Healthy Habits for Teens and How to Encourage Them

healthy habits for teens

The teen years are a fun and exciting time for your child, but often a very nerve-wracking time for you as the parent. It is a time when you are giving your teen more independence and responsibilities which is a good thing, but it is also important that you instill in them healthy habits that are essential to living a long and happy life. If you help them form these habits now, you will be giving them the tools to navigate any obstacles they may face as they grow into adulthood.

Here are some healthy habits for teens:

Healthy Diet

Proper nutrition is important for all of us, but for teens it is extra important. They are still growing rapidly and have increased appetites, but they are at school and out with their friends more than they are with you now so it is more difficult to ensure that they are eating the right amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grain, protein and dairy.

All is not lost, however. There are ways you can still influence their diet. One is to always make sure that you always have healthy snacks in the house for your teen and his or her friends and to try to have a nutritious family meal together at least a couple of times a week. Getting your teen involved in the food shopping and cooking will also help him or her know how to prepare their own nutritious meals when they are on their own.

Good Hygiene

While as a newborn, your child was up every few hours and never let you sleep in past 6 a.m., your teen probably sleeps in on the weekends and during the summer until noon and then lazes around the house all day not taking a shower or even washing their face and brushing their teeth. Consistent laziness when it comes to proper hygiene can lead to more acne breaks out on the face, and cavities and other dental issues in the mouth. Your teen might also become more prone to infections and diseases as well so it is important to make sure they are practicing good hygiene every day.

Although you taught them how to properly brush their teeth when they were a toddler and they have been doing their morning and night time routines on their own for years now, don’t be afraid to give them gentle reminder on the days they seem to be reveling in their own laziness.

Daily Exercise

If your teen isn’t an athlete or a dancer, chances are they are probably spending more time on their phones and laptops then on getting enough physical activity. While they can get some steps in hanging out with their friends at the mall, it is not going to be a vigorous enough activity to boost their heart rate. Try setting aside time where you exercise together. Having each other for company and encouragement will help both you and your teen stay more active.

9 to 10 hours of sleep

Although teens are notorious for sleeping to noon, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily getting enough sleep. With early start times at school, heavy study load and Netflix binging till midnight, most teens are not getting their recommended amount of sleeps. Adults usually need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, but for a teen it is more like 9 to 10 hours of sleep. If your teen seems like he or she is dragging more than usual, you might want to help them look at their schedule to see how it can be changed to allow them to get a better night of sleep each night.

Finding Their Passion

While physical health is important so is mental health. Encourage your teen to find hobbies and interests that ignite their passions whether it is drawing, writing or taking names on the soccer field. Doing something they love will help them handle stress better as well as to have a more positive outlook on life.

Of course instilling all these healthy habits is easier said than done when it comes to teenagers who are desperately trying to assert their own voice. But there are certain things that you can do to encourage healthy habits in your teens.

Be a Role Model

The most important is being a good role model. Practice the healthy habits you want your kids to follow. “Do as I say, Not as I Do,” doesn’t really work and tends to create resentment. By seeing you make your own physical and mental health a priority will help them see the importance of it.

Give Cooking Lesson

The best way to encourage good eating habits in your teen is to teach him or her how to shop for and prepare healthy meals. If they are uncomfortable in the kitchen, they are going to be more likely to opt for takeout all the time when they are older instead of preparing nutritious meals at home.

Encourage Open Communication

While teenagers can be moody and stand-offish at times, they secretly still want a good relationship with you. Encourage an open two-way street of communication between the two of you where no topic is off limits. The more of a close, open relationship you have, the better able you will be to offer guidance and support during these challenging years.

Promote Positive Relationships

Both a strong relationship with a mentor, whether a teacher or a coach, and positive friendships can help encourage healthy habits. People in your teen’s life who really care about him or her will want them to have healthy habits too and will help support you in this endeavor. Also loving and supporting relationships will help your teen recognizes what a healthy relationship is.

Be realistic

In the end though, remember that we are all human and your teen is going to stumble and fall as much as they will soar. It is all a part of the growing up process. Some days they will not make the healthiest of choices, but it is okay because you will be there to help them get back on track the next day.