Archive for 2011

Why Smart Teens Do Stupid Things

A comment I often hear from parents is, “She is so smart, how could she (get pregnant/ take drugs/ drive drunk/ shoplift/ send out naked pictures of herself/ trust a man she met online/ get that tattoo when she’s going to job interviews…)?” Obviously, the options are endless, but the real issue is- how do teenagers who are very intelligent, often do well in school, and obviously understand many adult concepts, do something phenomenally short-sighted, impulsive, or just plain dumb?

We are tempted to associate academic intelligence or cultural literacy with other forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence or maturity. To us, it makes sense that a teen who excels in one form of intelligence would be advanced in others.

It’s true that successful teens do tend to have positive character traits. Many teens who excel academically, or in more intellectual hobbies such as debate, youth government, or social justice work, possess more organization and tenacity than your average teen. However, teenage emotional regulation, judgment, and impulsiveness are usually underdeveloped at best. It’s not their fault- their brains are still developing full adult capacity for these traits. Read full post »

Teen Prescription Drug Use

How many adults have a medicine cabinet full of drugs?  Perhaps you’re saving that painkiller your dentist prescribed ‘just in case of emergency’ or the 10 pills for anxiety your doctor gave you for a case of stage fright? Maybe a grandparent has medications for blood pressure or a heart condition that were forgotten about.

Well, a friend recently told me a new term for a not-so-new trend in teen prescription drug use: “salad bowling”.  The concept is simple: teens go to their parents’ medicine cabinet and dump all the drugs into a salad bowl.  At the next party, set the bowl so friends can take a handful.  This trend is dangerous in its own right, but add alcohol to the mix and the consequences can be deadly. Read full post »

How to talk to your teen about drugs

Talking to your teen about drugs can be a daunting task.  How do you start the conversation?  Should you mention your previous use?  Should you wait to bring it up only if you catch your teen using drugs or alcohol?  We asked our chemical dependence professionals what their tips for parents are and Kelly Kerby provided her top 10 list of how to talk to your teen about drugs.

 

 

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Teen Dating and Teen Drinking

Many parents fearfully await their teen showing interest in dating, worrying about everything from broken hearts to sexually transmitted diseases. A recent study in the American Sociological Review states that teens who date are more likely to drink alcohol (due to added opportunities for peer pressure and bad examples from their partner’s friends.) But don’t revoke their dating privileges just yet.

Forming romantic attachments is an important part of growing up. Dating during adolescence helps teen discover what qualities they want in a romantic partner, learn appropriate behavior in a dating or committed relationship, and learn important lessons about trust and consequences.

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Can Eating Right Help Prevent Teen Depression?

Australian researchers at Deakin University recently studied 3000 adolescents to find out if their diet influenced their mental health. Controlling for many other possible contributing factors, they found that adolescents who ate more fruits and vegetables had better mental health in the long-term than their compatriots, who shunned produce and ate more processed foods.

“Food as medicine” is a common mantra heard in some nutrition and alternative health circles. Of course, food can literally be medicine, such as oranges for scurvy or whole grains for a vitamin B deficiency. Food can also act as medicine for chronic diseases like diabetes, where a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and health proteins can reduce or reverse symptoms. Compounds in green tea, red wine, garlic, and many other foods and drinks are being researched for disease-fighting properties.

So do fruits and vegetables have a compound in them that fights depression?

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Teens Texting and Compromising Photos

In this age of technology, teens may be tempted to take photos of themselves in compromising positions and send those to friends.  These pictures may be of themselves at a party drinking alcohol or even a picture of them in their underwear (or less) to a boyfriend or girlfriend.  They may think it’s not a big deal to send a private picture to one recipient, but that one ‘innocent’ photo may then be passed along to friends via text messages or posts on social networking sites.  Even if the picture is posted on a social networking site with ‘private settings’ with teens thinking only their friends are seeing them, the recent media coverage on celebrity nude photos shows us just how those compromising pictures can come back to haunt them later. Read full post »

10 Tips for Talking to Your Teen About Sex

A recent study investigated where teenagers get their information on sex and sexual health. Can you guess what the number 1 influence was? It wasn’t friends, and it wasn’t celebrities, and it wasn’t the internet… it was their parents and families.

What’s more, the study showed that parents and guardians greatly underestimate how much their discussions about sexuality impact their teens. Most assumed that the majority of information came from peers.

The upshot is: Teens are listening. So now it’s time to talk. You need to talk to your teen about sex before a friend or a movie gives them information that could be harmful or wildly inaccurate. Here are some tips on having that conversation:

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Combating Insomnia in Teens

We asked a colleague for helpful hints for parents on how to combat insomnia in teens.  This post is a nice follow-up to our post on sleep in adolescents that focused more on why teens may be more fatigued than we’d expect. If you have other ideas for how to help your teen sleep, please let us know!

 

 

 

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Adolescent Transition to Adult Health Care

Adolescent transition to adult health care is important for every teen. Teens with and without special health care needs may have difficulties with transitioning from pediatric to adult focused medical care. Think about the last time you visited your teen’s pediatric provider’s office… what did the waiting room look like?  Was there a fish tank?  Did the office have child friendly toys, magazines, and books?  Were the colors bright and cheerful?  Now consider your last visit to see your adult medical provider.  My guess is the walls were gray or muted, there was no fish tank, and the magazines included Newsweek and Golf.  Not exactly teen friendly!

Of course, the transition from pediatric to adult centered care involves much more than just a change in scenery.  It includes a shift in focus from the family making decisions, to the autonomy of being responsible for one’s self.  Teens and emerging adults will be expected to know how to make follow-up appointments, arrange for laboratory testing, and get prescriptions filled.  They’ll need to know what medications they take, what insurance coverage they have, and what their medical and family history consists of.  This transition is not just a challenge for the teens, it’s hard for the family to make the shift as well! Read full post »

Traditional Bullying in Teens

Bullying is one of the most difficult experiences a child or teen can have.  Besides the direct injury, the aftermath of bullying—the self-doubt, the fear, the sense of isolation– can haunt the victim for years, often casting a shadow into adulthood.  Parents armed with an understanding of bullying, and supplied with information and resources about how to help, can play a critical role in preventing bullying or in minimizing the consequences of the experience.

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