When children are little, it is easy to make sure that they are living healthfully. As parents, we book them in for doctor’s visits, we make sure that they see the dentist regularly, we select and prepare nutritionally sound food on a daily basis and we smile happily as we watch them run themselves right out of all of their energy. Unfortunately, children grow into teenagers who can take care of themselves, and often do so without being anywhere near where we can see if they are really finishing their broccoli, or if broccoli ever turned up on their plates in the first place. But short of confining teenagers to their bedrooms for the rest of their lives, what can we do to make sure that they are living a healthy life? Quite a lot, actually!
Talk to Your Child
One of the most important ways you can help educate your child on living healthfully is to sit down and talk with them. There are many health issues around that can help start a conversation on healthy living.
- Explain your views on alcohol and tobacco.
- Examine eating and body image disorders, and what constitutes a healthy diet.
- Discuss easy exercises to help keep fit.
- Talk about sleep requirements.
- Advise on safer sex and reproductive health issues.
- Encourage the use of sunscreen.
- Describe work/life balance and methods of stress relief.
Be a Role Model
It is easy to talk the talk without walking the walk, but when it comes to helping your teenager down the path towards a healthy lifestyle, it is important that we follow our own advice.
- Never smoke in front of children.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Take daily exercise and invite teens to join in.
- Indulge in soothing hobbies.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Get enough sleep.
- Wear sunscreen and offer it to children and teens daily.
- Go to the doctor when needed and the dentist regularly. Offer to book appointments for teens as well.
Support Your Teenager’s Choices
When teenagers make decisions about their own lives, it is important that parents understand these decisions and look for ways to support their teenager’s independence. For example;
- If your teen is interested in vegetarianism, browse a few cookbooks with him/her.
- If your teen decides to lose weight, support them in avoiding junk food by bringing home fresh, tasty treats like fruit and vegetables.
- If your teen is ready to quit smoking, investigate methods with him/her.
Of course, if your teen has made a decision that you feel could harm his/her health, it is equally important that you discuss your worries;
- Discuss the risks involved with unsanitary tattooing practices.
- Discuss the possible results of binge drinking.
- Discuss the long term implications of smoking and tobacco use.
- Discuss the results of a poor diet.
- Discuss how stress can negatively effective your teen’s life.
Remember, teenagers are still young adults and they are young enough to benefit from your guidance – whether they know it or not!