Summer Tips for Teens

GlaxoSmithKline and the National Parent Teacher Association conducted a survey in late March, 2006, to determine the top summer health concerns parents have for their adolescents: Parents' Summer Health Concerns The parents rated a list of 10 health issues related to their young adolescent. Here is that list, along with the percentages of parents noting concern about those issues:

Knowing what to do in an unsafe situation: 77%
Understanding how to be safe online: 75%
Making healthy food choices: 71%
Getting a sunburn: 61%
Getting injured while playing sports: 56%
Getting bitten by a tick: 46%
Swimming or playing at a pool, lake, or beach not attended by a lifeguard: 46%
Getting stung by a bee or wasp: 44%
Suffering from heat/sun stroke or dehydration: 44%
Being exposed to an infectious disease: 42%
**Almost all parents -- 95% -- said they want their child to be active and fit over the summer.
**Nearly a quarter said their child doesn't get enough exercise over the summer.
**About half said their child spends too much time watching TV or playing video games.
**Other concerns: exposure to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, wearing inappropriate or revealing clothing, hanging out with friends parents don't approve of.

HOW DO I HAVE THE BEST SUMMER POSSIBLE?

o Before summer begins, remind your children about safety in talking to strangers and adults that are not well known to them. "Stranger Danger" should be discussed throughout childhood AND adolescence. The facts: 1 in 5 girls will be molested before their 18th birthday, 1 in 6 boys. 90% of all sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Discuss safety issues with your adolescent throughout the year so they know how to protect themselves in any situation!

o KNOW THE WHO, WHAT AND WHERE your adolescent has been on the internet! There are many programs you can buy that track virtually everything your adolescent does online. Especially if they are at home alone for some periods during the day, it is better to be safe than sorry. You are not intruding on their privacy...you are keeping them safe. Keep in mind that 1 in 5 adolescents have been sexually propositioned on the internet. Discuss internet limits and boundaries with your teen before summer begins, so you both start off on the same page.

o Often, adolescents will eat when they are bored, especially in the summertime. Keep healthy food choices at home, so your adolescent is less inclined to graze on junk food.

o Discuss ground rules at the beginning of the summer regarding what is appropriate for activities and what is expected of your adolescent. If they know ahead of time what the limits, boundaries and expectations are, there is typically less opportunity for problems as the summer goes on. It may be beneficial to have family meetings throughout the summer to stay in touch and discuss any issues that come up. Family meetings are not a time for discipline or punishment. They should be viewed as an open forum for everyone to discuss and be heard. Often during the summer, they can be a great way to connect with the family and "check in." Many families often do activities as a family after meetings to spend family time and keep in contact.

o Know who your adolescent's friends are! If you do not like someone whom they are hanging out with, get to know them. If you still don't approve, tell your adolescent and be up front about your concerns. As a parent, you CAN forbid your adolescent from hanging out with someone you don't approve of. Yes, it may cause an argument and be uncomfortable, but trust your gut instinct.....it could stave off many problems in the future.

o If you have a concern that your adolescent may be using alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, ask them. Be up front and let them know your concerns. If they are not open and honest with you, they will know that you are "on" to them and most often sooner rather than later, you will find out the answer. Again, discuss rules and boundaries with your adolescent before summer starts. Let them know what the consequences will be for serious problems.

o Be very specific about what kind, style and type of clothing you approve of for your adolescent. As a parent, you DO have the right to throw something away that you disapprove of, even if you didn't buy it!

o Have a rule that your adolescent checks in with you whenever the change locations when they are out with their friends. This way, you will know where they are at, who they are with and have more peace of mind.

Tammy Daniele, LCSW, received her Master's degree from George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Tammy helped develop and create the Early Emotional Development Program at Washington University School of Medicine. Past clinical experience includes work with depression, eating disorders, self-injury, anxiety, adjustment disorder, grief work, trauma and divorce issues. Tammy has worked extensively with the court systems in dealing with the emotional impact of divorce. She has provided expert witness testimony in divorce and child abuse/neglect cases. In addition, she has facilitated reunification of parent/child relationships after divorce. Tammy has a certification in divorce mediation from Northwestern University and provides mediation services pre and post-decree. Tammy practices Collaborative Law as a divorce coach and child specialist. Tammy is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the Mediation Council of Illinois and the Association for Conflict Resolution.

Adolescent Psychology

Adolescence is the intermediary stage of growth between childhood and adulthood. It represents the period of time during which a person is subjected to an array of biological transformations and runs into a number of emotional tribulations. The ages, which are termed to be part of adolescence, vary by ethnicity and extend from the preteens to nineteen years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adolescence encompasses the epoch of life between 10 and 20 years of age. Adolescence is an especially unstable as well as a vibrant period of any person?s life.

Adolescent psychology deals with the issues related with adolescence. Numerous psychologists all over the world now recognize this as a distinct phenomenon. This has led to the establishment of a separate class of specialized psychologists to deal with the issues of the adolescence. The American Psychological Association has a special segment to assist them.

Psychological issues of adolescents may include maturity in body, which leads to a curiosity about sexual activities, sometimes leading to teenage pregnancy. Apart from that, there is a tendency to experiment with drug and alcohol use.

In some cases, cerebral problems such as schizophrenia, eating disorders, and depression may also arise during adolescence. The emotional insecurity among some adolescents may also tend to cause instances of crime among youth. It is often seen that searching for a distinctive identity is one of the problems that adolescents face. It is also common for individuals to express their desire to be more like their role models such as athletes, rock or pop stars, and film and television performers.

Relationship with peers plays an important role in analyzing adolescent psychology. It is seen that 90% of adolescents associate themselves with a peer group. Adolescents receiving support from their peers are less probable to fall into depression or face anxiety. It is also seen that depressed individuals find it difficult to make friends. The nature of an adolescent?s behavior is greatly influenced by his friends and companions. Adolescent psychology has gained prime importance in the recent past due to increased cases being reported about adolescent depression and anxiety.

Adolescent Obesity

The population of overweight adults has now reached 1 billion, of which 300,000 are suffering from obesity. By far, WHO considers adolescent obesity to be an epidemic of global proportion. This phenomenon has affected both developed and developing countries. Obesity is considered as one of the major causes of hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, certain type of cancer, and type 2 diabetes milletus. The changing diet patterns, inactive lifestyles and the absence of healthy recreational facilities in the community have been identified as the causes of adolescent obesity.

Obesity is determined through measuring the body mass index of a person, which means that the weight in kilograms is divided by the square of height in meters (kg/m2). A person is considered obese if the BMI reaches above 30 k/m2. If the BMI is more than 25k/m2 but below 30k/m2 the person is already overweight. As BMI increases, the likelihood of acquiring health related risks conversely increase. If the population of adolescent obesity continues to balloon, it is expected that more adults will be suffering from the dreadful and debilitating health effects of obesity.

Psychological and social problems are likewise adverse effects of obesity, specifically adolescent obesity. Obese adults more often than not withdrew themselves from social groups for fear of ridicule. They developed a low self-esteem because being fat or obese is considered unattractive. They are often the source of jokes among their peers. The longer they experience alienation from their age group the more they succumb to depression, which may pose another health problem. Being fat is not socially bad after all, but if this line of thinking should be supported, many adults will be suffering from depression and other health problems.

One contributing factor to the rising number of obese adults is the media. Adults are bombarded with so many information regarding lifestyle food. Quick service restaurants are mushrooming in highly urbanized cities around the globe that mostly cater to the youth sector. Dishes that are cooked with high saturated fat that is of animal based and high in sugar content are also a major factor of obesity. Young have more time spent watching televisions program or playing games with their computers than playing a more physical recreational activities.

More than anything else obese adults need support in keeping and maintaining their ideal body weight. Any weight reducing diets programs or weight loss exercise course of therapy may prove futile if not followed strictly. Support from their significant others plays a vital role to curbing obesity among them by helping them to have self-discipline in achieving their goal to become healthy and physically fit.

Need to Review the Definition of Health by WHO in the Light of Research in the Parapsychology Field

The current definition of health by World Health Organization includes physical, mental and social dimensions of health. But even a cursory look at the current state of the world reveals that social health is conspicuous by its absence. There is severe unrest in almost every country.

Crime rate is increasing in almost every country. There is steady increase in alcohol abuse, drug abuse, human trafficking, child abuse (physical, psychological and sexual), terrorism, rampant corruption and breakdown of families. Not a day passes without reports of murder and rape.

All the advances in science and technology have not helped people to enjoy peace of mind and happiness. The reason is the neglect of spiritual development. Today's average man is running without knowing where he is going.

Leading psychiatrists while trying to manage problems like anxiety, depression and phobias have realized that man is not just a combination of body and mind but has a soul as well which survives the death of the body. Specialists in other fields have also realized that man has a spiritual dimension as well. Many reputed scientists including a few Nobel Prize winners are convinced about the existence of soul. Hence there is a need to redefine health and include the spiritual dimension of health.

We still do not know the exact cause of many diseases. Extensive research in the field of past life regression has revealed that many health related problems have their roots in our previous lives. Reincarnation is not a myth but a fact. Searching for reincarnation research or reincarnation proof will yield a long list of results.

Mere redefinition of health by itself will not solve all the problems. But if more and more people understand the cosmic law of cause and effect and realize that their actions come back to them they will certainly try to reform themselves. When leading doctors in every country start organizing seminars, radio talks and TV shows about the scientific evidence for the existence of soul and reincarnation people will certainly take interest in the topic. People will begin to understand that the purpose of human life is to grow spiritually and realize our true nature.

WHO should encourage every member country to accept the new definition of health which includes the spiritual dimension and modify the medical education accordingly. Doctors have to play an important role in helping people to enjoy sound health. In order to do this effectively doctors should first have comprehensive understanding of health.

Physical health cannot be maintained without taking care of psychological health and psychological health cannot be protected without tackling spiritual ignorance. Needless to say psychological disturbances lead to social problems.

Modern medicine has been a predominantly disease centered and treatment oriented system. There is a need to change this approach and give primary importance to prevention of disease and maintenance of health.

It is also desirable to combine modern medicine with Ayurveda in order to promote holistic health. Ayurveda which is at least five thousand years old gave the most comprehensive definition of health incorporating physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of health.

Ideally everyone should have some social responsibility. Doctors perhaps should have it to a greater extent as they are responsible for health. We are affected by what happens in our society. No one can be safe in his house if his neighbor's house is on fire.

Humanity has paid a heavy price for neglecting spiritual development. Another equally serious threat to world peace is religious fundamentalism. By promoting scientific spirituality we can counter both the threats and establish a new world order based on Truth, Right conduct, Peace, Love and Non-violence.

I request all the like minded people to support an online petition requesting the World Health Organization to review the definition of health and include the spiritual dimension. This is the link- http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/world-health-organization-review-the-definition-of-health-and-include-the-spiritual-dimension

Arun Kumar Suri is a pediatrician by profession. His website Healthy Family Happy Family is dedicated to various family issues with particular attention to child and adolescent health. The articles on the site look at the common childhood problems from different angles. It stresses the need to lead a balanced life giving equal importance to materialistic and spiritual aspects of life. You can visit his website at http://www.homebusinessandfamilylife.com/