"The Age of Rapid Changes"

During middle adolescence, puberty is well underway, and is complete in many teenagers. There is a decreased preoccupation with the body and an increased involvement with peers. Parental conflicts develop over independence, since the peer group often serves as the adolescent's reference for their standards of behavior.

This age is often called the neglected age of pediatrics, according to pediatrician William Crook, M.D. "It is 'no man's land' between childhood and adulthood." The maturing teen does not want to be treated like a child, and often balks at having to go to the "baby doctor" for checkups. Yet, at the same time, the adolescent does not want to go to a new adult physician who may be unfamiliar with issues important to this age group. The result is that often the youngster ends up going to neither. This is unfortunate since middle adolescence is a period of rapid development during which time checkups are important.

This can be a difficult time for parents, who must cope with their adolescent while trying to keep the channel of communication open. Love your teen with no strings attached.

Parents do best when they understand the normal characteristics of the middle teen years, otherwise known as the five "I"'s and six "M"'s (courtesy of the Parent and Child Guidance Center, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania)

The five "I's"

The six "M's":

Parenting and Behavioral

Characteristics of the "teen friendly" parent:

Traits of the adolescent who is doing well:

Oral Health for the Adolescent

Brushes teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flosses daily.
Knows what to do in the cause of a dental emergency, especially the loss or fracture of a tooth.
Has seen a dentist within the last six months unless your dentist determines otherwise based on his/her individual needs/susceptibility to disease
Does not smoke or use chewing tobacco.

Nutrition for the Adolescent

14-year olds seem to eat continuously and appetite rarely is a problem. Unfortunately, many 14 and 15 year olds consume fast foods daily. They eat snacks that are high in calories and fat.

Eat three meals per day. Breakfast is especially important. Do your best to make sure your 14-year old has a nutritious breakfast daily.
Choose a variety of healthy foods.
Choose nutritious snacks rich in complex carbohydrates. Limit high-fat or low-nutrient foods and beverages such as candy, chips or soft drinks.
Choose plenty of fruits and vegetables; breads, cereals and other grain products; low-fat dairy products; lean meats; and foods prepared with little or no fat. Include foods rich in calcium and iron in your diet. Girls may suffer anemia at this time so make sure they are receiving sufficient iron in their diet to replace menstrual losses.
Select a nutritious meal from the school cafeteria or pack a balanced lunch.
At this age it is especially important to evaluate your 14-year old's food consumption in relation to the amount of exercise they do. Obesity can be a problem in 14 and 15 year olds. Studies have shown that children who are overweight at this age group have a great chance of being overweight as an adult. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Manage weight through appropriate eating habits and regular exercise.


You may think that your 14-year old "sleeps" their life away (especially on weekends), but many children this age are actually sleep-deprived. Children this age need 9-10 hours of sleep per night. Lost sleep can not be made up later.


Is your teen having trouble sleeping at night?

One would think that teenagers have enough to deal with without having sleep problems too. Yet many teenagers suffer from a variety of sleep disorders, many of which are exacerbated by early-morning school schedules and late night social lives.

Not being able to fall asleep after going to bed at night, or even waking up after falling asleep or waking up too early in the morning, is usually referred to as INSOMNIA. The causes of insomnia are many and can be either minor or be a symptom of something more serious.

In teenagers insomnia is so frequent that it is almost "normal."  For some reason teens fall asleep later than they did as children. For example, if a child was used to going to bed at 8 PM, a teen probably is not ready for sleep until l0:00 or l1:00pm (No wonder so many teenagers complain of not being able to fall asleep, and then feeling tired at school the next morning)

The most common cause of insomnia, other that just being a teenager, is stress. Many teenagers have anxiety about a lot of things going on in their lives. For example, family problems, worrying about being popular with friends, fear of flunking a subject, and a bad social experience can all cause trouble with sleep. A schedule that's just too hectic and busy can cause difficulty in falling asleep. Insomnia with early morning wakening is one of the most common features of depression in teenagers. Therefore, a teen with insomnia should be evaluated by their physician to make sure eveything is okay.

Stimulants such as caffeine – from coffee, tea, chocolate or colas – can interfere with sleep for many hours after consumption. Sleep can be interrupted either by making it difficult to fall asleep or by wakening later in the night. Similarly nicotine is also a stimulant and can disturb sleep. Some medicines including tablets used to treat asthma and weight loss have stimulant effects.

Should your teen find him or herself in bed turning and tossing - it is best to sit up, go into another room, and read something that might make them may sleepy (like geometry!), and then try to go to sleep when they get drowsy.

Here are some helpful hints for those night owl teens who suffer from insomnia.

Remind your teen that for best results, these tips should be tried over a period of time. Usually, they will need two to four weeks to see the best results.