How to Tame Your Teen Without Really Trying


Recently, when I drove my teenage son home from tennis practice, I watched him spend the first half of the ride chugging a 32-ounce root beer and the rest of the drive drumming his palms on the dashboard with such force I feared he’d deploy the dual front airbags. The radio wasn’t even on.

“Next time stay away from sugar, it makes you hyper,” I said. I wasn’t sure whether anyone had actually proven that sugar causes hyperactivity, but as I watched my son ricochet in his seat like a pinball it seemed like a fair assumption. Still, how could I be sure?

I called my friend Brenda, a nurse practitioner. She sent me a link to a YouTube video series, Healthcare Triage, by Aaron Carroll, Professor of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. Carroll tackles the common beliefs about health and the human body and explains healthcare policy, medical research, and answers a lot of frequently asked questions.

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I clicked on the link, expecting to hear some random doctor give a boring lecture about sugar causing hyperactivity. Instead, I watched Carroll expertly debunk the myth with the frankness of Dr. Phil, the enthusiasm of Dr. Oz. and the wit of Dr. House. He indicated that numerous studies show sugar doesn’t affect behavior. According to one study, it’s all in the parents’ heads.

While fascinating, it didn’t explain why my son couldn’t keep still after drinking a root beer so again, I turned to the Internet and came across The Straight Dope, an informational website by Cecil Adams, where I learned about a key ingredient found in certain brands of root beer: caffeine. My son’s behavior after drinking a Barq’s root beer suddenly made perfect sense. After all, it doesn’t take an overcaffeinated barista to know that caffeine makes you hyper.

My son hasn’t stopped drumming on the dashboard, and I haven’t stopped nagging him, but at least I have my facts straight now when I say, “Next time stay away from caffeine, it makes you hyper!”

When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother.  Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties.  Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist.  Her monthly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Visit her blog  Follow her on twitter @lisatognola



The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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