As a parent, your natural instinct has been to take care of your child’s every health need since the moment they were born. While this instinct has certainly served well to protect their health throughout their infancy and childhood, kids need to learn how to prioritize their own wellbeing. This is essential in their journey to becoming successful adults.
Adolescence is the perfect time for your child to start taking charge of their own health, which encompasses much more than just the absence of disease. This journey consists of instilling good practices like getting enough exercise, but also includes skills such as making appointments and learning how to communicate with medical professionals.
Essential Behaviors For Good Health
You’ve probably been teaching your children the importance of actions like brushing their teeth every day and eating enough vegetables since they were young. Being a teenager, however, comes with a new sense of independence. Before they go off to college and into lives of their own, you want to be sure that these good habits are ingrained in their routines.
A good place to start is with their dental health. Even if you’ve been bringing your child to the dentist every six months — as is recommended — since they were in diapers, young people tend to think that keeping us these regular appointments is not very important. However, healthy teeth don’t stay healthy without making and going to appointments with the professionals.
Dental health is also dependent on the food and drinks your teen is consuming. Researchers have found that exposure to energy drinks such as Monster® and Red Bull® lead to twice as much enamel loss as exposure to sports drinks such as Powerade® and Gatorade®.
Of course, the food and drink that affects their teeth also affects their nutritional health. Once young people are free to choose what they eat for every meal, they often veer towards the more unhealthy choices that their parents would have never allowed. While your teen still lives with you, get them involved in making dinner for the family so that they know how to make tasty dishes that are also healthy.
The last major pillar of health is staying active. With adults aged between 20 and 64 as the largest gym-going demographic, now is the time to get your teen interested in working out. While some kids are more inclined to enjoy group sports and join every team they can, others are more comfortable indoors. For these teens, encourage activities that are more relaxed like yoga or hiking.
Even doing something as simple as gardening together will get them outside and moving. While you encourage this new hobby, you can also save your home money, as planting trees and shrubs around a property can save up to 25% in energy bills.
The Basics Of Health Care
Teenagers need to learn how to become savvy medical consumers before they’re on their own. Without this knowledge, they could find themselves in a medical situation they can’t navigate on their own.
Start these lessons by encouraging your teen to schedule their own doctors’ visits. You should also show your teen how to fill and refill prescriptions for medication on their own. Be sure that they know the importance of taking medications as directed so that they don’t under- or overuse any of their prescriptions.
Even in adulthood, many people don’t know how to speak with their doctors. Instill good communication in your teen by letting them know the types of conversations healthcare providers will have with them. These typically include some casual subjects like their interests, physical activity, and school life as well as more serious topics such as how they feel emotionally, their sexual activity, and any drug or alcohol use.
Encourage your teen to be open and honest with their answers, particularly with any health concerns they have. Many young people may be embarrassed about a physical condition they’ve noticed, but let them know that doctors have seen and heard it all. Urge them to be open about their mental health as well. With about 15% of adults over the age of 60 living with mental health disorders, the earlier your child learns how to discuss and handle these issues the better.
Your teen may have no interest in adopting any of these habits or having these discussions with you at first. The important thing to do is keep trying to talk to them about their health and incorporating the habits into their routines as much as you can. Selling a home right now might take 6-12 months. Teaching your teen healthy habits they’ll use for life might take a little longer. Eventually, they will see them as a natural part of life will want to learn what they need to do to stay healthy.