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Adolescent Parenting Introduction

group of teens

From parents' perspectives, adolescence could quite possibly be the most nerve-wracking developmental period in their children's lives. It is natural for parents to feel anxious when their teens learn to drive a car; begin to form romantic and sexual relationships; decide to get tattoos and body piercings; and flirt with danger by experimenting with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Despite these perils, adolescence is also a period of great pride and satisfaction for parents as they begin to recognize that their years of hard work, commitment, and personal sacrifice have paid off. Their once dependent children gradually become independent and responsible adults. Along the way there are significant landmarks such as their teen getting a first job; choosing a career or trade; moving out to live on their own; and developing a rewarding social network.

The adolescent developmental period is a lengthy period of transition spanning the ages of 12-24 years. During adolescence a m...More

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What are the nutritional requirements in adolescence?

  • Despite the abundant supply of food in the United States, most adolescents do not receive adequate nutrition at a time when their bodies' growth and development is accelerating.
  • In general, adolescent diets include too much fat, sugar, caffeine, and sodium and not enough nutrient-dense foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and calcium-rich foods such as dairy products.
  • Sedentary 12-year-old males need about 1800 calories each day. This peaks at 2600 calories around age 19-20 years old and then decreases to 2400 calories a day from ages 21 through 24 years.
  • Sedentary teen girls around the ages of 12-13 years need about 1600 calories per day, and their daily calorie requirement reaches the highest level around age 19 years at 2000 calories.
  • Not only do adolescents need to eat the right amount of food, but they also need to eat foods which contain the right type of nutrients, and in the right proportions.
  • There are four key methods parents can use to assist their youth to develop healthy eating habits: 1) provide nutritional information, 2) provide opportunities to practice making healthy choices,3) model healthy eating habits, and 4) ensure the availability of quick, convenient, nutrient-rich snacks.
  • Nutritional problems can still arise or worsen during adolescence including problems of overeating and/or consistently making poor food choices, resulting in obesity; developing problems with unhealthy and extremely restrictive dieting without meeting the minimum nutritional requirements necessary for healthy growth and development; and Diabetes.

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What are the physical activity requirements in adolescence?

  • It is important for adolescents to develop habits that incorporate regular physical activity into their daily lives so that these habits are carried into adulthood.
  • It can be difficult for youth to get sufficient exercise due to the increased popularity of sedentary entertainment (television, video games, etc.) and a decrease in physical education opportunities at school.
  • Any physical activity that requires the body to move enables youth to reap the health benefits of exercise.
  • Many youth enjoy playing organized, competitive sports such as basketball, cheerleading, baseball, gymnastics, football, golf, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, track and field, etc.
  • Youth can also receive the benefits of exercise by participating in regular physical activity through informal and unstructured activities, such as gardening, shooting hoops in the driveway, dancing in their bedroom with their friends, riding bicycles around the neighborhood, skateboarding at the skate park, walking the dog after dinner, or hiking on a trail in the woods.
  • Parents need to be informed about the training methods used by their children's coaches and trainers, and ensure their teens take certain precautions to prevent sports-related injuries.
  • Youth should be spending at least one hour a day, most days of every week, engaged in some form of physical activity.
  • The best way parents can encourage their teens' participation in regular physical activity is by modeling this behavior themselves.
  • Parents can also help their children by assisting them to find physical activities that match their children's interests and talents.

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How important is sleep in adolescence?

  • Adolescents need an average 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep every night just to function.
  • Teens' bodies' natural sleep rhythms (called circadian rhythms) shift during adolescence causing them to remain alert and awake later in the night, with a corresponding desire to sleep later in the day.
  • Parents can help teens to identify and limit caffeinated beverages in the evening.
  • Teens should establish regular sleep and wake times that allow for an adequate amount of sleep each night.
  • Teens will also benefit from developing and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Beyond bedtimes and bedtime routines, youth should learn to structure their time so that important activities do not detain them from getting to bed on time.
  • It is best to avoid strenuous exercise like running, aerobics, weight lifting, or playing basketball right before bed, as these types of activities will release hormones into the body that cause people to feel more awake and alert.
  • Anxiety and worry are great sleep disrupters and prevent youth from feeling sleepy.
  • Chronic sleep disturbance (sleeping too much or sleeping too little) can be a symptom of a more serious problem such a depressive disorder, or drug and alcohol use.

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What topics might parents and adolescents disagree about or need to discuss?

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What healthcare is important during adolescence?

  • Adolescents will need to learn to manage their own healthcare and should be developing a healthy lifestyle that will be maintained throughout their adult lives.
  • Parents will want to ensure their youth continue to receive routine, annual physical examinations.
  • Annual physicals are the perfect time to make sure that youth are caught up on their vaccinations.
  • It's also important that youth also receive routine dental and vision check-ups.
  • Annual physical exams should also be screening adolescents for behavioral health concerns such as depression; anxiety; or possible problems with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
  • Parents have an important role in identifying the early warning signs of a behavioral or emotional problem because they regularly observe their teens' behavioral and emotional patterns.
  • Parents should be on the look-out for possible warning signs that their child may be at risk for suicide.
  • All adolescents who are sexually active should get regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections including but not limited to HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Hepatitis B.
  • They key to empowering youth to independently manage their own healthcare is to gradually give youth more and more control over their healthcare, while teaching them the skills they need for self-care.

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What discipline, love and guidance is necessary during adolescence?

  • One of the difficulties of raising teenage children is achieving the right balance between love and discipline; liberties and limitations; and, independence and responsibility.
  • Parents should help children to become resilient, which means that they have the ability to "bounce back" or to readily recover from painful, stressful, and difficult experiences.
  • One thing parents can do to build resilience is to provide the proper amount of support and guidance.
  • When parents are overly protective to the point of being smothering, or provide too much direction without letting youth work out some problems on their own, they rob youth of the opportunity to develop and practice independent problem-solving skills.
  • Youth should have an understanding of what privileges are available to them for following the rules and meeting expectations, and what consequences will occur when they fail to follow the rules, or make poor choices.
  • Parents can begin to help adolescents develop time management skills by having high (but attainable) expectations for school achievement, household chores, and other important activities.
  • Family rules should also establish clear expectations about the responsibilities of family members toward each other.
  • If parents become aware of activities or rules at another child\'s home that they do not agree with, they should calmly discuss their concerns with the parents of the other child.
  • Parents need to express clear rules and expectations around teen substance use.
  • By late adolescence (18 years of age and older), parents need to set clear boundaries about any assistance they will (or won't) provide while their children are becoming independent adults.

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How can parents protect an adolescent's health and safety?

  • Parents must be fully aware of the risks and dangers associated with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs
  • While parents cannot completely prevent their children's eventual exposure to alcohol and other drugs, there are steps parents can take to reduce the potential risks.
  • Parents will want to ensure their youth learn to drive safely and always use good judgment when operating a motor vehicle.
  • There are several warning signs parents should pay attention to that could indicate that their adolescent may be a victim of dating violence.
  • If parents are concerned about their teens' involvement with fighting or gang activity, they can do several things.
  • Teens can encounter all types of violence online, including violent videos, hate messages on blogs and in chat rooms, and violent computer games. Youth who are curious about sex can find plenty of pornography on the Internet, some of which depicts sexual acts coupled with violence.
  • Bullying is the repeated abuse, hostility, aggression, manipulation, or violence between two youth where one youth possesses greater power than the other.
  • Parents can ensure their children's continued safety by providing education about making their new dorm, apartment, or home the safest it can be.
  • Youth also need to make sure they know how to protect themselves while they are traveling in public places.

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News Articles

  • AHA: Weight-Loss Surgery Helps the Hearts of Very Obese Teens, Too

    Bariatric surgery in severely obese teenagers could lower their risk of heart attack and stroke by about 40 to 50 percent -- and could maintain that lower risk for at least five years, a new study shows. More...

  • 1 in 3 Young Adults Ride With Impaired Drivers

    One-third of young adults in the United States have been in a vehicle with a driver impaired by alcohol or drugs, a new study finds. More...

  • 'Cutting,' Self-Harm Greatly Raise Suicide Risk for Teens

    oung people treated for self-inflicted injuries face a far higher-than-average risk of suicide in the next year, a new study finds. More...

  • Peer-to-Peer Program Tied to Improved Depression Awareness

    A peer-to-peer depression awareness program is associated with improved knowledge and attitudes about depression among high school students, according to a study published online March 1 in Psychiatric Services. More...

  • Certain Teens More Likely to Get Hooked on Opioids

    Teenagers with any mental health problem are more prone to painkiller dependence after receiving a prescription opioid, a new study finds. More...

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    • Health Tip: Developing a Positive Body Image

      Teens who develop a negative body image and act on those feelings may wind up stunting their social, physical and mental growth, the U.S. Office on Women's Health says. More...

    • Helping Your Child Navigate the High School Years

      High school is a major milestone in a teen's life. More...

    • Prevalence of Sexting Is Increasing in Youth Under 18

      The prevalences of sending and receiving sexts are 14.8 and 27.4 percent, respectively, among youth, according to a review published online Feb. 28 in JAMA Pediatrics. More...

    • One Key Factor Raises Gay and Lesbian Teens' Suicide Risk

      Teens who are gay or lesbian but engage in heterosexual sex are at higher risk of a suicide attempt, new research suggests. More...

    • 15 Percent of Teens Say They've Sexted

      About 15 percent of teenagers say they've shared a sexually explicit image or video of themselves over the internet or via phone messaging, researchers say. More...

    • Summer Camp Tips for Kids With Asthma, Allergies

      Your children may already be looking forward to summer camp. But when it comes to kids with asthma or allergies, parents need to take extra steps in planning their outdoor experience. More...

    • If the Eyes Don't Coordinate, Reading -- and Grades -- May Suffer

      For students, an undetected vision problem could be contributing to low grades, a new study suggests. More...

    • CDC: Many School Children Are Not Getting Enough Sleep

      Many middle school and high school students have short sleep duration, according to research published in the Jan. 26 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. More...

    • Parental Supply of Alcohol to Adolescents Is Harmful

      Parental supply of alcohol to adolescents is associated with increased odds of alcohol-related harms, and there is no evidence to support the view that parental supply protects from adverse drinking outcomes, according to a study published online Jan. 25 in The Lancet Public Health. More...

    • Could Smoggy Air Affect a Girl's Periods?

      The quality of the air she breathes might have an impact on a teen girl's menstrual cycle, a new study suggests. More...

    • All That Smartphone Time May Be Making Teens Unhappy

      Teens who are glued to their smartphones and other devices are unhappier than those who spend less time on digital media, new research finds. More...

    • Former NFL Pros Push for End to Kids' Tackle Football

      A group of former National Football League greats -- including Hall of Famers Harry Carson of the New York Giants and Nick Buoniconti of the Miami Dolphins -- is urging parents not to let their children play tackle football until they're at least 14 years old. More...

    • Teens Eating Detergent 'Pods': Latest Web Fad Brings Big Dangers

      Prompted by internet dares, dozens of U.S. teenagers in recent weeks have popped liquid laundry detergent packets from a variety of manufacturers into their mouths just to see what happens, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). More...

    • Severe Bullying Tied to Mental Health Woes in Teens

      Teens who were severely bullied as children are at increased risk for mental health problems and suicide attempts, a Canadian study finds. More...

    • USPSTF Questions Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Screening

      The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has concluded that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in children and adolescents aged 10 to 18 years. The recommendation statement has been published in the Jan. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. More...

    • Health Tip: Positive Parenting

      The younger teen years are some of the most emotional, physical and difficult years for adolescents. More...

    • Weight-Loss Surgery Is Good for Obese Teens' Hearts

      Severely obese teens who undergo bariatric surgery to lose weight end up lowering their heart disease risk down the road, new research indicates. More...

    • Good New for Parents: Teens Are Delaying Having Sex

      Fewer U.S. teens are sexually active these days, as many wait until later in high school to try sex for the first time, a new report reveals. More...

    • Gay, Lesbian Teens at Higher Suicide Risk

      Teens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning (LGBQ) have a much higher risk for suicidal behavior than other teens, a new study has found. More...

    • Mindfulness May Be Stress-Buster at Exam Time

      For college students stressed out at exam time, a new study suggests there is a simple way to improve their mental health -- mindfulness training. More...

    • Health Tip: Talk to Your Child About Sexting

      "Sexting" refers to sending a text message with pictures that are inappropriate, especially involving nudity. More...

    • Self-Harm Cases Surging Among U.S. Girls

      Nearly 20 percent more young teen and preteen females have sought emergency room treatment for poisoning, cutting or harming themselves yearly since 2009 More...

    • Teens' Painkiller Misuse Linked to Dating Violence

      Teens who abuse prescription drugs, like opioid painkillers, are prone to initiating or being victims of dating violence More...

    • Sport Sampling in Children Tied to More Exercise in Adolescence

      Sport sampling in childhood may be associated with higher physical activity levels during adolescence, according to a study published online Nov. 13 in Pediatrics. More...

    • Is Too Much Time Online Raising Suicide Risk in Teen Girls?

      A spike in the amount of time teenage girls in the United States spend online is a likely culprit behind the surge in rates of depression, suicide and contemplation of suicide More...

    • Lunchtime H2O May Be Key to Curbing Kids' Obesity

      Getting kids to drink water with their school lunches could help keep their weight in check More...

    • Abusing Pot, Booze Lowers Teens' Chances for Success in Life

      MONDAY, Nov. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The American dream of success is a lot harder to attain for teenagers who use pot and alcohol, especially if they become substance abusers, a new study reports. More...

    • Alcoholic Parent May Sow Seeds for Teen Dating Violence

      Having an alcoholic parent may increase the risk that a teen will commit dating violence More...

    • Adderall Misuse May Be Hidden Part of Teen Amphetamine Abuse

      That could lead to an undercount of the extent of the problem, researchers say. More...

    • Keeping Your Driving Teen Focused on the Road

      Distractions at the wheel are major cause of needless tragedies, experts say. More...

    • Smartphones, Tablets Sabotaging Teens' Sleep

      Study found more adolescents getting less rest because of temptations of technology More...

    • State Laws Help Reduce Concussions in Youth Sports

      Study finds more students are reporting symptoms, preventing recurring injuries. More...

    • Who's Most at Risk of Head Injury in Youth Football?

      Those involved in running, passing more vulnerable, study finds. More...

    • Nearly a Third of College Kids Think ADHD Meds Boost Grades

      But adolescent health experts say there's no evidence to support that belief. More...

    • Pediatric Physicians Should Revisit Approaches to Marijuana

      In light of the changing legal status of marijuana, physicians should provide counseling on its effects to adolescents, according to an opinion article published online Oct. 9 in JAMA Pediatrics. More...

    • Homing In on Homework Help

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    • Overuse Injuries Don't Impact Young Football Players

      Data on youth and high school competitors show minimal amounts. More...

    • AAP Offers Guidance for Infectious Disease in Sports

      Participation in organized sports can potentially expose athletes to infectious diseases, with major risk factors including skin-to-skin contact, environmental exposures and physical trauma, and sharing of equipment, according to a clinical report published online Sept. 25 in Pediatrics. More...

    • More Teen Dads?

      Report finds number of teen moms stays stable while it goes up for males. More...

    • Youth Football Ups Odds of Brain Problems in Adulthood

      Researchers say greater risk of behavior issues, depression in those who played tackle before age 12. More...

    • AAP Issues Clinical Report on Teen Tattoos, Piercings

      The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued its first recommendations on tattoos, piercings, and scarification. The clinical report was published online Sept. 18 in Pediatrics. More...

    • Surgery Can Be Trigger for Teen Opioid Abuse

      Certain operations pose a greater risk of painkiller dependence, study finds. More...

    • Young Kids With Cellphones Face a Hidden Risk

      Study finds elementary school children with phones are more likely to be cyberbullied. More...

    • Get Your Kids to Eat Smart at School

      Helping youngsters make the right food choices. More...

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