Human biology is unavoidable. You need to understand the things your biology entails and how they relate to your life, even if you don’t understand everything on a scientific level. It’s important to talk to your teenager about certain biology topics so they’re prepared to encounter them in their lives. Here are five human biology topics you should talk to your teen about.
- Good Hygiene
Teach your teenager how to perform healthy hygiene. He or she should be aware of how hygiene needs can change with puberty, such as using deodorant and learning to shave. He or she should also be aware of common hygiene practices that can be dangerous and may require alternative tools or methods. If, for example, your teenager cleans his or her ears with Q-tips because it feels good, explain why doing so isn’t such a great idea, and help him or her find safer ways to stimulate the vagus nerve instead.
Every teen needs to be aware of puberty and how it will affect him or her. Puberty can be a frightening time for teenagers. Their bodies are changing and they may experience mood swings and other types of emotional and psychological distress. You should talk to your teenager about puberty, how it happens and what it entails, as soon as you think it appropriate to do so. Teach your teen how to care for their body including drinking enough water. You may even install a countertop water filtration system to encourage water intake. Most parents try to talk to their children about puberty before it begins, but you will likely need to continue talking to your teenager about it throughout the process.
Genetics plays an important part in people’s health and well-being. For this reason, it’s becoming an increasingly popular topic in schools and family discussions about health. If you’re aware of any genetic predispositions or conditions in your family history, talk to your teenager about them and how they may affect his or her life and health. You can also choose to get genetic testing done so you and your teen are aware of any potential issues. You can also incorporate genetics into family history research, getting DNA tests done to discover where your family is from.
- Sex Education
Sex education can be an uncomfortable topic, but it’s vital to teenagers’ health and safety. If they don’t learn about it from you, they will learn about it somewhere else. [See Grace’s article in this issue.] For these reasons, it’s important that you prepare your teen with accurate information. Explain the biological processes involved and discuss how pregnancy occurs and what happens to a woman’s body during pregnancy. You may not want your teenager to have sex, but there’s always a risk that it will happen. Teach your child about methods of contraception and how to access contraceptives. Above all, try to make your child aware that you will listen and help if he or she needs or wants to talk to you about sex.
- Brain Changes During Adolescence
A less obvious thing that happens during puberty is a change in your brain chemistry and formation. The primary change occurs in the frontal cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for reasoning, decision-making, problem-solving and emotional control. Teenagers may act impulsively, participate in risky behaviors and find it difficult to control outbursts of intense emotion. You should talk these things through with your teenager so you’re both aware of these changes and can deal constructively with issues that may arise from them.
Make sure your teenager knows you’re able and willing to talk to him or her about human biology, both in a class setting and outside it. If he or she is confident that you will listen to them and explain things on his or her level, you will have a healthy relationship and be able to ensure your teenager’s safety.