Your Teen

4 Dangerous Teen Trends Parents Should Know

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When kids get together they not only share the latest gossip or fashions, but also dangerous trends.

Children in middle school and high school are sharing videos of kids their age doing incredibly perilous activities and many times, their parents don’t have a clue.

Today, parents need to know what kinds of influences their kids are being inundated with. The types of trends that are gaining in popularity aren’t necessarily the ones that your child will easily divulge.

As the school year reconnects students and introduces new peers into the mix, pre-teens and teens-in search of recognition-are either doing or considering doing some seriously stupid things.

We know that kids in this age group act out impulsively with little thought given to consequences. There’s a scientific reason for this type of behavior.

Brain scans reveal that the frontal lobes, used in making critical and objective decisions, do not mature until about age 25.

Since the brain is still developing, choices teens make can be strongly influenced by peer pressure, a need to stand out among others and intense emotional feelings. A pre-teen or adolescent’s decision making may become overwhelmed by their immature circuitry.

While you may think your child would never do something truly dangerous, he or she may surprise you.

Here are four popular trends that parents need to be aware of:

The Fire Challenge: This one is particularly dangerous. Teens are taking the “fire challenge.” They are dousing themselves in flammable liquids, lighting it and — in theory —extinguishing it before being seriously injured, while recording the act and then sharing the video on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Yes, our kids are recording themselves being engulfed in flames, flailing and screaming in pain. 

There are thousands of the videos circulating and injuries have included severe burns and hospitalization. Officials around the country, along with the American Burn Association, are asking parents to warn their child about the game.

Many parents just can’t believe their child would actually do something like this, but even “good” kids are taking the challenge. Be sure and talk to your child about these types of videos and persuade them not to share or promote them with friends.

Synthetic Pot or Spice: Also called “Scooby snacks,” “K2,” or any of half a dozen other names, teens might consider this an “alternative” to pot, but it’s dangerously more potent. These “synthetic cannabinoids” consist of dozens of chemicals manufactured in China, Eastern Europe and American labs.

The drug looks like potpourri or lawn clippings. The pieces have been sprayed or soaked with a solution of designer chemicals.

 Because of the popularity of these drugs, there has been an explosion of ER visits related to Spice or K2 over the past few years. There’s been a reported death in California of a 19 year –old that took one after he took just one hit of Spice. So if you hear your kids talking about it, know that despite the name, the only thing that is being cooked here is your teen’s brain.  

Dirty Sprite: Although this may sound like a soda that’s got dirt on it- it’s much more insidious than that. When you hear a reference to “Dirty Sprite,”. Kids are talking about the latest teen party drink. It’s also called “Drank” or “”Lean.” It’s a combination of Sprite, candy (usually Jolly Ranchers) and prescription drugs or codeine cough syrup.

There are YouTube videos of teens creating the concoction, and even sweatshirts with the recipe printed on it.

Experts warn that Dirty Sprite can be addictive and tell parents that it’s best to keep prescription meds locked up, as well as discarding ones that have expired. If you think that it won’t help to talk to your kids about prescription drug abuse, you’re wrong. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to use them, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Texting and Walking or Driving:  Every year a new batch of teens is behind the wheel, especially once school begins.  Never stop reminding your teen of the dangers of texting and driving. They may roll their eyes or give you the typical “I get it mom (dad)” response, but repeated warnings stick in the mind. A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that among teens, 25 percent reported responding to a text message at least once every time they drive, and 20 percent admitted to holding multi-message conversations.

Since videos are one way that other dangerous trends are spread, you can share more valuable videos by showing your teen stories that show the outcomes of teens’ texting and driving. They act as a third-party negotiator that makes the point clearly.

But perhaps the best type of parental influence is to just be a good role model. Sadly, adults are the biggest offenders of texting and driving. The “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude never brings about the desired results.

It's not just driving, either. Pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19-year olds have been increasing and the death rate among older teens is at least twice that of younger kids, according to SafeKids.com. It's unclear how many of those are because of mobile devices, but it's worth reminding your teen, "eyes up while walking." 

These are only four of the most dangerous trends this year. Kids are often too afraid to say no to their peers. As parents, it’s our job to teach them how and to report what they are seeing and hearing from other teens.

Research, open communication and reminders are essential to helping your child understand that these are not the sort of activities that will bring a brighter, happier or healthier future.

Source: Kavita Varma-White, http://www.today.com/parents/fire-challenge-spice-4-things-parents-should-get-clue-about-2D80183586

Your Teen

Teen’s Social Media Posts May Damage College Chances

2.00 to read

Teens and social media post are practically synonymous these days. Kids have grown up tweeting, texting and posting pictures without giving it too much thought. It’s just what they do. But now, it’s getting time to think about college or a first job and all that personal information may come back to haunt them.

Colleges are increasingly searching applicant’s names on the Internet.  Most college applications are submitted online, so an administrator only has to open a new tab to learn more about a hopeful candidate’s public profile. Background checks are easily available as well. 

The percentages of college admissions officers who say they have Googled an applicant (29%) or visited an applicant’s Facebook or other social networking page to learn more about them (31%) have risen to their highest levels yet, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of college admissions officers*. When Kaplan first began tracking this issue in 2008, barely 10% of admissions officers reported checking an applicant’s Facebook page. Last year, 27% had used Google and 26% had visited Facebook — up from 20% and 24%, respectively, in 2011.

“As social media has skyrocketed from being the domain of a younger generation to societal ubiquity, the perceived taboo of admissions officers checking applicants online has diminished,” said Seppy Basili, Vice President, Kaplan Test Prep.  “Granted, most admissions officers are not tapping into Google or Facebook, and certainly not as a matter of course. But there’s definitely greater acknowledgment and acceptance of this practice now than there was five years ago.”

Nobody really knows how much importance colleges place on what they find online about a prospective student.

Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, a national organization of private college admissions advisers, tells teens to review their postings and profiles with a critical eye. For example, Sklarow would ask student: “Do comments make you sound like a misogynist? A bully? Do hundreds and hundreds of ‘selfies’ convey narcissism?”

Parents need to be connected with their kids on social media sites so they can know what their child is posting. You can do your own investigation by Googling your child to see what kinds of information is readily available such as pictures, threads and what they like on Facebook and other social media sights. 

Many children have already been told that whatever they post is on the web forever, whether they delete it or not.

The Kaplan Test Prep survey also revealed that 50 percent of high school respondents said they were “not at all concerned” about online searches hurting their chances of admission. While optimism is a wonderful trait, teens and adults may view online posts differently. What may seem like common language and behavior between teens may not translate the same to adults. Parents can help teens understand what is acceptable and what might be considered inappropriate to someone considering a college or job application.

Online posts can also work in a teen’s favor. Many young people volunteer, take an interest in the environment, support worthwhile charities, take extra classes or work part time.  These are all activities that can leave a positive impression and help a student stand out.

Parents can help their teen prepare for college in many different ways. Talking to your child about their online profile is a good start.  There’s no guarantee that the college of their choice will be checking them out online, but if it does make sure they will have nothing to be concerned about.

 Sources: Jacoba Urist, http://www.today.com/moms/application-angst-teens-social-media-could-hurt-college-chances-2D11641782

http://press.kaptest.com/press-releases/kaplan-test-prep-survey-more-college-admissions-officers-checking-applicants-digital-trails-but-most-students-unconcerned

Your Teen

Schools Start Too Early, Teens Sleep Deprived

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It’s a battle that is picking up steam, whether to start school a little later so teenagers can get the sleep they need or keeping schedules as they are for the sake of planning before and after school activities.

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that teenagers are biologically programmed to go to bed later than most adults and sleep later in the morning.

Last year, the AAP issued a set of guidelines recommending that school schedules are modified across the U.S. to start at 8.30 a.m. This way, children and teens would be able to meet the recommended sleep hours per night during school days.

Fewer than one in five middle and high schools in the United States start at 8:30 am or later, as recommended, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The same recommendations suggested that indeed, the biological rhythm of teenagers particularly is very different than that of adults. While they need 8 and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep per night, their circadian rhythm doesn’t allow them to go to sleep before midnight or a little after.

School nights are particularly difficult for adolescents because in order to get the rest they need, they have to go to bed earlier than their minds and bodies are set to fall asleep.

The CDC released a new study supporting the recommendations of the AAP. According to the findings, 83 percent of U.S. schools still start before 8:30 a.m. On average, the starting time was calculated at 8:03 a.m., based on data collected from 39,700 combined schools, middle schools, and high schools between 2011-2012.

Depriving teens of that sleep could wreak havoc on their academic performance, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"Getting enough sleep is important for students' health, safety, and academic performance," said Anne Wheaton, lead author and epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Population Health.

"Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need."

The issue is driving a heated debate between supporters of later school start times and school administrators.

Safwan Badr, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine stated:

“It makes absolutely no sense. You’re asking kids to learn math at a time their brains are not even awake”.

On the other hand, Daniel Domenech, the executive director of the School Superintendents Association stated with regards to changing school starting time:

“It’s a logistical nightmare. This has been going on forever, and kids have been graduation from school and going to college. It certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt them all these years”.

Some experts note that the long-term consequence of sleep deprivation is hurting our teens and has been for quite some time.

Judith Owens, the director of sleep medicine at Boston’s Children Hospital suggests that chronically sleep deprivation characterizes the majority of today’s teens. This results in increased risk of onset depression, substance abuse, unhealthy BMIs. Long-term effects of sleep deprivation result in type 2 diabetes or heart diseases.

There are things that parents can do to help their teens at least rest better if they can’t fall asleep earlier. The first and foremost agitator for sleep is viewing or being on a computer or smartphone right before bed.

Recent studies have shown that the use of any electronic device in the hour before bedtime was associated with an increased risk of taking longer than 60 minutes to fall asleep. In particular, the use of a computer, smartphone or MP3 player in the hour before bedtime was strongly linked with taking longer to fall asleep.

Make your teen’s bedroom a quiet place that can be a retreat at night from busy schedules and social media.

Your teen can take a hot bath or shower before bed to boost deep sleep. Then keep his or her room cool (about 68 F) to cool down the body. One study showed that sleep happens when the body cools. Wakefulness occurs when the body temperature warms up.

Aromatherapy helps some people fall off to sleep. Certain scents are shown to be relaxing such as orange blossom, marjoram, chamomile, and lavender. You can apply these oils before bed or put them on pillows, sheets or in potpourri. If candles are used, make sure they are put out before getting in bed. 

Having a regular schedule can help the body adjust. Going to bed at the same time each night can assist in adjusting the body’s circadian rhythm.  

More high schools are considering changing their schedules to a later start time, but currently most schools are keeping with the typical earlier schedules. You may not be able to convince the school board to start school at little later, but you can help your teen find what works for them at night to help them get the amount of sleep they need to function at their best.

Sources: Bonnie Gleason, http://www.trinitynewsdaily.com/chronically-sleep-deprived-teens-need-schools-starting-time-changed/3209/

http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/u-s-teens-start-school-too-early-need-more-sleep-study-1.2506322

http://teens.webmd.com/features/8-ezzz-sleep-tips-teens

 

 

 

Your Teen

Heroin Use Increasing Among Teens and Young Adults

2.00 to read

The sudden death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an alleged overdose of heroin is truly sad. Remarks posted on the Internet range from praise and sadness at the loss of a great actor and friend to harsh condemnation of “another Hollywood junkie” and a “godless drug user” that threw away a life of privilege.

Yes, Hoffman made a bad decision when he began using drugs, but no one plans to become an addict.  Immaturity and a sense of being invincible are trademarks of teens and young adults. Reality is much different.  Somewhere along life’s journey, heroin addiction can and does happen to millions of people around the world. Drug abuse and addiction strangles the heart and soul of a person. Users aren’t always poor, uneducated, immoral or bad people. Addicts can also be smart, wealthy, good-hearted people; your neighbor, minister, family member, banker and yes, your child.

The drug culture is changing. Marijuana use among teens is at its highest in 30 years, In 2011, a national study showed that one in eight 8th graders, one in four 10th graders, and one in three 12th graders have used marijuana in the past year. Drug use is becoming more acceptable. While not all marijuana users will graduate to heroin or other drugs, many addicts began their drug abuse with marijuana.

Marijuana isn’t the only drug that kids are finding attractive. New, nationally projectable survey results released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation confirmed that one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription (Rx) drug at least once in their lifetime – a 33 percent increase over the past five years.

The increase in prescription drug abuse is thought to be fueling a rise in heroin addiction, NBC News reports. A growing number of young people who start abusing expensive prescription drugs are switching to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to buy.

Prescription pain pills cost $20 to $60, while heroin costs $3 to $10 a bag. Many young people who use heroin start off snorting the drug, and within weeks, most start shooting up, according to the news report. A national crack down on prescription drugs like Vicodin, Oxycotin and Fentanyl – a powerful painkiller for cancer patients - has made the switch to heroin, as an affordable alternative, more rampant. 

Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.

The thing about heroin is that it is highly addictive. It doesn’t play favorites. Anyone from any socioeconomic group and age bracket can easily become addicted with a very short span of repeated use. 

Heroin is an opioid that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant.

It can be injected, inhaled by snorting or sniffing or smoked. Once it’s in the body, it enters the brain where it is converted back into morphine - which binds to opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain (and body) and are especially involved in the perception of pain and reward.

Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem, which controls automatic processes critical for life, such as blood pressure, arousal, and respiration. Heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of breathing, which can be fatal if not addressed. Most fatal overdoses occur when someone is using alone.

In a short amount of time, a tolerance to the drug builds up so that it takes more heroin to get the same “euphotic” results. Even a short break in usage can cause an overdose if the user ingests the same amount of heroin they were using before the break.  

Recent surveys of teens and college age young adults reveal that this age group doesn’t believe that occasional use of heroin is dangerous. That should be a large red flag to parents of teens and soon to be or enrolled college students.

Hoffman previously stated that his long battle with drugs began during his college days. “It was all that [drugs and alcohol], yeah, it was anything I could get my hands on… I liked it all,” he said. That attitude is still rampant among teens and college students today.

At 22 years old, Hoffman entered rehab and stayed sober for 23 years. Last May he entered rehab again for a 10-day detox program. On Sunday, he died of an apparent overdose of heroin. He was only 46 years old.

Heroin use among the young isn’t a new thing, but it’s increasing annually. Heroin isn’t the only drug epidemic that has a hold on many kids. Stimulates are very popular in high school and college, especially around exam time.

How can you tell if someone is using heroin?  Heroin is usually smoked, snorted or injected. You may find the remnants of use in the bedroom, closet or bathroom. Heroin is a powdery or crumbly substance. The color is typically off white to dark brown. Black tar heroin is nearly black and is sticky instead of powdery. Syringes or small glass or metal pipes are used when someone is injecting. Spoons and lighters are used to cook the drug before injection and something like a belt, thin rubber hose or tie is often wrapped around the arm, hand or leg to make a vein stand out.

Users will usually get a dry mouth and his or her skin will flush. Small punctures in the skin appear (tracks or needle marks) in the arms, hands, legs and even feet. Heroin can cause someone to nod off in mid-sentence. Breathing is slowed. A user’s thinking is typically impaired. They will tend to lose some memory. Self-control and good decision-making suffers. Some users itch a lot, are nauseated and vomit. Skin infections and constipation are common.  Heroin users tend to become isolated except when they need to get more drugs. Personality changes occur and mood swings are typical. 

So, make sure your child understands the danger of stimulates or opioid abuse, whether they are prescriptions drugs, morphine, cocaine, Ritalin, Adderall or heroin long before he or she is ready to leave home. Its availability and temptation is much more widespread than you think.

Source: http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/in-the-news/377-prescription-drug-abuse-fueling-rise-in-heroin-addiction

http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/pats-2012

http://www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/signs-symptoms-heroin-use.html

Your Teen

Teen’s E-cigarette Use Linked to Family and Friends

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For many teens, e-cigarettes have taken the place of the traditional combustible cigarette. A new study suggests that teenagers are more likely to use electronic cigarettes if their friends or a family member uses them.

It’s a pretty safe bet that no teen ever started smoking traditional cigarettes because they tasted good. More than likely it was because someone thought it was cool, felt like walking on the edge of rebellion, watched family members light up on a daily basis or a friend pressured them to give it a try.

These days, the reasons teens smoke e-cigarettes are pretty much the same as they are for regular cigarettes. However, these new nicotine packed products have a number of appealing differences for those just starting out. They don’t smell bad or leave a lingering aroma, they taste a little like candy, and no one is quite sure whether they are producing unhealthy side effects that will come back to haunt you later in life.

“There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes," said lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Other studies have linked e-cigarette and traditional cigarette use, but this new study suggests that teens who begin smoking with e-cigarettes may belong to their own unique group.  

Researchers found that many of the teens in the study that said they'd recently used e-cigarettes, had never smoked traditional cigarettes. This was their first venture into smoking.

"If you think of e-cigarette and cigarette use as two circles, the overlap isn’t as big as expected," Barrington-Trimis said.

Using data collected in 2014 from 2,084 Southern California teens, the authors found that about 25 percent reported ever using e-cigarettes and about 20 percent reported ever using traditional cigarettes.

This finding is a cause for concern because e-cigarettes were the dominant tobacco product used, and a substantial proportion of e-cigarette users had no history of cigarette use, the authors noted in their report.

Fourteen percent of teens thought e-cigarettes are not harmful, compared to about 1 percent who thought cigarettes are not harmful. The teens also felt their peers were more likely to accept their e-cigarette use than traditional cigarette use.

Like many other studies on the use of e-cigarettes, this one can’t say with absolute certainty that smoking e-cigarettes leads to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, the researchers suggest that the more accepted these products become by teenagers, the more they contribute to the “re-normalization” of tobacco products.

"Our findings really suggest there’s a lot of kids who are using these e-cigarettes," Barrington-Trimis said.

The lack of research makes it difficult to know what to tell people about e-cigarettes, she added.

She said parents should tell their children that while research into the health effects of e-cigarettes is still in its infancy, nicotine is known to impact youngsters' developing brains.

Nicotine is also highly addictive and one of the most difficult drugs to break free from.  The longer you smoke – whether it’s e-cigarettes or combustible cigarettes – the harder it is to quit. Plus, little is known about the chemicals used to create the sweet tasting flavors of e-cigarettes.

Parents should make sure they know if their child or their child’s friends are using e-cigarettes. Unfortunately in this day and age, discussions about smoking and drug use have to begin early in a child’s life. Waiting till your child is a pre-teen or teenager to talk about e-cigarettes may be too little too late.  

Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/27/us-health-teens-smoking-ecigarettes-idUSKCN0Q11YC20150727

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/07/21/peds.2015-0639.full.pdf+html

Your Teen

Good Mood is Contagious Among Teens

1:30

A lot has been written about depression in teens because it can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences. However, like all things, there’s another side to teen temperaments and it turns out that it’s quite contagious; the good mood.

While many researchers have wondered if depression spreads more easily among teenagers, a new study suggests that depression does not but good moods do and are helpful in combating depression.

Researchers looked at more than 2,000 American high school students to see how they influenced each other’s moods. They found that a positive mood seems to spread through groups of teens, but having depressed friends doesn't increase a teen's risk of depression.

In fact, having plenty of friends in a good mood can halve the chances that a teen will develop depression over six to 12 months. Having a lot of happy friends can also double the likelihood of recovering from depression over the same time period, the researchers found.

"We know social factors, for example living alone or having experienced abuse in childhood, influences whether someone becomes depressed. We also know that social support is important for recovery from depression, for example having people to talk to," study author Thomas House, a senior lecturer in applied mathematics at the University of Manchester in the U.K., said in a university news release.

"Our study is slightly different as it looks at the effect of being friends with people on whether you are likely to develop or recover from being depressed," he added.

House believes that teens who have a strong network of positive friendships might actually help protect against depression.

"This was a big effect that we have seen here. It could be that having a stronger social network is an effective way to treat depression. More work needs to be done but it may that we could significantly reduce the burden of depression through cheap, low-risk social interventions," House concluded.

Depression is serious and should never be taken lightly, some teens may be overwhelmed by the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. This study suggests that adolescents that are around other adolescents who are happy most of the time seem to pick up on that feeling and it helps in lifting their spirits and changing their outlook.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/good-moods-spread-among-teens-702402.html

http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/teens/emotional-well-being/understanding-your-teenagers-emotional-health.printerview.all.html

 

 

 

Your Teen

Summer Viruses Are Gearing Up

1.15 to read

Is it hot enough for you? Summer is here and will continue for a bit! Winter viruses are a distant memory (good bye flu and RSV), summer viruses which have been laying dormant are once again rearing their angry heads.

My office has been overflowing with really hot feverish kids of all ages.   I think the most likely culprit for much of the illness we are seeing right now is an enteroviral infection.  For some reason, it makes us parents feel better if we can “name that virus”, seems to help validate the illness.  

Enteroviral infections typically cause a non-specific febrile illness and with that you can see fairly high fever. In other words, just like the thermometer as summer heat arrives , 101-104 degrees of fever is not uncommon in these patients.  Remember the mantra, “fever is our friend”. I think it is almost worse to have a high fever in the summer as you are even more uncomfortable because it is already hot!

With that being said, if your child has a fever, don’t bundle them up with layers of clothes and blankets.  It is perfectly acceptable to have your younger child in a diaper and t-shirt, and older children can be in sundress or shorts rather than long sleeves and pants.  Bundling may increase the body temperature, even while you are driving to the doctor’s office. I often come into a room with a precious baby who is running a fever and they are wrapped in blankets, let them out! That hot body needs to breathe.

These summer enteroviruses may cause other symptoms as well as fever, so many kids right now seem to have sore throats and are also vomiting and having diarrhea. With this type of virus you also hear complaints of headaches and body aches (myalgias).  The kids I am seeing don’t look especially sick, but they do feel pretty yucky!  Just kind of wiped out, especially when their temps are up.

Besides treating their fevers, treat their other symptoms to make them comfortable.   If they are vomiting do not give them anything to eat and start giving them frequent sips of liquids such as Pedialyte (for the younger ones) and Gatorade or even Sprite or Ginger Ale. Small volumes are the key. 

I often use pieces of Popsicle or spoonfuls of a Slurpee to get fluids in kids. I always tried to pick drink colors for my own kids that were easier to clean up, in case they were going to vomit again, so no bright red!  The cold fluids may also help to soothe a sore throat. Once the vomiting has stopped, and it is usually no more than 12-24 hours, you can start feeding small amounts of food, but I would steer away from any dairy for a day or two. Again, nothing worse than thinking your child is over vomiting, fixing them I nice milkshake (comfort food) and seeing that thrown up!  Many a mother has come into my office wanting to strip after being vomited on, in a hot car no less.   I don’t think there is a car wash around that can fully get rid of that smell!

Most enteroviral infection last anywhere from 2-5 days. There are many different enteroviruses too, so you can get more than one infection during the season. This is not just a virus you see in children, so watch out parents you may succumb as well. Keep up good hand washing and your child should stay home from school, the pool, camp, day care etc. until they have been fever free for 24 hours. 

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Teen

Parents Bullying Their Child to Lose Weight

2.30 to read

We’ve all read about, maybe even experienced it ourselves, children being teased, harassed and bullied if they are overweight. The heavier the child, the more intense the negative trifecta becomes. This topic often comes up when discussing classmate and peer bullying, but a new study also looks at obese or overweight children who feel bullied by adults in authority (coaches, gym instructors, teachers,) and their own parents.

Researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, gave 350 teens that had enrolled in two national weight loss camps, questionnaires to fill out. The teens were questioned about weight-based victimization including duration, location where the abuse occurred, who the perpetrators were and what kind of abuse they suffered.

Not surprisingly, results showed that a high percentage of bullying and teasing occurred at school (64%.) Most participants reported weight-based victimization for at least one year (78%) and 36% were teased and or bullied for 5 years.

The teens also noted who was responsible for the bullying. 92% said peers (classmates) and friends (70%.) Then the groups switched to the adults in their lives. PE teachers / sport coaches came in at 42%, followed by parents at 37% and teachers at 27%.

The types of teasing and or bullying were verbal teasing (75-88%), relational victimization (74-82%), cyber-bullying (59-61%) and physical aggression (33%-61%.)

Looking at these statistics, the saddest one of all is parents at 37 percent.

“What we see most often from parents is teasing in the form of verbal comments,” says Rebecca M. Puhl PhD, the study’s lead author.

Some of the remarks made to teens about their weight come from well-meaning parents who are actually trying to encourage their child to lose the extra pounds. But other studies have shown – and former teens who are now adults can verify – that teasing, harassing and bullying by parents and relatives can lead to eating disorders and psychological problems such as disordered eating (bulimia, anorexia), use of laxatives and other dangerous weight-control practices (extreme exercising), as well as depression.

Puhl advises adults to lend a supportive hand to overweight children, especially those who are already suffering from bullying at school and by friends. 

She and other experts agree that overweight children need supportive, not punitive, guidance. “Don’t blame your child for his weight. Dinner-table comments like, “Do you really need another piece of bread?” will make your child feel badly about himself, which will undermine his efforts toward health.

“Powerful biological forces maintain weight differentially in people,” explains Dan Kirschenbaum, president of Wellspring, an organization that runs weight-loss camps and boarding schools. Some people find it more difficult to lose weight because of their genetics. This applies not only to adults, but children too. It is going to require more effort and a change in how weight loss is perceived. Losing weight to fit in or to try and copy an unrealistic body type is eventually doomed to fail. Losing weight to be healthier has a much better chance of succeeding.

Tying nutrition and health to weight is a more realistic approach. You may not achieve the current “ideal”, but you will feel better and be able to be more active.

Puhl and several other experts offer parents an outline of dos and don’ts for helping their overweight or obese children in losing weight.

-        Don’t engage in “fat talk,” complaining about weight and appearance, whether it’s your own, your child’s or a celebrity’s. Saying “My thighs are so huge!” teaches your child it’s acceptable to disparage herself or himself and puts way too much emphasis on appearance, says Puhl.

-       Don’t promise your child that if only he or she loses weight, the bullying or teasing will stop. Another published study showed that the stigma around obesity often persists even after someone loses weight.

-       Don’t treat your child as if he or she has — or is — a problem that needs remedying. “This will make him feel flawed and inferior,” says Ellyn Satter, a dietitian and therapist in Madison, Wis., and author of “Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.” Do focus on a child’s other good qualities, and encourage traits like common sense, character and problem-solving skills.

-       Don’t ignore or dismiss bullying. If you suspect or know your teen is being stigmatized, talk to her or him about it. “Questions as simple as ‘Who did you sit with at lunch?’ can open a dialogue and help determine if she has allies or support at school,” says Puhl.

-        Do explore your own biases around weight. “If parents can get past their own inner bigot and be accepting and supportive, they can be of great help to children,” says Ms. Satter. “I’ve seen kids with that secure foundation come up with their own effective solutions to the teasing.”

-        Do focus on health, not weight. “Promote a healthy environment for everyone in the home,” says Puhl, not just the child who is overweight. Serve delicious, well-balanced meals, and encourage everyone in the family to be active in ways they enjoy. Emphasize the value of healthy behaviors rather than looks.

-        Do speak directly and matter-of-factly about your child’s weight if he or she asks. Don’t try to avoid the issue with euphemisms like stocky or solid, says Ms. Satter. Instead, she advises, tell the truth but re-frame the issue, saying something like “Yes, you do have fat on your body. Why, do people tease you about it?” Children are looking for information and guidance. “You can neutralize a message that’s often meant in a derogatory way,” she says.

Some parents may believe that “tough love” is the answer. They may have been overweight when they were young, or are overweight now, and do not want their child to experience what they’ve been through. So they “remind” their child constantly about their weight. Tough love is very subjective. What I may think is tough love, may be perceived as abuse by the person I practice it on. Adults are one thing, but children may simply not have the life experience to put it in perspective. Even teens – who often think they already know everything - are dependent on adults to guide them in the right direction.

Childhood obesity is a health problem that can be reduced through family understanding, healthy and nutritious meals and shared activities. Nagging, trickery and bullying doesn’t accomplish anything positive.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Harriet Brown – New York Times

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/feeling-bullied-by-parents-about weight/?ref=health

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/19/peds.2012-1106.abstract         

 

 

Your Teen

Drug Abuse Among Teens On The Rise

1.30 to read

Teens are not saying no when it comes to smoking marijuana and dropping ecstasy. During the last 3 years, there's been a spike in taking these drugs as well as a more relaxed view of alcohol use among the teen population. Teens are not saying "no" when it comes to smoking marijuana and dropping ecstasy. During the last 3 years, there's been a spike in taking these drugs as well as a more relaxed view of alcohol use among the teen population according to a new report by Partnership at Drugfree.org.

The results are particularly disturbing when you look at the statistics that were gathered. - 7 out of 10 teens interviewed reported having friends who drank at least once a week. - 6 out of 10 teens who reported alcohol use said they had their first full drink – not counting sips, or tasting – at age 15. Among the teens that tried alcohol just once, the average age was 14. - 32% said they drank to “to forget their troubles, ” while 24% said they drank to “deal with problems at home.” - Almost half, 45%, reported they didn’t see a “great risk” in drinking heavily on a daily basis. - Only 31% said they strongly disapproved of their peers, and other teens, getting drunk. The study found that between 2008 and 2010 teens that said they had used marijuana in the past year climbed  4% - up 39 percent from 32 percent. During the same time period teen use of the drug ecstasy in the past year, increased from 6% to 10%. The report, sponsored by the MetLife Foundation, was based on a survey of around 2,500 high school students. 'These findings should serve as a call to action for parents,' said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “'We encourage parents and caregivers to pay attention to the warning signs of teen drinking and other drug use, in order to intervene early and effectively. If you suspect a problem, do not wait to get help for a child who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction.' Some experts believe the rise in teen-age drug use, and the relaxed views on alcohol, may be related to the normalization of drugs and alcohol on radio and television, in magazines and advertising, along with other social media outlets. Budget cuts for treatment centers, and new struggles faced by families hit by the recession may also have contributed. "The net impact of all that puts an even heavier burden on parents who really need to play an active roll in preventing this behavior and knowing how to get help for a kid when they are abusing any of these substances," Sean Clarkin, director of strategy for the Partnership at Drugfree.org, told Reuters in a phone interview. Although Marijuana and ecstasy use has risen among teens, a 2010 study from the University of Michigan Monitoring the Future, said alcohol use among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students had decreased, falling 1.6 percentage points to 26.8 percent between 2008 and 2010. One resource for more information on teen drug and alcohol abuse is Kidshealth.org. They provide a comprehensive list of drugs that includes the symptoms, addictiveness, effects and dangers.

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