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Teen Health

How to help your teen make healthy choices

Don't blame your teen for being oblivious sometimes. Studies show that the teenage brain is not fully developed, and in some cases body development trumps reasoning skills in the development process. This is where parenting tips come in handy. You can help your teen make healthy choices every day.

Teenagers are hard to talk to, but here are a few ways to provide teen health information and give advice without sounding like a pamphlet:

  1. Sneak advice into regular conversations and situations. If your teen is complaining about acne, casually mention that diet dramatically affects skin's outward appearance. Perhaps a little less fried food and a few more apples would do some good. This is also a good opportunity to note the excellent effects of drinking lots of water.
  2. Start your child in a routine at an early age. If you get your younger children involved in sports, they are much more likely to be active teenagers. Teen health and fitness is a concern because around high school, many teens develop new interests that don't keep them as active. It's important to encourage new hobbies, but don't let your teen's physical fitness slip away either.
  3. Make a change together. If you notice your teen is acting like a couch potato, get out and start a new activity or physical fitness program together. Not only will this be good physical exercise, but it will strengthen your bond and improve your teen's emotional health and self-esteem.
  4. Get to know your teen's friends. Teens go through many different friends as they are trying to find themselves. By getting to know the people your child is hanging out with, you can have a better idea of what your teen is up to. This also makes you a more open and accepting parent – one a teen is more likely to come and talk to in case of a problem.
  5. Be a shoulder to cry on. If your teen comes to you admitting he or she made a mistake, don't get angry and start doling out blame. Offer consolation and help your teen understand what went wrong and how to avoid making the same mistake again.

Most importantly, you can help your teen make healthy choices by leading by example. If you want to instill good values in your child, quit smoking cold turkey before he or she even knows you had a nicotine habit. Behavior is best influenced through clear communication and effective parenting.

When it comes to drugs, don't just tell your teen they're off limits. Sit down and talk about the risks and consequences of even the most casual use. Explain that you know drugs are out there and make your expectations clear. Parents who ignore the possibility of a problem are usually the ones who end up facing them later on.

Teen health information, including specific emotional teen problems and teen health issues, is available online, but make sure you find a reputable site – such as the teen section of kidshealth.com, a site designed especially for young people. The information is directed at kids themselves, but parents can get a good feel for what's out there by visiting as well.

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