Teenagers experience rapid growth as they transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. The changes they experience involve cognitive, physical and psychosocial development. While young adolescents have a sense of how their bodies are changing, they might not always know that those changes are normal. Educating them on the natural changes that occur with adolescence can help them integrate into the adult world without distraction and focus on school and personal development.
Educating Teens and Adolescents
During this stage of rapid development, teenagers form habits that lay the foundation for their future. These habits involve diet, physical activity, substance use and sexual activity. With proper education on the changes occurring in their mind and body and how to manage them, teenagers can develop healthy habits that promote their well-being.
Here are some ways to help your teenager develop healthy habits:
- Diet: As your teen grows, their body needs proper nutrition to adapt well to the various changes they experience. Vital nutrients for teenagers include protein, iron, fiber and calcium. Encourage your teen to eat a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, eggs, fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and limit processed foods.
- Physical activity: Whether your teen participates in sports or gets their physical activity from focused exercise, encourage them to make regular exercise a habit. Children and adolescents should be physically active for at least one hour each day. Regular exercise strengthens bones, builds muscle and enhances mental wellness.
- Substance use: Educate your teen on safe practices and the dangers of addictive substances. Since your teen may encounter such substances, it is important that they know how to act responsibly in those circumstances.
- Sexual activity and sexuality: As with substance use, sex education should focus on safe practices and associated risks. Education on sex and sexuality should address the new feelings teenagers may experience during this time. Inform teenagers about safe sex practices and the importance of informed consent. Also, address the risks of unprotected sex, including pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
As for physical changes, it is important for teenagers to understand what body image is and how it can affect their self-esteem. Puberty causes significant hormonal changes that can affect both a teenager’s body and how they view it. These hormone changes can cause:
- Weight fluctuations
- Development of secondary sex characteristics
- Emotional distress
- Increased self-consciousness
If your teenager is distressed about their body, it’s helpful if they know the reason for the changes and that many of them are temporary.
Along with physical changes and negative body image, hormonal changes during puberty and adolescence can impact your teenager’s mental health. The increased self-consciousness can lead to various mental health disorders, including:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Conduct disorders
- Eating disorders
Parents and caregivers should pay attention to the signs of these mental health disorders. If your teenager demonstrates signs of mental illness, it is essential that they promptly receive the proper care and treatment. If they need medication, make sure you and your teenager learn how different medications for anxiety and depression affect the brain and body to prepare them for any side effects.
Schedule an Appointment With Mile High OB/GYN
Our OB/GYNs at Mile High OB/GYN are here for you and your teenager to help them navigate the winding road of puberty and adolescence. If your teenager needs gynecological care or help making sense of the changes they experience, schedule an appointment with us!