Teenology 101

Having The Talk with Your Teen

birds and beesRecently a friend described how she’d had ‘the talk’ with her teen son. She felt it was time to sit down and talk specifically about relationships (including sex) because her son has a girlfriend and they spend a lot of time together. Our conversation about her experience was entertaining and enlightening. She described how it was awkward for her, but she knew she needed to get her concerns out in the open. She also recognized that ‘the talk’ is really just the start of an ongoing dialogue about relationships and intimacy. Here were some of our take away tips for parents of teens who may be reluctant to talk about sex, feelings, and romantic encounters. Read full post »

Permanent Body Art

Guest Post by Dr. Laura Burkhart

“Mom, Dad can I get a tattoo?”

It’s the question your teen may have already asked. Or maybe they haven’t yet, but your waiting for the day they will. In the past tattoos might have been seen as a rebellious sign of those looking for a counter culture marker to set themselves apart from mainstream society. However, the art of tattooing has over time begun to merge with the norm and it isn’t uncommon to see a spectrum of people show off their ink. However, just because permanent body art has become more common, it is not without risks. In this post I will go through the art of tattooing and scarification so you can start an open conversation with your teen. Read full post »

Mindfulness ideas for parents of teens

sleeping lady AKEvery day as parents we juggle multiple demands. Teens are learning the process of balancing responsibilities, nurturing relationships, and making time for self care. This is no easy feat! In the 21st century, we have smart phones and tablets, voicemail and email, social media sites and instant messaging. Our friends, colleagues and co-workers can contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are all accustomed to both receiving and providing instant responses. I know that personally, if I receive a text from a friend, I feel obligated to respond as soon as possible! How do we balance the demands of day to day life with time for self care? This is the question that has prompted me to think about incorporating more ‘mindfulness’ into my life. Read full post »

Teens with Developmental Delay are Teens Too

Guest Post by Dr. Emily Gallagher

At Seattle Children’s Hospital we have families coming from around  the Pacific Northwest for a wide array of illness, disorders, and needs. In the Craniofacial Center, children with disorders of the head and face receive ongoing care, often from birth through adolescence. These disorders are often related to birth defects or genetic syndromes. The Craniofacial Center houses a specific clinic for patients with a genetic disorder called “22q11.2-related disorder”. This is a common genetic syndrome caused by differences in the amount of DNA in this area, usually missing (deletion) or additional (duplication) genetic material. 22q is characterized by varied physical issues that may affect many different parts of the body (such as heart abnormalities, cleft palate, or speech disorders), as well as developmental delay.

In pediatrics, we often focus on the development of infants and young children with disability. However, as they age into the teen years, needs are sometimes missed. I asked a colleague for information on some of the needs she sees in her adolescent patients with developmental delay. Read full post »

Vitamin D and teen health

beachGuest Post by Dr. Raina Vachhani

What’s all the fuss about vitamin D?

The short answer is that our bodies are built to make vitamin D using sunlight, and for us folks living up north, that isn’t really happening during the winter.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that our bodies use to help us absorb the calcium we eat, which we need to help make strong bones. Without vitamin D, calcium levels can drop, causing long-term effects on the strength of bones. The teens and twenties are the most critical time to build strong, healthy bones in order to avoid having weak bones and a risk of bone fractures later in life.

There is a lot of exciting research going on to figure out what other roles vitamin D might play. Some scientists think that low vitamin D levels could be related to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, infections, and neurological diseases, though most of these links haven’t been proven yet. The reality is that most people have no symptoms to indicate to them (or their doctors) that their level of vitamin D is low. Read full post »

Prevention of Substance use – a forum for parents to ask questions

Substance use among adolescents is not a new concern for parents, but with recreational marijuana use being legal for people ages 21 and older in Washington, the changes to laws around marijuana over the past few years have led many parents to ask questions about how to talk with their teens about substance use. Should I tell my teen I’ve used before? How do I keep my teen from abusing drugs? Is it ok for teens to use occasionally? Are drugs really all that harmful? If a drug is legal, does that mean it’s safe? My teen is using, when should I be worried? Read full post »

Should my teen daughter shave?

Guest Post: Dr. Laura Burkhart

How old should my daughter be before she starts shaving? It’s a question that many parents have, but hard to find answers too.

This can be a tough decision to make, but its good to have an open and honest conversation with your daughter. There really isn’t a specific age at which girls should start shaving. It is a personal decision dependent on your family’s cultural and personal beliefs. In our American society, girls can start going through puberty as young as 8 or 9. The normal increase in hormones causes the hair underarms and in the pubic region to grow longer and darker which can often lead to feeling self-conscious around peers. Read full post »

Transition to Adult Care Providers

leahparentWhen our kids are little, we take them to their well child exams in order to ensure they remain healthy. This preventive visit reassures us that they are growing well, meeting development milestones, and offers the opportunity to have our (and our child’s) questions about health answered. As kids enter the teen years, these visits occur less and less often. A friend recently asked my opinion as a pediatrician and adolescent specialist about when teens are too old to go see the pediatrician? This excellent question prompted me to post about the topic. Read full post »

Why are the hours from 3pm-6pm important

We’re all busy… we work, we parent, we try to have a bit of time for self-care. Teens are busy too! Most get up early, go to school, then come home, work on homework and get ready for bed just to start the day again. Over the past few months, I’ve heard multiple times about the importance of a few key hours in a teen’s day: the hours of 3pm-6pm. What is so different about this small part of the day? Read full post »

Preventing Teen Marijuana Abuse

MarijuanaEvery time I meet with a teen for the first time I ask a series of questions. Most are open ended inquiries about their hobbies, their friends and family, and what motivates them to do their best. I also ask a few screening questions to get a sense of whether or not they’re engaging in risky behaviors. A trend I’ve noticed over the past 5 years is that more and more teens are telling me they’ve tried marijuana.

A new documentary called “Marijuana Documentary – Northwest Trees” was created and produced by Ben Grayzel. It features one of our guest bloggers Dr. Leslie Walker and offers commentary from teens and young adults in the Pacific Northwest on marijuana. While I may not condone some of the behaviors featured, I definitely admire the candid responses. Teens talk about availability of marijuana, perceptions of peer use, and discuss whether or not they think it’s helpful or harmful. Read full post »