Rebellion, claims of independence and frequent clashes with authority are all part of the physical, social and developmental changes of the teenage years. In order to instill healthy habits in these formative years, it is wise to begin practices that will eventually lead to your teen making healthy choices on their own.
The more you force them to be healthy, the more they will resist.
This will cause problems down the road when they are on their own and make their own lifestyle decisions. If you can find a way to instill healthy habits into their lives now, they will eventually get used to living a healthy lifestyle and carry these habits into adulthood.
By Practice, Not Preaching
It has been said before, and it is worth repeating, you teach best by example.
Show off your own healthy lifestyle — the food you cook and eat, the attention you give to personal hygiene, dental routine, exercise and hobbies — simply by living it.
Believe it or not, it is sinking subtly into that preoccupied mind of your teen. Plus, your teen isn’t going to see the value in living a healthy lifestyle if they can’t see the benefits right before their eyes. They are far more likely to listen to you if you practice what you preach and let your actions do the talking.
Stock Up on the Good Stuff
Keep your kitchen stocked with nutritious snacks and foods. Colorful fruits and vegetables, yogurt, cheese, low-fat milk, fresh fruit juice, baked chips and crackers, whole-grain bread and hummus look more enticing than pizza boxes and hamburger take outs.
Your kids won’t eat healthy unless there is healthy food readily available.
Yes, they’ll probably eat whatever you put in front of them at the dinner table, but they aren’t going to cook healthy snacks for themselves. Prepare healthy snacks before they get home from school so they can have something nutritious before dinner time.
Giving them all the ingredients necessary to make a healthy snack will help them get used to choosing good snacks over junk food and provide them with ideas for healthy food that also tastes good.
Gather Round the Dinner Table
Hectic schedules may make regular family mealtime difficult, but if you can do it even a few times a week, it is worth the effort. It fosters conversation and builds bridges. As your teen blooms into an adult, their schedule will get more hectic with work, school, social commitments, and real life responsibilities.
If you resort to the drive-thru every time you have a busy day, you are teaching your teen eating well is only for when you have a lot of time to cook. Showing your teen it is possible to exercise and eat healthy even when you have a busy schedule will really help them out later in life.
By having family dinner every night, you can teach your teen having wholesome, home cooked meals every night is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.
Give Your Teen a Fish, They’ll Eat Healthy For a Day…
We all know the old adage if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day – but teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. This saying holds true to teenagers as well.
Granted, despite teenagers’ need to be independent, they are still highly dependent on their parents.
They will need your help to learn how to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but you can’t do everything for them.
If you do everything for them, they won’t know how to live a healthy lifestyle on their own once they move out. However, if you teach them how to live this type of lifestyle, they’ll be used to it by the time they are an adult.
Part of preparing your teen for healthy adulthood is to empower them to function on their own instead of forcing them to live a healthy lifestyle while they live under your roof.
How to Empower Your Teen When it Comes to Healthy Habits
If you’re looking for ways to help your teen feel empowered and in charge of their own health, there are many things you can do to get them into healthy habits before they reach adulthood.
- Once you feel your teen is old enough, put them in charge of making appointments with doctors and dentists instead of calling for them.
- Let them check their calendar for conflicts before calling the office and hold them accountable for remembering annual cleanings at the dentist or check-ups at the doctor.
- Unless the matter requires your presence, allow the older teen to see the doctor privately. It shows you value and respect their need for privacy and independence.
- If you want your teen to learn healthy eating habits, give them responsibilities in the kitchen.
- On weekends, request help preparing a salad or a meal. Give them a chance to create their own recipe or dish without criticism.
The more comfortable your teen feels in the kitchen, the more likely they are to be an adult that can cook for themselves instead of turning to take-out every night.
Help instill good hygiene habits in your teen by making them realize toothpaste doesn’t magically show up in your bathroom the day after you run out – you have to re-stock items in order to keep up good hygiene.
- Invite them go shopping with you to pick out a good toothbrush, toothpaste and bath and body items. Teens like to look and smell nice.
Exposure to media and commercials creates product awareness as well as hype. You can show them how to really evaluate a product by how you choose yours and how to check for ratings and quality.
If you treat your teen as a person whose opinion is valued, chances are your child will value yours.
Involve them in family discussions and pay attention to what they have to contribute. Respect is earned mutually, not always easily. Engaging your teenager is the first step towards establishing a relationship in which you have a greater influence on your teen’s life than if he or she sees you as an adversary.
It is tough to get teens on a track where they actually choose to be healthy on their own. However, once they see the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, they will be motivated to adopt these habits for themselves.
Providing them with a wholesome atmosphere where they have the ability to develop these habits will prepare them to be healthy in adolescence and adulthood.
Information for this article was provided by the professionals of Dunn Orthodontics who specialize in SureSmile technology in Arizona and provide orthodontic care to teens, adults, and families.
Dixie Somers is a full-time mother and part-time freelance writer and blogger. She has written for many niches, including home, family, finance, and health. She lives in Arizona with her three girls 8, 12 and 14 and husband. Dixie has contributed several articles in the past:
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