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Teenagers have a number of issues that can affect their overall health and safety. As adolescents mature, both physically and emotionally, they often encounter a multitude of challenging situations. Parents can help teenagers navigate adolescence successfully. Providing ongoing support and sharing relevant information are two keys to parenting teenagers.
Nutrition and Fitness
Just as adults need to pay attention to nutrition and fitness, teenagers also have to work at staying healthy. Experts recommend that teenagers engage in at least one hour of exercise every day. Teens who participate in sports programs often have no trouble reaching this goal. Other adolescents might get the exercise they need by walking the family dog or spending time with friends in activities such as bicycle-riding. Teenagers must also strive to eat a healthy diet to ensure that they grow correctly without adding too many empty calories.
- Choose the Foods You Need to Grow (PDF): Because teens are still growing, they have special nutritional needs. Male adolescents often have insatiable appetites, but eating more whole grains might help satisfy them.
- Charge Up With Healthy Eating: Controlling portions and choosing whole foods can help teenagers revamp their diets to be healthier.
- A Guide to Eating for Sports: Teens who play sports must pay extra attention to their diets to ensure that they have the carbohydrates they need for energy and the protein they need to rebuild used muscles.
- Body Works for Teens (PDF): When teens learn healthy habits that make them feel energized and happy, they may continue these habits throughout their lives.
- Best Beverage Bets (PDF): Hydration is crucial for teens to feel good and perform well in sports. Milk is one option, but water is actually the best choice to satisfy thirst and give the body the fluids it needs.
- Facts and Statistics: About two-thirds of American kids do not engage in physical activity every day. Excessive screen usage has contributed to a lack of daily exercise for children.
- Move More: Increasing your activity level can help improve health. Teens can increase physical activity in simple ways, such as standing while talking on the phone or helping out with household chores.
Healthy hygiene involves taking care of the body to keep it clean. With the onset of puberty, changes will occur that necessitate more frequent bathing. Teens will need to keep facial skin clean to control oiliness. Washing hair more often will be important to keep it clean. Even sleep will be an important consideration for teenagers because not getting enough sleep can cause both physical and emotional problems.
- Teens: Watch Your Mouth! (PDF): Teens can do specific things to maintain good oral health, including limiting sugar intake, wearing mouth guards during sports play, and chewing sugarless gum.
- Electronic Devices May Hamper Teens’ Sleep: Teenagers may have trouble falling asleep due to excessive use of electronic devices. When teens don’t get enough sleep, they may suffer anxiety or depression.
- Personal Hygiene: Personal hygiene involves cleanliness to keep the body looking and smelling fresh. This involves bathing, washing hair, brushing teeth, and wearing antiperspirant.
- Adolescent Hygiene Basics (PDF): With the onset of puberty, adolescents have new needs in the area of personal hygiene. Both the scalp and skin can become oily, which necessitates more frequent washing.
- What Your Best Friend Won’t Tell You (PDF): Puberty brings about a host of changes for young girls. With the onset of menses, girls will begin menstruating each month.
- Adolescent Health Issue: Sleep (PDF): Not getting enough sleep, even as little as a one-hour deficit, can cause performance and concentration issues. Adolescents have special physical demands, making sleep even more important during this time.
- Acne Is More Than a Nuisance For Some Teens: Facial blemishes are a rite of passage for most adolescents. However, some teens experience anxiety and depression as a result of acne.
- Frederick Endodontist: Endodontics involves root canal therapy or a similar procedure.
- Frederick Sedation: Sedation dentistry can eliminate anxiety and pain associated with dental procedures.
- Frederick Orthodontics: Patients with teeth alignment issues may need orthodontic treatment.
Alcohol and Drugs
Alcohol and drug use is a significant risk for teenagers. Because of their developing brains, abusing alcohol or drugs during the teenage years can cause serious problems. Teens who drive must also understand the dangers of combining alcohol or drug use with operating a motor vehicle. Parents can help teens withstand negative peer pressure and choose to avoid alcohol and drugs by maintaining a close connection with them.
- A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences: Teenagers and young adults in college often engage in excessive drinking, which can have devastating consequences.
- How it Begins: Addiction to tobacco can happen quickly, after even a few cigarettes. Teenagers can become addicted to nicotine if they give in to social pressures to try smoking.
- Talking to Kids About Alcohol (PDF): Parents are in an influential position to help kids choose not to drink. Talking about alcohol and its risks can be an effective way to encourage teenagers to abstain from drinking.
- Teens: Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs (PDF): Teens are at risk for a number of chemical dependencies, including tobacco, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol.
- Drug Facts: Alcohol: Alcohol can have both short-term and long-term effects on a teenager’s brain. In the short term, it’s difficult for a teenager to make good decisions. In the long term, a teen may have difficulty learning.
- Teenage Alcohol and Drug Abuse (PDF): Alcohol is the drug of choice among teenagers, topping the lists of used and abused substances for adolescents.
- Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Teens may turn to drugs or alcohol as they strive to fit in with peers or to escape problems.
With their developing sexual maturity, teenagers are usually curious about sex. Teens need to receive information about sexual development, sexual health, sexual contact, safer sex practices, and sexually transmitted diseases. A mistake could result in a disease or an unplanned pregnancy, which could have long-term implications for a teenager. When parents talk openly about sex, teens can feel comfortable asking questions.
- Preventing Teen Pregnancy: Teen pregnancy can set the stage for a variety of health and economic problems for teens and their children. The rate of births to teenagers is declining, but this is still a prevalent occurrence.
- How Do You Get HIV or AIDS? Sexual contact and sharing needles or syringes are the two most common ways of spreading HIV.
- Cervical Cancer Myths and Facts: Cervical cancer is a result of human papillomavirus, which can be prevented with the HPV vaccine.
- The Teen Years Explained (PDF): Hormones precipitate the physical changes of puberty. These hormones often cause emotional changes in an adolescent.
- Sexual Health Basics You Need to Know: Healthy relationships and sexual health are important areas that teens need to understand. Protected sexual contact is crucial to prevent against sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.
- Safer Sex Guidelines for Adolescents: While abstinence is the safest route, teens can follow guidelines for safer sex to protect themselves from illness.
- Contraception and Adolescents: Teenagers need to make informed decisions about their reproductive health and their sexuality to avoid negative consequences.
Adolescents often struggle with emotional conflicts and feelings. With strong parental support, teens can move through adolescence positively. Some teens experience greater challenges, however. Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety can plague some teens. These young people need special support, possibly by mental health professionals, to help them succeed.
- Planning Advice for Teens (PDF): Although adolescence can be challenging, teens can plan for success. By making a commitment to take care of their mind and body, teens can grow successfully.
- Mental Health Tips for Teens Graduating From High School: Graduating from high school is an exciting time for teenagers. They need emotional support from parents during this time to move forward positively.
- The Mental Health of Adolescents: A National Profile, 2008 (PDF): Adults with mental health issues were usually diagnosed with the problems during adolescence. The typical age of onset of mental health disorders is 14.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder: Oppositional defiant disorder involves a teen’s irritable, uncooperative, and defiant behavior, typically directed toward parents, teachers, peers, and other people in authority.
- Most Teen Psychiatric Disorders Go Untreated: A recent study suggests that more than 50 percent of teenagers with psychiatric disorders do not receive the treatment they need. Treatment that does happen often does not involve specialists in the mental health field.
- Teen Suicide: Teenagers experience significant stress due to physical changes and new thought patterns. Sometimes these changes are exacerbated by outside stresses, such as changes in family dynamics or problems at school. Some teens respond by becoming suicidal.
- Study: Teens Have Easy Access to Guns, Despite Suicide Risk: Teenagers at an elevated risk for suicide often have access to firearms. The presence of a gun in a home increases the suicide risk.
Teenagers tend to be heavy users of the Internet, especially on mobile devices. Parents must educate teenagers about Internet safety to prevent potential issues with Internet offenders. Heavy electronic usage is also a factor in sleep disturbances, so parents should encourage moderate usage by teenagers. Parental supervision of teen electronic usage should help avoid issues.
- Internet Safety Education for Teens: Getting it Right (PDF): Teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15 are the most prevalent victims of Internet offenders. However, offenders will target teens of any age who are willing to talk about sex with them.
- Internet Safety Guide for Teens (PDF): Teens embrace the Internet, enjoying connectivity and the ability to find information. However, adolescents must understand the inherent dangers of the Web to avoid falling prey to a criminal.
- Gaming Safety Tips for Kids, Tweens, and Teens (PDF): Playing games is a common activity for kids and teenagers. Online gaming can involve interacting with other people, who may not always be people known personally.
- Internet Safety Quiz for Teens (PDF): Have teenagers take a safety quiz to see how much they know about staying safe on the Internet.
- Sexting: How Teens Can Stay Safe (PDF): Sexting involves sending messages or photos that are of a sexually explicit nature.
- How Safe Is Your Child Online? (PDF): Parents can keep teenagers safer online by teaching them about predators and supervising Internet activities.
- A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety: The FBI shares tips and information to help parents keep their children safe as they use the Internet.