Your child or student's desire to have friends or to experience typical teenage life, combined with thinking problems, may lead her to show poor judgment when making decisions of her own.
Use everyday settings and activities
- Use videos, daily situations, and the experiences of others to illustrate other points of view. Engage in discussions in which you and your child each "take a side." Avoid topics that are likely to be highly emotional for you or your child.
- Find ways to talk to your child about what is really going on in his daily life. Discussions need to be non-defensive and concrete.
Change the environment
- Use and enforce clear rules and consequences for inappropriate verbal behavior, drug, and alcohol use. Do not accept these activities as part of a "phase;" rather, address and deal with them directly.
- Provide clear and concrete information about the ramifications of sexual activity. Teach your child how to deal with social situations that may lead to sexual activity by talking about them and brainstorming potential responses. Creating a detailed and realistic plan of action is necessary.
- Have detailed knowledge about your adolescent’s peer group. Limit exposure and interaction with peers who are involved with drugs, alcohol, or other dangerous activities.
- Make sure a child’s job is well matched to his skills, ability, and temperament. Seek out jobs that explore and broaden areas of personal interest.
- An adult must provide supervision on the job, so that appropriate training and supervision occur. The job supervisor needs to understand the child’s strengths and weaknesses and work with limitations in judgement.
Provide an adolescent with a much higher degree of external support on the job than would be expected for his peers, including:
- having him check in with his supervisor upon arrival
- following his schedule
- engaging in appropriate colleague interaction
- submitting his time card
following workplace protocols
Teach new skills
- Your child should be involved in individual therapy with a therapist knowledgeable about working with adolescents with brain injury. Therapy should include a family component to help guide discussions about appropriate limits, punishments, and to structure appropriate family activities.
- In order to avoid making poor choices a child should be involved in structured activities that fill his time and introduce him to well-behaved peers. Examples include volunteer work, golf lessons, soccer camp, jobs, community school courses, clubs, and community service.
- Verbal abuse may be a symptom of a teen’s difficulties with expressive language. Teach your student how to appropriately express his feelings, in language and behavior. Teach him the ramifications of swearing, cursing, and abusive behavior. Social skills groups with same-aged peers are helpful towards this end.
- Adolescents with judgement difficulties experience widespread interpersonal and social failure. Despite difficulties, adults must hunt for ways for the student to experience success and improve self-esteem.
The BrainSTARS manual was written by a team of professionals who have worked for many years with children and young adults who have brain injury. We wrote it because pediatric brain injury is very confusing for parents and teachers — and you are the most important people in the recovery of your child. It is important that a child's parents and teachers are well-educated so that they can work well together to provide the best chance for a child's recovery. Our goal is to make sure that every child has a safety net of support and understanding underneath him as he makes the leap back into life following a brain injury.
From BrainSTARS, Brain Injury: Strategies for Teams And Re-education for Students, © 2002 Jeanne Dise-Lewis, PhD. Used with permission. The manual is available in English and Spanish. For more information or to order copies, call 720.777.5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A short video on how to use the BrainSTARS manual is available at www.youtube.com/BrainSTARSprogram.