Author: Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

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 »

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 »

Teen Marijuana Use

Teen marijuana use may seem like a normal part of the high school experience. How many of us know someone who uses or have personally have tried a blunt, a bowl, or a hit off of a friend’s bong?  I remember growing up and hearing my uncle talk about smoking a ‘joint’ with nostalgia as he recalled the 1970’s.  Well, marijuana is still extremely popular and when asked, many teens think it’s healthier than smoking cigarettes. However, marijuana can have major impacts on health and mood. Read full post »

Teen Dating Violence

 

Dating violence is something no parent or family would want for their teen. Deciding when a teen should be allowed to date is tough enough.  Thoughts going through a parent’s mind may include worries about sex or heart break, but how many parents think about abusive relationships?

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Body piercing: What Parents Need to Know

For teens, a body piercing may be a way to rebel or imitate peers, or they may just want another way to accessorize their wardrobe.  Parents and teens both should know a few facts before getting pierced.  From a medical perspective, a piercing is a wound that needs to heal, with all the associated complications that can arise.  Piercings that are not performed with sterilized tools can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as hepatitis or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  In this video link, we speak with a licensed professional body piercer based in Seattle  about what parents should know about body piercing.

 

Health Rights of Teens

Health rights of teens are important for every parent to understand. A major task during the teen years is to navigate the balance between autonomy and parental support.  Developmentally, teenagers are going through the process of maturing: they shift from concrete to more abstract thinking, they question boundaries, and they start to take responsibility for their own health.

This time can be amazingly fun and extremely challenging at the same time.  When it comes to health, teens may seek medical care less often, but when they go, they’ll often be accompanied by parents.  The question I hear from teens and parents alike is “How old do I need to be to consent for my own health care? Do I need to be 18?”  My answer is “It depends.” Read full post »

Chronic illness and transition

Chronic illness and transition to adult health care providers can be a challenging task for parents and teens. Working in a major children’s hospital, most of the teenagers I meet are faced with the daily struggle of living with a chronic illness.  Some of these youth look ‘normal’ on first glance and others might fit the more stereotyped idea of an unwell child.  Adolescence is tough enough to go through if you are completely healthy, but adding a chronic illness on top of that complicates things even more. This post isn’t meant to cover every aspect of living with chronic illness, but just to get parents thinking about how illness and disease can affect a teen that is living with it.

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Family meals equal healthier teens

 Sitting as a family at the same table may seem like a daunting task in our fast paced lives.  We are often racing to and from work, school, and extracurricular activities.  Eating occurs when it’s convenient, which means we sometimes in the car and often on the go.  Believe it or not, taking time to sit and eat as a family can have positive effects on health!

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Teasing about weight hurts

It may seem like normal sibling rivalry to hear brothers and sisters tease each other about their weight.  Parents may even tease a little.  How many people have been at a friend’s home and heard them make a comment to their child such as ‘should you really eat that?’ or ‘you look like you may be gaining a bit of weight’ to a teen who looks healthy to you? Commenting about weight seems like the norm in our society.  Why shouldn’t it be?  We are constantly bombarded with images of unrealistically proportioned models and ads for dieting products.  Magazines are all retouched and Hollywood celebrities wouldn’t dream of being photographed without makeup.

The thing is, all of this negative commentary can impact our health. A recent study of teen girls found that parents’ negative talk about weight was associated with their children having unhealthy and extreme weight control behaviors. This study looked at 356 teen girls from 12 different high schools. Some of the unhealthy weight control behaviors that teens engaged in included skipping meals, smoking cigarettes, taking diet pills or laxatives, vomiting and binge eating, as well as going on a diet. Read full post »

Perfectionism in Teens

I am definitely a ‘type A’ personality; growing up, perfectionism was a trait I had early on. Trying to be the smartest in my class started when I was in kindergarten. My mom still has a picture of me at age 5 with my first student of the month award. I’m not sure why I tried so hard to be perfect; maybe it was being the first born that drove me to dread disappointing my parents or maybe it was just my temperament. My parents had expectations that I would be courteous and obey rules at school as well as finish my homework on time, but never did they tell me I needed to be number one. That was something I came up with all on my own.

Perfectionism may not sound like such a terrible trait. When we hear that term, we think of people who are smart and successful, but as I work with teens more and more, I’ve noticed that perfectionism is not without some downsides. Those teens who strive to be ‘perfect’ may naturally be the most intelligent or the best athletes, but often they are overextending themselves with homework and advanced placement courses or extracurricular activities at the expense of sleep and friendships. Read full post »