This was the message that John Kulig, MD, director of Floating Hospital for Children's Adolescent Medicine Clinic, gave a standing-room only crowd of more than 35 employees at a "Lunch and Learn" brown bag lecture on Thursday, July 19th.
In Surviving Adolescence: How to Talk to Your Teen, How to Get Them to Listen, Kulig
advised parents that "appropriate limit setting and appropriate expectations are important all along the way," but are especially important for teens.
"Puberty lasts about four years, starting anywhere from age 9 to age 14," Kulig
said."Adolescence, on the other hand, begins with puberty but may last into the early 20s.""Early adolescence is associated with breaking away from one's family and beginning to focus on one's own independence.In mid-adolescence, the peer group is the most important thing, and this is where you'll see a lot of testing behavior.Late adolescence is when the transition to adulthood occurs."Kulig
discussed issues ranging from driving, drug and alcohol use and friendships, to sexual behavior and parental responses to poor teen choices.
First and foremost, parents should relay their attitudes and values, use teachable moments such as stories in the news, and whenever possible avoid over-reacting, Kulig
said."Choose your battles carefully," he
Educational materials were also provided, including a "Contract for Life" from the Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) web site, and a recommendation for "The Teenage Body Book" as a reference for both parents and teens.