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The Piggott School

A Church of England Academy

Advice and Support on Issues with Health

 Alcohol
Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the UK. From the minute your child takes their first sip, alcohol starts affecting their body and mind. After one or two drinks they may start feeling more relaxed and sociable, but if they drink too much and then their basic human functions, such as walking and talking, become much harder. They might also start saying things they don’t mean, behaving out of character and making decisions like having unprotected sex which they later regret.

While some of the alcohol’s effects disappear overnight – the effects of regular heavy drinking can start affecting different areas of their life, and even encourage the development of long-term health conditions, such as heart and liver disease.
 
The Facts on Alcohol 
 
  • It might not seem it but alcohol is fattening. A glass of wine has the same amount of calories as a slice of cake and a pint of beer would be the same as eating a burger. That’s without the fattening snacks you often fancy after drinking.
     
  • Drinking can increase your risk of being a victim of crime or assault. Alcohol is a factor in one in three (30%) of sexual offences and one in two (50%) of street crimes.
     
  • Alcohol is often mistaken for a stimulant as it can make you feel happy at first, but it’s actually a depressant. So if you are feeling down, it’s likely alcohol will make you feel worse in the end.
 
Tips on talking to your children about alcohol and underage drinking 
 
  • The effects of alcohol often crop up in soap operas, films and news stories. This can be a good opportunity to introduce the topic.
     
  • Don’t just talk about physical effects, discuss how drinking too much can affect their ability to make decisions and get into situations they otherwise wouldn’t.
     
  • Look at your own drinking. Young people learn more from watching their parents than they do from listening to them.
     
  • Know the daily unit guidelines for adult alcohol consumption (not regularly exceeding two to three units of alcohol a day for women, three to four units for men) and tailor your own drinking accordingly so you can pass on realistic messages about what is and isn’t a risk when it comes to alcohol.
 Drugs
Why Teenagers Try Drugs 
 
Many teenagers are tempted to try drugs at some stage in their life, with research showing that as many as 45% will be tempted to dabble in drug-taking of some sort during their young lives. Aside from the usual peer pressure and the incessant need to be 'cool' or considered 'edgy' and 'fun', many teenagers are simply curious about the buzz or 'high' they can achieve from taking drugs. That buzz is doubled by the simple fact they are doing something illegal that we as parents would consider dangerous and frown upon. In short, it's a rebellious risk, a chance they take and with peer pressure to join in, it can be hard for them to say no.
 
On a more serious note, they might be getting into drugs as an escape. Perhaps they are unhappy at school or there have been recent changes at home that may have unsettled them. In this case, drug taking can be more worrying as they may start to rely on it as a form of escapism and start to take them more regularly.
 
 
Dealing with Drugs as a Parent 
 
If you have a hunch your child might be smoking or taking drugs, it's best to deal with it straight away. It's easy to turn a blind eye and sweep the issues under the carpet in hope that they'll eventually stop, but without your intervention, the problem could escalate into drug abuse and dabbling with strong drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
 
Sadly there are no specific rules regarding parental approaches to drugs and the way in which you deal with the problem really depends on the type of child you have, their personality/mood and how they are likely to respond to you quizzing them.
 
Tips for Dealing with Drugs and Your Teenager 
 
  • Approach the subject in a calm and understanding manner, so your child feels confident about confiding in you and revealing whether or not they are taking/have tried or are currently under pressure from friends to take drugs.
     
  • Do your home-work first, research smoking and drugs so you can speak to them confidently about the substances they are using, making them aware of the risks and the implications on their well-being.
     
  • Talk to them about their feelings and try not to judge them or create arguments whilst they are talking. If you have taken drugs in the past, now might be a good time to tell your child about your experiences and why it was important for you to stop.
     
  • Try to avoid lecturing them. They'll only become irritated and want to rebel against you. Instead, remain chatty and friendly but keep your views and ideas firm so they know your position on drugs and are clear about why they should avoid them.

Once you have had the initial chat, try to monitor your child closely and bring the conversation up again as and when you deem necessary. There are some clear signs to look out for that will indicate if your child is still smoking or taking drugs, including the following:

  • Chewing gum a lot, yellow-stained fingers and smoke-scented clothes.
     
  • Mood swings, loss of appetite and a general desire to spend lots of time in their room.
     
  • Obscure descriptions of where they are going, a certain shiftiness to their behaviour.
     
  • Requesting or asking to borrow money from you or any other members of the family.
     
  • No interest in out of school/college activities or spending time with family.

It's important to remember that as a parent you can only do so much. If your advice and help isn't working (and your child is still taking drugs) it's important to seek help from an external source specialising in drugs. Admitting you need help is nothing to be ashamed off - smoking and drugs are addictive substances and young people from all walks of life, backgrounds and families can easily become addicted. It doesn't mean you are a bad parent, nor does it mean they are a bad child. In many cases, taking drugs is merely a passing phase or 'fad' that teens sometimes go through and it will eventually pass.

 Diet

 Healthy Diet is Important for Teenagers 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for us all especially teenagers and can:
  • Promote wellbeing by improving mood, energy and self-esteem to help reduce anxiety and stress;
  • Boost concentration and performance;
  • Reduce the risk of ill-health now and in the future, e.g. obesity, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes;
  • Increase productivity/attainment and reduce days off sick.
 
 
The Facts 
 
Teenagers and Calcium 
Teenagers have high calcium requirements.
 
Around 50% of the adult skeleton is formed during the teenage years.
 
Low calcium intakes found in 24% of 11-14 year-old girls and 19% of 15-18 year-old girls.
 
A lack of calcium may have consequences for future bone health e.g. increased risk of osteoporosis.
 
Teenagers and Physical Activity 
Physical activity through life is important for maintaining energy balance and overall health.
 
At least 60 mins of moderate-intensity physical activity each day is recommended.
 
Include activities that improve bone health, muscle strength and flexibility at least twice per week.
 
68% of boys and 41% of girls (13-15 year-olds) achieve the recommended 60 mins per day.
 
 
 
 
Teenagers and Iron
Teenagers have increased iron requirements.
 
Girls need more iron than boys to replace menstrual losses.
 
Low iron intakes in 44% of girls (11-14 years) and 48% of girls (15-18 years).
 
Lack of iron leads to an increased risk of iron deficiency anaemia and associated health consequences.
 
Teenagers who follow a vegetarian diet or restrict food intake (e.g. to lose weight) are particularly at risk.
 
Teenagers and Energy Balance 
Levels of overweight and obesity are increasing: 35% of teenagers (12-15 years) are classified as overweight or obese.
 
Teenagers, especially girls, often try to control their weight by adopting very low energy diets or smoking.
 
Restricted diets may lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health consequences.
 
Teenagers of unhealthy weight may need guidance on lifestyle changes to help them achieve a healthy weight.
 
 

Things to Look Out For with Your Teenager ‚Äč

 
 
Obesity
Obesity is a term used to describe somebody who is very overweight with a high degree of body fat. Being obese increases your risk of developing a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases such as, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and colon cancer stroke. In addition, obesity can damage your quality of life and can often trigger depression.
 
Anorexia
Anorexia  is an eating disorder and mental health condition which can be life-threatening. People with anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible, usually by restricting the amount of food they eat. They often have a distorted image of themselves, thinking that they're fat when they're not. Some people with the condition also exercise excessively, and some eat a lot of food in a short space of time (binge eating) and then make themselves sick or use laxatives (purging). People affected by anorexia often go to great attempts to hide their behaviour from family and friends by lying about eating and what they have eaten, or by pretending to have eaten earlier.
 
Bulimia
Bulimia is an eating disorder and mental health condition. People who have bulimia try to control their weight by severely restricting the amount of food they eat, then binge eating and purging the food from their body by making themselves sick or using laxatives. As with other eating disorders, bulimia nervosa can be associated with depression, low self-esteem, misuse of alcohol and self-harm.
 
 Self Harming
Self-harm, or self-injury, describes a wide range of things people deliberately do to themselves that are harmful but usually do not kill them. Self-harm can be very hard for parents or carers to understand or come to terms with. Cutting the arms or the back of the legs with a razor or knife is the most common form of self-harm, but self-harm can take many forms, including burning, biting, hitting or taking overdoses.
 
A young person may self-harm to help them cope with negative feelings, to feel more in control or to punish themselves. It can be a way of relieving overwhelming feelings that build up inside, when they feel isolated, angry, guilty or desperate. Self-harm can lead to infection, permanent damage and even accidental death. It is therefore important to seek professional advice if your child is self-harming.
 
Why Do Children Self-Harm? 
 
Young people who self-harm have often had very difficult or painful experiences or
relationships. These may include:
  • Bullying or discrimination
  • Losing someone close to them such as a parent, brother, sister or friend
  • Lack of love and affection or neglect by parents or carers
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • A serious illness that affects the way they feel about themselves
  • Low self esteem
  • Peer pressure.
Other young people may start to self-harm as a way of dealing with the problems and pressures of everyday life. Pressure can come from family, school and peer groups to conform or to perform well (for example in getting good exam results). Young people can be made to feel angry, frustrated or bad about themselves if they cannot live up to other people's expectations.
 
Supporting Your Child who is Self Harming 
 
Remember that they are extremely distressed and that self-harm may be the only way they have of communicating their feelings.
  • Allowing them to talk about how they feel is probably the most important thing you can do for them. Just feeling that someone is listening and that they are finally being heard can really help. Good listening is a skill. Always let the person finish what they are saying and, while they are talking, try not to be thinking of the next thing you are going to say.
     
  • Be clear and honest about your feelings. Explain that their behaviour upsets you but that you understand it helps them to cope.
     
  • Take them seriously and respect their feelings. Don't tease them or call them 'mad' or 'mental'.
     
  • Don't blame them for hurting themselves. Try to avoid being critical even if you feel shocked by what they are saying. This may make them feel even more alone and prevent them talking to anyone else.
     
  • Don't ask them to promise never to self-harm again. They may well do it again and then feel guilty about breaking their promises.
 Sex
A third of teenagers will experience sex before their sixteenth birthday. It is therefore vital for parents to learn to talk to their teenagers about sex!
 
We have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe and the rates of sexually transmitted diseases are also rising. The changing nature of society means that teenagers, today, are bombarded with images of people having sex. They have information coming at them from the media, their friends and the internet. Little wonder then that teenagers come to believe that an active sex life is proof of their adult status. With sex being discussed through the media, and sex education being offered at schools, it would be easy to assume that our teenagers will know all they need to know about sex, however this really is not the case.
 
Teenagers and Their Peers 
 
Your teenager's friends may be the source of a lot of information, but you would be surprised how misleading this information is! Peer pressure can mean that your teenager is given the idea that “everyone else” is doing it. There is a real likelihood that your son or daughter may feel left out, or have their peers make fun of them for not joining in.
 
Therefore it is unwise to assume that our teenagers will learn about sex through their friends and at school.
 
Reasons to Talk to Your Teenager 
 
  • As parents you must get over your own awkwardness and possible embarrassment. Your teenager needs to know the correct information about sex, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. As teens enter the world of relationships they need to know that they can talk to you openly and freely. By being open with your teenager, they will also learn the importance of valuing themself.
  • Your teenager will learn about sex whether or not your tell them. But by talking to them you may prevent them from rushing into sex and regretting it later.
  • Knowing that not everybody is having sex, takes the pressure off your teenager trying to lose their virginity, in an attempt to prove they are “normal”. They may well remember you saying “it’s OK to say no”.
  • You can help your teenage daughter learn how to respond to a boy if he says “if you loved me you’d do it” reminding the boy that no, means no.
  • Teenagers need your input in order to balance the many different views they are being given.
  • If you are not influencing your teenagers thinking on sex and sexuality, you are the only person in their lives who isn’t!
  • Parents are the only ones who can really influence the values their teenager already holds, maybe only tentatively, but they want those values confirmed.
 
Talking to Your Teenager About Sex 
 
  • Don’t aim for one "big talk" try a small discussion sparked of by something that’s happened to a friend, even news on the television, or their favourite soap opera.
     
  • Try talking openly and without embarrassment, your teenager needs to have a positive view on sex in order to have a healthy sex life in the future. If they sense their parents’ embarrassment about sex, it will make sex seem tacky. Most importantly they need honest and straight forward explanations and advice.
     
  • Aim for a conversation and not a lecture! If you are angry or worried about your teenager you may blurt it all out in one go. Almost yelling advice as they set of on their first date!
     
  • Don’t worry if they appear not to be listening this is an important subject to them, you will have more of their attention than it seems.
     
  • Ask them what it’s like in "their world" learn what kind of pressures they are feeling. If you feel they are genuinely trying to resist pressures, let them know how proud that makes you feel.
     
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about what you believe, talk about emotions as well as the physical process. Explain your beliefs and values, this is a very powerful message, your teenager won’t want to disappoint you.
     
  • Your input with give them a different view, one that will challenge the other views they receive and it help them make their decisions.
     
  • Take care in the way that you talk about people who have different values. If you use negative or derogatory language about celebrities or even your teenager’s friends, who have made a sexual lifestyle choice you don’t agree with, your son or daughter may make a decision in the future that they know you wouldn’t approve of. The last thing you want them to say is “I couldn’t tell my parents – they wouldn’t approve.”
 Smoking
The health risks of tobacco are well known, but teenagers continue to smoke. Many young people pick up these habits every year — in fact, 90% of all adult smokers started when they were kids. Each day, more than 3,900 youngsters become regular smokers.
 
So it's important to make sure kids understand the dangers of tobacco use. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United Kingdom, and can cause cancer, heart disease, and lung disease.
 
Tips to Help Prevent Your Child from Smoking 
 
To help prevent your children from using tobacco, keep these guidelines in mind:
  • Discuss it in a way that doesn't make your children fear punishment or judgment.
     
  • It's important to keep talking to children about the dangers of tobacco use over the years. Even the youngest child can understand that smoking is bad for the body.
     
  • Ask what children find appealing — or unappealing — about smoking. Be a patient listener.
     
  • Encourage children to get involved in activities that prohibit smoking, such as sports.
     
  • Show that you value your child's opinions and ideas.
     
  • Discuss ways to respond to peer pressure to smoke. Your child may feel confident simply saying "no." But also offer alternative responses such as "It will make my clothes and breath smell bad" or "I hate the way it makes me look."
     
  • Emphasize what your children do right rather than wrong. Self-confidence is a child's best protection against peer pressure.
     
  • Encourage your child to walk away from friends who don't respect their reasons for not smoking.
     
  • Explain how much smoking governs the daily life of children who start doing it. How do they afford the cigarettes? How do they have money to pay for other things they want? How does it affect their friendships?
     
  • Establish firm rules that exclude smoking from your house and explain why: Smokers smell bad, look bad, and feel bad, and it's bad for everyone's health.
 
What to Look for if Your Child is Smoking 
 
If you smell smoke on your child's clothing, try not to overreact. Ask about it first — maybe he or she has been hanging around with friends who smoke or just tried one cigarette. Many children do try a cigarette at one time or another but don't go on to become regular smokers.
 
Additional signs of tobacco use include:
  • Coughing
  • Throat irritation
  • Hoarseness
  • Bad breath
  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Greater susceptibility to colds
  • Stained teeth and clothing
  • Shortness of breath
 Stress
Teenage Stress 
 
Adolescents have more ability and understanding than children to express their stress but are often the least communicative! They may also be in denial and refuse to admit or accept that anything is affecting them.
 
The fact is that teenage girls tend to be more affected or prone to stress than boys. However teenage girls do tend to seek help from others for help with their stress while boys respond to stress by dealing with it alone and refuse help from others or by engaging themselves in activities that would help them concentrate on things other than the stressors.
 
The family members and friends are usually both the cause and support for teens. Without proper guidance, teenagers use healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with their stress.
 
 
Causes of Teenage Stress 
 
  • Physical development
  • Spots
  • Sexuality
  • Relationships
  • Peer pressure and friends
  • Money
  • Sense of Inadequacy
  • Exams
  • Fear of failure
  • Employment
  • Parents
  • Bullying and violence
  • Drugs and Alcohol usage
  • Self Image
  • Loneliness
  • Illness
  • Unwanted change
  • Rejection

 
Signs of Stress in Young People - what to look out for! 
 
Please note that some of the “symptoms” below are a normal part of adolescent development. However sudden changes in behaviour patterns or the development of new ones are often indicative of stress.
  
 Low Self Esteem
 Short attention span
 Low Energy
 Often sleepy or extremely hyperactive
 Often depressed
 Negative self beliefs
 Inactive
 Lethargic
 Angers easily / fights frequently
 Aggressive attitude /abusive
 Dislikes self
 Easily frustrated
 Resentful and resistant
 Cries easily and often
 Sulky / withdrawn
 Detached and unresponsive
 Change in eating habits/ eating disorders
 Mood swings
 Defiant
 Intolerant of family
 Self harming
 Poor concentration
 School grades fall
 Truancy
 Drug and Alcohol usage increases
 Attempted suicide
 
Supporting a Teenager with Stress 
 
Teenage stress can be handled both inside and outside of house. The first step in tackling teenage stress is to identify what caused their stress. The thought that there is no earthly reason for teenage stress needs to be avoided.
 
The teenager needs to be allowed to talk freely about their problems and they should be supported. Older people around them should help and instruct the teenager by educating them stress relief methods and setting realistic and lifelike targets for them in both curricular and extra curricular activities.
 
During the time that a Teenager feels stressed, full support must be given by the people around them. Teenagers, like children and some adults, are not ready to face major Conflict and need help in identifying the Problems that surround Them.