Adolescent health

School refusal: When a child won’t go to school

The adjustment from summer vacation back to the structure and demands of the school year affects many students, but some experience so much anxiety that they avoid going to school. Understanding the reasons for school refusal can help parents identify problems and act quickly.

Home cooking: Healthy family meals

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

When families eat dinner together, the benefits to children go beyond nutrition. Family meals can lead to improved academic performance and self-esteem. Involving the kids in preparing dinner also enriches the experience.

Teens and drugs: 5 tips for talking with your kids

If you are a parent concerned about teens and drugs, these tips can help you engage in a productive and positive conversation with your child about substance misuse and help you know when to intervene.

Meningitis vaccines: What parents need to know

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Most people who get viral meningitis get better without treatment, but bacterial meningitis is much more serious, and can be fatal. Meningitis vaccines can help protect against the most common bacteria responsible; two are given in infancy, and the third should be given before adolescence.

Adolescence: A high-risk time for substance use disorders

The prefrontal cortex does not fully develop until the mid-20s, which makes teenagers’ brains excellent at learning and absorbing new information, but it also makes them vulnerable to experimentation and the potential for substance use disorders.

Teens are getting less sleep, which raises heart disease risk

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Teens are getting less sleep than ever. This leaves them prone to conditions like high blood pressure and insulin resistance which increased the risk for heart disease and diabetes later on.

What parents need to know — and do — about e-cigarettes

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The rising use of e-cigarettes among adolescents is worrisome, because they still contain nicotine and because using them increases the likelihood of later tobacco use. Parents should educate themselves about these devices and the risks they pose.