The life of a teen is filled with choices, and most teens do not base decisions on their health, future, or long-term risks. Keeping up teens’ health ultimately falls on the parents’ shoulders, even though most teens are already making many of their own choices.
If you struggle finding a balance when it comes to your teen’s health or want to be sure that you’re doing as much as you can with the time you do have, here are a few simple ways to make a big impact on the health of your teen:
1. Require consistent exercise. There is no need to be a drill sergeant or make exercise feel like a chore, but there is something to be said for requiring exercise from your children. Whether they take up a sport, enroll in a dance program, or just join the gym with you, teens need to start now with a consistent exercise program for optimum health in the future.
2. Buy daily vitamins in gummy form. Daily vitamins are no fun. And, it’s difficult as a parent to, a) remember to dole them out, and, b) make sure your kids actually take them. But, vitamins should no longer be a dreaded routine. The vitamin gummies offered today are delicious and taste like candy. Teens will want to take more than their daily share.
3. Fill plates with more greens and fruits and less grains and protein. The FDA has recently re-vamped the old standard of food charts and opted for something simpler: a plate divided into four sections. Half the plate is filled with vegetables and fruits. The remainder contains a fourth grains and a fourth protein. This is a simple and easy way to see that your teens are getting the proper servings of the food they need.
4. Restrict TV to certain hours. Monitoring TV hours is a challenge, especially when teens have become accustomed to turning them on whenever they want. But, in order to maintain optimum health, the TV has to go once in a while. Teens need time and space to go outside, call friends, read, create, and do other things that help maintain a balanced life. This can be as simple as turning them off during regular chunks of time when you know you’ll be around.
5. Make doctors’ appointments a part of the norm. Many of us restrict doctor’s appointments to emergency visits when we come down with the flu and need a quick prescription. But, it’s very important to get your teen started with regular physicals and preventative doctor’s visits. This will get them in the habit of seeking out the advice of a physician and setting dates for those much-needed physicals.
6. Talk about sensitive health topics early-on. Instead of waiting until the last minute, it’s important to discuss any health topics that your teen needs to know as early as possible. This applies to the menstrual cycle, the birds and the bees, and your preference on the best forms of contraceptives or abstinence. Waiting until your teen finds out about these hugely important issues from friends, television shows, or the school counselor means that you have missed the chance to help form extremely important choices your teens will make and prepare them for life events that will come up soon.
7. Drink more water, and get rid of soda. This is simple, but definitely worth it. The health benefits of drinking enough water cannot be overstated, and the harmful effects of soda have been well-documented. Most soda contains such a huge amount of sugar that the body has difficulty digesting it properly. Once and a while, it’s fine, but make sure your teens are reaching for something else on a daily basis.