Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Your Child

Naps Help Preschoolers Learn Better

2.00 to read

There are two things adults envy about youngsters – their bountiful energy and their naps.

A new study says that those afternoon siestas that many preschoolers enjoy are not a waste of time.  In fact, a daily nap may improve their ability to learn by improving their memory skills.

Preschooler’s brains are busy. On a daily basis they are processing new and exciting information. Their brains are storing the input from these experiences in short-term storage areas said Rebecca Spencer, lead study author and a neuroscientist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

"A nap allows information to move from temporary storage to more permanent storage, from the hippocampus to the cortical areas of the brain," she said. "You've heard the phrase, 'You should sleep on it.' Well, that's what we're talking about: Children need to process some of the input from the day."

Many of the nation's preschoolers put in longer days than do their working parents, arriving at school as early as 6:30 a.m. and getting picked up after 5 p.m., Spencer said. "We're all short on sleep, and the kid's sleep is affected by the parents' schedules," she said.

For the study, the researchers taught 40 children from six preschools in western Massachusetts a visual-spatial memory game in the morning. The children were asked to remember where nine to 12 different pictures were located on a grid.

During the afternoon, children were either encouraged to nap or to stay awake. Naps lasted about 80 minutes. Later in the afternoon and the following morning, delayed recall was tested between both groups -- children who were encouraged to sleep and those who were kept awake.

The researchers found that although the children performed similarly in the morning, when their retention was fresh, children forgot significantly more when they had not taken a nap. Those who had slept remembered 10 percent more than those who were kept awake. The next day, the kids who had napped the previous afternoon scored better than those who hadn't napped. The data showed that a child doesn't recover the memory benefit from nighttime sleep, the researchers said.

To better understand whether memories were actively processed during naps, the researchers took 14 preschoolers to a sleep lab for polysomnography, a sleep study that shows changes in the brain. The children took naps for about 70 minutes. The napping children showed signs of signals being sent to long-term memory from the brain's hippocampus.

"Thus, there was evidence of a cause-and effect relationship between signs that the brain is integrating new information and the memory benefit of a nap," Spencer said.

The study was published in the September issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Spencer is concerned about the trend in many public preschools to discontinue naps. She said naps need to be put back into the preschool day, and she wants to see exploration of ways to enhance the napping experience -- with darkened rooms and comfortable cots or pads, for example.

What’s the bottom line? "Naps are not wasted time," Spencer said.

Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_140919.html

Parenting

Kraft Recalls Mac & Cheese Boxed Dinners

1:30

It’s almost a staple in many homes- Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese boxed dinners. If you’ve purchased a box recently, you should check the codes and manufacturing dates to see if it is one of the dinners being recalled due to pieces of metal in the pasta. 

Kraft Foods Group is voluntarily recalling approximately 242,000 cases of select code dates and manufacturing codes of the Original flavor of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner.

The recalled product is limited to the 7.25-oz. size of the Original flavor of boxed dinner with the "Best When Used By" dates of September 18, 2015 through October 11, 2015, with the code "C2" directly below the date on each individual box. 

The "C2" refers to a specific production line on which the affected product was made.

Some of these products have also been packed in multi-pack units that have a range of different code dates and manufacturing codes on the external packaging (box or shrink-wrap), depending on the package configuration.

Kraft has received eight consumer contacts about this product from the impacted line within this range of code dates and no injuries have been reported. 

Kraft notes on their website that “We deeply regret this situation and apologize to any consumers we have disappointed.”

Consumers who purchased this product should not eat it.  They should return it to the store where purchased for an exchange or full refund.  Consumers also can contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations at 1-800-816-9432 between 9 am and 6 pm (Eastern) for a full refund.

The recalled products are:

·      7.25 oz. box, Original flavor (Best when used by code date & Mfr. Code – Sept. 18, 2015 C2 through October 11, 2015 C2)

·      3-pack box of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor  (Best when used by code date & Mfr. Code – Sept. 18, 2015 C2 through October 11, 2015 C2)

·      4-pack shrink-wrap of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor (Best when used by code date & Mfr. Code – Sept. 18, 2015 C2 through October 11, 2015 C2)

·      5-pack shrink-wrap of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor (Best when used by code date & Mfr. Code – Sept. 18, 2015 C2 through October 11, 2015 C2)

Kraft adds on their website that “No other sizes, varieties or pasta shapes and no other packaging configurations are included in this recall.  And no products with manufacturing codes other than "C2" below the code date on the individual box are included in this recall.”

The 3,4 and 5-pack boxes also have Sell Unit codes that can be found on the Kraft website listed below. 

For more information you can go to the Kraft News Center at http://newscenter.kraftfoodsgroup.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=253200&p=irol-newsArticle_Print&ID=2026530

 

Your Child

Positioning an Unconscious Child

1:45

Children that have lost consciousness and are placed on their sides have lower odds of needing to stay in the hospital, according to a new European study.

"This is just a simple part of the first aid and resuscitation techniques that anyone can be taught," said Dr. Elizabeth Murray, who was not involved with the new study but is an expert in pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital in New York.

The “recovery” position has the patient on their side, with the mouth facing downward to allow any fluid to drain. The researchers say this position should be used on unconscious children who are breathing normally with already cleared airways.

The researchers looked at data on 553 infants and children up to age 18 who were brought to 11 pediatric emergency rooms across Europe for loss of consciousness in 2014.

As reported in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, the average age was about three years. The average time spent unconscious was about two minutes, although about a third of the group had lost consciousness for more than 20 minutes.

About one in five patients had an existing condition like epilepsy. And about half of the patients had previously lost consciousness.

About 26 percent of parents had put their children into the recovery position, with about 70 percent of those parents reporting they'd learned that technique from doctors or first aid classes.

Those who were put into the recovery position were ultimately 72 percent less likely to be admitted to the hospital than those who weren't put in the position.

More than half of the parents had tried other potentially dangerous techniques to bring their child out of an unconscious state, such as shaking or slapping them.

Those parents said they had learned those techniques from other family members or from media outlets such as TV shows or the movies.

"You can understand why a family member would do anything to make it stop," said Murray. "Just like fever or other medical conditions, there are remedies or potentially folklore that can be passed down."

Kids whose parents used a potentially dangerous technique to try to restore consciousness had twice the odds of being admitted to the hospital, according to the researchers, who were led by Dr. Sebastien Julliand of Paris Diderot University in France.

Murray told Reuters Health that parents who don’t know what to do in this kind of situation, should call 911 and speak to an emergency operator. "It’s really important to remember that the majority of dispatchers in our 911 system can give advice over the phone," she said.

Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-pediatrics-recovery-idUSKCN0V32SY

 

Your Teen

Why Do Teens Use E-Cigarettes?

2:00

Why do teenagers give e-cigarettes a try? Because these products are easy to obtain, not terribly expensive, come in lots of different flavors and their friends use them. All very adolescent associated reasons.

If they continue using e-cigarettes, it’s because of the low cost and the promise that they can help them quit smoking regular cigarettes, according to senior researcher Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin. She is a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Teens who initially tried e-cigarettes because of their low cost had significantly stepped up their use of e-cigarettes by the time researchers checked in six months later.

In addition, teens who tried e-cigarettes to quit smoking were more than 14 times more likely to keep using e-cigarettes than those who did not consider this a reason to try the devices, the findings showed.

Unfortunately, researchers found that e-cigarettes did not help the kids quit smoking. Four out of five teens that were smokers, were still smoking regular cigarettes six months later even though they were using e-cigarettes to quit, the investigators found.

E-cigarettes don't produce tobacco smoke, but they do contain nicotine. And researchers fear they'll create a new generation of smokers, with kids hooked on nicotine turning to tobacco for a stronger fix, Krishnan-Sarin said.

"That is the huge public health debate," she said. "Are kids going to start with e-cigarettes and then move on to cigarettes? Is that going to be the start of nicotine addiction?”

As part of the study, Krishnan-Sarin and her colleagues’ surveyed 340 e-cigarette users in two middle schools and three high schools in 2013, asking them why they first tried e-cigarettes.

Most cited reasons for first trying e-cigarettes as curiosity (57 percent), good flavors (42 percent), use by friends (33 percent), healthier than cigarettes (26 percent), can be used anywhere (21 percent) and does not smell bad (21 percent).

Six months later, researchers checked in with the teens and asked if they were still vaping and if so, why. They then compared the answers to the teens’ reasons for continued use with their previous reasons for starting e-cigarettes.

Kids who cited the low cost of e-cigarettes or their potential help to quit smoking wound up vaping more days on average than those who cited other reasons, the study authors said.

Teens who cited low cost, used e-cigarettes two out of every three days during the previous month, and those who wanted to quit smoking wound up vaping nearly that often, according to the study results.

Other reasons also predicted continued use of e-cigarettes: they don't smell bad; they come in good flavors; friends use them; they can be used anywhere; they can be hidden from adults; and they are healthier than tobacco.

But for kids who kept using e-cigarettes, "the most robust predictors were the low cost and trying e-cigarettes to quit smoking," said lead researcher Krysten Bold, a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

Krishnan-Sarin said these findings reveal several different means by which policymakers could make e-cigarettes less attractive to teenagers.

Earlier this year, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced new regulations for e-cigarettes. Anyone under 18 years of age cannot purchase them and they must show a photo I.D. if they appear to be younger than 27. Retailers cannot give out samples and cannot sell them in vending machines unless the machines are in adult-only facilities. These new rules went into effect August 8th.

The Food and Drug Administration will have to approve all e-cigarette products that have been available since February 2007. That means nearly every e-cigarette product on the market must go through an application process to deem whether it can continue to be sold.

However, the FDA did not address the issue of different flavors.

Federal officials also could ban the use of flavors in e-cigarettes, as has already been done in traditional cigarettes except for menthol, said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association.

"Despite recommendations from the American Lung Association and others, the final rule did not ban flavorings as they have in ordinary cigarettes," Edelman said. "We continue to believe all the measures that have been applied against ordinary cigarettes should be applied to e-cigarettes."

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story sources: Dennis Thompson, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20160808/why-teens-choose-e-cigarettes

Aamer Madhini, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/08/07/e-cigarette-regulations-set-go-into-effect/88362926/

Parenting

Mumps Reach 10 Year High; Hitting Colleges and Kids Hard

1:45

Mumps are making a comeback, particularly on college campuses and in daycare centers.

A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that mumps are at a 10-year high. As of November, 45 states and the District of Columbia had reported a total of 2,879 mumps infections — more than double the mumps cases reported in 2015.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Common symptoms can include swollen glands in front of and below the ear or under the jaw, pain with opening and closing the jaw, fever, fatigue and malaise, headache and earache.

Currently, college campuses are taking the brunt of the mumps outbreak.

Dr. Michael Grosso, medical director and CMO of Huntington Hospital/Northwell Health, said close quarters such as dormitory living, can make it easier to pick up the virus.

“It’s spread through respiratory secretions, coughing, sneezing, close contact and sharing the same cups and utensils,” Grosso told CBS News.

Some colleges, such as The University of Missouri’s Columbia, are asking students to restrict their social activities and to make sure they get immunized. Typically, two doses of vaccine are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, but the school is asking students to get a third measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine “based on discussions with public health officials and consistent with guidance from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

College students aren’t the only ones being hit hard by mumps; younger children are also experiencing a rise in reported cases. More parents have opted-out of getting their children the MMR vaccine - putting non-immunized children at a higher risk.

Daycare centers are similar to college dormitories in that they provide an environment where a virus can be easily spread.

While most mumps cases are mild, albeit, uncomfortable, others can be more serious.

“Most individuals recover uneventfully from mumps, however as many as 10 percent of males who get mumps will get an inflammation of the testes which can lead to permanent sterility,” Grosso said.

The brain can also be affected. About 1 percent of people who come down with the mumps get serious brain infections and can experience meningitis, encephalitis and deafness associated with a brain infection.

“That small risk was behind the original impetus to create a vaccine,” Grosso said.

 Physicians are urging students to get the immunizations and to practice good hygiene. Simple steps such as covering your cough or sneeze, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding sharing food, drinks, cups or utensils can help prevent the spread of viruses.

Vaccines are still the most effective way to lower your risk of getting the mumps.  No vaccine is a 100 percent protective, Grosso notes, but it can help you avoid the risk of serious illness and lifelong health issues.

“Receiving two doses of mumps vaccines is said to confer about an 88 percent reduction in risk of getting mumps if you’re exposed,” said Grosso. A third dose may increase those odds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the first dose of MMR vaccine should be administered between 12 and 15 months of age, and the second dose between 4 to 6 years of age.

Grosso emphasizes that parents need to get their children vaccinated early.

“Being immunized late is better than not being immunized ever. But being immunized late is not nearly as good as being immunized on time,” Grosso said.

Story sources: Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mumps-cases-10-year-high-college-outbreaks-vaccination/

https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/

Daily Dose

Exercise Can Maintain Heart Health

1.30 to read

Moms and dads...you have an exercise plan but what about your kids? Your child's heart health is important too! Heart health is based on genetics, diet and lastly exercise. (For adults and my teen patients as well, need to add smoking and drinking to the discussion).  

While I start talking about healthy eating during infancy the discussion about exercise comes a bit later.  If you have a toddler you know they “exercise”.....all day long, and never stop except to sleep! But as our children get older, once again it is up to the parents to model behavior, including exercise. 

I regularly ask, “how much time does your child play outside?” (I know it is much harder in winter months), “what does your child do for exercise outside of school?” and “do you exercise as a family?’”.  Once a child is older, say 5 or so, I include them in the questioning as well as they are a wealth of information. I ask them “if they ride a bike”....they love to tell me about taking off their training wheels. Then I ask “who they ride with and where do they go?”.  I also ask about bike helmets, you would be amazed at how many children tell me that they wear a helmet, but their parents don’t! (HINT HINT to parents). 

I find that most children under the age of 10 or so do get a fair amount of exercise, but as they get older many have stopped playing sports outside of school and have chosen to spend more time being sedentary.  They are not just watching TV, but have found other interests like music, art, drama, chess and even computer programming.  All of that is great, but children still need exercise and many schools have cut PE programs especially once you get to middle school and high school. This means that parents once again may have to encourage exercise, for the whole family. Walking the dog, family bike rides, tennis matches, front yard kickball or badminton.  Get the family exercising together....they may not even realize. 

The hardest group I have to encourage to exercise are my teens who are just not athletes (I can sympathize).  We all have our talents, but for some sports are not it.  I find myself asking my teenage patients, how much exercise they get and so many say, “None”.  Many say, “walking between classes” is all of their exercise, and the idea of walking to school is long gone for most.  Many of my teens start to gain weight after puberty and have to be reminded that we all stop growing....so you can’t keep gaining weight. Exercise has to be done on a regular basis...again it is about lifestyle. 

So, heart health and exercise should be a focus for families year round, see if you can get your family moving as we head into spring!

Your Child

Bullied Kids at Risk for Health problems as Adults

2:00

Being teased or humiliated by fellow classmates in school was once just a part of growing up for many kids. No one took it very seriously and children were basically told to either deal with it or physically fight back.

That began to change when bullying tactics changed from one-on-one painful snubs or pushing in the hallways to shaming and hateful social media taunts. All of a sudden everyone was in on the game and there was no where to hide or seek refuge from the never-ending onslaught of mean spirited and sometimes violent threats to a child’s very existence.

Bullying had reached a new stage of hurtfulness and too often the coping mechanism from children who were bullied was and still is suicide. Schools, parents and peers began to take notice and implement strategies to stop the bullying – at least in public environments.

Some of these strategies have been very effective and kids, as well as parents, are much more aware of the dangers that can come from bullying. However, there is always someone who thinks that they have a right to humiliate someone else. While it is more a reflection of the insecurity and abnormal personality of the person doing the bullying, the recipient still feels the pain and harbors the emotional damage to their self-value.

A new study looks at the possible future health hazards for children who have been bullied. Their findings reveal that adults who were bullied in childhood may be at an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

"Our research has already shown a link between childhood bullying and risk of mental health disorders in children, adolescents and adults, but this study is the first to widen the spectrum of adverse outcomes to include risks for cardiovascular disease at mid-life," said senior study author Louise Arseneault. She is a professor from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London.

"Evidently, being bullied in childhood does get under your skin," she said in a college news release.

The long-term study involved analyzed data from more than 7,100 people.  Participants in the study included all the children from England, Scotland and Wales that were born during one week in 1958. Their parents provided information on whether the participants were bullied at ages 7 and 11.

By age 45, more than one-quarter of women who were occasionally or frequently bullied during childhood were obese, compared to 19 percent of those who never experienced bullying, the study found. Both men and women who were bullied during childhood were more likely to be overweight.

Compared to those who weren't bullied, men and women who were bullied had higher levels of blood inflammation, putting them at increased risk for heart attack and age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, according to the researchers.

Like most studies, results didn’t show an actual cause and effect relationship, only an association or link between being bullied and future health risks.

"Bullying is a part of growing up for many children from all social groups," Arseneault said. "While many important school programs focus on preventing bullying behaviors, we tend to neglect the victims and their suffering. Our study implies that early interventions in support of the bullied children could not only limit psychological distress but also reduce physical health problems in adulthood."

Andrea Danese, a study co-author, pointed out that obesity and high blood inflammation can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Taking steps to prevent these conditions is important, Danese said in the news release.

"The effects of being bullied in childhood on the risk for developing poor health later in life are relatively small compared to other factors," Danese added. "However, because obesity and bullying are quite common these days, tackling these effects may have a real impact."

Counseling coupled with family support for children who have been or are being bullied can offer tremendous value to helping a child disconnect with the hurtful words and actions of others. No one likes to be made fun of or taunted for some slight “imperfection”, but those kinds of things can linger in the mind and wear on one’s self-value. The sooner they are dealt with and put in their true perspective, the quicker one can let them go.

The study was published May 20 in the journal Psychological Medicine.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/bullying-health-news-718/bullying-heart-disease-psych-med-kcl-release-batch-1756-699576.html

Your Teen

Lithium Safe for Children, Teens with Bipolar Disorder

2:00

A new multicenter study says that lithium, a drug typically given only to adults, is safe and effective for children and adolescents who have bipolar disorder.

The study, led by a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and published Oct. 12 in Pediatrics, affirms what clinicians who prescribe this drug have observed for years and suggests that doctors can now more confidently add lithium to the available treatments for this vulnerable population -- at least in the short term, the authors say.

Lithium is one of the oldest drugs for bipolar disorder, a chronic brain condition marked by spontaneous, seesawing bouts of abnormally high moods and depression. The drug's ability to stabilize mood extremes has been well established in adults.

The researchers point out that historically, children and women of childbearing age have generally been excluded from many clinical trials out of an abundance of caution. Some believe that while the intentions may have been good, being excluded in clinical studies may actually harm this population- leaving them without access to more effective treatments.

"Lithium is the grandfather of all treatments for bipolar disorder, but it has never been rigorously studied in children," says Robert Findling, M.D., M.B.A., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Findling initiated the work while director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Though medications used to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses are prescribed to treat bipolar disorder in children, Findling says, those drugs have been linked to substantial weight gain, a considerable medical and social drawback for young people that causes many to stop taking them.

Results from the study showed that the patients on lithium experienced far more significant improvement in their symptoms over eight weeks compared with those on the placebo. Some 47 percent of those on lithium scored in the range of "very much improved" or "much improved" on the Clinical Global Impressions Scale, a rating system commonly used to assess the efficacy of treatments in patients with mental disorders, compared to 21 percent of those on the placebo.

Unlike antipsychotic agents, such as risperidone or olanzapine, lithium treatment was not associated with significant weight gain, and none of the patients experienced serious side effects due to the lithium treatment.

Findling says the findings provide a scientific and reliable confirmation of lithium's efficacy and safety for children in the short term, offering evidence that doctors can use when deciding what medication to prescribe their pediatric patients with bipolar disorder. Further analyses are currently in progress to examine the long-term implications of lithium use, he adds. Areas of particular focus include evaluation of any potential side effects, such as weight gain, reduced kidney function or diminished thyroid function -- all important considerations, as those with bipolar disorder may need a lifetime of medication and behavioral therapies.

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 1 percent of teens and is the leading cause of disability in adolescence.

Source: Adapted Media Release, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/300847.php

 

Your Teen

10 Reasons Teens Act The Way They Do

2:30

Anyone in the midst of raising a teen knows that the adolescent years can be some of the most difficult to get through and understand.

As a parent or guardian of a teenager that wants to be more independent, but also needs supervision and guidance, the times can be challenging indeed.

If that’s the position you find yourself in, you may be asking – what’s going on in that youngster’s brain? Actually, there’s a lot happening!

There are several scientific reasons an adolescent brain can be similar to a toddler’s: After infancy, the brain's most dramatic growth spurt occurs in adolescence. Here’s 10 things you may not know about your teen’s brain.

10. Critical period of development. Adolescence is generally considered to be the years between 11 and 19. It’s easy to see the outward changes that occur in boys and girls during this time, but inside, their brains are working on overdrive.

"The brain continues to change throughout life, but there are huge leaps in development during adolescence," said Sara Johnson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Parents should understand that no matter how tall their son has sprouted or how grown-up their daughter dresses, "they are still in a developmental period that will affect the rest of their life," Johnson told LiveScience

9. The growing brain. Scientists used to believe the greatest leap in neuronal connections occurred in infancy, but brain imaging studies show that a second burst of neuronal sprouting happens right before puberty, peaking at about age 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

The adolescent's experiences shape this new grey matter, mostly following a "use it or lose it" strategy, Johnson said. The structural reorganization is thought to continue until the age of 25, and smaller changes continue throughout life.

8. New Thinking Skills. This increase in brain matter allows the teenager to become more interconnected and gain processing power, Johnson notes.

If given time and access to information, adolescents start to have the computational and decision-making skills of an adult. However, their decisions may be more emotional than objective because their brains rely more on the limbic system (the emotional seat of the brain) than the more rational prefrontal cortex.

"This duality of adolescent competence can be very confusing for parents," Johnson said, meaning that sometimes teens do things, like punching a wall or driving too fast, when, if asked, they clearly know better.

Sound familiar?

7.  Teen tantrums. While teens are acquiring amazing new skills during this time, they aren’t that good at using them yet, especially when it comes to social behavior and abstract thought.

That’s when parents can become the proverbial guinea pig. Many kids this age view conflict as a type of self-expression and may have trouble focusing on an abstract idea or understanding another's point of view.

Particularly in today’s heavy media influenced world, teens are dealing with a huge amount of social, emotional and cognitive flux says Sheryl Feinstein, author of Inside the Teenage Brain: Parenting a Work in Progress (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.)

That’s when they need a more stable adult brain (parents) to help them stay calm and find the better path.

6. Intense emotions. Remember the limbic system mentioned earlier (the more emotional part of the brain)? It’s accelerated development, along with hormonal changes, may give rise to newly intense experiences of rage, fear, aggression (including towards oneself), excitement and sexual attraction.

Over the course of adolescence, the limbic system comes under greater control of the prefrontal cortex, the area just behind the forehead, which is associated with planning, impulse control and higher order thought.

As teens grow older, additional areas in the brain start to help it process emotions and gain equilibrium in decision-making and interpreting others. But until that time, teens can often misread parents and teachers Feinstein said.

5. Peer pressure. As teens become better at abstract thinking, their social anxiety begins to increase.  Ever wonder why your teen seems obsessed with what others are thinking and doing?

Abstract reasoning makes it possible to consider yourself from the eyes of another. Teens may use this new skill to ruminate about what others are thinking of them. In particular, peer approval has been shown to be highly rewarding to the teen brain, Johnson said, which may be why teens are more likely to take risks when other teens are around.

Friends also provide teens with opportunities to learn skills such as negotiating, compromise and group planning. "They are practicing adult social skills in a safe setting and they are really not good at it at first," Feinstein said. So even if all they do is sit around with their friends, teens are hard at work acquiring important life skills.

4. Measuring risk.  "The brakes come online somewhat later than the accelerator of the brain," said Johnson, referring to the development of the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system respectively.

At the same time, "teens need higher doses of risk to feel the same amount of rush adults do," Johnson said. Not a very comforting thought for parents.

This is a time when teens are vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors, such as trying drugs, sex, getting into fights or jumping into unsafe water.

So what can a parent do during this risky time? "Continue to parent your child." Johnson said. Like all children, "teens have specific developmental vulnerabilities and they need parents to limit their behavior," she said.

It’s when being a parent to your child instead of trying to be their “friend” is more difficult but much more important for their physical and emotional safety.

3. Yes, parents are still important. According to Feinstein, a survey of teenagers revealed that 84 percent think highly of their mothers and 89 percent think highly of their fathers. And more than three-quarters of teenagers enjoy spending time with their parents; 79 percent enjoy hanging out with Mom and 76 percent like chilling with Dad. That’s not 100%, but it’s probably more than you thought.

One of the tasks of adolescence is separating from the family and establishing some autonomy, Feinstein said, but that does not mean a teen no longer needs parents – even if they say otherwise.

"They still need some structure and are looking to their parents to provide that structure," she said. "The parent that decides to treat a 16 or 17 year old as an adult is behaving unfairly and setting them up for failure." 

Listening to your teen and being a good role model, especially when dealing with stress and the other difficulties life can present, can help your teen figure out their own coping strategies.

2. Sleep. Ah, yes, sleep. Although teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, their bodies are telling them a different story. Part of the problem is a shift in circadian rhythms during adolescence: It makes sense to teen bodies to get up later and stay up later, Johnson said.

But due to early bussing and class schedules, many teens rack up sleep debt and "become increasingly cognitively impaired across the week," Johnson said. Sleep-deprivation only exacerbates moodiness and cloudy decision-making. And sleep is thought to aid the critical reorganization of the teen brain.

"There is a disconnect between teen’s bodies and our schedules," Johnson said.

Shutting down the electronics an hour before bedtime has been shown to help teens as well as adults get to sleep quicker and sleep better. No computer, TV, video games or cell phones.

1.The “I am the Center of the Universe” syndrome. You may have noticed that your teen’s hormones are causing quite a bit of havoc. Experts say that’s to be expected. But you may still wonder- what the heck is going on with my kid?

The hormone changes at puberty have huge affects on the brain, one of which is to spur the production of more receptors for oxytocin, according to a 2008 issue of the journal Developmental Review.

The increased sensitivity caused by oxytocin has a powerful impact on the area of the brain controlling one’s emotions. Teens develop a feeling of self-consciousness and may truly believe that everyone is watching him or her. These feelings peek around age 15.

While this may make a teen seem self-centered (and in their defense, they do have a lot going on), the changes in the teen brain may also spur some of the more idealistic efforts tackled by young people throughout history.

"It is the first time they are seeing themselves in the world," Johnson said, meaning their greater autonomy has opened their eyes to what lies beyond their families and schools. They are asking themselves, she continued, for perhaps the first time: What kind of person do I want to be and what type of place do I want the world to be?

Until their brains develop enough to handle shades of grey, their answers to these questions can be quite one-sided, Feinstein said, but the parents' job is to help them explore the questions, rather than give them answers.

And there you have it. Teen’s brains are exploding with new data, confusing signals and dueling desires. It’s a tough time in one’s development- but rest assured, what you teach them by example and compassion as well as how you gingerly help guide them will last a life-time. Even when you do the best you can, there are no guarantees that they will turn out the way you’re hoping they will – they are after all- individuals with a will and a mind of their own. But now you know a little more about why your teen acts the way they do.

Story Source: Robin Nixon, http://www.livescience.com/13850-10-facts-parent-teen-brain.html

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Can you use homeopathic products to relieve your child's illness?

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Can you use homeopathic products to relieve your child's illness?

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.