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Your Teen

Blogging Could Be Good Therapy for Teens

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When I was a teen if you had something you really wanted to get off your chest, but didn’t want anyone to know, you’d write it down in your diary. It was a safe place to express sadness, confusion, anxiety, joy and excitement. And being a teenager, all those emotions were swirling inside my head pretty much all the time. For some strange reason, I always felt better after writing it all down, clicking the lock shut, and placing the diary in a spot I thought no one would look. My musings were usually personal thoughts that I didn’t think anyone would understand anyway. In fact, I thought Bob Dylan captured my anxiety pretty well when he sang “If my thought-dreams could be seen -
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine.”

Today’s kids are much more likely to share their “thought-dreams” over the Internet in a personal blog, and a new study says that could actually be very helpful.

Research has long supported the therapeutic value of diary keeping and journaling for teens and adults. But now, researchers suggest that blogging might even be better.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Services and conducted by Meyran Boniel-Nissim and Azy Barak, psychology professors at the University of Haifa, Israel, found that engaging with an online community was more effective in relieving the writer’s social distress than a private diary would be.

So, how did they discover that? They randomly surveyed high school students in Israel who said they had difficulty making new friends or relating to friends they already had. Researchers selected 161 teens to participate in the study. The average age was around 15 and there were 124 girls and 37 boys. 

The teens were then divided into 6 groups. The first two groups were asked to blog about their social difficulties, with one group asked to open their posts to comments. The second two groups were asked to blog about whatever struck their adolescent fancy; again, with one group allowing comments. All four groups were told to write in their blogs at least twice a week. As a control, two more groups were told to keep either an old-fashioned print diary or to do nothing at all.

Four psychologists reviewed the blog entries to determine each writer’s relative social and emotional state. In all the groups, the greatest improvement in mood occurred among those bloggers who wrote about their problems and allowed people to respond.

People who responded offered positive feedback and support, and that appears to be the key.

“The only kind of surprise we had was that almost all comments made by readers were very positive and constructive in trying to offer support for distressed bloggers,” Dr. Barak wrote in an email to the New York Times.

 Royar Loflin, a 17-year-old blogger from Norfolk, Va., who did not participate in the study, says that blogging helps her find a little peace of mind.  “I definitely write posts in which I talk about being overwhelmed, and it helps me to relax. People will write in the comments, ‘I remember when I was in your shoes’ ” and ‘Don’t worry — you’ll get through the SATs!’ and it’s wonderful,” she said. “It really helps put everything into perspective.”

Once again I am reminded -The times they are a changing.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/fashion/blogging-as-therapy-for-teenag...

Your Teen

Acne

Teenage acne can be a traumatic experience for your child. It’s a very common condition, one that impacts over an estimated 17 million people. Dr. Robin Carder, chief of pediatric dermatology at Children’s Medical Center Dallas says acne can be due to a number of things. “Their follicles make more skin cells and that, combined with oil in our skin forms plugs. Once skin is plugged, you get a pimple.”

Dr. Carder says oil is stimulated more in skin during puberty which is sometimes why teens seem to be more impacted. Typically boys get more severe acne than girls. Parents can help their child by encouraging them to gently wash their face twice a day. Dr. Carder says to resist the temptation to scrub as that can aggravate the skin. Teens that have more oily skin should use a wash that contains salicylic acid, which will dry the skin out some. Teens with sensitive skin should use something more gentle like Cetaphil or a Neutrogena glycerin bar. She also says that if your child doesn’t see results from an over-the-counter product within three to four months they should see their pediatrician for a more aggressive treatment. Dr. Carder offers her teenage patients one final tip: “Squeezing and picking is probably the worst thing you can do and it’s probably the fastest way to reach scarring. They heal faster if you leave them alone.”

Your Teen

Teens Are Taking Risks "Just For Fun"

News study says teens are engaging in risky behavior just for the thrill of it.Every parent of a teen knows, the teen years can be a rollercoaster ride. Parents find themselves telling their teens to slow down while driving, don’t engage in risky behaviors, and stay away from alcohol and drugs.  But why do teens engage in this behavior? A new study says:  it’s for the thrill of it.

A study published in the journal Cognitive Development found that teens, especially 14 year olds were the most likely to take risks because it is an escape. "The reason that teenagers take risks is not a problem with foreseeing the consequences. It was more because they chose to take those risks," Stephanie Burnett, of the University College London's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, explained in a university news release. This is the first evidence from lab-based study that adolescents are risk takers. Advice to parents?  Begin the dialogue early, when your child is in elementary school.  Clearly discuss your expectations and lay out the consequences of engaging in any risky behaviors.  The sooner you begin having these age-based conversations the better.

Your Teen

Helping Teens Cut Down on Sugary Drinks

2.00 to read

Want to help your teen shed his or her addiction to high-sugar drinks? A new study says that when adolescents are shown the calorie content, and how long they will have to vigorously exercise to burn off those calories, many teens decide to make a different choice as to what they drink.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Most consumers underestimate the number of calories in a can of soda, and they often do not realize that such calories can add up quickly," lead researcher Sara Bleich said in a press release about the study.

Researchers set up in a convenience store and used 3 methods to see if they could discourage teens from choosing drinks packed with sugar. In the first method they posted a sign that noted there are 250 calories in a typical bottle. The second sign noted that the bottle contains about 10% of an average teen’s daily-recommended calorie intake. The third sign told them that they would have to jog for about 50 minutes to burn off the calories.

The results were that all three methods discouraged teens from buying the sugary drinks by approximately 40%, but the third method had the biggest impact. When teens knew how much they would have to jog to burn off the calories, 50% chose water or diet soda instead of the high-sugar drinks.

The size of soda drinks has changed over the years. Most can drinks are 12 ounces, but bottled drinks are usually 20 ounces, with some being as large as 1 liter (34 oz.)

Super sized fountain drinks and “Gulp” drinks can be anywhere from 28 oz. to 55 oz. The 7-11 Double Gulp has 186 grams of sugar (almost a cup of sugar) and 744 calories! How does 3 hours of jogging to burn off those calories sound?  Liquid candy is what some public health officials have labeled these soft drinks.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) looked at teens and high sugar drinks. CSPI’s analyses of 13- to 18-year-olds found that five percent of male soft-drink drinkers down about five or more cans a day and five percent of female drinkers consume more than three cans a day. That’s 80 percent more than 20 years ago. And, because kids are drinking more sweetened beverages than milk, they are getting too little calcium for growing teeth and bones, reports the CSPI. That's especially important for growing girls, who are at highest risk of osteoporosis.

For kids without a weight problem, one sweetened beverage per day -- as part of a well-balanced diet -- is fine, says Sarah Krieger, RD, LD, MPH, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "If children are maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and are active, one soda is OK."

The American Beverage Association agrees. "No single food or beverage is a unique contributor to obesity," says Tracey Halliday, a spokeswoman for the association. "Obesity is a serious and complex problem that is best addressed by living a balanced lifestyle -- consuming a variety of foods and beverages in moderation and getting regular physical activity. Quite simply, all calories count, regardless of the source."

If your child has a tendency to gain weight, however, it's best to keep these beverages out of the house. "Keep it for parties, since for most young kids that's about once a week," says Krieger, who is also lead instructor for children's weight management classes at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Also, limit other sweet drinks -- including 100% fruit juice. "Yes it's healthy, but it can have as many calories as a soda. One serving a day is OK, but that's all," she says.

There have been a lot of articles on teens and obesity. Some say too many. But the reason there is so much attention paid to obesity and children is not because of how children look- but because of the damage obesity can cause to a young person’s health. One third of all kids between the ages of 2 (yes 2) and 19 are overweight or obese.  Young kids and teens are developing health problems that used to affect only adults, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type2 diabetes.

Helping your child or teen wean themselves off high-sugar drinks is a good start to improving their diet and health.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to require chain restaurants and retail food establishments - companies whose primary business is selling food - with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on their menus. The rule would also require calorie counts on vending machines. The calorie information would have to be "displayed clearly and prominently" and be listed per item or per serving,

The goal is to help people realize how many calories they are consuming so they can make better food and drink choices. It’s a good start towards a healthier lifestyle.

Sources:

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/15/teenagers-buy-fewer-sugary-drin...

http:// children.webmd.com/features/children-and-sweetened-drinks-whats-a-parent-to-do

Your Teen

Energy Drinks

Just about every store you go into these days has a shelf of energy drinks, many of them marketed towards our teenage children. “Many are marketed as energy drinks but should be called stimulant drinks” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. Many of these drinks contain large amounts of caffeine.”

Dr. Hubbard warns that too much caffeine in a teenager’s system can cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, nervousness and upset stomachs. “It can also mess up a child’s sleep cycle, which is not good” she says. Dr. Hubbard recommends that parents read the labels of the drinks their children are consuming. She also recommends that if you need to hydrate your child during sports or other physical activity, give them water or a true sports drink, like Gatorade, and not energy drinks.

Your Teen

Parenting Tweens & Teens

2.15 to read

As a mother or father, who hasn’t wished that their child came with a “How To Be The Perfect Parent” handbook? It would be nice if for every stage of emotional and physical growth there was a clear –one size fits all- plan that would take the stress and confusion out of developing good parenting skills. Alas though, there’s no such thing, but there are experts who can help guide you. 

With children come different personalities that respond uniquely to his or her situations. It’s part of the challenge of raising a mature, thoughtful and self-sufficient adult.

The tween and teen years can be some of the most challenging times for child and parent relationships.

What is a “tween?” The tween years are approximately 9-14. It is less an age category than a developmental stage when your son or daughter is no longer a child and not yet a teen. Today puberty is statistically happening at younger ages on the average and that could be confusing to parents who think that their kids will be childlike until they’re 12.

More focus is placed on tween behaviors now than just 2 or 3 generations ago. Society has changed dramatically during the last decade.  Media images that encourage “grown-up” looks and behaviors as well exposure to sexualized fashion, music, and even dolls has had an enormous impact on this generation of youngsters.  The tween years aren’t what they used to be.

Everything is in flux as your little one strives for more independence, and you try your best to help them avoid making mistakes that can last a lifetime. And then there is the “generational gap” that puts a strain on being able to even have a civil conversation. Fashion, music, drugs, alcohol, sex, movies, cars, celebrities, school and peers begin to play a larger role in their life than you can possibly imagine.

And then there are teenagers, the adolescent years between 13 and 19. 

There may not be a one size fits all easy-peasy guide to parenting available, but there are tips from experts that can help parents navigate the rough waters of the tween and teen years.

WebMD.com delves into 5 common mistakes parents make as their children hit the unpredictable tween and teen years. Let’s take a look at some recommendations.

Parenting Mistake # 1- Expecting the worse from your child.

Although the tween and teen years can be difficult, expecting the worse from your child can lead to self-fulfilling behaviors. 

Teenagers get a bad rap, says Richard Lerner, PhD, director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. Many parents approach raising teenagers as an ordeal, believing they can only watch helplessly as their lovable children transform into unpredictable monsters. Expecting the worst sets parents and teens up for several unhappy, unsatisfying years together.

“The message we give teenagers is that they’re only ‘good’ if they’re not doing ‘bad’ things, such as doing drugs, hanging around with the wrong crowd, or having sex,” Lerner tells WebMD. Raising teenagers with negative expectations can actually promote the behavior you fear most. According to a recent study conducted at Wake Forest University, teens whose parents expected them to get involved in risky behaviors reported higher levels of these behaviors one year later.

Lerner urges parents to focus on their teenagers’ interests and hobbies, even if you don’t understand them. You could open a new path of communication, reconnect with the child you love, and learn something new.

Parenting Mistake # 2 – Reading too many parenting books.

What was I just saying about wanting a book to provide all the parenting answers? It appears that is not only impossible, but it’s not even a good idea.

Rather than trusting their instincts, many parents turn to outside experts for advice on how to raise teens. “Parents can tie themselves into knots trying to follow the advice they read in books,” says Robert Evans, EdD, executive director of the Human Relations Service, Wellesley, Mass., and author of Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with the Crisis in Child Rearing.

“Books become a problem when parents use them to replace their own innate skills,” Evans tells WebMD. “If the recommendations and their personal style don’t fit, parents wind up more anxious and less confident with their own children.”

Use books (and articles like this) to get perspective on confusing behavior and then put them down. Spend the extra time talking with your spouse and children, getting clear about what matters most to you and your family.

Parenting Mistake #3 - Sweat the Small Stuff 

Too often, we all sweat the small stuff, and sometimes ignore the big stuff. It’s certainly much easier to focus in on a behavior that we don’t like instead of trying to deal with a behavior that is frightening or dangerous.

Maybe you don’t like your daughter’s haircut or choice of clothes. Or perhaps she didn’t get the part in the play you know she deserves. Before you intervene, look at the big picture. If a certain mode of self-expression or set of events does not put your child at risk, give her the leeway to make age-appropriate decisions and live with the results.

“A lot of parents don’t want growing up to involve any pain, disappointment, or failure,” Evans says. But protecting your child from the realities of life robs her of the opportunity to take chances and learn from her mistakes while she’s still under your roof. Step back and let your child know you’re there when she needs you.

Parenting Mistake # 4 - Ignore the Big Stuff 

The big stuff is where things get dicey.

If you suspect your child is using alcohol or drugs, do not look the other way. Parents should address suspected drug or alcohol use right away, before it escalates into a bigger problem, says Amelia M. Arria, PhD, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

“The years when kids are between 13 and 18 years old are an essential time for parents to stay involved,” Arria tells WebMD. Parents might consider teen drinking a rite of passage because they drank when they were that age. “But the stakes are higher now,” she says.

More drugs are available today, illegal drugs and legal medications. For example, cough remedies with DXM (dextromethorphan) have become a new drug of choice for some teens. DXM is easy to get and teens and parents alike underrate its potential dangers. Studies show that between 7% and 10% of U.S. teens have reported abusing cough medicine to get high. Although safe when used as directed, DXM can cause hallucinations and disassociations similar to PCP or ketamine (Special K) when used in excessive amounts, as well as rapid heartbeat, unconsciousness, stomach pain, and vomiting.

Watch for unexplained changes in your teen’s behavior, appearance, academic performance, and friends. If you find empty cough medicine packaging in your child’s trash or backpack, if bottles of medicine go missing from your cabinet, or if you find unfamiliar pills, pipes, rolling papers, or matches, your child could be abusing drugs. Take these signs seriously and get involved. Safeguard all the medicines you have: Know which products are in your home and how much medication is in each package or bottle.

Drugs are not the only “Big stuff” to keep an eye on; too much time on the computer or texting, sexual activities and interests, distracted driving habits are just a few other categories that require more attention from parents.

Tweens and teens make mistakes and get themselves in over their head with drugs and alcohol, sexual behaviors, poor school grades and more. These risk behaviors can become real problems in your teen's life and be hurdles in the way of their success. While it's important for a parent of a teenager to allow privacy, we also have to be monitoring what our teens are into so we can help guide them away from risk taking behaviors. Your teen needs to have limits in your home. When you allow your teen to do anything they want, they will begin to take control and you are no longer the parent.

Parenting Mistake #5 - Rule With an Iron Fist, or Kid Gloves

Some parents, sensing a loss of control over their teens’ behavior, crack down every time their child steps out of line. Every day brings a new punishment. The home becomes a war zone. By contrast, other parents avoid all conflict for fear their teens will push them away. They put being a cool parent ahead of setting limits and enforcing rules. For these parents, discipline is a dirty word.

This style of parenting focuses on obedience above all else. Although the house may run like a tight ship, teens raised in rigid environments don’t have the opportunity to develop problem-solving or leadership skills.

Yet too little discipline does a disservice to teens as well. Teenagers need clear structure and rules to live by as they start to explore the world outside. It is up to parents to establish their household’s core values and communicate these to their children through words and consistent actions. Lerner calls this being an authoritative parent, an approach that “helps children develop the skills they need to govern themselves in appropriate ways.”

 

One key thing to remember about the tween and teen years is .. it’s not personal. It may feel very personal when your child yells that they hate you, can’t stand you, or never wants to see you again, but in most cases, it’s an angry outburst driven by not getting their way.  Remember your teen years?  We’ve all said things we regret later, learning to communicate effectively with your teen or tween smoothes a lot of bumpy roads.

Keep in mind that your influence runs deeper than you think. Most teens say they want to spend more time with their parents. And teens choose friends that have their parents’ core values. Keep making time for your child throughout the tween and teen years. Even when it doesn’t show, you provide the solid ground they know they can always come home to.

 

Your Teen

Teen Athletes Leading the Nation in Tommy John Surgeries

2:00

Teen athletes accounted for more than half of the Tommy John surgeries performed in the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 according to a new study. The surgery is actually an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR) graft procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. Tommy John was the first Major League baseball pitcher to have the surgery and the nickname has now become common use.

 “Our results showed that 15- to 19-year-olds accounted for 56.7 percent of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction (UCLR) or Tommy John surgeries performed in the US between 2007 to 2011," said lead study author Brandon Erickson, MD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, in a press release. "This is a significant increase over time with an average increase of 9.12 percent per year.”

Once a player has the surgery, he or she needs a good 12 to 15 months of recovery time before they are able to return to a high level of sport activity. Oftentimes, a second surgery may be required as the athlete continues to strain the ligament.

Baseball pitchers are the athletes that most often require the surgery because of the way they pitch; overhanded instead of underhanded. Many believe that the problems start in the teenage years with players who throw harder than ever and don't ever take a month off.

Dr. Erickson and his team looked at a private insurance database to identify patients who received UCLR surgeries throughout the US.

About 4 out of every 100,000 patients who had surgery between 2007 and 2011 had a UCLR surgery. These patients were overwhelmingly male, with 32 percent coming from the 15- to 17-year-old age group and 22 percent coming from the 20- to 24-year-old age group.

These surgeries grew at a rate of 4.2 percent each year between 2007 and 2011. And more than half were performed in the southern region of the US.

Another reason many teen athletes are susceptible to injury is that they play only one sport and play year-round, never giving their immature bodies enough time to rest and repair.

According to Dr. Erickson, more attention should be given to prevention because overuse injuries tend to occur in intensive training and high-performance games.

"The research numbers suggest that more young athletes believe that having an UCLR procedure performed earlier in their career may lead to the big leagues or a scholarship, even though only 1 in 200 kids who play high school baseball will make it to the MLB," Dr. Erickson said. "This paradigm shift needs to be evaluated further to help prevent overuse injuries in kids from the beginning of the season when most issues arise."

Some teens simply play through the pain without considering the possible long-term physical problems that could quickly end the career they worked so hard to attain. It’s up to the adults in their lives to watch over and give them the guidance they need to stay healthy. Parents and coaches need to make sure that their kids and students are following the safety rules established by the sport associations and organizations.

This study was presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer- reviewed.

Source: Beth Greenwood, http://www.dailyrx.com/tommy-john-surgeries-elbow-overuse-injuries-were-common-teen-athletes

 

 

 

 

Your Teen

Cheerleading: Fewer Sports Injuries, But More Severe

2:00

Cheerleading used to be relatively simple sideline endeavor, but not any more. Today it can be a competitive sport, daring and sometimes dangerous.

It typically rates low in overall sports related injuries according to a recently published study, but because of the changing nature of cheerleading and how injuries are reported – whether as a sport or a nonathletic extracurricular activity- the ratings could change.

Researchers noted that while cheerleading may be more dangerous now than in the past, it still gets kids up and moving.

"Anecdotally, it's pretty clear to most people over the past few decades that cheerleading has shifted from a sideline activity to a competitive sport itself. This may have resulted in an increase in injury," said study author Dustin Currie, a doctoral student in epidemiology at Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

"We only have five years of data ... but I don't know whether to say it's better for cheerleading to not become a more competitive sport," he added. "If it's getting more children to participate in athletics, it's probably a net positive."

About 400,000 students in the United States participate in high school cheerleading each year, including more than 123,000 involved in competitive "spirit squads" that incorporate stunts, pyramids, tosses and jumps, according to the U.S. National Federation of State High School Associations.

But states classify cheerleading in various ways, with some defining it as a sport and others lumping it with other nonathletic extracurricular activities, Currie said.

The distinction is important because defining it as a sport requires stricter rules regarding practice location and other safety measures, as well as coaching certification requirements, he said.

The new study found that while overall injury rates are low for cheerleading, the injuries that do occur are more severe.

Researchers discovered that concussions were the most common cheerleading injury, involving 31 percent of all injuries. However, concussion rates were significantly lower in cheerleading that all other sports combined as well as other girl sports.

More than half of cheerleading injuries occurred during stunts, with pyramid formations constituting 16 percent and tumbling accounting for 9 percent. Most stunt- and pyramid-related concussions resulted from contact with another person, most commonly their elbow, the study said.

Currie said one way to potentially reduce cheerleading injuries would be for all states to change the classification of cheerleading to a sport and recognize that the "vast majority of high school cheerleaders are athletes" requiring the support of athletic trainers and other appropriate medical staff.

"States need to think about it in terms of cheerleaders being athletes, as they are now, rather than some recreational activity on the sidelines," he said.

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/concussions-news-733/as-cheerleading-becomes-more-competitive-concussions-top-list-of-injuries-study-says-706029.html

 

 

Your Teen

Acetaminophen, No Threat To Child's Liver

2.00 to read

With more than eight million American kids taking the drug every week, acetaminophen is the nation's most popular drug in children. It's toxic to the liver in high doses, and can be fatal if taken in excess. Very rarely, adults may also get liver damage at normal doses, so doctors had worried if the same was true for kids. Concerns about liver injuries in children who take the common painkiller acetaminophen, sold as Tylenol in the U.S. are unfounded, researchers said on Monday. "None of the 32,000 children in this study were reported to have symptoms of obvious liver disease," said Dr. Eric Lavonas of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver. "The only hint of harm we found was some lab abnormalities." With more than eight million American kids taking the drug every week, acetaminophen is the nation's most popular drug in children. It's toxic to the liver in high doses, and can be fatal if taken in excess. Very rarely, adults may also get liver damage at normal doses, so doctors had worried if the same was true for kids. "This drug is used so commonly that even a very rare safety concern is a big concern," said Lavonas, whose findings appear in the journal Pediatrics. Some researchers suspect there is a link between long-term use of acetaminophen and the global rise in asthma and allergies, but the evidence is far from clear at this point. For the new report, researchers pooled earlier studies that followed kids who had been given acetaminophen for at least 24 hours. There were no reports of liver injuries leading to symptoms such as stomachache, nausea or vomiting, in the 62 reports they found. Ten kids, or about three in 10,000, had high levels of liver enzymes in their blood, which usually means their livers have been damaged. In most cases, however, those elevations were unrelated to acetaminophen. And even if they were caused by the drug, they don't indicate lasting damage, according to Lavonas. "Acetaminophen is extremely safe for children when given correctly," he said. "Parents should not be afraid to give acetaminophen to their children when they need it, but they should be very careful about giving the right dose." "If you suspect that you have given a child an overdose, call your state's poison center," he added. The Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center receives funding from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that sells Tylenol, but the researchers said the company did not support this study.

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