June 15, 2015

Tattoos and body piercings have made somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. They are increasingly glorified by professional athletes and entertainment professionals which has a great effect on our impressionable youth. While I do not have a problem with an adult choosing to pursue body art, I think we need to be cautious with our younger and mentally unprepared tweens and teens.

Dr. Liszewski looked at a study population of tattooed individuals in the New Orleans area and looked at their regret pattern regarding tattoos. What he found was a decreasing regret percentage with an increasing age. In other words, as one ages they choose a tattoo for a reason that they are pleased with as they age. Teens with tattoos are more likely to regret the choice.

I find this information useful when counseling teens. Impetuous teenagers need solid advice as to the risks and benefits of all body art. Infections like hepatitis and HIV still occur in seedy tattoo parlors. Tattoos are permanent, unless you have the funds for laser removal.

What else can you counsel your teens on?

1) Nutrition - I think that this is paramount for health. I discuss how their diet affects their micro biome and thus their health and disease risk. Increasing vegetables and fruits while simultaneously decreasing flour and sugar based foods is the way.

2) Stress - Teenagers are stressed! Encourage them to pray, journal, draw, exercise, talk to parents/friends - whatever technique helps them quench their stress fire. Try not to judge.

3) Safe sex or preferably abstinence - Not talking about it is akin to condoning whatever they choose. You would never let them drive a car without education! Talk about sex.

4) Drugs - Stressed kids turn to drugs. Working on #s 1 and 2 will help prevent drug issues. Ultimately, their is no substitute for discussing the risks of drug use. Talk early and often. They will know that you care despite their disdain at your annoyance with bringing it up. That is the paradox of the teenager.

5) Sun safety - Teenage girls are overdoing sun exposure and suffering with consequences of skin cancer. North Carolina has banned tanning beds for children 18 years of age and under, however, the sun outside keeps shining. Talk about this risk.

6) Supplements - Discuss supplements for weight gaining or losing that your teen may be interested in for athletics or appearance. Almost all are risky in some fashion.

7) Technology - The bane of our existence! Help them recognize the dangers of sexting, social media relationships, and loss of sleep with devices chipping away at sleep.

8) Money - Teach them to respect money by not providing it without work. Guide them in their choices while you let them waste THEIR money if they so choose. This will allow them to learn from mistakes while it is not relevant to their immediate success. Never say that "I told you so"!

9) Motion - Help them understand the benefits of physical labor and activity. Their is no substitute for movement for a health body and mind.

10) Chemicals - discuss the risks of chemical exposure whether it is in food or cigarettes or the work environment. Let them see websites like the EWG.org or CDC.gov.

There is no substitute for talking to your teen!

Dr. M