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Teen Health

Teens Smoking Cigarettes

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 09, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

teensmoking-1We’ve heard it over and over again, pick and choose your battles.

Smoking cigarettes could be the least of a concern with parenting a teenager, but health wise, it’s still a concern.  We also don’t want it to lead to other negative behaviors – such as drug use or drinking.

The fact is smoking cigarettes is bad for you.

Why do teens or even tweens start?  In many situations it’s peer pressure to be part of a crowd or group.  Maybe their parents smoke and they start by experimenting.

Kids can get pretty creative when it comes to hiding their bad habits from parents and most parents assume that their child would never do anything like take drugs, drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. In all cases there are certain signs to watch for that let you know if your child is indulging in any of these risky behaviors, no matter how crafty they may be at trying to hide them.

Here are some signs to watch for if you think your child may be smoking. 

  1. More use of breath mints or chewing gum – Has your child suddenly felt it necessary to always chew gum or have breath mints? If so, there is a chance that they might be trying to cover up the bad breath that smoking causes.
  2. The dirty ashtray smell – Chances are if you confront your child about smelling like a dirty ash tray, their first response will be to blame it on the friends they hang around. This may or may not be true. If their clothes and possessions constantly and regularly smell like smoke, then there is a pretty good chance they are smoking.
  3. Yellowing teeth – Smoking causes the teeth to yellow from all of the chemicals they’re exposed to, so if your child’s teeth are beginning to turn a shade of yellow then you may have a problem on your hands.
  4. TeenBoySmokingShortness of breath – Smoking does affect the lungs and decreases lung capacity, so if your child is beginning to get easily winded it may be time to sit down and have a talk with them.
  5. Bad breath – If your child has really bad breath that reeks of smoke, it’s definitely time for you to have a heart to heart conversation about smoking and all of its negative side effects.
  6. Poor performance in athletics – If you see your once active child suddenly begin to decline in athletic performance this could be a sign that tobacco use is to be blamed.
  7. Yellowed fingers – Nicotine from cigarettes can cause yellowish staining of the fingers that commonly hold the cigarettes. If you’ve already had a suspicion you’ll want to watch for those telltale stains.
  8. Unexplained coughing – Children can cough due to colds and allergies but if your child is coughing and there is not a cause of which you are aware, you may want to ask some questions.
  9. Their space becomes off limits for you – As kids get older they want their privacy and their space becomes sacred to them. This is natural, but only within reason. If their room becomes completely off limits to you, look into the reason why. Does the room smell like smoke? Are they constantly burning incense?
  10. Overuse of perfume or cologne – Attempting to hide the smell of smoke on their clothes by using extra perfume or cologne is another possible sign that your child could be using cigarettes.

father-and-son-talkingWhile none of these signs alone are necessarily cause for concern two or more together may warrant a closer look. If you find that you do need to talk to your child, do your best to stay calm and keep the lines of communication open.

Now is not the time to lecture or sermonize. Find out what the appeal to smoking is and remind your child about the costs both financially and to their health. Having an open and honest conversation will show your child that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being and hopefully will cause them to rethink developing this unhealthy habit.  Get the real facts on the risks and dangers of cigarette smoking to have an educated discussion.

Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.

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Why Teens Are Having Sex

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 30, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

TeenLoveTeens are having sex, however the the pregnancy rate has declined dramatically since the 1990’s.

After peaking in the early 1990s, the nation’s teen pregnancy and birth rates have declined dramatically—teen pregnancy is down 51%; teen births have plummeted by 61%. Since the federal, evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) was established in 2010, the teen birth rate in the U.S. has declined 29%, a drop about twice as large as the decline in any other four-year period.

This is good news, but pregnancy is only one of the issues that teens need to be concerned about.  Having sex also leaves you at risk for contracting sexual transmitted diseases (STD).  Using the appropriate protection is imperative.

teen-relationshipsWhy do teens have sex?  Here are some common answers:

  • I’m curious – I want to experiment/ get experience.
  • I just want to get this first time out of the way.
  • Sex is no big deal. Everyone is doing it.
  • Every one of my friends has had sex – I’m the only hold out. I feel like a wierdo.
  • The popular kids in my school are the ones who have sex – I want to fit in with them.
  • My partner really wants me to do it – he/ she says that it’ll bring us closer together/ prove my love/ show my commitment.
  • There’s nothing to do in this town but have sex.
  • I won’t really know how compatible we are until we’ve had sex.
  • My parents are so controlling and strict – they’d freak out if they knew I was having sex.
  • We’ve already had sex once – I can’t very well say no now.
  • It’s just a “friends-with-benefits” thing – what’s the big deal?

We spend a lot of time today talking about technology and cyberspace.  It’s important to discuss digital citizenship with our teens, but we can’t neglect the basics.  Like before technology, the birds and the bees are still a very important topic that needs to be a priority with digital citizenship.

TeenSTDAccording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey of high school students from 34 states:

  • An estimated 48% had sexual intercourse before graduating from high school.
  • Approximately 15% had sexual intercourse with four or more partners before graduating from high school.
  • Nearly 62% of currently sexually active students used a condom during last sexual intercourse.
  • Approximately 90% of the students said they had been taught about AIDS and HIV infection in school.

In a Seventeen  magazine survey of boys and young men, almost half said they were virgins and one in four said he had lied to other kids about not being a virgin. According to the survey of 1,200 boys and young men, age 15 to 22, 60% said they lied about something sexual, 30%  lied about “how far they had gone,” and 78%  said that there was too much pressure from society to have sex.

Nearly two-thirds of teens that have had sexual intercourse say they regret it and wish they had waited, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The campaign also found that when it comes to making a decision about sex, 30% said that friends influenced their decision the most.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

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