Adolescent Parenting Introduction

group of teens

From parents' perspectives, adolescence could quite possibly be the most nerve-wracking developmental period in their children's lives. It is natural for parents to feel anxious when their teens learn to drive a car; begin to form romantic and sexual relationships; decide to get tattoos and body piercings; and flirt with danger by experimenting with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Despite these perils, adolescence is also a period of great pride and satisfaction for parents as they begin to recognize that their years of hard work, commitment, and personal sacrifice have paid off. Their once dependent children gradually become independent and responsible adults. Along the way there are significant landmarks such as their teen getting a first job; choosing a career or trade; moving out to live on their own; and developing a rewarding social network.

The adolescent developmental period is a lengthy period of transition spanning the ages of 12-24 years. During adolescence a m...More

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What are the nutritional requirements in adolescence?

  • Despite the abundant supply of food in the United States, most adolescents do not receive adequate nutrition at a time when their bodies' growth and development is accelerating.
  • In general, adolescent diets include too much fat, sugar, caffeine, and sodium and not enough nutrient-dense foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and calcium-rich foods such as dairy products.
  • Sedentary 12-year-old males need about 1800 calories each day. This peaks at 2600 calories around age 19-20 years old and then decreases to 2400 calories a day from ages 21 through 24 years.
  • Sedentary teen girls around the ages of 12-13 years need about 1600 calories per day, and their daily calorie requirement reaches the highest level around age 19 years at 2000 calories.
  • Not only do adolescents need to eat the right amount of food, but they also need to eat foods which contain the right type of nutrients, and in the right proportions.
  • There are four key methods parents can use to assist their youth to develop healthy eating habits: 1) provide nutritional information, 2) provide opportunities to practice making healthy choices,3) model healthy eating habits, and 4) ensure the availability of quick, convenient, nutrient-rich snacks.
  • Nutritional problems can still arise or worsen during adolescence including problems of overeating and/or consistently making poor food choices, resulting in obesity; developing problems with unhealthy and extremely restrictive dieting without meeting the minimum nutritional requirements necessary for healthy growth and development; and Diabetes.

For more information

What are the physical activity requirements in adolescence?

  • It is important for adolescents to develop habits that incorporate regular physical activity into their daily lives so that these habits are carried into adulthood.
  • It can be difficult for youth to get sufficient exercise due to the increased popularity of sedentary entertainment (television, video games, etc.) and a decrease in physical education opportunities at school.
  • Any physical activity that requires the body to move enables youth to reap the health benefits of exercise.
  • Many youth enjoy playing organized, competitive sports such as basketball, cheerleading, baseball, gymnastics, football, golf, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, track and field, etc.
  • Youth can also receive the benefits of exercise by participating in regular physical activity through informal and unstructured activities, such as gardening, shooting hoops in the driveway, dancing in their bedroom with their friends, riding bicycles around the neighborhood, skateboarding at the skate park, walking the dog after dinner, or hiking on a trail in the woods.
  • Parents need to be informed about the training methods used by their children's coaches and trainers, and ensure their teens take certain precautions to prevent sports-related injuries.
  • Youth should be spending at least one hour a day, most days of every week, engaged in some form of physical activity.
  • The best way parents can encourage their teens' participation in regular physical activity is by modeling this behavior themselves.
  • Parents can also help their children by assisting them to find physical activities that match their children's interests and talents.

For more information 

How important is sleep in adolescence?

  • Adolescents need an average 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep every night just to function.
  • Teens' bodies' natural sleep rhythms (called circadian rhythms) shift during adolescence causing them to remain alert and awake later in the night, with a corresponding desire to sleep later in the day.
  • Parents can help teens to identify and limit caffeinated beverages in the evening.
  • Teens should establish regular sleep and wake times that allow for an adequate amount of sleep each night.
  • Teens will also benefit from developing and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Beyond bedtimes and bedtime routines, youth should learn to structure their time so that important activities do not detain them from getting to bed on time.
  • It is best to avoid strenuous exercise like running, aerobics, weight lifting, or playing basketball right before bed, as these types of activities will release hormones into the body that cause people to feel more awake and alert.
  • Anxiety and worry are great sleep disrupters and prevent youth from feeling sleepy.
  • Chronic sleep disturbance (sleeping too much or sleeping too little) can be a symptom of a more serious problem such a depressive disorder, or drug and alcohol use.

For more information

What topics might parents and adolescents disagree about or need to discuss?

For more information

What healthcare is important during adolescence?

  • Adolescents will need to learn to manage their own healthcare and should be developing a healthy lifestyle that will be maintained throughout their adult lives.
  • Parents will want to ensure their youth continue to receive routine, annual physical examinations.
  • Annual physicals are the perfect time to make sure that youth are caught up on their vaccinations.
  • It's also important that youth also receive routine dental and vision check-ups.
  • Annual physical exams should also be screening adolescents for behavioral health concerns such as depression; anxiety; or possible problems with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
  • Parents have an important role in identifying the early warning signs of a behavioral or emotional problem because they regularly observe their teens' behavioral and emotional patterns.
  • Parents should be on the look-out for possible warning signs that their child may be at risk for suicide.
  • All adolescents who are sexually active should get regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections including but not limited to HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Hepatitis B.
  • They key to empowering youth to independently manage their own healthcare is to gradually give youth more and more control over their healthcare, while teaching them the skills they need for self-care.

For more information

What discipline, love and guidance is necessary during adolescence?

  • One of the difficulties of raising teenage children is achieving the right balance between love and discipline; liberties and limitations; and, independence and responsibility.
  • Parents should help children to become resilient, which means that they have the ability to "bounce back" or to readily recover from painful, stressful, and difficult experiences.
  • One thing parents can do to build resilience is to provide the proper amount of support and guidance.
  • When parents are overly protective to the point of being smothering, or provide too much direction without letting youth work out some problems on their own, they rob youth of the opportunity to develop and practice independent problem-solving skills.
  • Youth should have an understanding of what privileges are available to them for following the rules and meeting expectations, and what consequences will occur when they fail to follow the rules, or make poor choices.
  • Parents can begin to help adolescents develop time management skills by having high (but attainable) expectations for school achievement, household chores, and other important activities.
  • Family rules should also establish clear expectations about the responsibilities of family members toward each other.
  • If parents become aware of activities or rules at another child\'s home that they do not agree with, they should calmly discuss their concerns with the parents of the other child.
  • Parents need to express clear rules and expectations around teen substance use.
  • By late adolescence (18 years of age and older), parents need to set clear boundaries about any assistance they will (or won't) provide while their children are becoming independent adults.

For more information

How can parents protect an adolescent's health and safety?

  • Parents must be fully aware of the risks and dangers associated with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs
  • While parents cannot completely prevent their children's eventual exposure to alcohol and other drugs, there are steps parents can take to reduce the potential risks.
  • Parents will want to ensure their youth learn to drive safely and always use good judgment when operating a motor vehicle.
  • There are several warning signs parents should pay attention to that could indicate that their adolescent may be a victim of dating violence.
  • If parents are concerned about their teens' involvement with fighting or gang activity, they can do several things.
  • Teens can encounter all types of violence online, including violent videos, hate messages on blogs and in chat rooms, and violent computer games. Youth who are curious about sex can find plenty of pornography on the Internet, some of which depicts sexual acts coupled with violence.
  • Bullying is the repeated abuse, hostility, aggression, manipulation, or violence between two youth where one youth possesses greater power than the other.
  • Parents can ensure their children's continued safety by providing education about making their new dorm, apartment, or home the safest it can be.
  • Youth also need to make sure they know how to protect themselves while they are traveling in public places.

For more information


News Articles

  • 1 in 4 Opioid ODs Involves Kids and Teens

    More than a quarter of all opioid overdoses in the United States involve teenagers, and a full fifth of those cases were likely suicide attempts, new research shows. More...

  • Got 'Couch Potato' Teens? It's Not Helping Their Mental Health

    Getting your surly teens off the couch might trigger a long-term turnaround in their moods, new research suggests. More...

  • Few Teen Boys at Risk for HIV Get Tested

    Too few teenage boys at risk for HIV infection are tested for the AIDS-causing virus in the United States, researchers say. More...

  • Fewer LGBT Teens Plagued by Suicidal Thoughts, But Rates Still High

    Suicidal behavior is declining among U.S. teenagers who identify as LGBT, but the problem remains pervasive. More...

  • For Teens, Weight-Loss Surgery May Not Bring Emotional Gains

    Following weight-loss surgery, teens may see some aspects of their health improve, but overall mental health isn't likely to budge, a new study suggests. More...

  • 45 More
    • Do Young Adults Really 'Age Out' of Heavy Drinking?

      During the late teens and early 20s, young people may booze it up a lot, but they eventually dial it back, right? More...

    • Online Bullies Make Teen Depression, PTSD Even Worse: Survey

      Cyberbullying can worsen symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in young people, new research shows. More...

    • 'Dabbing' Marijuana a Gateway to Heavy Use of Pot

      "Dabbing" cannabis concentrate is the type of marijuana experimentation most likely to lead teens into frequent and heavy use of the drug, researchers say. More...

    • Poverty Could Drive Up Youth Suicide Risk

      New research shows that children and teens in U.S. areas with greater levels of poverty face a higher risk of suicide. More...

    • What Parents Can Do to Prevent Teens From Driving Drunk

      Older teens who know that their parents disapprove of drinking are less likely to drive impaired as young adults, a new study finds. More...

    • 'Yo-Yo' Blood Pressure Numbers in Youth a Bad Sign for Health Later

      If your blood pressure numbers swing from low to high and back again in your 20s, that could bode ill for heart health in middle age, new research shows. More...

    • Vape Devices Like Juul 'Reversing' Efforts to Keep Youth From Tobacco: Study

      The epidemic of addictive vaping among youth continues, with e-cigarette devices by Juul continuing to surge in popularity among teens and young adults, new research shows. More...

    • Facebook Falls Short for College Kids Battling Depression, Study Finds

      Turning to Facebook for help is probably the wrong move for depressed college students, new research shows. More...

    • College Students Picking Pot Over Drinking in States Where It's Legal

      Are college students choosing marijuana instead of booze when both are legal? New research suggests they are: In states where pot is legal, college kids use it more, but binge-drink less. More...

    • Parents Can Help Their Sleep-Deprived Teens

      American teens aren't getting enough sleep, which can lead to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Sleepy teens also are more likely to get into car crashes and have a greater risk of being injured while playing sports. More...

    • Which Teens View Vaping as a Health Threat? Survey Offers Clues

      Some groups of American teens are more likely than others to view e-cigarettes as a health threat, a new study suggests. More...

    • Sports Coaches Recruited to Help Stop Dating Violence

      So-called "locker-room talk" among boys can actually be used to promote respect toward girls, a new study reports. More...

    • Family's Social Standing May Be Key to Happiness for Teens

      How teens see their family's social status may play a part in their mental health and success at school, a new study suggests. More...

    • Few Teens Who Survive Opioid OD Get Recommended Care

      Even after surviving an opioid overdose, few U.S. teenagers receive the recommended treatment for their addiction, a new study shows. More...

    • Opioid Use By Teens a Red Flag for Other Dangers

      Teenagers who've experimented with opioid painkillers are likely to be taking other health risks, a new study finds. More...

    • Could 1 Dose of HPV Vaccine Be Enough?

      In a finding that might make the HPV vaccine more palatable to many, new research suggests a single dose may provide just as much protection from cervical cancer as the recommended two to three doses do. More...

    • More U.S. Teens Are Overdosing on Valium, Xanax

      The number of kids overdosing on commonly prescribed anxiety medications such as Xanax, Valium or Ativan has risen dramatically during the past decade, a new study shows. More...

    • Most Young Vapers Aren't Using E-Cigs to Quit Smoking: Survey

      Electronic cigarettes are marketed as an aid to quitting smoking, but most young people who vape say that's not why they indulge. More...

    • Vaping in Kids Under 15 'Skyrocketed' Over 5 Years, Study Finds

      The percentage of U.S. teens who started vaping by age 14 tripled in recent years, researchers report. More...

    • More U.S. Teens Are Vaping Pot

      As electronic-cigarette use has soared among America's teens, so too has the number vaping marijuana, two new reports indicate. More...

    • Teen Opioid Users Face Same OD Risks as Adults

      U.S. teens and young adults are as likely as older people to overdose on prescription opioid painkillers and have the same risk factors, researchers say. More...

    • Youth Vapers Often Use Nicotine or Pot, Not Just Flavoring

      Three-quarters of U.S. teens who use e-cigarettes are vaping addictive or mind-altering substances -- more than once suspected, according to a new study. More...

    • Bullying's 'Vicious Circle' Harms Mental Health

      Bullied teens are more likely to develop mental health problems, and people with mental health problems are also more likely to become bullies, researchers report. More...

    • More Than 1 in 4 High School Students Now Vape: CDC

      An epidemic of vaping by American teenagers shows no signs of stopping, with 2019 data finding more than a quarter (27.5%) of high school students using e-cigarettes. More...

    • Could a Concussion Raise a Teen Athlete's Suicide Risk?

      High school athletes who suffer repeated concussions may be at heightened risk for suicide, Texas researchers report. More...

    • Obesity May Change the Teen Brain, MRI Study Shows

      Obese teenagers can have certain brain differences from their thinner peers -- changes that might signal damage from inflammation, a new, preliminary study suggests. More...

    • Most Parents Struggle to Spot Depression in Teens

      Most American parents say they might have trouble distinguishing between a teen's typical mood swings and possible signs of depression, a new survey finds. More...

    • When Your Teen Wants a Tattoo

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that 29% of the population has at least one tattoo. So this is a question you're likely to face as a parent. You may not be in favor of it, but it's important to know what steps to take, especially if your child is insistent. More...

    • 1 in 4 High School Kids Vape, Mint Flavor Preferred

      More than one in every four U.S. high school students (27.5%) currently vape, a new study shows. More...

    • U.S. ERs See Doubling of Teen Sexual Abuse Cases

      Sexually abused youths are turning more often to U.S. emergency departments for help, a new study finds. More...

    • Flavored E-Cigarettes Get Teens Hooked on Vaping, Study Finds

      In a finding that shows just how enticing tasty flavors are when it comes to vaping, a new study suggests that teens who use candy- or fruit-flavored e-cigarettes are more likely to continue vaping and to be heavy users. More...

    • 'Swimmer's Shoulder' Strikes 3 in 4 Teen Competitors

      It's called swimmer's shoulder, and it's an overuse injury that three-quarters of teen swimmers suffer from, new research shows. More...

    • Flavors Draw Young People to Lifetime Habit of Vaping, Study Shows

      Tasty flavors entice young people to try e-cigarettes, getting them hooked on what can become a lifetime habit, a new study shows. More...

    • Depression Rates Not Budging for Lesbian and Gay Teens

      While fewer straight teens suffer depression than did two decades ago, the same cannot be said for lesbian, gay and bisexual teens. More...

    • Deaths Due to Suicide, Homicide on the Rise Among U.S. Youth

      he anger and fear seething throughout the United States could be having a fatal impact on some of the nation's youngest citizens. More...

    • Good News, Bad News on Concussions in High School Sports

      New research on concussions reports mixed news for kids playing high school sports. More...

    • Suicide Attempts Rising Among Black Teens

      Historically, black teenagers in the United States have had lower suicide rates than whites. But a new study finds that more black teens have been attempting suicide in recent years -- and experts are not sure why. More...

    • Aspirin, Antihistamines: Kids Often Use OTC Drugs in Suicide Attempts

      More teens are attempting suicide by overdosing on drugs, and new research suggests they are often turning to over-the-counter (OTC) medications like ibuprofen and aspirin in their efforts. More...

    • Teen Use of Flavored E-Cigarettes Keeps Rising

      Coming on the heels of recent U.S. federal and state efforts to ban flavored e-cigarettes, a new report finds the percentage of American teenagers who've used these products continues to climb. More...

    • Pregnancy Much More Likely for Teen Girls With ADHD

      Girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are six times more likely to wind up as teenage moms, a new Swedish study reports. More...

    • Sticking to One Sport Could Up Injuries Among Teen Athletes

      Here's a good reason to encourage your teenager to play more than one sport: New research finds kids who concentrate on only one sport may be at risk for stress fractures, tendinitis and knee injuries. More...

    • Don't Miss Mental Health Issues in Your College Student

      Many college students struggle with mental illness, but parents may not recognize the signs, an expert says. More...

    • Why Do Girls Take Longer Than Boys to Recover From Concussions?

      Girls who suffer a concussion while playing school sports are more likely than boys to delay seeking specialty medical care, which can worsen their symptoms and prolong recovery, researchers warn. More...

    • Flavored E-Cigarette Use Soars Among Young Adults

      Flavored e-cigarettes have now grown wildly popular among young adults aged 18 to 24 who don't smoke tobacco, the study found. More...

    • More U.S. Teen Girls Are Victims of Suicide Than Thought, Study Finds

      The gender gap in teen suicide is smaller than previously estimated, with more girls dying by suicide each year, a new study contends. More...

Share This

Resources