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Q. My daughter is 12. She is always pushing the limits of her physical capabilities. She tries to compete with the older kids in the neighborhood and seems to always want to be the first of her peers to try something - usually dangerous. Last week she took her skateboard over a set of double ramps! I don't want to dampen her enthusiasm but I'm worried about what new, dangerous activity will be next. Help!

A. It sounds like you might be raising a "sensation seeker". This is a personality trait associated with the need for lots of stimulation, lots of novelty, a tendency to shift from one thing to another, and the tendency to become bored easily. Sensation seekers make up about half of the teen population.

This is not a bad thing, but it does put your child at higher risk for experimentation with alcohol, drugs and sex. So, make sure she is very aware of your no drugs policy. Also, be especially vigilant when it comes to monitoring your child. Steer your sensation seeker into activities that allow her to take healthy risks like rock climbing, karate or white-water rafting and encourage her artistic and creative side as well. And do enjoy her! She may well introduce you to great experiences you'd never have tried on your own.

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Last Updated 05.20.2002 | Email Parenting is Prevention | Privacy Policy