Raising teenagers is hard enough as it is, but trying to help them adopt healthy habits can seem downright impossible at times. There is much to amend without triggering the rebellious resistance and angst that are part and parcel of being a teenager. However, there are ways to gently encourage your teenager to develop healthy habits that can carry them into adulthood. But how?
Here are some tips to help your teenager develop healthy habits:
- Unearth their Mental Health Struggles
Your teen has many things to deal with daily, from school and friendships to family drama and personal struggles. Unfortunately, it can harm their mental health, causing anxiety and depression.
As a parent, you should look for any warning signs.
Changes in eating or sleeping habits, mood swings, social withdrawal, or loss of interest in their favorite activities indicate a problem.
If you notice these red flags, have a conversation with your teen. Let them know you’re there for them and offer help and support.
You can also suggest they see a therapist or counselor to help them deal with their struggles healthily.
- Be Watchful of their Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Teenagers facing mental health issues often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to make themselves feel better. Combined with peer pressure, this can lead to severe problems.
The most common unhealthy coping mechanisms include substance abuse, self-harm, and disordered eating. Unfortunately, these conditions can continue into adulthood if not addressed.
If you think your teenager is engaging in any of these behaviors, it’s time for a conversation. Talk about why they’re feeling down and offer alternative healthy coping mechanisms, such as therapy.
However, it is best to learn more about drug rehab and therapy to treat and overcome such issues effectively.
- Teach Them the Importance of Sleep
Most teenagers need around 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night, but many only get 6 or 7. It can lead to crankiness, a lack of focus, and an inability to retain information.
Most of them stay distracted till late at night with their phone, which is the main reason for sleep deprivation in teens. Other times, study stress or late-night socializing can keep them up. You need to help your teen find a balance.
Set a curfew for phone and computer usage an hour before bedtime so they can wind down.
Encourage them to read or listen to calm music to help them relax.
Installing a humidifier in their room can also help, as dry air makes breathing and sleeping difficult.
- Help Them Create a Physically Active Routine
Getting your teenager up and moving is vital for their physical and mental health. Exercise untangles the mind, strengthens the body, and releases endorphins that can improve mood. You can help your teenager by creating a physically active routine together. It could involve running around the neighborhood, signing up for a sport, or taking dance or yoga classes together.
If they choose to work out at home, YouTube has a wealth of free workout videos, or you can look into fitness apps.
The trick is to find an activity that interests them so they happily stick to it. We all know the short bursts of disengagement that come with teenage years, so a little extra patience goes a long way.
- Encourage Them to Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods
Your teen probably lives off of pizza, fries, and cookies. While it’s okay to let them relish the occasional unhealthy meal, it’s essential to encourage them to eat nutrient-rich foods most of the time.
Protein and healthy fats are important for brain development, so include salmon, avocado, nuts, and seeds into their diet.
Whole grains are also essential for maintaining a healthy weight, improving blood sugar levels, and reducing the risk of heart disease. Try quinoa, barley, oats, and brown rice.
You must also incorporate fruits and vegetables into your teen’s diet. Spinach and broccoli, although despised by many, play a crucial role in energy production. In addition, citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron.
Other nutrient-dense foods include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and beans.
- Help Them Develop a Skincare Routine
Acne is a common skin problem that teenagers face. It can be caused by hormonal changes, genetics, or poor skin care. Boys and girls are susceptible to breakouts, but girls tend to suffer more because they wear makeup.
However, a good skincare routine can help reduce breakouts. Encourage your teenager to wash their face with a gentle cleanser, use an oil-free moisturizer, and avoid touching their face.
They should also exfoliate twice a week to eliminate dead skin cells that can clog pores and lead to breakouts.
Sunscreen should be a daily essential, even if they don’t plan on spending time outside. UV rays can damage skin, causing premature wrinkles and age spots.
And water, we can’t emphasize this enough, is key for healthy skin. Drinking at least eight glasses daily will hydrate the skin and flush out toxins.
- Spend Time as a Family
Family time is crucial for teenagers. It helps them feel loved and supported, two things that are essential during the turbulent teenage years.
You can bond as a family by cooking meals together, playing games, or watching movies. You can also take turns sharing something you’re grateful for at the dinner table. It will help your teenager express their thoughts and emotions and give you insight into their life.
Family time doesn’t have to be planned; sometimes, the best moments are spontaneous. So, grab a Frisbee and head to the park, ride a bike, or have a picnic in your backyard.
- Some Other Habits to Consider
Taking Care of Dental Health
Brushing and flossing teeth twice and visiting the dentist is important. Poor dental hygiene can cause gum diseases, tooth decay, and bad breath.
Stress can cause headaches, anxiety, stomach problems, and trouble sleeping. Help your teenager manage stress by teaching relaxation techniques like deep breathing and muscle relaxation.
Increase Social Interaction
Social interaction is vital for teenagers. It helps them develop empathy, learn social skills, and build self-confidence. Make sure your teenager is involved in extracurricular activities.
You want the best for your teen kid, and what’s better than helping them live a healthy life? So, be vigilant of their unhealthy choices, and guide them towards better habits. However, what’s equally important is allowing them autonomy and independence. It’ll improve their sense of responsibility and make them better people.
After all, that’s what parenting is all about.