Teenology 101

Teen Violence

Here in Washington State, the recent stabbing of two high school students in a school with a good reputation has made many parents and students aware of the implications teen violence can have on a community. Many of the communities in the Pacific Northwest do not routinely think about safety or violence. Parents are involved in community organizations, students attend homecomings and football games. Violent acts may go unnoticed or may be thought of only as associated with gangs, yet violence is a very big public health problem. Violence amongst teens and young adults is the second leading cause of death in the age group of youth ages 10-24!

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HPV Vaccine for Boys?

Recently the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that boys aged 11-12 be vaccinated against HPV, a recommendation already in place for girls. It also recommended that boys aged 13-21 received “catch up” doses if they were not vaccinated already. I’m not going to discuss the safety and efficacy of vaccines in general- mostly because I don’t have enough room- but Seattle Mama Doc has wonderful posts about this topic in her blog. This post is specifically to address the issues raised by recommending HPV vaccine for male pre-teens and teens.


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Should I Let My Teen Travel Abroad?

It is the fall, and teens have started school.  Many are involved in sports, music groups, church activities, or other extracurricular activities.  Often, the opportunity arises to travel abroad.  The teens almost always want to go!  Who wouldn’t want a chance to see the world with a group of friends? For parents, this opportunity to travel is exciting, but at the same time may cause concerns about costs, safety, food borne illness, and lack of adult supervision. In the midst of the end of the Amanda Knox trial and her return to Seattle, parents may be reconsidering allowing their teen to travel abroad.

So what do you as a parent do? It is relatively easy to determine which adults (and how many adults) will be going on the trip.  The cost will also be presented early on, but there are a lot of other unanswered questions… Read full post »

How To Help Your Teen Through Your Divorce

In this day and age, having divorced parents is quite common for kids of all ages. In a sense, the frequency of divorce has made it a little easier; children of divorcing parents have some peers to compare stories with and get advice from. At the same time, your child’s feelings of confusion and fear are theirs alone. (Please note that by “divorce” I mean the breakup of a long-term committed relationship where two adults have raised a child – not necessarily the dissolution of a legal marriage)

Your teen’s reaction to an announcement of divorce may run the gamut from despair to relief to denial. Here’s some advice on communicating with your teenager during the divorce, and trying to help them deal with this huge life change.

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Teens and Cutting

Any parent or guardian hates the idea of their child being injured, and the idea of their child intentionally injuring themself is even worse. Teen who self-injure may cut, burn, bruise, or otherwise harm themselves, although cutting is the most common.

Parents or guardians who have discovered that their teens are cutting feel terrified, confused, and lost. Why would any young person do that? Why would my teen do it? What has gone wrong? How do I make them stop?

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Why Smart Teens Do Stupid Things

A comment I often hear from parents is, “She is so smart, how could she (get pregnant/ take drugs/ drive drunk/ shoplift/ send out naked pictures of herself/ trust a man she met online/ get that tattoo when she’s going to job interviews…)?” Obviously, the options are endless, but the real issue is- how do teenagers who are very intelligent, often do well in school, and obviously understand many adult concepts, do something phenomenally short-sighted, impulsive, or just plain dumb?

We are tempted to associate academic intelligence or cultural literacy with other forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence or maturity. To us, it makes sense that a teen who excels in one form of intelligence would be advanced in others.

It’s true that successful teens do tend to have positive character traits. Many teens who excel academically, or in more intellectual hobbies such as debate, youth government, or social justice work, possess more organization and tenacity than your average teen. However, teenage emotional regulation, judgment, and impulsiveness are usually underdeveloped at best. It’s not their fault- their brains are still developing full adult capacity for these traits. Read full post »

Teen Prescription Drug Use

How many adults have a medicine cabinet full of drugs?  Perhaps you’re saving that painkiller your dentist prescribed ‘just in case of emergency’ or the 10 pills for anxiety your doctor gave you for a case of stage fright? Maybe a grandparent has medications for blood pressure or a heart condition that were forgotten about.

Well, a friend recently told me a new term for a not-so-new trend in teen prescription drug use: “salad bowling”.  The concept is simple: teens go to their parents’ medicine cabinet and dump all the drugs into a salad bowl.  At the next party, set the bowl so friends can take a handful.  This trend is dangerous in its own right, but add alcohol to the mix and the consequences can be deadly. Read full post »

How to talk to your teen about drugs

Talking to your teen about drugs can be a daunting task.  How do you start the conversation?  Should you mention your previous use?  Should you wait to bring it up only if you catch your teen using drugs or alcohol?  We asked our chemical dependence professionals what their tips for parents are and Kelly Kerby provided her top 10 list of how to talk to your teen about drugs.



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Teen Dating and Teen Drinking

Many parents fearfully await their teen showing interest in dating, worrying about everything from broken hearts to sexually transmitted diseases. A recent study in the American Sociological Review states that teens who date are more likely to drink alcohol (due to added opportunities for peer pressure and bad examples from their partner’s friends.) But don’t revoke their dating privileges just yet.

Forming romantic attachments is an important part of growing up. Dating during adolescence helps teen discover what qualities they want in a romantic partner, learn appropriate behavior in a dating or committed relationship, and learn important lessons about trust and consequences.

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Can Eating Right Help Prevent Teen Depression?

Australian researchers at Deakin University recently studied 3000 adolescents to find out if their diet influenced their mental health. Controlling for many other possible contributing factors, they found that adolescents who ate more fruits and vegetables had better mental health in the long-term than their compatriots, who shunned produce and ate more processed foods.

“Food as medicine” is a common mantra heard in some nutrition and alternative health circles. Of course, food can literally be medicine, such as oranges for scurvy or whole grains for a vitamin B deficiency. Food can also act as medicine for chronic diseases like diabetes, where a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and health proteins can reduce or reverse symptoms. Compounds in green tea, red wine, garlic, and many other foods and drinks are being researched for disease-fighting properties.

So do fruits and vegetables have a compound in them that fights depression?

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