Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Preteen Summit, Mountain View, CA 2008

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I had the pleasure of attending the Preteen Summit hosted by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health and the Preteen Alliance on December 10, 2008 and thought I would share some thoughts about that experience.

First, I cannot say enough about the intelligence, humor and soul of David Satcher, MD, PhD and former Surgeon General. Every time I hear this man speak I think he might be the most inspirational human being I have ever come across. Dr. Satcher talked about the importance of taking back our preteens and providing them with all the stability we can provide for them during puberty. He also talked about the developmental assets that protect youth and reduce the impact of risks associated with violence and stress.

The day included a panel of youth ages 12 & 13 who were articulate and confident in their truths and ability to succeed, in spite of having overcome obstacles including pregnant friends, alcohol, and troubled families. The most disturbing part of the panel for me was that one girl said "I think parents should spend time with their kids, at least twice a week." She seemed to think that getting attention twice a week would be wonderful, which broke my heart.

Denise Clark Pope, Founder of Stressed Out Students, now called Challenge Success, also spoke at the Preteen Summit and talked about having a broader vision of success, that should include:
  • Character
  • Health
  • Independence
  • Connection
  • Creativity
  • Engagement
  • Achievement
Listening to her, I decided she must read Teen Health 411, as she was suggesting that parents:
  • Give unconditional love
  • Listen to their children, and their gut reactions
  • Define expectations for success
  • Examine subtle messages we sen our children
  • Avoid overscheduling
  • Make sure kids have play time, down time, and family time
  • Limit media and screen time
  • Honor health & well-being
  • Be good role models
  • Debunk college myths - there are multiple paths to success
  • Engage in dialogue about the health of our preteens
  • Advocate for youth
What else can I say?
Happy Holidays everyone!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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