Normal Growth And Development Of Adolescents
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Adolescents are children between 10 and 20 years of age. They are in a period between childhood and adulthood, called adolescence. This time frame may be divided into three stages, including early (10 to 13 years of age), middle (14 to 17 years of age), and late (18 to 20 years of age). During this time, your child's physical, psychological (mental and emotional), and social development will change. Your child's body changes quickly during puberty. Puberty is a period in adolescence where the body develops and matures sexually. Bones, muscles, fat, and skin grow very rapidly with increases in height and weight. Pubic and axillary (armpit) hairs begin to grow. Boys start making sperm, and the penis, testes, and scrotum become larger. Girls' breasts begin to develop and her monthly period begins.
- As your child matures, he is also able to think more deeply. His problem solving skills, memory, and abstract thinking develop. Abstract thinking includes the ability to understand symbols or images and complex ideas in a logical way. Beliefs, ideals, values, or principles are formed, and he begins to plan for his future. Your child may spend more time with his friends. Developing close relationships and being accepted into a peer group becomes very important. He may want to try many things such as sex, drugs, and drinking alcohol.
Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.
Helping your child:
- Set clear rules that do not change: Be a good role model for your adolescent. Limit television and movies. Limit the amount of violence, sex, and drugs and alcohol use that he sees. Talk about the dangers of sex, alcohol, and drug use. Tell your child the possible results of risky behavior, such as pregnancy, disease, drug or alcohol addiction, arrests, injury, or even death of himself or others.
- Know your child: Stay involved in your child's activities. Spend time with him, and be there when he needs you. Stay in contact with your child's teachers to see and deal with problems early. Get to know his friends. If he has a job, make sure that it does not get in the way of school.
- Keep open communication: Talk to your adolescent about the risks of being sexually active. Teach him about birth control and how to protect himself from diseases.
- Understand your child's actions and signs: Learn the signs of drug use, early sexual activity, depression, and eating problems, such as anorexia nervosa (starving to stay thin). If you see early signs of these problems, get help before the problems grow.
Have your child eat a variety of healthy foods every day. His diet should include fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, and protein (such as chicken, fish, and beans). Eating healthy foods may help your child feel better and have more energy. Weighing too much can make your child's heart work harder and can cause serious health problems. Ask your child's caregiver if he should be on a special diet. Ask caregivers if your child needs to use extra vitamins or minerals.
Exercise and physical activity:
Encourage your child to exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes every day. Talk to your child's caregiver before your child starts exercising. Together you can plan the best exercise or activity program for your child. It is best to start slowly and do more as you child gets stronger. Exercising makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and can help keep your child at a healthy weight.
Explain to your child why he needs to wear helmets and seat belts. Help him understand the risk of riding with a driver who has used drugs or alcohol. You may also contact:
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington , DC 20590
Phone: 1- 888 - 327-4236
Web Address: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov
Screening and counseling:
Have your child seen by caregivers. Talk therapy, or counseling by caregivers can help children who are sexually active, smoke tobacco, use illegal drugs, or binge drink. Binge drinking is having more than five drinks during one time period. If your child has multiple sex partners or has high-risk sex, tell him about the risk of AIDS, syphilis, and other STDs. If your daughter is sexually active, take her for regular Pap smear tests.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- Your child does not want to eat or has lost weight.
- Your child has trouble sleeping.
- Your child loses interest in talking or getting together with his friends.
- You or your child have questions or concerns about his growth or other issues.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- Your child has sudden trouble breathing.
- Your child acts recklessly or without thinking, or does things which are against the law or could harm himself or others.
- Your child has done something on purpose to seriously hurt himself or tries to commit suicide.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.