Pupils and students on their way to school. Kamal Kassim/ Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
No matter how tedious it is when teenagers are in that transformational stage, their elders and particularly their parents, should not give up on them.
This reminder was from two physicians—specialist paediatrician Dr Theresa Madronero Alianza and Family Medicine practitioner Dr Marites Pulmo, both 10 years in their chosen expertise—and which Gulf Today sought in connection with what families, parents and the adolescents themselves must take note of as the new academic year 2019-2020 begins this Sept.
Alianza from Prime Medical Centre-Deira said, “Our role as parents and as family is to provide the adaptive environment for our adolescents to mold their own resilience to what they are facing every day. We must identify worrying signs and take a balanced approach in dealing with increasingly independent teens.”
The mother of two teenagers went on to say, “I closely observe a teenage patient during clinic visits. How he/she approaches me with the parents is crucial. As parents, we want our adolescent children to put their best foot forward when dealing with peers but more importantly with adults and people in authority.”
Pulmo from the Prime Specialist Medical Centre-Sharjah shared four tips towards healthy living and lifestyle, the most valuable of which is on communication.
“Maintain open lines for communication. Parents and their adolescent kids should have free communication so that health concerns will come to the attention of the parents and be readily addressed.”
Pulmo believes open communication is the baseline and the anchor for the fulfillment of her three other tips namely goal-setting, self-motivation, and self-monitoring in relation to health.
She said open communication allows children, with guidance from their parents, become more connected with and more responsible for their state of health at any given time of their lives.
“They are going to achieve normal weight, eat more nutritious meals, and opt for regular exercises (than being potato couches).”
Pulmo believes instilling motivation for practical and reachable rewards when health goals are achieved will be another driver for the pursuit of healthy living.
Alianza said that while it is a “challenge to speak openly “with the 13 to 18-year-olds brought about by mood swings as well as physical, mental and emotional changes within them, “confidentiality, tolerance, and acceptance on the parents’ part hugely impacts a teen’s trust.”
“We have to provide them a clearer sense of the sort of changes and obstacles they can expect at this age. Their willingness to ask for help, on the other hand, depends on the ability to establish healthy dependence with a trusted person.”
Alianza said trust subsequently helps the young navigate through life from home to wherever his future brings him.
On the necessary adaptive environment, she said, “The fundamental attributes for adaptive human development include the ability to get ahead, get along and keep it under control, which means we have to assist our children (get and imbibe in themselves the real meaning of) self-control.”
Alianza believes applying the proper perspective on self-control comes the competence “to regulate impulses, pay attention, follow rules, to think before acting, to achieve goals, to persevere (in displeasures), to get along with others (in accordance to) social norms,” and above all the ability to remain humble.
Pulmo has been consulted on the adolescents’ poor eating habits and nutritional deficiencies as well as fatigue and general weakness arising from their hectic school and extra-curricular calendars; inability to gain height especially among the boys which borders on genetics and nutrition; and recurrent skin infections or problems.
Hygiene and appearance, eating disorders, depression, and suicidal tendencies have been referred to Alianza: “Well-meaning advice about the need for safety and protection from stress that could eventually lead to depression and ultimately suicidal tendencies may serve to keep our teens from feeling helpless and incapable of coping.”
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