The Growing Up Years

The Growing Up Years

focus on physical and mental well-being especially during the teenage years has a major role to play in maintaining a healthy life as an individual grows older. The teen years are considered an important phase in the lifespan of an individual. It is a happy and glorious time of a person’s life. However, overall health and well-being can be maintained by paying particular importance to certain aspects relevant to this phase of growth and these are as follows.

The Structural Changes
This is the growth spurt period. The structural changes in the body include an increase in height, weight and muscle mass along with the signs and changes puberty brings about. These changes lead to a significant transformation in the appearance of an individual from the initial to the later teenage years. However, the growth spurt is earlier in girls than it is in boys. It is the responsibility of the parents to counsel their teenagers about these changes and to make them understand that these are normal transitions to being a young adult.

Skin Alterations
With the onset of puberty. most teenagers tend to develop acne varying from mild acne to severe pus filled lesions over the face and back. In these cases, scarring and infections are common. Washing the face well, at least three to four times a day, with a mild astringent face wash, avoiding application of oily creams over the affected areas and avoiding pinching and scratching the area are simple ways to take care of acne.

Good Hygienic Habits
Most teenagers often eat out, so gastrointestinal infections are common. Good hygienic eating habits are a must and cannot be stressed enough. Urinary infections are also common especially among teenage girls both before and after their periods and need to be identified and treated. Drinking plenty of fluids can prevent infections.

Health And Nutrition
The eating habits acquired during this phase effectively guide the overall health and nutrition in later life. A higher intake of protein is needed to allow for the healthy growth spurt and to improve muscle mass. Protein rich foods including pulses, dairy products, and lean meats like chicken, fish and eggs are recommended. Vegans and patients with lactose intolerance can substitute milk with soya or almond milk.

Not all carbohydrates are bad and in fact, complex carbohydrates in moderate quantities are essential. These are quick energy producers. Whole grain cereals, whole wheat bread or chapattis, ragi etc. provide the essential daily requirement of these energy-giving substances. Regular intake of junk food with high refined carbohydrates should be avoided.

Limited healthy oil consumption is required for the energy stores in the body. Avoiding excessive consumption of fried foods, especially those rich in trans fats, reduces the subsequent development of problems including fatty liver which we now see even in people in their early twenties.

“Parents need to be there at all times with their support even if the teenager appears to withdraw or remain aloof”

Vitamins And Minerals
Consumption of essential quantities of calcium and iron containing foods is always recommended. Calcium rich foods including dairy products, daily consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and dry fruits will give the necessary daily requirements. A focus on a balanced diet at home and at school should be stressed at all times.

Regular Physical Training
A sound body does not come easily. The benefits of physical fitness at this phase of life lay a foundation for the body’s endurance in later life. Special emphasis on regular physical training. participation in sports and outdoor activities inculcates a healthy attitude to a lifelong healthy lifestyle.

Consistent Counselling

As a result of all the physical changes, most teenagers go through significant personality changes but blossom in to young adults with a mature mindset. These changes range from mild low esteem to occasionally severe depression, easy irritability to more aggressive behaviour etc. Peer pressure, opinion of friends and exposure to addiction inducing substances all influence a teenager and the role of family sometimes gets marginalizod. This is the time when parenting skills are most important.

A friendly but firm attitude, empathy, lots of understanding and unconditional love and time for your teenager will guide him/her through this sensitive phase of life. Parents need to be there at all times with their support even it the teenager appears to withdraw or remain aloof. Regular counselling both at home and school should inculcate ideas of good and bad, aiming for higher ideals for future success.

Parents should lead by example to help these values take root in their children’s flexible mind and last for their lifetime. These are just broad guidelines for both parents and the teenagers. These wonderful years need to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. The experiences a teenager goes through shapes him/her to face the challenges of adulthood.

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