Top 5 Pesky Health Concerns for Teens

Written on November 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm , by

Written by Vanessa Van Petten 

You might be surprised what keeps your teen up at night.

In our teen forums at RadicalParenting.com we asked, “What are the body issues that worry you the most?” Answers flooded in and teens shared their most embarrassing health and body issues.

Parents can help teens understand what is happening to their body and let them know that they don’t need to be embarrassed. Many teens shared that what stressed them out the most was talking to their parents and asking for help in solving these pesky health issues.

Here are the top five things that teens are embarrassed to talk to parents about, plus a few ideas on how to solve them.




1). Body Odor: Teens are uncertain when to start using deodorant, how often to apply it and how to select a product from all the available options.

Solutions: Take your teen to the grocery store and explain the different types of deodorants and how they work. Let her explore scents on her own. Buy a few sticks for the bathroom, bedroom, gym bag and backpack. Teens told us that they also want more help on the daily application routine—many have no idea how often deodorant is needed.

 2). Acne: Pimples, acnes and zits are one of teens’ top stress areas as they don’t know if they should be using acne products, how to deal with a pimple or how to come up with a skin-care regimen.

Solutions: Start your teen with a simple daily routine that use just a few products, like the Clean & Clear Essentials collection. Getting him in the habit of washing and moisturizing his face will get him started on the right foot. And don’t forget to stock his backpack with an emergency zit cream (Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment is a good one)—breakouts always happen at the most inconvenient times!

3). Menstruation: Many girls feel underprepared when they first get their period. As adults, we forget how daunting that time of life can be. Girls told us that they want to know what to expect from their first period and are overwhelmed by the wide variety of menstrual products available.

Solutions: Whether your daughter has gotten her first period or not, it is important to check in and address any questions that might have popped up. For example, many teen girls are concerned about how their period will affect their participation in sports and on athletic teams. Also, go to the drugstore or supermarket with your daughter so you can explain the differences between brands and products.

4). Dandruff: Dandruff is one of the topics teens feel most embarrassed talking to parents and friends about. They not only worry about how to handle dandruff but also if they should hide their dandruff shampoo under the sink instead of keeping it in the shower where friends might see it!

Solutions: Explain to your teen that dandruff is an irritating but completely normal problem. Go through the different reasons dandruff could be a problem—seasonal changes, new shampoo, stress—and try some over-the-counter products. If necessary, you can take your teen to a dermatologist to address the issue.

5). Breath Odor: When teens start thinking about having their first kiss, they also start thinking about bad breath. And let’s be honest—even if you aren’t planning on kissing someone, bad breath is awful for any kind of relationship!

Solutions: Bad breath can be tackled a number of ways—and you want to arm your teen with all of the tactics. First, talk to your child about proper dental hygiene—thorough flossing and brushing is the best method to tackle bad breath. Second, equip your teen with bad-breath-combating tools like mouthwash, gum, mints and breath sheets for the backpack and gym bag.

Be sure to keep communication lines open so that your teen feels comfortable sharing his or her worries with you. That way, you can help if any other issues arise. Most important, make sure your teen knows that these issues are completely normal and there is no reason to be embarrassed.


Vanessa Van Petten is the nation’s only youthologist—following youth trends to help teens, parents and families. Vanessa’s unique approach has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CNN and Teen Vogue, and she is a two-time winner of the Mom’s Choice Award. Her books can be found at her popular parenting website RadicalParenting.com.

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Your Teen’s Personal Online Brand

Written on September 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm , by

Personal Branding

When I was 14 I was convinced I wanted to be goth. I raided Hot Topic for leather pants, wore gobs of black liner and white powder and—dare I say it—I may have even bought a glittery dog collar. This lasted for an entire two weeks before I decided that I missed wearing colors. Plus, my eyes were exhausted from all the eye-rolling that being goth required. But I got it out of my system pretty safely, and this period in my life is now simply a funny memory shared at weddings and family reunions. The only real evidence is a few photos tucked away in dusty photo albums (and my best friend’s relentlessly good memory and merciless teasing).

I shudder to think what would have happened if Facebook had been around then. Not only would the photos have been uploaded, shared and saved on my profiles, but my temporarily goth friends would have posted the pictures from our impromptu “Queens of Darkness” shoot. I never would have been able to get rid of them.

Teens today are becoming more and more aware of the permanence of their postings. The digital world has radically changed how teens communicate, socialize and view themselves. One of young people’s biggest challenges is experimenting with their identity in public social spaces like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vine. Teens need to experiment with how they look and who they are—that’s part of growing up! However, social media are limiting teens’ flexibility and freedom in exploring their self-identity.

In fact, this past summer on the Radical Parenting teen forums I noticed that as teens discussed the approaching school year, their conversations were littered with phrases like “brand management,” “relaunching my personal brand” and “managing online followers.” Teens are beginning to discuss and approach their online reputations much like companies. They worry about their brand being consistent across profiles and posts. They test posts for “virality,” trying to optimize likes, comments and shares with subsequent posts. They expect to “relaunch” for the school year.

This is an interesting symptom of the digital age.

On the one hand, it’s good news. Teens are finally getting the message: Their postings are seen by a lot of people and might last forever in the digital space. So they are being way more careful about what they post.

On the other hand, it’s bad news. Teens are unable to experiment. Or worse, they do experiment and then are stuck with something that is no longer relevant. It’s also a huge burden for teens. Online reputation management was one of the top five things teens were stressed about during the 2013 back-to-school season. They feel they have to constantly check in to manage what people are saying or posting about them. Teens also feel pressured to find fresh or exciting things to post about.

How can parents and adults help teens balance their online brand with their offline life? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Talk to them about this idea. Teens found tremendous relief on the forums when they realized that other teens were feeling the same pressure about their profiles and personal branding. Let teens know they are not alone.

2. Discuss the good and the bad. One way adults unknowingly push teens away from them is when they approach only the negative side of an issue. Talk to teens about both the pros and cons of social media and online reputations. This will help you explore with them and understand what is going on for them—every teen is in a slightly different place on the spectrum of online activity.

3. Stress the importance of authenticity. One of the scary aspects of online brand management is that teens can sometimes try to present ideal or false versions of themselves. They create a profile of who they wish they were instead of who they actually are in hopes of impressing people. Talk to your teen about the importance of being authentic and being yourself.

Teens are not the only ones struggling with these online reputation issues. Think about how you manage your online brand, and consider opening up to your teens about your own struggles so they know they’re not alone. Because the Internet is not going away, and neither is this issue.



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