Q: At what age do teenagers usually go through puberty?
A: Most teens will experience the physical changes associated with puberty by age 15. It is important to remember, however, that each child is different. Make sure to emphasis to your child that his or her own growth and development is normal, despite what they may see in peers and the media.
Q: My teenager likes to spend a lot of time in his room. Is this normal?
A: As your child matures into adult, some will seek more privacy as a part of emotional and social development. Friends also may replace family as confidantes. While this behavior is normal, it is important to keep your teen included and involved in family life.
Q: How can I keep my teen from engaging in drug and alcohol abuse?
A: One of the most valuable things you can do to prevent teen substance abuse is to be a good role model. Be open and direct on your beliefs and expectations. Set strict rules with consequences. Through these conversations, your teen should understand the personal and legal risks, equipping them to deal with peer pressure in a mature way.
Q: What are some warning signs of substance abuse?
A: Warning signs include less attention to personal grooming, red eyes, less interest in school and activities, changes in behavior and attitude, being overly withdrawn from the family, a loss of appetite and new friends who are uninvolved in school/family. Remember that you know your child better than anyone. If you have concerns, address them in a calm, open and direct way.
Q: What do I do if I catch my teen engaging in substance abuse?
A: If it is a first time offense, have a serious conversation with your teen. Don’t be judgmental, but set firm rules and consequences moving forward. However, if this is a recurring problem, ask for help from a physician or counselor to determine treatment.
Q: How should I discuss sex with my teen?
A: Open discussions about sex and sexuality should be ongoing. The goal is to provide them with the information they need to be safe, so that they will not receive the wrong information from others. Make sure your teen fully understands risks, such as pregnancy, STIs and emotional impact. If you are uncomfortable discussing sex with your teen, ask a physician or trusted family member to help.
Q: How much sleep should my teen be getting a night?
A: Teenagers need eight to 10 hours of sleep a night to be at their best. To encourage a good night’s sleep, limit obstacles such as cell phone use, television and the computer while trying to go to sleep.
Q: At what age will my teenager no longer be able to see a pediatrician?
A: As your child matures, he or she will likely begin to have questions or medical concerns more appropriately addressed by a physician that specializes in taking care of adult issues. When your child turns 18, it is important to begin the process of finding and transitioning to an internal medicine doctor or a physician in family practice.
Q: How can I keep my teen safe when I’m not there?
A: As your teenager becomes more independent, you can help them stay safe through the lessons you teach at home. Discuss car, sun, internet, bike and firearm safety on a regular basis to give them the tools they need to make safe choices.
Q: My teenager always thinks she is right, and I am wrong! How can I get through to her?
A: As frustrating as this is, this way of thinking is a normal part of cognitive development. Encourage your teen to continue developing mature ways of thinking by involving him or her in household decisions and helping set concrete and achievable goals.