TV Journalist.

Stress is something that everybody has on their minds and, if not catered to properly, can turn out to be really bad for a person’s mind. Teens these days have a million worries—social, academic or familial problems, fitting in, getting bullied, relationships and popularity! Everything can stress a teen out. They can always turn to their friends, but the satisfaction they can get by talking to their parents is something friends can’t provide. Here are a few ways parents can help their stressed teenagers relieve that stress.


1) Talking

Talking might sound like a cliché, but it is really effective. Make them tell you their woes and their problems. Give them the advice you think will help them.

2) Family Time

To get their mind to something else, plan family time once in a while! Play, laugh and celebrate without any reason! Be spontaneous!

3) Freedom

Give teens a little freedom and space to go out with their friends and be alone for a while! Hanging out with friends can be peaceful.

4) Don’t Impose

Don’t impose your own pressures on them. Keep the atmosphere in the house calm and happy. The atmosphere affects the mind and sets the mood.

Teens might not come to talk to you, but try to indulge in their lives because in the end parents are the ones who come to their rescue!

Want to see 90210 star Shenae Grimes in a dramatic leading role? Check out the latest movie by executive producer Elliott Broidy called “Sugar”. Shenae’s leading role takes her to Venice Beach, California where she ends up making lasting relationships with other homeless teens. Rotini Rainwater and Elliott Broidy’s Sugar is inspired by real events and has goals to educate people on homelessness in America. Watch the trailer below!

Photo Credit –  Photo Literacy


What’s Wrong With Asking, “What’s Wrong?”

This article is by our teen intern Layla. She is 14 years old from California.  She loves to read and spend time with friends.

Teenagers can have lots of problems, a fact they want everyone on earth to be aware of. These problems can vary from school-related issues to friendship woes and the touchiness concerning these subjects that seems to have lasted since the Dark Ages. So when parents sense that their teen may be troubled by something and want to help, they generally resort to asking, “what’s wrong?” which generally increases your teen’s testiness (I know it seems impossible but, believe me, it is) and decreases the chances of him or her actually telling you what’s wrong.

“What’s wrong?” can feel patronizing and slightly insulting- it makes teens feel like something is wrong with them. Personally, if my parents ask me what’s wrong, I roll my eyes and say, “Nothing. God.” And yes, I do that even if something actually is wrong. Why? Because in my irritable state, I feel offended and am less inclined to talk about why I’m upset.

However, not all hope at parent-teen communication is lost. Parents should try using different questions or methods for getting their teen to open up to them. But parents should also accept that sometimes, no matter how inoffensively they approach their child, they will not always talk to you. They may be keeping mum for a multitude of reasons: they want a little privacy, it’s not a major problem, etc.

Here are a few alternatives to “what’s wrong”:

1. “How was your day?”

Alright, so your teen probably (most likely) always answers this question in five words or less. But even if they don’t regularly give you a particularly detailed answer, your child is always forced to reflect upon his or her day for a moment or two when being asked about it. If something happened that day and you ask about it, your teen will think about their day and possibly feel up to talking about whatever transpired.

2. “We can talk if you’d like to.”

Reassuring your teen that you can always talk is a gentle invitation to conversation. It’s subtle enough to not sound offensive but also direct enough for your teen to understand you feel that something’s upsetting him or her and are free to talk. Your teen won’t feel pressured to talk to you but will be aware of the option.

3. “Is something upsetting you?”

If you feel like something is distressing your teen and they’re not talking to you about it, this is a to-the-point way to get him or her to talk to you. Though this question is very similar to “what’s wrong?”, the different wording will make your teen less at fault. “What’s wrong?” can make it sound like you’re asking, “What’s wrong with you?” But if you ask what’s upsetting your teen that places the (of course unintentional) “blame” elsewhere.

Real-estate agents say a deal is all about location, location, location. Parent-teen relationships are all about communication, communication, communication. However this can be very difficult in a world where teens are infamous for telling their parents, “OH MY GOD LEAVE ME ALONE”. They are so notorious for saying/yelling/screeching this phrase, in fact, that is has developed into a cinematic stereotype. But when your teen tells you to leave him or her alone, about 95% of the time they don’t entirely mean it.

Sometimes being left alone is great- it can give one time to think things through and come back to a situation with a fresh perspective. But other times, teens just want to talk but grow uncomfortable at the prospect of doing so. So, as a parent, it’s important to keep communication lines open and approach your teen gently and invitingly.

Talking to Kids About Drinking And Driving

On June 22, 2013, drunken driver Matthew Cordle hit and killed Vincent Canzani. In a somber YouTube video, Cordle publicly confessed to causing the fatal crash and pledged to accept responsibility for his actions.

This tragedy sends chills down the spines of parents everywhere. How can parents protect their children from drunken drivers, and how can we help our youth understand the importance of driving sober?

Cordle’s YouTube confession, with 2 million views and counting, gives parents an impetus to have a difficult but necessary conversation with their children. Here are some tips for broaching this sensitive topic with clarity and poignancy:

1. What do they know?
When you first sit down with your child, it is important to find out what they already know and have heard about drunken driving. This is important for all ages, because it allows you to dispel any myths and work off what they have already heard at school or from friends. Here are some questions you can ask depending on your child’s age:

  • Do you know what it means to drive drunk? To drive under the influence?
  • Have you ever talked about drunken driving at school?
  • Have you heard stories about drunken driving? What do you know about it?
  • How do you think drunken driving happens?

Read the rest of my article at HLN!

What’s the big deal with failure?

ID-100177579By Jackie Charley, Author of ‘Unlock the Cage: Empowering parents to step out of fear into freedom’

Why are we all so afraid of the ‘F’ word? It seems to be the one thing we run from, or cover up at any cost.

What is the big deal with failure?

It’s always portrayed as such a negative thing. Even schools, which are supposed to be the seat of learning, make harsh distinctions between a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Yet why categorise something as ‘failed’ when it represents such a brilliant opportunity to learn? That’s not failure, that’s an open door.

“Endlessly protecting young people from any experience of failure is unhelpful. It means that failure becomes shameful, incomprehensible and much harder to bear when it happens.” Nick Luxmore, Psychotherapist and Counsellor at King Alfred’s Academy, in the UK.

The thing is nobody likes to fail, even less to be seen to have failed. But my feeling is that we need to stop running from failure.  We need to stop pretending that our kids will never fail, and we need to stop trying to protect them from doing so. Failure is a fact of life. Let’s stop treating it like the big dark bogey-man, the elephant in the room, the one thing we hope will never happen.

Let’s just take away failure’s power to scare us by holding its hand. It will be our constant companion for as long as we have breath in our bodies, so let’s take the sting out of its tail and sit down, as if with a friend, and learn what it can teach us.

How do we do that with our kids?

Well, there are quite a few things that can be done to turn failure into your best weapon, but here are two great ideas for starters:

  1. Empathise.

Let your kids know that you really understand how disappointed or frustrated they feel when things don’t go as they’d planned.  Often we so desperately want to fix things for them, to be the time-travelling hero who puts it all right again.  But even if that were possible it would be giving them a very unreal picture of the world.  What they need to hear is that we understand.  Of course, that doesn’t take away from the fact that failure can really hurt. It stings, it cuts and it thumps us in the chest. So let your kids acknowledge their emotions and cry, shout and stamp about.  That’s OK. In fact, if we truly acknowledge strong emotions they normally only last for about 90 seconds, so let them do just that and then they can move on, sit down with this ‘new friend’, and learn.

  1. Teach them that there is no failure only feedback

Read, repeat and inwardly digest this phrase. In fact, why not make it a family mantra since all our failures and mistakes are simply telling us how not to do something; we just need to work out what to do differently next time round. Let’s join the ranks of Thomas Edison who ‘failed’ 999 times before he found the right filament to make his light bulb work. Or Michael Jordan who missed 9000 shots and lost 300 games during his career but went on to be the greatest basketball player of all time. If these guys had taken failure too seriously they would have just given up. But they didn’t. They just learned from what didn’t work until eventually they found out what did.

Failure is a means, not an end

“There’s a common misconception that children develop resistance by encountering failure. That’s a myth. Children develop resilience by dealing successfully with failure.” Dr Laura Markham

Their persistence, their willingness to try again and again produces a tough internal characteristic psychologists call ‘grit’. It’s earthy, it’s real and it’s nurtured by sweat and tears. As Dr Christine Carter of Raising Happiness says: “We humans develop grit by encountering difficulty and learning to cope with it.”

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if our homes became complete ‘no blame’ zones? Places where our kids made mistakes but weren’t blown out of the water for them. Places where they dared to try new things, to discover, to mess up, and for it all to be part of the fun of learning. In this kind of home kids would learn how to look at failure without fear. They’d learn that experimenting and working out what went wrong when the honeycomb toffee hit the ceiling instead of just bubbling slightly in the pan, was just par for the course. And they’d try again. They’d become resilient and learn how to deal with disappointment. They’d learn how to adapt and change. These skills will serve them well both in their personal lives and in their future employment. What boss wouldn’t value someone who’s prepared to pick themselves up when things go wrong, who has a fearless desire to learn? Hey, what robust and independent young people we can help them become.

So, I dare you to add ‘the love of failure’ to your family’s list of values.

You up for it?

Let me know.

Image used courtesy of stockimages/ freedigitalphotos.net/

Contact details:

Jackie Profile PicWebsite: www.unlockthecage.com

Email: Jackie@unlockthecage.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FreetoParent

Teen Voluntourism: A New Teen Travel Trend

Courtesy of Flickr User Mike Baird
Courtesy of Flickr User Mike Baird

Are you looking for a different kind of vacation opporuntity for your teen? A new trend called Voluntourism provides an amazing opportunity for young people to do good with their vacation time and give back while exploring the world.

Families can pick a destination and type of project. Here are some example voluntourism trips:

  • Wildlife conservation in Peru
  • Endangered species work in Africa
  • Building Schools in Southeast Asia
  • Helping Orphanages in South America

How can parents and teens voluntour successfully? Here are some tips for you:

1. Don’t Expect Luxury

Voluntourism is about helping others–it’s not about luxury hotels or big buffets. So be sure to get in the right mindset.

2. Practice A Language

While many trips do not require foreign language skills. if you took Spanish or French in High School consider signing up for a trip in a country that speaks that language. This can help you practice and your connection with local people.

3. It’s Not Free!

Usually voluntourists pay for travel expenses and sometimes even lodging or food. While this is far less than a vacation, think about it as part of your investment in doing good.

4. Safety First

Check the political climate and area crime reports before booking your trip. Also be sure to get immunizations and a full medical check-up before leaving.

5. Do Your Due Dilligence

Make sure your program is legitimate and has had success in the past. Go through a reputable organization and get references from past participants. Here are some great programs for teens.

Voluntourism Trips for Teens

Body Language for Back to School

Are there any body language tips for back to school time? Of course! Here are a few tips for parents to make the transition from summer to school easy:

Relaxation is Contagious
Most people don’t realize that body language is contagious. Just like when you see someone yawn, you yawn. This is because of our mirror neurons. We have mirror neurons that like to copy those around us. So, as the first day of school approaches be sure to keep yourself relaxed and calm. If you are nervous, your kids will feel it. So when talking about school keep “relaxed body language” so your kids mirror that. This is relaxed body language:
  • Keep your shoulders loose
  • Use normal volume
  • Don’t cross your arms
  • Head held high
Be Confident Before You Walk In
Most people don’t know that not only do our emotions change our body language, but also our body language changes our emotions. Researchers from Harvard Business School have found that when you have confident body language you begin to feel confident. If you have nervous body language you begin to feel nervous. So, before kids go to school consider pumping them up with the following tips. You can do this by playing some favorite music on the way to school or over breakfast to get kids loose and moving.
  • Smiling
  • Feet firmly planted
  • Hands above head or spread wide
  • Shoulders back and head up
Body Language for Bullies
What should a kid do if he or she has a bully? Above all else they want to avoid “victim” body language. This is the body language we all do when we lose a race or feel sad. Bullies sniff this body language out. What to avoid:
  • Head hung low
  • Body hug
  • Tucked feet
  • Knees turned in
  • Blocking behavior
Then there is winner body language and this is what kids should practice doing to show strength and confidence–remember it helps them feel this way too:
  • Find the sun (chest and head up).
  • Leave torso open
  • Shoulder width feet
  • Arms loose
Again, you mirroring good body language is best of all. We lead by example.
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Five Ways to Help Your Teen Daughter Feel Good About Herself

teen diariesThis guest post is by: Lori Ferraro is the author of the blog onceuponaproduct.com where she writes about her life long obsessions with make up, food and Mick Jagger and her past obsessions with big hair and boys. She is an actor who has been heavily involved in theatre since her parents took her to see Sarah Jessica Parker star in Annie on Broadway when she was eight years old. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon and is mom to two boys, five and eight – she hopes her house will become hang out central in the future.

How I perceived myself during my tween/teen years can be summed up in three little words:

Not. So. Great.

All you have to do is look back to my childhood/teenage diaries to see exactly what I’m talking about:

When I look back at family albums at pictures of myself there really wasn’t anything at all wrong with me. Yes I was a little overweight, but it was nothing to be overly concerned about. Yes I wore a ton of black eyeliner and dressed like Madonna, but so did all of the other girls back then.  And yes my hair was gi-normous, but it was the eighties and I was living in New York and Florida – what did you expect?

Tell her she’s beautiful.

Even if at the moment you’re not so sure – maybe she has some questionable fashion choices, wears black lipstick or has dyed her hair some insane color. She’s still your girl and she’s in there – buried – but there. She’s exploring, experimenting, expressing – figuring out who she is and where she fits in. As frustrating as it may be to you and to Grandma, it’s sooo normal. When my parents were overly concerned about my bad makeup choices in the seventh grade, my mom sneakily took me to the mall where we made a pit stop at the Clinique counter for an appointment with a woman in a white lab coat. It was my makeup intervention! I still wear Clinique’s Raspberry Glace lipstick to this day thanks to that lady in the lab coat.

teen self esteemHave her friends over.

My house was hangout central, where all the girls and guys liked to gather after school and on the weekends. My friends loved my parents – Mom and Dad took the time to get to know them, from where they grew up to who they had crushes on. My mom gave my girlfriends manicures and my dad rented horror movies for us to watch and popped popcorn with lots of butter. Our house is where we would eat pizza on a Friday night and where couples gathered to have homecoming and prom photos taken – because we all enjoyed being there. I credit my mom and dad for making “Lori’s house” the place to be/meet/hang.

Don’t deny her of the good stuff.

Short and sweet – give her the sweets. I was tormented for years, watching my girlfriends eat good old fashioned old ice cream while I sat with my little plastic cup of – blech- ice milk. Do they even make ice milk anymore? I don’t think so and I hope not, because ice milk sucks. Give your daughter ice cream. Not  the carton with a spoon – a bowl. Give her real yogurt and real sour cream too. The good stuff in moderation is so much sweeter than the bland stuff every day. 

One on one time.

During the tenth grade I was having a really hard time – my weight, my grades, my boy troubles – the usual. I remember specifically my mom taking me out to breakfast one Sunday right after church. It was out of the normal routine and weird that my dad and brother were going home rather than coming out with us. She recognized that I was struggling and had a conversation with me about what was going on, plain and simple. No talking down to me or anger over a failed test, less like a parent and more like a friend which sometimes is needed. That breakfast has always stuck with me as something special my mom did for me.

Encourage her.diary

I know – no brainer right? Whatever she’s interested in, wherever her passions lay.  In high school I tried out for pretty much everything until I found my “people” in the drama club. I ended up majoring in theatre in college and my parents supported me, never saying, “What are you going to do with a theatre degree?” and drove two hours to see me in every production I did away at school.

These are exciting years – and difficult years, full of change and growth. With support, understanding and love you will both get through them. Who knows – those questionable fashion choices may lead her to be a future season finalist on Project Runway.