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How To Keep A Teenager Compliant

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I have a 13 year old who is just in the process of being formally diagnosed with Celiac. She had a positive blood screen. We're trying desparately to keep her gluten free and seem to be managing it well at home (we hope). We're finding it difficult when she is out of the house. She has Aspergers and doesn't seem to understand that "I think it was gluten free" isn't good enough. She also figures that if she doesn't have a reaction right away, "it must have been fine". It's very hard to make her understand that just because she doesn't have a big reaction, that the gluten still does damage! Has anybody found a way to explain to a teenager "that knows everything" that she needs to adhere to the diet, no matter what??? :(

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I would tell mine something like this.

You know you need to be gluten-free. Even a little will cause antibodies to start destroying your body, even if you don't feel it. Eating gluten-free is a rule. If you cannot follow this rule when you are not at home, you will not go anywhere without a parent to supervise you. This includes school functions, movies, etc. If she is not following the diet at school, you could try to talk to the counselors and maybe she must eat a home packed lunch in the office. Maybe you come up and watch her eat.

If she was smoking pot when she went to a friends or the movies or at lunch, you wouldn't think these things were too harsh. Eating gluten is probably more dangerous to a Celiac's health than pot is to a 13 year old ( no I don't think kids should smoke pot).

Even if she says she will follow the rule, you will need a way to ensure she is. You will need to show up and check on her randomly. Maybe a teacher or another parent who is there will check for you. When my son first started driving, I would see if his car was where he said he would be. I had other parents and neighbors tell me how his driving was.

Yes this is a lot of work for you. You chose to be a parent so this is your job.

Yes, it will embarrass her. So what? I bet you embarrass her once by sitting with her for school lunch and a party and she will follow the rules. You have to mean it and follow through or it's a waste of time.

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My 13yo doesn't seem to have problems to gluten, but she does need to have things proven to her before she accepts them. If it were my daughter, I'd find a good book on celiacs and have her read it. Sometimes getting information from an expert vs mom makes all the difference in the world! Of course another choice is to have her look at websites and blogs dedicated to celiacs or gluten free living.

Good luck!!

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Wanted to add:

The punishment of breaking a rule should be a consequence of the the rule breaking. Taking away her cell phone

or her new UGG boots has nothing to do with sneaking gluten food at her friends house. Not going to the friends house makes more sense. If you can't behave at Suzy's house, you can't go to Suzy's house. Because you don't behave at Suzy's, you aren't going to any friends house.

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That's a really good point and it may come down to that. Right now we're in the process of trying to make her understand WHY it's important so that she will want to comply on her own. I have no issue enforcing it as needed. It would just be much easier if we could get her on board with it. Because she's just new at this she really doesn't understand why it's so important and we're having a hard time getting it across to her. You're right though, if she doesn't start following the rules with it, we'll have to become much more vigilant with her and make it so she doesn't have a choice. There will come a time though where she isn't in our house and she will have to monitor herself. If we can't get her to buy in now, she will continue to be non-complaint then and the ramifications are pretty steep

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For me the key phrase there is "just in the process of getting diagnosed." We have all made newbie mistakes. You have make some allowances for that. Continue to educate her but be forgiving about mistakes...if she is still learning. In the beginning months I glutened myself plenty of times thinking I was making the right choices...then finding out later I was wrong. We are always seeing people who make mistakes on the forum and we give them support and advise. Sure you can make expectations and have her read books and punish blatant non-compliance...but I'm wondering if she is just learning the diet...and needs time to know how to eat safely. My son made lots of mistakes at 16 trying to be gluten free. We had talked a lot about it...yet one day he came home and said, "Mom? Do poptarts have gluten in them?" It makes you wonder what they are thinking unless you look at it from their perspective...all these years poptarts have been a food or a treat and suddenly they are "gluten". But it doesn't say gluten on the package. I tried to be patient and teach. In the end this will be his to live with...but for now...he didn't choose this disease and neither did your daughter. We have to help them learn how to live with it. It takes a lot of time to learn to be good at anything. Having the added difficulty of Asperger's means she may require more time and patience. I'd find a reward system. Like the first month my son was to eat gluten free he was allowed as much pop as he wanted as long as he drank a glass of water for each pop. Something that will be simple but will motivate her to want to do this...aside from the fact that she has to do this. After a month...my son quit really wanting the pop that much and he was much better at making decisions about gluten...we talked about it every day...our choices..our mistakes...we learned at the same time. I ate a snickers every day to reward myself for being gluten free. Well, it sure helped in the beginning. Even after several months of being gluten free, my son came home and shared that he had eaten a cupcake bacause he didn't want to hurt the feelings of the girl who handed them out. Well, that was a decision. Maybe not the best one...but the best one he came up with in the moment. We get better as time goes by and we need to let mistakes go an try again the next day. Talking and making sure she understands how to check her food and what to look for are important, but you are the only one who can decide if she will learn best by education,reward, punishment, or patience...and it may take a little of all of them for the next few years. It isn't easy...I'm there with you. however, my son was sick for a long time...and he gets ill from CC now, so there is a motivator. Remind her of the symptoms you are trying to get rid of if she has any negative reactions or symptoms from gluten...that can help her make better decisions too. Unless she doesn't have any symptoms at all, then that can't be used as a motivator. No answers...just some thoughts since we just went through one year of the learning phase.

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I've found with my kids and with the other tweens and teens I know that the most important thing is to make them think it's their idea ;)

Teens are at a stage in life where they are learning to make their own decisions. If you set everything up as a rule with punishments to reinforce the misery of getting glutened, you've taken away their autonomy and ability to choose for themselves.

You know why I didn't try drugs as a teen? Because my brother had a book he scored off some college kids that had pictures and listed out all the common drugs and their effects - GOOD and bad! I read that thing cover to cover and decided for myself that the risks were not worth the reward.

If you make it all about your authority, the minute the kid is out of sight she will want to find out for herself what the natural consequences of cheating are. Then she'll have to lie to you about it even if she gets sick. And if she doesn't notice getting sick, or just keeps herself at a baseline that doesn't feel sicker than usual but isn't promoting healing, YOU won't know if it's some other health problem, cross contamination, or cheating!

If you make it about a learning experience you are sharing - learning together - with her at the lead (or perceiving herself to be), she'll be much more likely to make good decisions for herself.

At this stage, my kids are not *quite* across that line into adolescence, although my nearly 13 year old daughter definitely has her moments!!! I know from stories they and others have told me that they are every bit as careful as I am. Because of this I can trust my kids to enjoy the experiences other kids their age have. My daughter just got back from a 7 day sleep away camp where there were huge dessert portions every night and camp outs with s'mores. (My formerly carbo-loader, sugar addict, staunch vegetarian) kid went with her pre-packed grain-free meat and veggies, and small, minimally honey-sweetened desserts and had a great time. No one had to stand over her or threaten her to make that happen.

Trusting your daughter to learn about her health and make good decisions for herself will be a good way to enter the teen years. Developing a relationship based on mutual respect will go a long way to helping her make good decisions when it comes to choosing friends, going along with the crowd, drugs, and sex. And when things do go wrong for her, if she knows she can come to you for help figuring out what to do, you are way more likely to have a real, honest say in what she decides for herself as she grows into a young adult.

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I have a 13 year old who is just in the process of being formally diagnosed with Celiac. She had a positive blood screen. We're trying desparately to keep her gluten free and seem to be managing it well at home (we hope). We're finding it difficult when she is out of the house. She has Aspergers and doesn't seem to understand that "I think it was gluten free" isn't good enough. She also figures that if she doesn't have a reaction right away, "it must have been fine". It's very hard to make her understand that just because she doesn't have a big reaction, that the gluten still does damage! Has anybody found a way to explain to a teenager "that knows everything" that she needs to adhere to the diet, no matter what??? :(

Aspergers kids can learn a lot if their interest is piqued. Would she read books on celiac or the gluten-free diet if you left them around the house?

Also, do you have any counselors working with you for general issues with her Aspergers? Perhaps a professional can help your daughter understand that the getting sick from gluten isn't an immediate, literal thing.

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. We're finding it difficult when she is out of the house. She has Aspergers and doesn't seem to understand that "I think it was gluten free" isn't good enough. She also figures that if she doesn't have a reaction right away, "it must have been fine". It's very hard to make her understand that just because she doesn't have a big reaction, that the gluten still does damage! Has anybody found a way to explain to a teenager "that knows everything" that she needs to adhere to the diet, no matter what??? :(

Just to clarify my answer, I am responding to the " teenager that knows everything" part. Ideally, it would be best if she would willingly comply. It sounded to me like she knew the basics but was doing what she wanted anyway.

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What method does she learn best in (listening, reading, etc)?

It took me a while to accept it, but once i did i became paranoid of it (better that than be ignorant).

Reward systems are very good. However, punishing for something she is still new to might not have the effect that you would like.

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Sorry if this has already been mentioned, but are you say she is in the process of being dx'd. Has she had the endoscopic biopsy yet? Do you plan on doing one? If you do plan on having the biposy which is the standard for diagnosis then she needs to continue to eat gluten until the test is done. The biopsy must be done while eating gluten everyday for several months.

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If only there were a way to make teens compliant :)

If you make a bunch of punishments, she will just learn to become a really convincing liar. You want to model adherance at home, and wherever you go with her. What she does when you are not with her is truly out of your control, and you need to accept that. You can have teacher's help, and if she is deliberately eating wrong, curtail her activities "Im so sorry, but you seem like you aren't being careful with your diet, and that's important. So important that I am not comfortable with you at....." Teens want autonomy and are willing to do almost anything to get it.

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Teach her to research. She's going to have to do it anyway. She needs to learn to read labels, do searches on the internet, order at restaraunts and most importantly, plan ahead.

To your daughter: So you're going to "Amy's" house. Will you need a snack while you are there? What does Amy usually have on hand? Yogurt? Microwave popcorn? Fruit?

Look at some mainstream options that she will recognize at a friend's house. If she is uncomfortable requesting something there, have stuff that she can take with enough to share. My daughter likes to take fruit chews.

So you're going to a school football game with some friends? What can you have at the concession stand? Snickers, soda, cracker jacks . . . Yeah, I'm talking about a lot of junk food here, but she's eating at a concession stand so what's healthy there? ;)

I think appearances play a big role in a teen's life. Help her learn some mainstream items that she can have when she's out and about. If she knows of some things ahead of time, she's not winging it with "It looked like it was gluten free."

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