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Well Teen Care

Nutrition

  • Eat together with your family once a day if you can, and don’t eat in front of the TV.
  • Eat a variety of foods and make sure that your diet is healthy. Girls need to make sure that they get enough iron and calcium.
  • Do not skip meals. Eat 3 meals a day, especially breakfast. If you skip a meal, you may be really hungry later on and overeat. Snack on healthy foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean yogurt.
  • Drink more water and fewer energy drinks and sodas.
  • Try to avoid eating a lot of saturated fat and trans fats. There can be a lot of this unhealthy fat in foods like hamburgers, pizza, chicken nuggets, and French fries.
  • Balance the calories you eat by doing something physically active for 60 minutes every day.

School

You may find it hard to juggle everything that you need or want to do at school and after school. A mentoring program, teacher, or counselor can serve as a great role model.

Social Skills

  • Peer pressure can be a big stress. Don't let your friends pressure you into doing something unsafe.
  • When you get angry, self-statements can be helpful. For example, if you are feeling frustrated with a particular situation, you might say to yourself, “I don’t need to prove myself here.” If you feel very angry, leave the situation or go do something physical such as walking, jogging, or bicycling.
  • You may stress over school or test scores or worry that you are not physically or sexually attractive. Find ways to deal with stress. Talking with a friend, parent, healthcare provider, or counselor about life stresses can help.
  • Explore new interests and activities, including ways to help others. During your teens you will have many opportunities to think through problems and show responsible decision making.

Sexuality

Your body is maturing sexually. In addition to changes in your body, you may notice changes in the ways you think about things and the way you feel. Be open when your parents make an effort to talk with you about personal things like sex, drugs, and friendships. It can be just as hard for parents to talk about these topics as it is for you. Talk with your parents about sexuality, relationships, and values. Discuss things like modesty and commitment to another person. Remember:

  • Not having sex is the safest way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Healthy dating relationships are built on respect and concern. It’s OK to say no to sex.

Safety Tips

Car Safety

  • Always wear a seat belt and make a rule that the car doesn’t start until everyone is safely buckled in.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. Don’t ride in car with a driver who has used alcohol or drugs.
  • Night driving is very difficult for new drivers. Most accidents happen between 9 PM and 2 AM. Don't drive if you are sleepy. This can be as dangerous as driving drunk.
  • Follow the posted speed limit. The faster you go the less control you have over your car. More than a third of teen driving deaths involve speeding.
  • Avoid distractions like texting or talking on your cell phone. This can make it much more likely that you will have an accident. Keep both hands on the steering wheel. Eating, changing a playlist or CD, or putting on makeup are other things that you shouldn't do while driving. Taking a minute to pull over when you need to do these things could save your life and the lives of others.
  • Keep control of your emotions when you are driving. If you get upset or angry when driving, pull over to the side of the road until you feel calmer.

Physical Safety

  • Avoid sunburn by using sunscreen whenever you are outdoors in the daytime. Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. It should protect against UVA and UVB rays. Don’t use sunlamps or tanning booths.
  • Wear a helmet or protective gear and follow safety rules when you play sports or do high-risk activities, such as rock climbing, skiing, cycling, and snowboarding. Never bike, ski, rollerblade, or skateboard out of control. Stay within your comfort level. Don’t take unnecessary risks.
  • Wear eye protection if you are around dust, flying objects, intense light, or chemicals that could get into your eye. Wear safety gear if you play paintball, racquetball, lacrosse, hockey, or fast-pitch softball.
  • Use ear protectors when you are in a loud environment. Noise levels at concerts, where music is often louder than 120 decibels, can damage your ears in 10 minutes. Arena and stadium sporting events and car racing can be just as loud.

Substance Abuse

  • Most smokers started smoking as teens. There are many reasons you might want to try smoking. You may be trying to find a way to fit in with a group of friends, or think it’s a fun activity at parties. You may think it will help you relax. You may do it as a way to rebel against parents. None of these reasons outweigh the dangers of addiction, cancer, heart disease, and many others. If you smoke, set a quit date and stop. Ask your healthcare provider for help in quitting.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or abuse drugs, including prescription medicines or diet pills. Don’t use steroids to try to improve sports performance. Athletes who test positive for steroids can be suspended or disqualified. Steroids also have many serious side effects.

Bullying

There are different types of bullies. Physical bullies may hit, pinch, kick, shove, bite, or pull a victim’s hair. Verbal bullies may insult, start or spread rumors, tease, or make threats. Sexual bullies may make sexual comments, threaten, or touch in unwanted ways, such as snapping a bra strap. Cyber bullies use the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or pictures meant to hurt or embarrass another person.

No one should bully and no one deserves to be bullied. If you are being bullied, or are depressed and feel that you could hurt yourself or someone else, talk to a parent, healthcare provider, or another trusted adult.

Reading and Technology

Limit screen time (computers, tablets, TV, videos, cell phones) unrelated to schoolwork to 2 hours a day. Spending a lot of time on the computer takes time away from other activities, like homework, sleep, exercise, and face-to-face time with friends and family. It also increases your risk for obesity, sleep disorders, and attention problems.

If you are sharing information about yourself on social media, post only information that you want everyone to see and know about you. Many people can see this information, including your parents, your teachers, the police, the college you might want to apply to next year, or the job you might want to apply for in 5 years.

Dental Care

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. See your dentist for a checkup every 6 months.

Immunizations

Immunizations protect you against several serious, life-threatening diseases. You should get a flu shot every year. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you are up to date on all recommended vaccinations.

Next Visit

You should have a routine checkup every year through the teen years.

Written by Robert M. Brayden, MD, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Pediatric Advisor 2016.4 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2016-05-11
Last reviewed: 2016-05-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.
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