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Teaching teens to manage anger

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By Denise Morganthall


Anger is not always a bad thing. It provides us with the opportunity to express negative feelings, show others a problem exists and find solutions. However, if anger is not managed properly it can be detrimental, intensifying to the point of physical and verbal violence. If not controlled, it can lead to problems in all areas of life.


Teens today are faced with a myriad of emotional issues that can ignite anger. Add to that the stress of a changing relationship between teens and parents as the teens test their independence. Teenagers need to learn ways to express anger in productive, less harmful ways. Here are some starting points:

  • Know the warning signs -- pounding heart, muscle tension, clenched fists, shaking and a loud voice
  • Develop coping skills -- exercising, listening to music, drawing, deep breathing, talking to someone
  • Think before acting – curb impulsiveness, communicate respectfully without yelling
  • Walk away – take time to calm down and re-focus

Anger is a normal emotion that everyone can experience at times, but it is easy for it to get the best of us. Parents should model how they would like their teens to act, keeping in mind that they can’t yell at their sons and daughters to stop yelling. Providing teachable moments will allow teenagers to learn appropriate anger management skills before they are out in the world on their own.


And remember, if you encounter a problem you can't solve on your own, there is help. Log onto ParentCentral.Net or TeenCentral.Net to work it out and get advice from peers and trained professionals.

Inez Donley forever memorialized on KidsPeace's Orchard Hills Campus for lifelong philanthropy

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inez-donley-family-memorial-kidspeaceEd Donley (center) stands with his daughter, Martha Robb (left), his son, Thomas Donley, and his daughter-in-law, Cindy Donley.   


Inez Donley is a familiar name in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania and beyond. Her lifelong philanthropic efforts touched many organizations, from the Allentown Public Library to the American Red Cross to Cedar Crest College. But today, she was honored for her unflagging dedication to KidsPeace and the children we serve.


Donley, who died in January at the age of 97, was recognized today for her powerful impact on our organization with the unveiling of a memorial in her honor. In a fitting move, the plaque now hangs in the Donley Therapeutic Education Center, a central hub on the Orchard Hills Campus made possible through a $1 million donation from Inez and her husband, Ed Donley. The Donleys donated more than $1.47 million to KidsPeace during Inez's life, and the Donley Foundation recently gave another $25,000 to continue the efforts close to Inez's heart.


In addition to her financial contributions, Inez served as a board member for 15 years and remained an honorary member until her death. Members of her family, along with numerous community members and local politicians, attended today's memorial unveiling.


KidsPeace has proclaimed that Aug. 6, which was Inez's birthday, will will be recognized annually as Inez Donley Day, and will be a day to encourage all associates to volunteer within the community.


If you would like to make a contribution to KidsPeace in Inez Donley's memory, please visit our donation page or call Patrick Slattery at 800-25-PEACE, ext. 8326.



Is my child suffering from depression?

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depressed-teen-kidspeaceBy Denise Morganthall


Depression is the most common mental health problem in the U.S. Children under stress; who experience loss or who have learning, conduct, or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Depression also tends to run in families.


But how do you know if your child is suffering from depression? Below are a few signs you need to take seriously:

  • Frequent sadness or crying
  • Low self-esteem and guilt
  • Decreased interest in friends and activities
  • Thoughts or expression of suicide
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • A major change in sleeping and eating patterns

These are just a few signs, however if you notice any of these there is a good chance your child or teenager may be suffering from depression. As with any mental illness, early intervention is critical. It is worth noting that during the teen years you will see behavior changes, and they do not all indicate depression. So how do we know if it is time to seek medical attention? When the mood lingers for a long time – weeks or months and limits the child’s ability to function normally, it can be diagnosed as depression.


As parents, we obviously want our children to be healthy and happy. Don’t wait if you suspect a problem; seek medical attention immediately. Depression can be successfully treated in 80 percent of the cases. But if it goes untreated, it can be deadly as it is a major risk factor for suicide. It also may help to log onto www.ParentCentral.Net or direct your child to www.TeenCentral.Net to hear from other people battling similar circumstances.

TeenCentral.Net can help teenagers learn to deal with peer pressure

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teencentralnetBy Denise Morganthall


Avoiding peer pressure may sound simple enough, but for many it is not. The teen years can take a toll on teens and their family. Teens are dealing with many pressures in life; just figuring out who they are is enough in itself. It is important as parents that we help our teenagers develop the self confidence to withstand peer pressure, and make their own decisions.


Teens like to do what their friends are doing so they can feel accepted. However, this does not always lead to healthy physical or emotional outcomes. The best way for a teen to avoid being the only one saying no to peer pressure is to choose friends with similar values who will back them up when they don’t want to do something.


If teens find themselves struggling to avoid peer pressure, they should not be afraid to seek help in the form of a parent, teacher, counselor or www.TeenCentral.Net, a free, online, anonymous counseling site. The site, which focuses on everything from bullying to drug and alcohol use to dating violence, even has special sections dedicated to children in foster care, those whose parents are in the military or those looking to explore religion and faith. 

Improved global foster care system necessary to protect children

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Dr. John DeGarmo(1)By Dr. John DeGarmo


As there are differences in foster care services throughout the United States, it comes as no surprise then that there are also vast and wide differences in the way nations around the world implement their foster care services and agencies. In truth, the term “foster care” is one that has tremendous differences in various areas of the world. In many industrialized nations, foster care is commonly referred to a temporary placement, made by a state child welfare agency, with a family. For many third world and developing nations, the term “foster care” is one that refers to something that is quite different than the system established in industrialized nations. In many developing nations across the globe, poor economic situations leave little financial assistance for government assistance. Lack of available health care, adoption organizations and governmental aid for families and children are the reality. 


Throughout much of Africa, the practice of placing underprivileged children into other homes is an old tradition, and not an uncommon one. As educational opportunities increase in many African nations, children are also being “fostered out” to other families, families that are closer large cities where schools are more readily available. The poor economic environment in Africa has severely affected the fostering system. The high costs of installing an effective foster care system prohibit many African countries from developing it.


For the millions of orphan children in Asian countries, the foster care system offers little hope. Fortunately, many children whose parents have died find outside parental care with extended family members, in a form of kinship living arrangement, a type of family preservation service. For some Asian nations, this is the only option that is supported by the government. As a result, millions of children who have no living extended family members find themselves without a home. More often than not, Asian governments are quick to place children into orphanages, which are overcrowded and understaffed, with children living in poor conditions. 

Japan’s foster care system is one that is seldom used. For those children who fall outside the cultural traditions of the nation, it is often difficult for them to find a home that is welcoming. Japan’s culture is one that is resistant to foster children. Another struggle that foster children face in Japan is the lack of aftercare provisions. For those children who have aged out of the foster care system, they have little to no support, and often are completely on their own.


European countries are generally considered to have the most advanced foster care systems available. However, there are distinct differences across the continent. In the Scandinavian nations, the system is perhaps the most efficient and advanced. The governments of these nations are very involved in the promotion of foster care, and provide sufficient funds, staff and training. Western European nations have seen a reduction of government involvement in foster care, though it is still a highly developed child welfare system. Central and Eastern European nations has the weakest foster care system and the fewest amount of foster homes on the continent, but the greatest need. 


Efforts are under way to bring about social change in a global foster care system. Organizations, such as the International Foster Care Organization (IFCO), are working hard to bring about a more unified way to support foster children around the world. Yet, there is much work to be done, as the foster care system is one that is drastically uneven in all four corners of the globe. All children, regardless of where they are born, have the right to a loving home, a supportive family and a stable environment. An improved global foster care system will help to make that dream a reality for millions of children.


Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 11 years, and he and his wife have had more than 40 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of "Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Story," and the new training book "The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home." He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both in the United States and overseas. Dr. DeGarmo can be contacted at, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at


October is Mental Health Awareness Month

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mental-health-blocksBy Denise Morganthall

In 1990, Congress established the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week. As the years have gone by, we are getting much better in doing this on an ongoing basis, but we still have room for improvement. Those who struggle with mental illness still find it difficult to be open about it because of the stigma that still exists. But we need to ignore what everyone else is thinking and take care of ourselves. We need to remember that mental illness not only affects the lives of the sufferers but the lives of everyone around them.


It is very easy in today’s society to feel overwhelmed. Some of us are better than others at handling everyday frustrations. But it is important to seek help if necessary. KidsPeace recognizes the need for mental health awareness and treatment every day of the year, but October is a good opportunity for a reminder. Let’s provide hope, help, and healing to our entire community. Once you choose hope, anything is possible.

Children need help to work through stress

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By Denise Morganthall


What happened to my happy, carefree child? Children should have no worries; that is what we would like to believe. However, children and young adults can suffer from stress just like adults. Actually they have a tougher time than adults because they have fewer experiences in dealing with stress and do not know how to handle it.


What can cause stress in children? Stress can be caused by what is happening at home – family arguments, divorce or illness. If your children hear you talking about these matters, it may be overwhelming for them. TV can cause stress if they are watching news about war, terrorism or natural disasters. Also as your children age, academic and social pressures can create stress.


What are some signs and symptoms of stress in children? It is not always easy to recognize when your child is stressed, however you may notice mood swings, changes in sleep patterns, headaches, stomachaches and even acting out behaviors. What is most important is that we as parents are available to help our children deal with these stressors. They may not want to talk, but just being there for them is important. Spend quality time with them; ask how their day was at school. They will know that you care and sometimes are more apt to share information when asked. When they are ready to talk, you can work together to come up with some solutions to the problem. Maybe spending more time together is the key, adding or eliminating after-school activities or getting involved in an exercise program. Also proper rest and good nutrition are important for a child’s mental health and wellbeing.


When kids won’t talk and their symptoms of stress concern you, you may need to consult a professional for help. Remind your children that stress is normal. Let your children know it is OK to feel lonely, scared or angry. But you also want to let them know that it is OK to seek additional help from a friend, teacher or counselor. The most important thing is that the child knows you care. For additional information on this and other topics, log onto www.ParentCentral.Net.

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