Our practice is pleased to offer specialized services for young adults. The teen years are tough. We understand there is some comfort that comes from maintaining medical care with a trusted provider who has watched your child grow up. The feeling of comfort applies to parents and teens alike. Also, the years from age 18 through 25 are often years when young people do not see a doctor regularly. This is often because they aren’t sure who to see. NOVA Pediatrics and Young Adult Medicine includes providers who are board certified in both pediatrics and adolescent medicine. It is our hope to help patients and their families bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood.
Relationships are difficult at any age. It’s important that teens and young adults learn how to identify a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy one. While focus is primarily on romantic relationships, it’s important to maintain healthy, positive friendships as well. Parents and guardians should speak with their teens about what constitutes a healthy relationship. Adults should also strive to set good examples for the teens at home. In healthy relationships partners:
- Respect each other
- Better one another
- Share common interests, but have friends and activities outside of the relationship as well
- Reconcile disputes calmly and with respect
Signs of unhealthy relationships include:
- Controlling behavior
- Extreme Jealousy
These issues can possibly be resolved through open and honest communication. However, violence, emotional and verbal abuse should never be accepted.
If a child, teen or young adult ever feels they are in an abusive relationship, they should seek help from a parent or an adult they trust.
Pre-teens and teenagers experience many changes in physical appearance as they mature. These changes can affect the way they perceive themselves. Many teens find it difficult to adjust to these changes and develop problems with their self-esteem or self-worth (how you value yourself).
Some people begin struggling with their self-esteem when puberty begins. Changes in their appearance along with a need to feel accepted may cause them to compare themselves to others. Comparisons are unhealthy because every person develops differently. Some begin maturing early, while others are late bloomers. Moreover, how one's body reacts to puberty depends on genetics.
Media images of thin women or bulked up men, criticism from parents and teasing from classmates or peers can all negatively affect self-esteem. Having a positive, optimistic attitude can improve your self-esteem. If there is something about your pre-teen or teenager that he or she can realistically change, they should set a "realistic" goal to do so. They can keep track of their progress, but not become obsessed with the need to change. Each person is special in their own unique way. Focusing on these positive attributes is important. However, achieving a reasonable goal they have set for themselves is a great way to boost their self-esteem. Adolescence is a challenging time in life, and it’s important for teens to learn how to trust themselves, feel confident and navigate through life by making the best decisions for themselves.
If self-esteem problems cause a teen to feel depressed, hurt themselves or abuse drugs or alcohol, they should talk to a parent or an adult they trust.
Contrary to what you believe, not all teens and 20-somethings are having sex. Kissing and hugging often leads to more sexual feelings for a teen. When teens begin to consider having sex, they should ask themselves these important questions, and consider the very honest answers:
- Do I really want to have sex or am I feeling pressured to please my partner?
- Do I truly care about this person and is the feeling mutual?
- Is this person respectful of me and my views?
- What method(s) of protection will we use to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections?
- Will we remain a couple if either one of us does not want to have sex?
- Has my partner been sexually active before?
Remember sex is not the only way to express how you feel. You can experience intimacy by spending alone time together, kissing, cuddling or holding hands.
If you decide not to have sex, stick by your decision. Never let anyone pressure you into having sex. If you know you are not ready for sex, set boundaries during intimate times. Do not use drugs and alcohol, as these substances can impair your judgment and ability to maintain control of a situation.
If you do choose to have sex, speak with your pediatrician, parent or an adult you can trust about method(s) for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Also, consider the emotional impact of becoming sexually active.
We live in a digital age, and our children are using technology more than ever before, and from a very early age. The opportunities and risks that come from various media types are vast, and parents need to regulate the time their children spend on devices and in front of screens. Parents should also take an active role in understanding what media and social media platforms their children are using, and what they are doing online. Technology is ever-changing, so are the recommendations related to it. Visit www.healthychildren.org for the most updated recommendations for children and parents alike.
Parents need to also remember that their own social media posting activity may directly impact their children’s safety, self-esteem and reputation. Parents should think carefully before posting.