Teenology 101

Two Nobel Prize Winners, Two Worthy Teen Role Models

malalaIf you’re looking for good teen role models, you might start with the recent winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

We have all heard of Malala Yousafzai, although a lot of us didn’t hear about her until she was shot. Before that, starting at age 11, she wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC about being a girl under the Taliban regime. She gained international public recognition as a speaker and activist, and in 2012 was the victim of an assassination attempt.

Luckily, she survived, and maintained her courage and passion. Continuing to campaign for the rights of all children to receive an education, she was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize this year. At age 17, she is the first teenager to do so.

Another truly heroic person recognized with the Peace Prize this year is Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian man who has dedicated his life to ending child slavery and forced labor, as well as child marriage. To date, he has rescued almost eighty thousand children from child labor. Read full post »

Autism and Teens

teenandgrandpaGuest Author Siobhan Thomas-Smith

4th Year Medical Student

University of Washington School of Medicine

During high school I had the privilege of volunteering at Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Stanley Stamm Camp with several pre-teens and teenagers who were learning how to navigate the difficulties of adolescence with the added challenge of living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I was inspired by the courage that it took to face these battles. The psychosocial difficulties of middle school and high school can be overwhelming in and of themselves. There is social pressure to conform, academic pressure to achieve, and a new biological urge to seek out intimate relationships. For an individual on the autism spectrum, these physiologic and psychological changes can be difficult to comprehend and can complicate both the joys and difficulties of transitioning to adulthood. Read full post »

Days Of Calamine Past: Is Your Teen Protected Against Chickenpox?

chickenpoxDespite being only three years old at the time, I have vivid memories of having chickenpox, also known as varicella. They mostly involve wandering around naked, crying, and miserable, with socks tied onto my hands so I wouldn’t scratch. I also took multiple cool Aveeno baths, and had orange Calamine lotion painted over my body. Luckily I had no complications, and all that linger are a couple of pockmark scars (I learned how to get the socks off.) Read full post »

What is a LARC?

IUDWith nearly half of teens initiating sexual activity by the time they graduate from high school, discussing pregnancy prevention is extremely important. Abstinence is the only way to 100% guarantee that a person will not become pregnant or obtain a sexually transmitted infection, but if a teen does become sexually active, health care providers can counsel them on the options that are most effective at preventing unwanted consequences. In this post we’ll focus on pregnancy prevention.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics provided a policy statement recommending long acting reversible contraception (LARCs) for adolescent females. LARCs come in two forms: an implantable rod that contains a hormone and is placed in the arm or an intrauterine device (IUD). There are 3 different IUDs available for teens. One contains copper and lasts for 10 years, 2 others contain a hormone and last from 3 to 5 years. We’ve posted about LARCs before and have described their safety and benefits, but a recent study was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine that showcased amazing results when teens were provided with accurate information about LARCs and chose them as a form of birth control. Read full post »

Thoughts on Teen Safety From The U.S.-Mexico Border

teen couple youngA lot of what we post on this blog informs parents of teens about threats to their child’s safety and security, or how to empower yourself or your teen to prevent harm. However, we tend to forget that in a global sense, our teens are doing very well. Sanitation, preventative health care, vaccination, and rapid treatment of diseases are available to most teens in the U.S. We should never ignore that within our own borders, some teens are faced with violence regularly; however, American teens are safe overall- much safer than, say, teens in Somalia or Afghanistan. Whatever you might think of our government structure, it is more or less intact. While food insecurity is common in our country, it’s very unusual for a teen to starve to death for lack of resources.

Our relative safety was driven home for me over the past week, which I spent at the U.S.-Mexico border. Read full post »

Teens and stress: signs, symptoms, and relaxation techniques

angryteenIt’s the Fall and families are starting to get back into the routine of balancing school, work, extracurricular activities, and family time. When I think back to my own high school years, I’m amazed at the amount of tasks I had to juggle! Everything from household chores, to homework; I was a musician so had practices and performances in addition to a part time job. While most teens are not under the stress of supporting a household, their daily agendas can be just as jam packed as an adult’s. The difference is that teens are still developing their coping strategies for how to manage stress. Read full post »

Talking About “Celebgate” With Your Teen- A Guest Post by Dr. Ellen Selkie

ellenRecently, as you may have seen in the news, nude photos and videos of multiple female celebrities were leaked online. The leak started with a hack of Apple’s iCloud—an online server where photos from the women’s phones were backed up and stored. To me, this is a teachable moment for parents about privacy and online content, and comes on the heels of a post we did recently about sexting in middle school students. Read full post »

Pedestrian Safety

FriendshipAs the summer comes to an end, kids are going to be heading back to school. This means all of the drivers near school zones will see an increase in pedestrian traffic in the mornings and afternoons. As drivers, we’re reminded to slow down by signs in the school zone that mark the speed limit at 20 mph, but pedestrians may not always be aware of how to stay safe with the morning rush hour traffic. In this post, we received tips and advice on pedestrian safety from Dr. Alex Quistberg with the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. Read full post »

Addressing Traumatic Events in the Media

family watching tvOver the past 2 weeks, multiple events have been receiving media coverage. These range from the death of a beloved celebrity to the shooting of an unarmed African American young man in Missouri; reaching as close as the death of a shooting instructor by a very young student to as far as the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  These events often stir up strong emotions as well as strong opinions amongst colleagues and friends. Teens are using social media on a regular basis and are likely well aware of the trending news stories. As parents, how do we address these events with our children? Some of the topics may hit close to home and others may seem like they are happening a world away, but all of them can lead to conversations and provide opportunities for reflection and learning. Read full post »

Another Reason For Teens to Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

sodasWhen my mother was young, she lived in rural South Africa, and soda was a rare treat. She only had soda (somewhat ironically) after her twice-yearly dentist visit, when she and my grandmother would stop into a cafe to order one. She continues her habits to this day, and very rarely drinks anything carbonated and sweetened.

For many teens today, sweetened beverages are daily treats, or even enjoyed a few times a day. Teens drinks not only soda, but energy drinks, sweetened iced teas, and other sugary concoctions. About three-quarters of teens have at least one sugar-sweetened drink daily.

We’ve discussed healthy eating before, and how any sugar-containing drink should be limited to special occasions. However, an intriguing new study may point to an additional benefit of avoiding sweetened beverages: improved brain function. Read full post »