RISE TO THE CHALLENGE

(Family Circle) Just when you wrap your brain around teens challenging each other to swallow spoonfuls of cinnamon, you hear they're ingesting detergent pods. Discuss these dangerous dares with your kids before they act on them:

Be respectful
"Impulse control is one of the last areas to develop in the adolescent brain," says Frances Jense, M.D., chair of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Teenage Brain. While we often make fun of teens for the questionable things they do, this is a crucial point in their development. Make it clear you get what they're going through.

Rely on facts
To avoid scolding and getting emotional, Jensen suggests researching the behaviors you want to discuss beforehand. Be objective and say, "I understand you're intrigued and want to try this. At your age you're more prone to risk-taking and I want to give you reasons to think twice now, because in the moment it may be harder to resist.

Strategize together
Identify behaviors your teen may encounter, like vaping in school or gelatin shots at parties. Brainstorm excuses they can use to get out of participating while preserving their social status. They should know it's totally OK to use you as an excuse.

Be vigilant
Don't assume you know the latest trends or that your kid wouldn't jump on them. Follow the news and talk to your teen, other parents and teachers or coaches to get a sense of what kids are into right now.

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