Welcome to the Nurse's Corner at Conrady Junior High School!
Parents and Guardians, you are now entering the turbulent time of your child’s puberty. Middle schoolers experience many bodily changes and an increase in hormones. This might make your child behave in unusual ways. Here are some handy things to keep in mind about this special time for your child:
Healthy Body and Self Image
Change “happens” to all middle schoolers and your middle schooler is no different. Here are some ideas to get your tween off to a healthy start.
Clean Body – Encourage your child to bathe or shower daily. If body odor is a concern, have your child use a deodorant.
Hair – Your son might want to start shaving his face and your daughter might want to start shaving her legs. Help them pick out a razor that is safe and easy to use.
Eating – Pizza might be your tween’s idea of a balanced meal, and it can be…in moderation. A balanced diet is important for a growing mind. Make sure your child:
- Gets three cups of low-fat or nonfat milk daily.
- Aims for five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- Limits foods and drinks that are high in sugar and fat.
- Limits juice to no more than 1 cup per day.
Sleeping. Children this age generally need about 10 – 11 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep can make it hard to pay attention at school.
If your Child Needs to Wake-up At ... 6:00 AM 6:15 AM 6:30 AM 6:45 AM 7:00 AM 7:15 AM 7:30 AM Set Their Bed Time for ... 8:15 PM 8:30 PM 8:45 PM 9:00 PM 9:15 PM 9:30 PM 9:45 PM
Physical Activity. Children this age should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Make it a family playtime! Get outside for a walk or dance in the kitchen with your child.
Limit Screen Time. Try to limit screen time to no more than two hours per day! This includes TV, DVDs, video games, smartphones, tablets and computers. Excessive screen time can lead to eye fatigue, obesity and general middle schooler grumbles.
Oral Health. Tweens need to continue to brush twice a day and floss once a day. A dental check-up every six months is valuable. Some children may be fitted for braces around age 12.
Ear Health. Listening to headphones or music too loud can cause tinnitus, which is an early indication of potential noise-induced hearing loss. It is easy to prevent:
- Buy noise canceling headphones so your tween can listen at lower levels.
- Invest in volume-limiting headphones.
- Set a safe volume limit in their device settings.
- Get ear plugs for concerts.
Skin Health – You might start seeing big changes in your child’s skin. Be prepared!
- Sun Block – You still need to slather that tween in sunscreen. Use at least SPF 30 and reapply every hour.
- Tanning Beds – Don't do it. Some states have outlawed tanning bed usage for those under 18. It’s never a good idea. Even one indoor tanning session can increase users' risk of developing cancer cells by 67% – According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "Prevention and Care."
- Stick to Your Rules. A growing need for independence means tweens may test the boundaries of established rules. Decide which rules can be eased and which must remain in place.
- Getting the Blues. Look for signs of depression, which can include irritability, sadness, loss of interest in activities, poor academic performance and talk of suicide.
- Almost 1 in 3 U.S. students in grades 6 – 12 experienced bullying. In addition, 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools. Talk to your child about how to get help if they are being bullied and what to do if they see a friend being bullied. Being a bystander is not okay for our children.
Are your worried about your child’s mental health? Take this quiz
Be Ready to Talk. Be prepared to answer questions about puberty and the feelings associated with those changes. Encourage your child to bring his or her questions or concerns to you. Be ready for "The Talk" about sex and relationships.
Talk openly about sex and encourage your child to wait until he or she is older to engage in sexual activity with others. Explain the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancy.
Female Health – Your little girl is becoming a woman; be ready to talk about it.
- Breast Development – Her breasts can start to develop by age 11. Often one breast will grow faster than the other will. Be ready to support your daughter through these changes.
- Periods – In girls, the first menstrual period usually occurs by age 13, but it can come as late as age 15. Talk to your daughter about menstruation before it occurs and encourage her to come to you once it does.
Male Health: Your son will have some special concerns; be ready to talk about them:
- Voice Change – Your son’s voice might change and get "crackle-y."
- Erections – Assure your son that erections and “wet dreams” are normal.
- Breast Enlargement – The breast tissue on young men might get bigger during puberty. It usually goes away after a few months.
- Testicle Lower Than The Other – Assure him that uneven testicles are normal and common.
Also of note, there is currently a proposed bill going through the Senate (SB2866) that states that the Illinois Department of Public Health must provide all students who are entering sixth grade and their parents or legal guardians written information about the link between human papillomavirus and specified kinds of cancer, and the Centers for Disease Control recommendation for students to be vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. Please click on the links below regarding the HPV vaccination. This vaccination is NOT required for school but is highly encouraged as a cancer prevention measure for students.
Flirting with the Danger Zone
Peer pressure from friends and the media can steer your tween to the danger zone. Your child’s safety is still a big part of your job, but they can start taking some responsibility for their own well-being too.
As a tween, they still need to:
- Ride in the back seat and always wear a seatbelt while in a vehicle. Your child should use a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches (150 cm) tall.
- Wear a helmet while riding a bike, skateboard or scooter.
- Limit exposure to secondhand smoke, which increases the risk of heart and lung disease, and can make asthma worse.
Tweens and young teenagers also begin experimenting with adult things like tobacco, alcohol and other substances. Here are some interesting facts about substance use:
- 90% of smokers began before the age 19.
- One in nine adolescents used alcohol— that also means that most teens, eight in nine, did not use alcohol.
The good news is, your child still cares what you think and what you say! Despite the increased frequency of slammed doors and eye rolls, your opinion matters.
You still have a chance to set them on the right path, but the time to do it is NOW. Read the guides in this section to find ways to curb usage at a young age.
Get More Information:
- Parent's Guide to Talking about Alcohol and Substances
- Cannabis Use and Youth: A Parent's Guide
- 10 Ways To Keep Teens Smoke-Free
- 11 Facts about Teen Tobacco Use
For additional information and resources, please visit MiddleSchoolHealth.org
Electronic Cigarettes and Vaping Among Youth
Electronic cigarettes and vapor products have become increasingly popular and accessible. An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats a liquid solution (often flavored) to produce a vapor for inhalation. The dangers of e-cigarettes are just as real as regular cigarettes. According to a 2016 Report of the Surgeon General, the vapor produced by these devices is NOT water vapor — it is a toxic aerosol that contains cancer-causing substances. Inhaling secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes can cause respiratory irritations and an increased risk for asthma, among other adverse health effects.
One e-cigarette device, called a JUUL, has become increasingly popular among youth and young adults. A JUUL looks strikingly similar to a USB flash drive, and can actually be charged in the USB port of a computer. A JUUL pod connects to the device, and inside that pod is the nicotine equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes.
The “JUULing” trend is growing at an alarming rate among junior high and high school students. As of 2017, JUUL is now more popular than all of the e-cigarette brands manufactured by the major tobacco companies. This increasing popularity can be attributed to several factors, from marketing practices to its sleek, discreet design — which makes it easy to hide from parents and teachers. Another appeal is the ability to customize the device with JUUL “skins” featuring unique colors and patterns. Unique flavorings like Cool Mint, Mango and Crème Brûlée significantly heighten its appeal too.
Educating youth about the dangers of JUUL and nicotine is critical. A study by the Truth Initiative found that 37% of 15- to 24-year-old JUUL users are uncertain whether the product contains nicotine. But the truth is simple. It does!
Please have a conversation with your child about the risks of using these products. The links below will help you learn the facts and how to talk with your child.
- Surgeon General’s website on e-cigarettes and youth
- CDC Know the Risks - ECig - Parent Tip Sheet
- CDC Know the Risks Frequently Asked Questions
- National Institute of Health on Drug Abuse - ECig Drug Facts