Adolescence occurs between childhood and adulthood. It encompasses ages 10-19, and it’s a time of significant change.
In adolescence, your child gains more independence than ever before. Their body and mind begin maturing, but adolescents are at higher risk of engaging in reckless and harmful behaviors than other age groups.
Navigating your child’s tween and teen years isn’t easy, and seeing them grow up and explore riskier behaviors can be scary.
Sudha Challa, MD, and our team at Lenox Medical Clinic, located in Chamblee and Johns Creek, Georgia, can help. We provide comprehensive pediatric care for adolescents, and we partner with parents to educate their children and help them make smart decisions as they grow up.
What are adolescent risk behaviors?
Adolescents want to exercise their independence, but their brains and bodies are still developing. They’re faced with increasingly adult responsibilities and decisions, but they may struggle with poor decision-making skills and lack reasoning capabilities.
As a result, they tend to engage in risk behaviors more than people who are younger or older. Some common adolescent risk behaviors are:
Alcohol and drug use
Nearly 30% of high school students report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, and an estimated one in three teens uses tobacco products regularly. Alcohol, tobacco (including vape pens and e-cigarettes), and other substances harm the body and pose a risk of addiction.
Adolescents are at risk of preventable injury due to recklessness speeding while driving, distracted driving, and more. About 41.5% of teens have texted or used their phones while driving. Teens are also less likely to wear seatbelts, avoid driving when intoxicated, or use helmets when engaging in other dangerous activities than other demographics.
Poor diet and exercise habits
Many tweens and teens don’t eat healthy, balanced meals or get enough physical activity. Poor diet and exercise habits contribute to weight issues, and about 20% of children and teens in the United States are significantly overweight. Carrying extra weight in childhood and adolescence can have serious health impacts throughout life.
Unprotected sexual activity
Teens are more likely to engage in risky sexual risk behaviors than other demographics. Activities like unprotected sex not only increase the chance of teen pregnancy, but they also contribute to the spread of many sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
Tips for raising safe and healthy children
It’s normal to be worried about your child as they grow up, particularly when it comes to common adolescent risk behaviors. Your child gains independence and a sense of self during their adolescent years, but there’s a lot you can do to help them stay safe and healthy.
Regular wellness exams are an important part of every child and teen’s health care. Dr. Challa and our team at Lenox Medical Clinic specialize in comprehensive pediatric exams, and we adjust your child’s care plan as they grow.
At your child’s wellness exams, we screen for health issues like autism, hearing or vision problems, weight issues, and mental health disorders. We ask you and your child a series of questions about their health, lifestyle, and habits.
We ask adolescents and teens about substance abuse, sexual activity, and other adolescent risk behaviors. Our team promotes education, and we’re happy to provide resources, treatment, and care for adolescents and their families dealing with risk behavior issues.
Learning about common adolescent risk behaviors and warning signs is the first step to helping your child make better decisions as they get older. Contact our team at Lenox Medical Clinic for more information or to schedule a pediatric appointment for your child.