Is your adolescent accident-prone?

Sep 14, 2010 at 11:36 a.m. ET

Every developmental issue, it seems, has multiple phases -- as parents, we seldom deal with any given issue just once. More commonly, an issue ebbs and flows in varying degrees throughout the years. Your child's accident-prone toddler years ebbed as he grew, then may have segued into occasional injury phases during the early school years. Now you have adolescents -- are teens still accident-prone? Or about to become at risk of injury again?

Teen rollerblading

As kids move into adolescence, being accident-prone may become more than a physical or emotional issue -- it may be a social one as well. Getting to the root of the issue can help with your teen's self-esteem and higher social self-confidence. When your kids were younger, it was easier, however -- figuring out how to raise a healthy teen may require a more nuanced approach.

Attention and concentration

It's easy to forget how intense and pressured the adolescent and teen years are. But once we remember, it can be easier to understand the stress and distraction that might lead to stumbles -- literal and figurative. Working with your teen to establish stress-manangement strategies and focusing skills can help alleviate the injury tendency and boost her self-esteem in the bargain.

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healthy teens need Physical activity

Not quite kids, not quite adults, adolescents often feel "in between" in many ways. While they are still developing emotionally and physically, and some injury tendency can be associated with that development, they can also start to address some physical coordination issues more like an adult.

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For example, your teen may avoid regular physical exercise because he thinks he's too clumsy or accident-prone play to a sport -- precisely when regular exercise, including balance and coordintation training, can help him overcome those obstacles he might think he was "born with."

a sleepy teen is an accident-prone teen

Study after study shows that adolecents and teens aren't getting the sleep they need. This can manifest itself in a variety of way, including a higher tendency toward injury on their own, and in vehicles.

A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed a correlation between later school start times (thus more sleep) and a decrease in car crash injuries and deaths among teens. Making sure your teen gets enough sleep may help minimize accidents of many varieties -- and help with appropriate-decision making in general.

>> Sleep and your older child

Other concerns

Another less savory issue to consider in adolescents and teens who may seem to be accident-prone is substance use and abuse. We all want to believe our kids would never abuse drugs and alcohol -- but often it's just not the case. An impaired teen is not making the best decisions, and some of those decisions may lead to injury. If you haven't had those discussions with your child, or haven't taken steps to ensure your teens' safety and appropriate education on substance issues, there's no time like the present.

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No matter what issue is driving your child's injury tendency, addressing it in an age-appropriate way is critical to real resolution. Whether it's bumps and bruises or something more serious, figuring out why your child seems accident-prone can help all of you lead a safer, more injury-free life.

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