Teenology 101

Transgender Youth: pronouns and names

What’s in a name? When my husband and I chose the names of our kids, we thought a lot about them. A name sticks with you, it’s what you write on forms and papers everyday, it’s the first thing your teacher reads about you when they see their roster for the year. People will make assumptions and have ideas about your just by reading your name (think about how many actors and actresses changed their given names to have more appeal!). So for someone whose gender identity doesn’t match up to their given name, a name can also validate (or not) who they feel they are.

Gender identity is our personal perception of our gender. It is innate and very much based on the individual. Gender may or may not align with chromosomes and anatomy. For Some, gender is the opposite of chromosomes. For others, gender is more fluid. Some languages do not have gender categories, but the English language does. When describing my own children, I often use the pronouns she and her. My oldest child identified herself as a girl around age 2 1/2. I recall it very vividly (plus it was only a year ago. I was at the store buying diapers. There was a pink box and a blue box. Previously she would ask for the blue box (which had a pirate and car), but this particular day she was adamant that she wanted the pink box. I was a bit shocked and asked her why. Her response: ‘because I’m a girl.” Read full post »

Concussion in teens

Guest Post by: Jennifer Hannon – University of Washington School of Nursing

You’re at your teen’s high school on a Saturday morning watching the big soccer game. Your child goes up for a header and clashes with a member of the opposing team and they both go down. There’s a pause, but eventually your child gets back up and continues playing. During half time, your child tells the coach that he has a headache and the coach does a field side concussion test. The results: your child has a concussion.

Now what?

A concussion is not just a temporary headache; it is a traumatic brain injury that can cause short term and long lasting effects in school, at work, at home, and in relationships. According to the Center for Brain Health, “depending on the size and location of the injury [traumatic brain injury], cognitive deficits and behavioral issues often emerge1.” Some of these long lasting issues can include memory problems, lack of inhibition, increased anger, increased agitation, personality changes, lack of concentration, problems with organization and problem solving, and language difficulties1. These are not problems that your child needs or wants while trying to play sports, get good grades, and get into college, especially if it is preventable.

Some tips to preventing a concussion during sports according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)2:

  • The CDC says that your child should always wear a well-fitting helmet during contact sports such as football, ice hockey, boxing, lacrosse; as well as when skating, playing baseball, snowboarding, horseback riding, skiing, and sledding.
  • Always play by the rules of the sport.
  • Practice good sportsmanship.
  • If you have a concussion or suspect you may have one, do not return to play until you have been evaluated and given permission by your doctor in order to prevent further injury and possibly even death.

How to recognize a concussion, some symptoms include2:

  • Headache, nausea, vomiting, clumsiness, dizziness, blurry vision, feeling tired, sensitivity to light and noise, and numbness or tingling.
  • Irritability, sadness, anxiety, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating/focusing, difficulty remembering things, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.

If you suspect you or your child has a concussion visit your primary care provider to find out how to best heal from this injury, when it is safe to return to sports and school, and how to prevent it from happening again. Without proper healing time and treatment, the chance of a repeat concussion and severe injury from such is drastically increased. Help you and your child, keep an eye out for preventing a concussion.


  1. Concussion | Center for BrainHealth. 2015; http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/research/research_topic/concussions.
  2. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Heads up: preventing concussion. http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/pdf/Heads_Up_factsheet_english-a.pdf. Accessed on 5-3-2015.


Concussion and depression

girls-basketballTips from guest blogger: Dr. Carolyn McCarty

A recent study (from 9/13/16) on concussion in teens caught my attention this week. Sports related concussions in teens can lead to multiple symptoms including dizziness, headache, fatigue, poor sleep, poor concentration, and mood disturbances such as depression and anxiety. Though symptoms usually resolve within a few weeks, they may linger. For teens who continue to have post-concussive symptoms, the results can be debilitating. They may miss school, fall behind in their classes, become socially isolated (especially if unable to participate in their sports or activities of interest), and have symptoms of irritability, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. Treatment for teens who have prolonged symptoms can be a challenge. Read full post »

Teens and depression

Depression is a topic that can be hard to tackle. If you’re a teen who is depressed, you may feel shame, guilt, or like no one will hear you if you try to reach out for help. If you’re a parent of a depressed teen, you may feel helpless or frustrated; you may even be unaware. An interview of a teen who struggled with depression caught my attention this week. She provided some insight on how she had symptoms during 7th grade, she didn’t feel like she could talk to any adults in her life. As she searched for ways to manage her mood, she ultimately found a path towards improved communication with a parent and a voice to speak up about a topic often swept under the rug.

To read the interview click here.

Read full post »

Sending your teen off to college

My conversations with colleagues and friends have been dominated by the discussions of two topics: politics and sending my kid off to college. Both are full of emotions and both are full of opinions and ideas. As many of my colleagues are dropping off their first born kids at university campuses, they’ve shared their thoughts, fears, excitement, and emotions. Most of the things they’ve discussed with me would not have crossed my mind! These discussions are ones I hope to remember when I’m in the same situation and I’d like to share some of the tips I’ve learned with you. Read full post »

Transgender Youth: Defining Gender

Thinking back to my first pregnancy, I recall going to an ultrasound appointment to look at the infant’s anatomy. The ultra sonographer asked my husband and me if we wanted to know if we were having a girl or a boy. We weren’t even parents yet, but everyone in our social circle was asking if we knew ‘what we were having,’ so we responded ‘yes!’ In our culture, we automatically think about gender in binary terms: girl or boy. This way of thinking is convenient for people whose gender aligns with the sex assigned at birth: it allows grandparents to purchase pink or blue baby clothes and helps parents pick a name. In our culture, identifying your gender  comes up with everything from filling out job applications to choosing which public restroom to use.

But what about those babies who do not have a binary sex assignment (such as those who are intersex)? What about youth who identify as a gender other than what their chromosomes say? What about those people who don’t feel male or female, but identify as somewhere in between? Just because something is ‘convenient’ for the majority doesn’t make it correct. Read full post »

Processing recent tragedies and violence

Guest Post: Dr. Raina Vachhani Voss

My colleagues and I recently had a conversation about how we, as providers, can have an impact and a voice when responding shootings in schools, bars, churches – places that we think of as being safe. When we meet with teens in the clinic, amidst conversations about relationships, emotions, and other health concerns, we do our best to check in with our patients about this topic. How they have been feeling about what they see on the news? How has it affected their mood? Do they feel safe in their community? Read full post »

Eating Well over summer break

Family mealWith the high rates of obesity in our country, families nationwide are trying to find ways to promote healthy and balanced eating. One common conundrum is that finances are often tight and buying fresh produce that only lasts a few days before wilting, shopping at the farmer’s market, or buying organic food just may not be feasible. Incorporating exercise into a busy day is also challenging. A research study last year that showed kids (regardless of household income) on summer break may not be making the best choices around food, so for parents, discussing healthy balanced eating year round with children and teens is important. Read full post »

Should my teen have a cell phone

person textingWith the majority of the adult US population having smartphones, it’s nearly inevitable that tweens and young teens (kids ages 10-13) will ask parents for a cell phone too. My oldest is 4 and she routinely asks to watch the tablet or look at videos on my phone. Whether or not your family provides a cell phone to your tween is a completely personal decision and you may be considering one for many reasons (safety, the ability to know where your teen is, etc). Here are some of the things to consider (that you’re likely already thinking!): Read full post »

Should My Son Get the HPV Vaccine

Guest post by: Rachel Moore, UW School of Nursing

Many parents are wondering why their sons need to get a vaccine that they’ve heard was developed to prevent cervical cancer when their sons don’t have a cervix! Parents may feel confused or frustrated when a health care provider tells them that their son needs the three shot series starting when they are 11 or 12 because they are sure that their child is not sexually active and that’s how you get HPV right? There are a couple misunderstandings that need to be cleared up. Read full post »