How to Talk to your Teen

All Articles in the Category ‘How to Talk to your Teen’

Mean Tweens

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A colleague was recently talking with me about her 12 year old daughter, a tween (between childhood and adolescence). She mentioned how mean the girls are in her middle school. Now her daughter is actually quite popular and has many friends, but there is a tween in her class who seems jealous and has made a conscious effort to disrupt her daughter’s social life. Her story of mean tweens reminds me of the movie “Mean Girls.”  Tweens are in early adolescence. Developmentally, they are not yet thinking of how their actions impact the people around them. Read full post »

Teen Girls, boyfriends, money, and sex

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A recent news story caught my eye. It described the findings of a research study that linked teen girls, boyfriends, and sex. The study found that teen girls who relied on their boyfriends as the main source of their spending money were 10% less likely to use a condom when sexually active with their boyfriend than teens who had another source of income (like parents, grandparents, or job). Read full post »

How to Get Your Teen to Lose Weight, Part 6: Practical Suggestions and a Wrap-Up

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So we’ve gone through a bunch of ideas and thoughts for helping your teen lose weight. You may have noticed I’ve spent a lot of time discussing emotional health and self-esteem! Losing weight is a long, involved process that involves an investment in one’s health and well-being… which calls for self-confidence and self-respect. But there are more tangible suggestions for teens to lose weight and gain health.

It is normal to want a quick fix. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Or at least, there isn’t a safe one. Losing weight is slow, and hard, and requires a reframing of habits and environment. As humans, we respond better to  a “do” than a “don’t,” which is why focusing on exercise and increasing healthy habits works much better than trying not to do what we are used to.

Losing weight is not just a matter of willpower. There is a wealth of research on this. Our brains are not built in a manner that allows us to simply “flex” our willpower and steadily lose weight over a long time. This is why it is so difficult!

Here are a few more suggestions I didn’t fit into the last 5 posts. Remember to check in with your primary care provider for other ideas and suggestions!

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How To Get Your Teen To Lose Weight, Part 5: Helpful Online Resources for Self-Esteem & Media Literacy

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As I mentioned in my last post, teens who want to lose weight need to be able to value and respect their bodies as they are, even if they are seeking to lose weight. It’s hard to find reliable resources that promote positive body image and self-respect for teens who are striving to be healthier. In this post, I’ve listed some websites that have some positive messages and good information (although they aren’t perfect.)

 I originally was planning on having a huge list of links for you to choose from. However, I could only find 5 sites that I really felt were valuable. These sites are good for both teens and adults, accept that strengthening body image and self-esteem is key for emotional and physical health, and don’t recommend unhealthy weight loss practices.

I also think it’s important for any teen, and especially an overweight teen, to see information about how big a role the media plays in shaping our self-image and perceptions of others. Some of these sites focus on media literacy and understanding that what the media presents to us as the ideal of beauty and weight (and  life goals, gender roles, and pretty much everything else) is not based in reality.

These websites have a ton of information, for both you and your teen. Take some time to click around and see what they have to offer! Read full post »

Teens and Talking Back

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Recall the last conversation you had with your teen. Maybe it was less of a conversation and more of a disagreement or argument? It is frustrating to have someone you love become upset and argue with you, but in the case of your teens, this ‘talking back’ may actually be a positive thing.

One of the normal developmental stages of adolescence is to push back on boundaries. Teens are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. This means they may spend less time with family and more with friends. It also means they may actively disagree with boundaries and rules parents put in place. Having a teen (or teens) can be exhausting! You see them accomplish great things (like winning a state championship, or getting a scholarship to college), but you also watch them make mistakes and choices that you thoroughly disagree with. Of course, the goal for parents of teens is to raise them into adults who are successful and caring. Those arguments you have over what clothes they can wear or which party they cannot go to, may be shaping your teen into the adult you want them to be. Read full post »

Cancer and Teens

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We all hope that everyone in our family has a long healthy life, but sometimes health is put in jeopardy. Each year around 70,000 teens and young adults ages 15-35 are diagnosed with cancer. With the diagnosis of cancer, many people envision bald heads, the nausea associated with chemotherapy, and the threat of death. For teens facing the diagnosis, there are many other things that come to mind.

Adolescence is already a time of change. Teens are pulling away from family, spending more time with friends, experimenting in many different ways (relationships, sports, driving, sometimes drugs and alcohol), and really trying to figure out who they are as an individual. The diagnosis of cancer can threaten this normal development. With the diagnosis comes treatment. Treatment often involves chemotherapy and/or radiation that can involve hospitalization. If a teen is in the hospital, they aren’t in school. This means they aren’t going to classes, hanging out with friends, and learning to drive. All of this can lead to falling behind in course work, lost relationships with peers, and even poor self esteem and depression. Read full post »

How to Get Your Teen to Lose Weight, Part 3: Exercise

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Exercise is good for us. It strengthens our bones and our muscles, and keeps our joints in working order. It prevents and can reverse high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and insomnia. It is the best way to avoid heart disease. It improves our immune system. Exercise has been clinically shown to improve mental health, including helping to alleviate depression and anxiety. It reduces the risk of dementia in our older years. And, of course, it helps people to maintain a healthy weight. With the exception of some people who cannot exercise for medical reasons (like a heart problem or eating disorder), reaping the benefits of exercise is one of the best things we can do for our health. Exercise is highly recommended for teens who want to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, or just maintain a healthy body and mind.

But, in general, Americans don’t get enough exercise. There are numerous reasons for that. Some of them are simply our society changing; we don’t work in the fields, walk miles to school or work, or spend hours hanging up clothes to dry. Video games and personal computers, which involve lots of sitting, are relatively recent inventions. With “urban sprawl” comes less of an ability to walk to destinations, as it’s not efficient or sometimes even feasible not to drive. Some areas are simply not conducive to outdoor exercise: they lack sidewalks, have high crime rates, or are easy to get lost in.

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Social Networking Sites and Teen communication

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Teens have always found ways to communicate that exclude adults. When I was a teen, we used slang terms like ‘fresh’ and ‘word’ to speak to each other. Cell phones were only used by the select few who were wealthy, pagers were still cool, and email was a brand new idea that was mainly used by people in corporate America to send office memos.

Teens in the 21st century have the advantage of having amazing technology at their disposal to use for communication. Chat rooms used to scare parents in the past. Now teens can text friends all night long, access the internet 24 hours a day with smart phones, or talk to friends who’ve moved away using webcams that are a standard feature on laptops. Social networking sites are now the place where the latest gossip is shared, or the newest ideas are exchanged. Our lives are no longer shared only with those who can come visit us at home, they are shared with friends (and strangers) around the world in cyberspace. Read full post »

Teens and carpooling

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Remember when you first got your driver’s license?  Did your friends want to ride with you to school, parties, sports events? I know mine did.  I had no idea how dangerous carpooling as a teen could be until I had the frightening experience of spinning a 360 degree turn on a 4 lane road with my best friend in the front passenger seat.  We’d been talking, I was inexperienced behind the wheel, and was distracted. It scared me enough to reconsider driving with a full car that winter.

We recently had a post on teenage driving and its risks. In Washington state, graduated drivers licensing is in place to help increase experience behind the wheel before allowing full driving rights, and decrease teen accidents. But even with the added experience, teens are still at risk when driving, especially if  their car is packed with friends. Read full post »

Helping Eating Disordered Teens Cope with the Holidays

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The winter holidays are a time for family, celebration… and eating more than we do the other ten months of the year. I’m exaggerating (kind of), but there’s no doubt that our holidays are focused around foods. Right now, in the Adolescent Medicine office, there are at least three plates of homemade cookies from three different staff members, plus some salted caramels and walnut fudge.

Most people have no problem with having a few delicious cookies, but for teens with eating disorders, the rich foods flying around can cause severe distress. Teens that restrict their diets may not be able to resist a cookie or two, and then suffer intense guilt and shame. Teens that binge-eat may find themselves overwhelmed with- and binging on- the ready sweets and treats that the holidays present.

You may have a teen with an eating disorder, or you may have a relative or friend who does. These are some tips to help make the holidays easier for these teens and their families. My work was cut out for me with this post; our nurse Gail Allen already came up with a patient education flyer to give to families during the holidays, and I am simply paraphrasing her work! Read full post »