Teenology 101

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 »

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 »

A March-December Marriage

I found out this morning that Douglas Hutchison, a 51-year-old actor from Lost and the movie The Green Mile has married Courtney Stoddard, a 16-year-old “recording artist, singer/songwriter, actress, and model” from our very own Ocean Shores, Washington. This was done legally, with the consent of her parents. She and Douglas are defending the move by stating that they are very much in love and marriage was the next logical step, despite the fact that their relationship was conducted mostly online. Read full post »

Leaving Your Child Home Alone

I remember one of the first times my mother left me and my siblings home alone for longer than a few minutes. I was 12 years old, and as the eldest of 4 children, felt pretty mature and responsible. My mom was only gone about an hour, but she came home to what was likely her worse nightmare at the time. The condominium complex next to ours had caught on fire and our neighborhood was surrounded by fire trucks and medical personnel. We were absolutely fine, but my mom was very hesitant to leave us alone for quite awhile after that. Read full post »

Keeping Your Adolescent Safe Online

The World Wide Web has changed our lives.

You can order a pizza without picking up the phone, get directions without pulling out a map, and find your long-lost childhood sweetheart with a search engine. We can look up information on pretty much anything with a few keystrokes. People with rare interests or problems can find like-minded peers around the world, and people in different countries can play an online game together, chatting all the while.

Most people online are seeking information, sharing it with friends, or buying something. However, there have always been untrustworthy people who try to target us in person; now they are online as well.

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Water Safety

One of the most wonderful aspects of living in the Pacific Northwest is enjoying our amazing summers.  The temperature hovers around a comfortable 75 degrees, the humidity is low, and the days are long.  With the warmer temperatures come the outdoor activities and Seattle is surrounded by water!  Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Puget Sound, and on and on.  Boats, both motor and paddled, are common and teens are often invited to partake in summer activities involving water. Read full post »

The Greatest Risk

What is the leading cause of adolescent deaths worldwide?

It’s not HIV, violence, suicide, or malaria, although those are all well-represented in the top ten list. Globally, the leading cause of adolescent deaths is “road traffic accidents”. And lest you think our paved roads and antilock brakes exempt us from this, car accidents are also the leading cause of adolescent deaths in the U.S.

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Much ado about summer

Ah, it’s that time of year. Summer! Daffodils have sprouted and the cherry blossoms bloomed… seasonal allergies are flaring up. It’s also the time of year where the school year is winding down and kids are getting excited about summer vacation.  Now parents have to consider what activities can occupy their teen for those 6.5 hours of the day that they would have been in school.

With each of my patient visits that happen this time of year I ask everyone what their summer plans are. Some are taking big trips to other countries, some will be going to volunteer at camps they attended as young kids, and others just reply, ‘nothing.’ It made me wonder about a few questions…

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You’re Going Out Like That?

As an teenager of the 70’s I vividly remember mini skirts, headbands, “cut-offs” and fringed leather jackets, not to mention the stinky “afghan” long coat that my father let me buy from a street vendor on a visit to New York City. The afghan coat had some sort of fleece material lining (that may not have been washed since it was removed from the sheep) with a rustic leather exterior and extra fleece at the wrists and neck. It was basically a sheepskin worn inside out from the way a sheep wears it. I must have done some sort of sell job that only an eldest daughter could do to a father. There would be little opportunity to wear the coat, given that we lived in New Mexico at the time.

With 20/20 hindsight, I find some of the fashions of the 1970’s rather appalling. I can only imagine what my parents thought when I left the house in a dress that was either so short that even the smallest movement risked exposure, or so long and flowing that anyone walking near me was as likely as I was to trip on the fabric trailing on the ground.

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Ground Rules

When most kids hit adolescence,  they start questioning rules with vigor. Sometimes the rules are even broken or dodged with regularity. How do you get adolescents to identify with and agree with rules?

Involve them. This takes a fairly good level of communication with your teen, and it will involve compromise from both of you. But if you can engage your teen into making rules with you, it can be a wonderful exercise in communication and effective discipline. (This requires a fairly mature and communicative teen.)

For example, let’s take curfew. You want your teen home by 10 pm on weekends. They think any curfew is ridiculous.

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