Tuning into Teen Health

March 29, 2017
Tuning into Teen Health

As a parent, you can encourage healthy choices.

Pediatrician Wesley Robertson, MD

Ask the Doctor

Your child goes through a lot of changes in the teenage years, and good habits today can help support better health well into the future, says Pediatrician Wesley Robertson, MD, founder of Sunshine Valley Pediatrics in Las Vegas.

As a parent, you can encourage healthy choices. Here are some tips and reminders to help your child stay on track.


Q. What are some ideas for healthy snacks?

The best snacks have less sugar and white flour, and more of the good things teens’ bodies need, like complex carbohydrates, calcium and protein. Some healthy ideas include low-fat yogurt, apples and peanut butter, string cheese, popcorn with sprinkled Parmesan cheese instead of butter, kale chips, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid sugary “energy bars,” and be creative. You can even make your own trail mix with a favorite healthy cereal and dried fruit or nuts.

Q. What vaccines do older kids need?

The Tdap vaccine is recommended for preteens and teens to reinforce protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Also, vaccines are recommended to protect against meningococcal disease and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can pose an increased risk as your child matures. Additionally, an annual flu vaccine is recommended.

Q. Why does my teen want to stay up so late at night?

Teens’ internal clocks may make them more inclined to get sleepy later and wake up later. Avoiding long naps, limiting caffeine, unplugging from electronics an hour before bedtime and sticking to a schedule, even on weekends, can help support good sleep habits. Getting quality sleep can help your teen feel better mentally, perform better in school and stay healthier physically.

Q. What are signs of depression or a mental health problem?

Some signs that there may be a problem include a change in school performance, a loss of interest in favorite activities, disruptions in sleep, isolation, personality changes, use of alcohol or drugs, and weight loss. You know your child best. If you feel that something isn’t right, it’s important to seek professional help.

 

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