Raising a healthy teens teen requires taking a broad approach toward meeting the needs of your teenager. Yes, it is important to address diet, exercise, and eating and sleeping habits, but it is also important to help your teen to be emotionally healthy as well. From about the ages of 12 through 24, the human brain undergoes significant changes and development, and between the hormone surges and emotional immaturity combined with a strong desire for independence, being the parent becomes even more challenging than it already was.
Because body image is such a critical factor in self-esteem, the way your teen eats is important. Having the proper nutrients makes a difference. Even if your teen struggles with weight issues, you should not encourage him or her to diet or starve but to make healthier choices about what they eat. Instead of buying potato chips for snack, buy baby carrots. Instead of grabbing fast food for dinner, make meals at home.
Most teenagers are still growing and therefore require a lot of nutrients to help with proper development of the brain and body. Since your teen’s bones are still growing, meals should have sufficient calcium and other minerals like iron and zinc. The diet should consist of plenty of carbohydrates to provide the body with enough energy, as well as fruits, vegetables, and protein. (Quick, easy meals like spaghetti and meatballs offer a great solution for meeting nutrition needs without needing too much time).
All kids need a physical outlet for their energy and emotions. If your child is not involved in sports, encourage him or her to ride a bike, walk to school, go swimming, or find some other active hobby. A healthy teen is one whose time in front of the computer and video games is limited and monitored. Your teen needs fresh air, free time, and time away from the TV set and off the couch.
A healthy teen is a teen that not only has access to healthy food choices and encouragement to exercise regularly but also a supportive atmosphere in which to try out his or her newfound independence. They should be allowed to socialize with their friends and have a level of independence that grows as they demonstrate increasingly capable responsibility. As a parent, you can foster independence by encouraging your teen to take responsibility for his or her choices, by increasing the amount of responsibility your teen has around the house and in making life decisions, and by letting your teen experience the consequences of his or her actions.
The most important thing you can do to have a healthy teen is to be open, honest, supportive, and there. Being available for your teen when he or she needs someone to talk to or needs someone to place boundaries and set guidelines and stay firm can give your child the sense of security and safety he or she needs. Raising a healthy teen takes time, effort, and a lot of patience, but the effort you put in now will pay off in many ways.
Norbert Georget is an accomplished professional speaker, teen motivator and author of the book, No-Nonsense Parenting For Today’s Teenager - How To Feel Like A Good Parent Even When Your Teenager Hates You.