Teenology 101

A Photoshopped Fantasy… And Its Effects on Teen Girls

When you think of aspirations, do you think of traveling,  going back to school, or hopes for your family? Most of us have aspirations we are working towards, but if you represent L’Oreal, you might think of an airbrushed picture of Julia Roberts. When the Advertising Standards Agency of the U.K. banned Loreal’s ad featuring a very heavily airbrushed picture of the actress, calling it “misleading”, L’Oreal responded that the picture was supposed to be “aspirational.”

I had a few reactions. First of all, can we get one of those agencies in the U.S.? Second of all, isn’t Julia Roberts pretty enough on her own? Third, “aspirational”? I guess we are supposed to “aspire” to have perfect skin, or perhaps aspire to have enough extra spending cash that we can afford expensive creams and makeup for our imperfect faces.

Most adults know that photographs of models and actresses used in advertising and fashion magazines are heavily altered. But I am constantly stunned at how many of our teen girls have no idea. When we discuss it with them, they often light up. You mean I don’t have to live up to that?

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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 »

5 Things Your Teen Should Know How To Do Before College

College was a truly unique experience for me. Suddenly, I had only two rules in my life: Don’t get arrested, and pass your classes. Coming from a fairly strict family, I was thrilled with my newfound freedom. I remember approaching my new life with a sense of carefree abandon, eager to learn and experience all that I could.

College is obviously a different world from living at home with a loving parent or two, and there are certain skills that can help a teen transition from high school to college, and even from college to adult life.

This is my “Top 5”, but is by no means an exhaustive list; actually, I would like to hear some of your suggestions!

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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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What is ADHD

In the past, ADHD was seen as a problem with hyperactivity and impulsivity. More recently it has become clear that there are additional problems: difficulty with focus, memory and other areas. Both types of ADHD (with and without hyperactivity) are caused primarily by a neurotransmitter (a chemical signal in the brain) called dopamine.

Although these teens have a normal amount of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, they don’t work they are supposed to. This causes symptoms such as difficulty paying attention; not being organized; having trouble finishing school work; or losing completed homework. “Time sense” is also one of the key elements; time for teens with ADHD is usually “now or never.” If they plan to do something later, it is almost impossible for them to remember to do it.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about ADHD:

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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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Sleep is Importanzzzzzzz…….

I thought it would be best to write this post when I myself was sleep-deprived… which I am. I have a statistics midterm tomorrow, and I stayed up too late at night worrying about it. Today I’m irritable, drowsy, unable to concentrate, and have a headache. If I stopped and put my head down, I would drift off immediately.

Sound familiar? We all know what it’s like to be short on sleep. Whether we’ve been parents, students, or simply had too much to do, sometimes it’s a fact of life. And as we all know, adolescents are studying, texting, working, or playing World of Warcraft late into the night…

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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 »

Helping Your Teen Have Good Body Image

Recently I sent an email to all our clinicians asking one question: “If you could give parents or guardians one piece of advice on helping their teens have good body image, what would it be?”

I was going to post a few quotes as an entry, but as it turned out almost everybody had the same answer: Parents need to role-model body satisfaction, and focus on health instead of weight and appearance when discussing their bodies and the bodies of others. Read full post »