The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal

MAY 2013

The 2012 edition of The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal features medically reviewed, reader-friendly articles such as tanning, the increasing incidence of skin cancer diagnoses among young women, & the prevalence of melanoma among white males over 50.

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Page 28 of 103

Do teens understand mortality and aging, and how tanning might affect their health? "When I was a child, my parents were focused on smoking and wearing seatbelts… Today, I'm also concerned that my kids wear sunscreen and bike helmets." UNDERSTANDING TEENS' BEHAVIOR /////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Studies show that once children reach their teen years, parents' infuence wanes as peer infuence becomes much stronger. Why is this, and how can parents regain some infuence? AW: Some kids want to be rebellious, and that could have something to do with parents' declining infuence! But I think that for many kids, the interest in tanning is actually more about the look. My son wears rash guards [sunprotective swim shirts], and I told him never to sunburn, but then everybody at his summer camp told him, "You look so good with your tan — you look healthy!" If you hear that enough, you believe it. A tan is still shorthand for, "I look athletic, like I've been outdoors exercising, not like a wallfower sitting at home alone!" But the truth is, as parents we have a lot of infuence: our kids are watching us like hawks. You might not realize it, but you're modeling behavior for your kids all the time. So model healthy outdoor behavior by seeking shade, and by wearing sunscreen and a broadbrimmed hat, for instance. Kids feel invincible when they're young. This kind of healthy narcissism is a part of their psychological development. When kids are warned about something like skin cancer, they think it's not going to happen to them, or it's so far in the future it doesn't seem real or particularly scary. STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFUL DISCUSSIONS /////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Should parents approach their teen[s] together or individually? What's important is that you repeat the anti-tanning message in as many different ways as possible. Don't gang up on your child, but do repeat the message whenever you can. You want a give and take with the kids — listen to your kids as well as lecture them! Would you recommend offering incentives or rewards? ("If you don't tan, I'll buy you…") Sure, it might work, especially with tweens — 10-to-12-year-olds are often amenable to this approach. 27

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