Make sure that your adolescent understands that her personal hygiene routine will have to be more rigorous than it was when she was younger. Showering or bathing daily with attention to the underarms, groin, backside, and feet is more important than ever.
Discuss with your adolescent whether she should be washing her hair every day. As her hair becomes greasier with the onset of puberty, she may need to do so.
Talk to your daughter about good menstrual hygiene and make sure she all the supplies she needs. Explain the difference between sanitary pads and tampons, and make sure she understands that menstruation does not need to limit her ability to be physically active.
Talk to your son or daughter about shaving when you start to see facial hair on him or hair on her legs, and give them the necessary equipment to start doing so.
Body image issues increase sharply during adolescence. Use your child’s physical development to guide you through what subjects you should be addressing. If acne is a persistent problem, for example, consider seeking advice from a dermatologist.
Make sure that the information you’re passing on to your child is current. Some of the hygiene advice you may have been given when you were younger, about things such as shaving or menstrual hygiene, may no longer apply.
Learning to handle their changing hygiene needs can be a challenge for some adolescents. Don’t be too hard on your 9th grader if she is struggling or resistant. Make sure she understands how important hygiene is and that it is her responsibility to take care of her body and keep it clean.
Make sure that your adolescent has all the necessary supplies to insure that she is well-groomed and clean. Help her shop for razors, deodorant, and other necessary toiletries.
Tooth decay and cavities are entirely preventable yet remain widespread and affect children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease. Untreated dental problems can become infected, causing pain and problems with eating, speaking, and learning.
Your child should be brushing her teeth at least twice a day, and after eating, if possible.
Your child should be flossing every day.
See a dentist immediately if your child injures a tooth. Dental injuries are common among children through age 14, and if left untreated can result in severe complications.
If your child plays a contact sport, she should wear a mouth guard to protect against dental injury and concussion.
If a child’s permanent tooth becomes dislodged due to an injury, place the tooth in a container of milk and seek dental advice as soon as possible. Permanent teeth can sometimes be re-implanted successfully.
School districts vary widely in the amount of physical education they offer in the curriculum, and by 9th grade physical fitness is usually no longer a daily part of the school curriculum. Find out how much physical activity your child is getting each day at school and what sorts of activities she is doing in gym class. This will give you a better understanding of her overall level of physical activity. According to a recent Institute of Medicine report on physical activity among young people, even the best physical education curriculum fails to provide the necessary 60 minutes of recommended activity a day.
It’s especially important for parents to step in and fill the void by encouraging physical activity after school and on weekends. One of the most effective ways for parents to do this is by modeling good behavior. Organize family activities that incorporate physical activity, such as walks and bike rides. Outdoor chores such as raking leaves or shoveling are a good way to squeeze exercise into a busy weekend. Finding a physical activity that you and your child can do together, such as swimming at the local YMCA, is a great way for both of you to exercise and for you to spend quality time together.
Research has shown that even relatively small variations in the amount of physical activity young people get can make the difference between a healthy weight and being overweight. If your child is not physically active enough, encourage her to start by changing her behavior gradually. Even setting aside some time each day for jumping rope, kicking a ball in the yard, or skateboarding around the block will soon make a difference that she will be able to see and feel.
If you are concerned that your child is not active enough, try to find ways to make physical activity appeal more to her. If she enjoys competition, suggest competitive team sports that might appeal to her. If she is more solitary, running or swimming might have more appeal. If she is shy about exercising with other children, home exercise videos could help her be more active.
One reason that children are less physically active than in previous generations is that fewer and fewer children walk or bike to school. If doing so is a safe alternative for your child, encourage the practice.
Explore lessons and organized sports for your 9th grader. These might include gymnastics classes or soccer or basketball. As she grows and her physical abilities progress, your child may express an interest in sports that even a year ago were of little interest. Expose her to as many options for physical activities and sports as possible. Community organizations like the local YMCA can be a great exercise venue for the whole family.
Encourage your child to try out different sports and activities and to find one that suits her. Some children resist team sports but can excel at individual sports like tennis or track. Make sure you let her sample a variety of sports to find her interest, and think of non-traditional sports, like fencing or frisbee, that might appeal to her. Reward and encourage persistence, so that even if your child is not a “natural athlete” she learns to enjoy participating and pushing herself to improve.
Exercise and regular activity help children feel comfortable with their bodies, which becomes especially important during puberty. Make sure your child knows about the changes that will take place in her body when she goes through puberty—things like sweating more, developing stronger body odor, growing pubic hair, and having acne.
The link between physical activity and improved academic performance is becoming increasingly clear. According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, children perform cognitive tasks better after participating in a session of physical activity. The report also notes that “frequent bouts of physical activity throughout the day yield short-term benefits for mental and cognitive health.” Encourage your child to take play actively or exercise before doing her homework or studying and to take short active breaks from sedentary activities. For example, if she is getting bogged down on some especially homework difficult problems, suggest that she clear her head by walking the dog or kicking a ball outside.
Limit the amount of time your child is sedentary in front of the television or computer monitor. Your child should remain inactive for no more than an hour at a time.
In addition to being aware of whether your child is not getting enough exercise, pay attention if she appears to be exercising too much. It is around this time that many children become susceptible to pressure to lose weight and develop a certain body type through exercise and diet. Children who participate in certain sports or activities that emphasize weight targets or body shape, such as wresting or ballet, can be especially vulnerable to this kind of pressure.
Your child may try to make up for an inadequate sleeping schedule by bingeing on sleep during the weekends. By creating a rule that she cannot sleep in later than 10 am on the weekends, you will establish clear expectations around sleep and help her to avoid the drowsiness caused by an uneven sleep schedule.
Since most teens are not getting the recommended amount of sleep each evening, a 20-minute power nap could be helpful. However, experts caution that adolescents should not be sleeping after 4 PM because it will disrupt an evening of restful sleep. If your child chooses to nap, have her set an alarm to ensure that she wakes up after 20 minutes.
With age comes greater responsibility. Now that she is in high school, your child will most likely be setting her own bedtime. Work with her to create a plan that sets aside enough time to sleep each evening. If her bedtime is constantly getting pushed back, she is probably overscheduled and should consider dropping some of her commitments.
Help your child maintain a regular study schedule so that she isn’t cramming the night before a major test. Researchers have found that the cost of losing sleep far outweighs the academic benefits of staying up late to study. Studying for a few hours every night will ensure that she can get plenty of rest prior to an important exam and retain the information that she learned.
Does your child have a lot of homework? Encourage her to complete the homework that requires a computer earlier in the evening. This way she avoids exposure to the stimulating lights of the computer or television during the time right before bed.
Check your child’s bedroom to see if it is a dark, calm, and quiet environment. When you turn off the lights, there should be no illumination. Remove the television, computer, and other electronics from the room since they emit a blue light that disrupts your child’s sleep cycle.
It is important to lead by example. Establish an electronic curfew for the entire family at least 30 minutes prior to your child going to bed. Model the behavior that you want to see in your child by also turning off your cell phone and other technological devices. If your child owns a cell phone, encourage her to charge it in a different room from where she sleeps. This way she will not be distracted by tweets and texts.
Caffeine and nicotine are both simulants and prevent a healthy night of sleep, especially if consumed after 4 pm. If your child is having trouble sleeping, consider having her cut out caffeinated soda, energy drinks, chocolate, coffee, and nicotine for at least 2 weeks.