Peer pressure can affect people of all ages, so it’s best to learn how to handle it early on. Dr. Jenkins says just acknowledging the situation “can help adolescents not feel judged for experiencing it.” “One of the important first steps is to identify and label peer pressure for what it is,” she says. Once the teen recognizes that, they can decide whether to go along with it or decline to participate. Teens who are confident are more likely to go against their peers without fear of social consequences. It also helps if they have more than one social circle and an open and honest relationship with you as a parent. Along with an open dialogue, you can help your teen prepare for different scenarios with role play. Give them the words they need to practice declining peer requests. The other side of the coin, Dr. Jenkins says, is making sure your child learns to respect others’ decisions and isn’t the one applying the pressure. HANDLING PEER PRESSURE
Having a teen can be tough. Moodiness, defiance and other growing pains can leave a parent practically pulling their hair out. Here, Willough Jenkins, MD, a behavioral health psychiatrist at Rady Children’s and inpatient medical director of its Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services, gets to the bottom of some seemingly bizarre behaviors and gives tips on how to support developing teenagers with several common concerns.
Alcohol and Teens Don’t Mix
THE RESEARCH IS CLEAR: Alcohol has a bigger impact on a teen’s ability to learn and remember than it does on an adult. The exact reasons why are still unknown, but it is known that one neurotransmitter located in the frontal lobe, gamma-aminobutyric acid, doesn’t mature until up to age 25. “The frontal lobe of the
Dr. Jenkins encourages parents to talk to their teens about alcohol use, especially if they suspect their child is already drinking. “Asking them about their use, what aspects of alcohol they enjoy and what aspects they don’t like, allows for an open conversation about the risks
and benefits,” she says. “Providing education about the risks of alcohol use—and also the impact on their health—can be helpful. However, the more impactful technique in my practice has been to identify the need that alcohol is filling and then look for alternative, more healthy ways of coping with that need.” Parents should also seek support from their pediatricians or primary care providers as needed.
brain is the ‘brake for impulses,’ and is responsible for planning and decision-making,” Dr. Jenkins says. Alcohol has other negative effects on teenagers. Early use of alcohol increases one’s risk of a substance use disorder later in life, and some of the signs of alcohol intoxication make it harder for young people to stop using and easier for them to binge.
THE FRONTAL LOBE, WHICH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PLANNING AND DECISION-MAKING , DOESN’T MATURE UNTIL UP TO AGE 25.
10 HEALTHY KIDS MAGAZINE SUMMER 2022
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