Health & Wellness Kids

Teens: When the new “normal” isn’t normal

If you’re parenting a teen and grappling to understand some of today’s “normal” behaviour, you’re not alone. So, how can we help our teenagers when they struggle?

Life has changed a lot since we were teenagers. Understatement of the year! Today’s world presents a whole new tapestry of challenges, not just for teenagers but for parents too. Technology brings a new spectrum of worry, the school system has been revolutionised, and our understanding of nutrition and exercise has been redefined.

We sat down with Dr Sonal Hattangdi-Haridas, who holds a master’s degree in nutritional medicine, to better understand the world our teenagers are in and how we can begin to support them. She’s been treating expat teenagers in Hong Kong for over 20 years.

The new “normal”

In our new world, it’s near impossible for parents to truly identify what is the new normal. In her practice, Maya Health Institute, Dr Sonal has noticed a worrying trend of teenagers engaging in excessive behaviours that are now so prevalent they’re considered “normal”.


One behaviour is excessive exercise, often popular among teen girls. “When exercising to such excess, these teenage girls stress their bodies to a point they stop menstruating,” she explains, “and the side effects can be lifelong serious issues like osteoporosis.”

How can parents help?

The question remains, how can parents help their children if they find themselves questioning these behaviours in their teens? Dr Sonal suggests that homeopathy can play a role as a natural alternative therapy; “It promotes the body to heal from within; the remedies are safe, non-toxic, ultra-high dilutions made from natural substances.”

Early intervention is key to success when helping teens, she says. “The earlier parents notice a difference from norm and intervenes, the faster the teenager can be helped.”

When it comes to dealing with stressful situations, Dr Sonal confirms a healthy body and well-fed mind is better equipped to deal with pressure. “Learning to deal appropriately with small amounts of stress is healthy in the teenage years. It’s also a vulnerable time where challenges from hormones, academics and social interactions can add up. Proactively supporting the young adult nutritionally from the pre-teens and teens can make a big difference.”

If your teen is struggling and in need of some guidance, contact the Maya Health Institute at 3568 3135.


See more in our teens section

Social media and your child’s mental health

9 cool things to do with teenagers

Guide to international schools in Hong Kong

This article first appeared in the April/May 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.