Teenology 101

Electronic Music, raves, and substance use

DJ partyI’ve heard advertisments on the radio recently for a popular electronic music concert festival. Music festivals are often a place for young people to gather, create memories, and just enjoy their favorite artisits. While I am a big fan of live music, summer music festivals have been associated with drug overdoses in the past. The concert venues do their best to keep the festivals clean by having security present, a screening process for entry, and help available, but there is still a risk that people will get high. Since the summer is coming along with many different outdoor festivals, it’s timely to provide parents and teens with an update on some newer substances that may make an appearance. Read full post »

Body image and acceptance

I was looking at a social media page recently and saw a video that struck a cord with me. There is a new video campaign that portrays girls ages 5-11 years old with curly hair. These girls tell all the things they dislike about their hair. In the end, the mothers of the girls show them how positive and amazing it is to be unique. The final message to the consumer is that people are more likely to be accepting of themselves if those around them also have positive self-image (i.e. the girls will love their curls if their own moms love their hair). The purpose of the campaign is to sell hair products, but watching this video reminded me not only of my patients, who often come to see me with poor self-esteem and distorted body image, but of my own youth. See video here Read full post »

Adolescence, legal age, and fake ID’s

parents yellingI was chatting with a friend who mentioned that she caught her own teen with a fake ID. Her son is a good kid: he is on the honor roll, in extracurricular activities, has a great social group, and doesn’t get into trouble. So she was extremely surprised to catch him with a fake ID and even more surprised when he told her the ID’s come in a 3 pack, so he’d just use another one if she confiscated it. This is the second friend who has recently told me they found their teen’s fake ID. Neither of them were expecting their kid to have one. Read full post »

Rape, Bill Cosby, and Advice

teencut-150x150Sexual assault is a subject that can be uncomfortable to talk about for many reasons: there is stigma and blame for victims, no parent wants to think it could happen to their child, and no parent wants to think their child could be a perpetrator. Recent media events have outlined allegations that Bill Cosby drugged an assaulted numerous women. We’re not here to give opinions about his innocence or guilt, but this is an opportunity to talk about this problem. Dr. Anne-Marie Amies Oelschlager, Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecologist, is our guest blogger. She gives her perspective on sexual assault and offers sound advice for anyone who has been a victim. Read full post »

e-cigarettes and commercials

e-cigaretteRecently, I had a rare opportunity to watch cable TV in the evening. As I sunk into the sofa I heard something that probably hasn’t been heard on TV in decades: “as a cigarette smoker, I’m always looking for the best puff.” I looked up and saw a healthy appearing young man describe the benefits of a new cigarette. At this point I was speechless! This was the first of two different commercials for vaporized cigarettes or e-cigarettes, that I saw over the course of the evening. The second featured attractive scientists in a lab creating a cigarette with the newest technology that gave “efficient” puffs. Unlike the pharmaceutical commercials that I’m now accustomed to hearing, neither mentioned any potential dangers or side effects of nicotine. Neither really mentioned the word nicotine at all. Read full post »

Measles outbreaks, amusement parks, and vaccinations

Flu or allergy shot. This image is available exclusively on Istock.I took a bit of a break from blogging to expand my family over the holiday season. Returning from maternity leave this week, one of the first headlines I noticed in my email inbox was regarding the measles outbreak that is currently in progress at a major theme park in California. As a pediatrician and now mother of two, I take my children to venues geared toward fun on a regular basis. There are playdates, birthday parties, museums, and many trips to the airport to fly to see family. My older daughter is more comfortable at the airport than at preschool! Considering whether or not they could be infected with a life threatening illness is not typically at the top of my worry list, and I would argue that no parent should have to worry about disease when taking their children to have a fun time. Read full post »

New Year, New You? Reflecting on Success and Setting Goals for the Future

New year 2015This week, of course, many people are making their New Year’s resolutions.  I find that I always have a long list of things I’d like to do in the new year: for example, this coming year I want to read more books, keep my house clean, exercise more, cook new recipes, keep in better touch with old friends…the list goes on and on.  I find that this time of year is a great opportunity for families to set goals toward becoming healthier and happier in the new year.  So, how can you and your teen make resolutions that will be sustainable and achievable?

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Tips for surviving the holidays with teens

Family holiday mealHolidays mean vacation: days where teens are out of school with little to occupy their time and potential for comments of feeling bored. The holiday seasons between Fall and Winter encompass a wide range of cultural and religious themes from Eid, to Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, Christmas to Kwanza. What all of these holidays share is the importance of family. However, a normal part of adolescent development is pulling away from parents and traditional family values. This time of year, parents may hear more requests for gifts than for special traditions at family gatherings. Cooking, cleaning, and anticipating family conflict can cause a lot of pressure for parents and teens.  So how can parents continue to make fond memories and include all household members?

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Addressing teen substance use: Post 4 How to talk with your teen about alcohol poisoning

In this post, our guest blogger Lisa Chinn LMHC, CDP will discuss how to talk to your teen about alcohol poisoning. She has written this series from her perspective as a chemical dependency professional for adolescents. This is the 4th post in our series on addressing substance use in teens.

How to talk with your teen about alcohol poisoning. (Please keep in mind, this is about alcohol poisoning, and will not cover other substances that affect the central nervous system.)

Since alcohol is one of the most widely available and commonly used substances by teens, it is important to help teens understand the dangers of alcohol poisoning. When teens drink in social settings, they typically have the intent to “get drunk.” In contrast, adults may have one or two drinks in a sitting and they are usually done. Yes, there are exceptions to these generalizations, but when I hear teens talk about their drinking habits, they tend to report excessive drinking; most of the time generally drinking multiple beverages or binge drinking within a few minutes.  Teens may not understand the danger of drinking “a lot” of alcohol in a short amount of time. In this post I’ve mentioned a few things parents can share with their teen about the dangers of alcohol. Read full post »

Addressing teen substance use: Post 3 The privilege of driving

This is the 3rd post in our series on teen substance abuse by guest blogger Lisa Chinn LMHC, CDP. In this series she offers her perspective as a chemical dependency professional for adolescents.

Over the years, if I received 10 cents (inflation taken into consideration) every time I heard “I drive better when I am smoking weed.” OR “My friend drives better when they are using.” I would be SO MUCH closer to retirement. Ok, all kidding aside, many teens who are using substances actually believe they drive better under the influence. Most teens know they shouldn’t drink and drive, but I’ve encountered many teens who believe they can smoke marijuana and drive. These same teens often believe they drive BETTER when they smoke marijuana. This blog post isn’t about proving whether someone can drive “better or worst” under the influence, but about what happens if your teen gets into an accident. Remember parents: When your teens start to drive, they are under YOUR car insurance. Read full post »