Teenology 101

Adolescence, legal age, and fake ID’s

parents yellingI was chatting with a friend who mentioned that she caught her own teen with a fake ID. Her son is a good kid: he is on the honor roll, in extracurricular activities, has a great social group, and doesn’t get into trouble. So she was extremely surprised to catch him with a fake ID and even more surprised when he told her the ID’s come in a 3 pack, so he’d just use another one if she confiscated it. This is the second friend who has recently told me they found their teen’s fake ID. Neither of them were expecting their kid to have one. Read full post »

Rape, Bill Cosby, and Advice

teencut-150x150Sexual assault is a subject that can be uncomfortable to talk about for many reasons: there is stigma and blame for victims, no parent wants to think it could happen to their child, and no parent wants to think their child could be a perpetrator. Recent media events have outlined allegations that Bill Cosby drugged an assaulted numerous women. We’re not here to give opinions about his innocence or guilt, but this is an opportunity to talk about this problem. Dr. Anne-Marie Amies Oelschlager, Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecologist, is our guest blogger. She gives her perspective on sexual assault and offers sound advice for anyone who has been a victim. Read full post »

e-cigarettes and commercials

e-cigaretteRecently, I had a rare opportunity to watch cable TV in the evening. As I sunk into the sofa I heard something that probably hasn’t been heard on TV in decades: “as a cigarette smoker, I’m always looking for the best puff.” I looked up and saw a healthy appearing young man describe the benefits of a new cigarette. At this point I was speechless! This was the first of two different commercials for vaporized cigarettes or e-cigarettes, that I saw over the course of the evening. The second featured attractive scientists in a lab creating a cigarette with the newest technology that gave “efficient” puffs. Unlike the pharmaceutical commercials that I’m now accustomed to hearing, neither mentioned any potential dangers or side effects of nicotine. Neither really mentioned the word nicotine at all. Read full post »

Measles outbreaks, amusement parks, and vaccinations

Flu or allergy shot. This image is available exclusively on Istock.I took a bit of a break from blogging to expand my family over the holiday season. Returning from maternity leave this week, one of the first headlines I noticed in my email inbox was regarding the measles outbreak that is currently in progress at a major theme park in California. As a pediatrician and now mother of two, I take my children to venues geared toward fun on a regular basis. There are playdates, birthday parties, museums, and many trips to the airport to fly to see family. My older daughter is more comfortable at the airport than at preschool! Considering whether or not they could be infected with a life threatening illness is not typically at the top of my worry list, and I would argue that no parent should have to worry about disease when taking their children to have a fun time. Read full post »

New Year, New You? Reflecting on Success and Setting Goals for the Future

New year 2015This week, of course, many people are making their New Year’s resolutions.  I find that I always have a long list of things I’d like to do in the new year: for example, this coming year I want to read more books, keep my house clean, exercise more, cook new recipes, keep in better touch with old friends…the list goes on and on.  I find that this time of year is a great opportunity for families to set goals toward becoming healthier and happier in the new year.  So, how can you and your teen make resolutions that will be sustainable and achievable?

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Tips for surviving the holidays with teens

Family holiday mealHolidays mean vacation: days where teens are out of school with little to occupy their time and potential for comments of feeling bored. The holiday seasons between Fall and Winter encompass a wide range of cultural and religious themes from Eid, to Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, Christmas to Kwanza. What all of these holidays share is the importance of family. However, a normal part of adolescent development is pulling away from parents and traditional family values. This time of year, parents may hear more requests for gifts than for special traditions at family gatherings. Cooking, cleaning, and anticipating family conflict can cause a lot of pressure for parents and teens.  So how can parents continue to make fond memories and include all household members?

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Addressing teen substance use: Post 4 How to talk with your teen about alcohol poisoning

In this post, our guest blogger Lisa Chinn LMHC, CDP will discuss how to talk to your teen about alcohol poisoning. She has written this series from her perspective as a chemical dependency professional for adolescents. This is the 4th post in our series on addressing substance use in teens.

How to talk with your teen about alcohol poisoning. (Please keep in mind, this is about alcohol poisoning, and will not cover other substances that affect the central nervous system.)

Since alcohol is one of the most widely available and commonly used substances by teens, it is important to help teens understand the dangers of alcohol poisoning. When teens drink in social settings, they typically have the intent to “get drunk.” In contrast, adults may have one or two drinks in a sitting and they are usually done. Yes, there are exceptions to these generalizations, but when I hear teens talk about their drinking habits, they tend to report excessive drinking; most of the time generally drinking multiple beverages or binge drinking within a few minutes.  Teens may not understand the danger of drinking “a lot” of alcohol in a short amount of time. In this post I’ve mentioned a few things parents can share with their teen about the dangers of alcohol. Read full post »

Addressing teen substance use: Post 3 The privilege of driving

This is the 3rd post in our series on teen substance abuse by guest blogger Lisa Chinn LMHC, CDP. In this series she offers her perspective as a chemical dependency professional for adolescents.

Over the years, if I received 10 cents (inflation taken into consideration) every time I heard “I drive better when I am smoking weed.” OR “My friend drives better when they are using.” I would be SO MUCH closer to retirement. Ok, all kidding aside, many teens who are using substances actually believe they drive better under the influence. Most teens know they shouldn’t drink and drive, but I’ve encountered many teens who believe they can smoke marijuana and drive. These same teens often believe they drive BETTER when they smoke marijuana. This blog post isn’t about proving whether someone can drive “better or worst” under the influence, but about what happens if your teen gets into an accident. Remember parents: When your teens start to drive, they are under YOUR car insurance. Read full post »

Addressing teen substance use: Post 2 Do UAs at home or Not to do UAs at home

This is the second post by guest blogger Lisa Chinn LMHC, CDP on adolescent substance use. She has written from her perspective as a mental health provider in adolescent chemical dependency. In this post, she’ll cover the topic of home urine toxicology screens.

To do UAs at home or Not to do UAs at home?

What is a UA? UA is short hand for urine analysis, urine toxicity screen or drug test. UAs are neutral evidence of whether a person has used substances or not. The drug test is not dependent on a person’s word or their behaviors. As a drug treatment provider, I recommend that UA or drug testing be done at home when a parent suspects or knows that your adolescent is using. Most teens who use drugs know that many substances will be gone from the body within a couple of days of using, therefore if the only drug testing they get are at their appointments, they may not get “caught” for a while.

Drug testing has two purposes: to catch a person when they are NOT using and to catch them when they ARE using. It is just as important to catch them when they are NOT using, as it is to catch them when they are using. Read full post »

Bullying Among Adolescents Part 1: What is Bullying, Really?

girl bullying

When I ask parents and teens, “What do you think is the most pressing health issue facing adolescents today?”  I often hear that bullying is on everyone’s minds.  Some of this concern comes from high-profile media cases of teens who have, sadly, died of suicide after being victims of bullying; in the media, bullying has also long been blamed as a contributor to school shootings and continues to be reported as a trigger for violent retaliatory behavior.  In addition, research on bullying has increased in the last few decades, with many studies finding that kids who have been bullied AND kids who bully others are more likely to have school problems, mental health issues, and even physical health problems into adulthood.

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