The teenage years can be a tumultuous time for everyone involved. As a parent, some days are about creating structure and discipline, and others are about holding on for the ride.
Keeping your teen healthy is an honorable goal. Here are some practical steps you can take to help your teen stay healthy while building a foundation for lifelong healthful habits.
Brushing things under the rug and avoiding taboo topics is a thing of the past. It’s normal for teens to be curious about alcohol, sex and drugs. Avoiding these subjects, as awkward as the conversation may be, means your teen will step out into the world without proper knowledge. Also, simply saying “don’t do those things,” is not a sufficient conversation.
Create an open dialogue about your expectations while creating a safe space for feedback and questions. Monitor their behavior, but don’t be secretive about it. For example, if you have Easy Test Hub drug tests on hand for suspicious situations, let them know. If part of the privilege of having a phone means you get to go through it, tell them.
There’s a misconception that being open about monitoring your children will give them a chance to be secretive. It’s better to start on a foundation of trust and openness to instill a sense of honesty and expectation.
Eating healthy starts at home. While your teen may open the overflowing fridge and say there’s nothing to eat, someone who is really hungry will always eat what’s available. By presenting healthy food options, eating healthy becomes a habit due to the inconvenience of finding an alternative.
While encouraging your teen to eat nourishing food is important, it’s perhaps even more important not to engage in the diet culture narrative. In other words, don’t comment on their body or weight while encouraging movement and healthy eating.
Diet culture creates a sense of shame around eating that promotes lifelong challenges with food. If you’re someone who tries every diet and struggles with body image, it’s because you were fed the diet culture narrative. You can do better and end the cycle.
We live in a connected world. Unfortunately, continued social media use and screen time have a detrimental impact on teenagers; it could also be affecting you.
Schedule unplugged periods and technology downtime in your family. For example, place a basket by the door and have everyone (even you) put their devices in it during dinner or at bedtime. Remember to follow the limits you’re putting in place as well.
Life is busy, and it can be challenging to carve out meaningful family time in a hectic schedule. Set a goal to plan a standing date with your teen, engaging in an activity they enjoy. They may not outwardly appreciate the effort now, but they will someday.
Being an adolescent is the home stretch to the adult years. Financial literacy is one of the best lessons you can teach your teen — and one that is not often covered in school.
Money tends to be another taboo subject, but it’s worth discussing. Give your teen a better idea of your income and the various expenses you deal with every day. Give them a portion of the budget to manage, teach them how to grocery shop, and teach them the importance of saving.
If you struggle with finances, this is an opportunity for your entire family to learn together.
Finally, remember to model the behavior you want to see. Teens with smoking parents are more likely to start smoking. Parents who struggle with their food relationships tend to pass that on to their children.
Use your child’s teenage years as a way to revisit your own, unlearning the lessons and experiences that don’t serve you well. Remember that perfection is a myth, but your family can do better, together.
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