By: Daniel Haight, MD
Friday, April 26 2013
It is hard for parents to keep up with their teens and younger children’s fads, rumors and new topics. They are exposed to so much on television, at school and on the internet that even with limiting internet use at home, they will likely get the same information at school.
They come home from school hearing about the cinnamon challenge, salt & ice challenge, saltine challenge, and the blueberry challenge.
OK, the last one I just made up — but with a quick internet search it seems there is a dare for anything, along with 50 videos of people trying it.
For the last few years, internet videos show people attempting many dangerous activities. But all too frequently, these videos don’t show the dark side of some stunts, challenges or dares.
Although videos of people trying to swallow cinnamon have been around for years, almost all show a lot of coughing, gagging, and laughing by those filming and watching.
The videos never seem to emphasize that the cinnamon challenge can, in some instances, collapse a lung and cause lingering wheezing and coughing. The treatment of a collapsed lung often requires chest x-rays and the insertion of a long tube through the skin and between the ribs. The tube is as thick as your thumb and stays in place for a few days hooked up to vacuum suction.
For other challenges, it is sad to see a person with scars and “burns” from putting ice and salt on his/her skin. What they thought was just a dare to endure discomfort actually caused damage similar to frostbite.
The list goes on.
What saves many children from these experiments and peer pressure is not just common sense (that anyone would claim to have), but open conversations where parents are listening to their children.
We all try to nurture common sense, but without life experiences to back it up, sometimes kids see only part of the story.
That is the real challenge: Keeping up with our kids’ (and grandchildren’s) fads while making time to talk and really listen. It may be at dinner or on the ride to school. Simply hearing about their day and opinions while gently adding guidance helps keep the conversations going and hopefully helps them make good decisions.
To read a related article that offers great tips for communicating with your teenager, visit http://bit.ly/11qqZDA.