How to Help Your Teen Develop Healthy Habits

As a parent, you’re responsible for ensuring your child lives a safe, happy, and healthy life. But as your child creeps into their teenage years, you’ll need to slowly start trusting them with this responsibility.

As we wrote in a recent article, it all starts by encouraging healthy habits from a young age. Promoting these healthy hygiene and lifestyle habits is important for preparing your teen to be a responsible adult.

Keep reading to learn more.


Emotional Health: Teaching teens the value of self-care

Just like adults, teens benefit from consistent and deliberate self-care. Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting your emotional wellbeing and happiness.

Self-care practices include activities that help you feel emotionally…

  • Nurtured
  • Calm and relaxed
  • Joyful
  • Fulfilled
  • Connected
  • Inspired

What exactly does this look like? It will vary based on the personality and needs of each individual, but some examples might be…

  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Spending time alone
  • Participating in a favorite hobby
  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Getting a massage or going to the spa

You know the sorts of things that help your teen feel best. Give your support to these activities and practices.

The teenage years are some of the most emotionally turbulent. Promoting this approach to emotional self care teaches your teen how to handle issues like anxiety and stress. It also demonstrates that your child is worthy of care — this mindset is the foundation for living a healthy and fulfilled life.


Physical health: Important hygiene habits for teens

Of course, a healthy life is more than just a mindset or feeling. There are some very important physical health habits every teen needs to develop to prepare for life as a responsible adult.

Some habits that you’ll need to help your teen adopt include…

  • Brushing and flossing teeth daily
  • Showering or bathing daily
  • Washing hair and face regularly
  • Brushing hair every day
  • Grooming fingernails
  • Correctly using personal hygiene products (deodorant, facial cleansers, feminine hygiene products, hair clippers, razors)
  • Wearing clean clothes and underclothing daily
  • Finding help for injuries or other painful issues
  • Wearing sunscreen
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Keeping up with doctor’s visits
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting plenty of sleep (most teens need between 9-9 ½ hours every night)

These are the most basic. There are other hygiene habits that will be specific to your child. For example, if your teen has braces or wears glasses or contacts, there will be unique care habits to follow.


Mental & behavioral health: Lifestyle habits your teen needs

Healthy lifestyle habits are focused on helping your teen take care of their mental and behavioral health. These habits include…

  • Avoiding substance abuse
  • Wearing protective headgear and mouthguards during sports
  • Learning how to study for school
  • Maintaining good social and family relationships
  • Limiting screen time
  • Driving safely
  • Practicing safe sex


Tips for keeping your teen on track

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into living a healthy life. We list all these habits to show you that there’s a lot to learn — doing so takes time and practice.

Learning lifelong healthy habits is a collaborative effort between you and your teen. You need to instruct and encourage these types of behaviors until your teen is confident and mature enough to fully take up the reins on their own.

Here are some tips to get started.


Be a role model

The “do as I say, not as I do” approach will not work with teens. In fact, it can create a lot of resentment. If you want to convince your teen that living healthfully is a priority, it needs to be a priority for you, too. This includes all aspects of emotional, physical, mental, and behavioral health.


Offer healthy food options

Keeping your home stocked with healthy food options is important. Have nutritious snacks on hand for when your teen need to grab a snack. Get them involved in the kitchen, teaching them how to cook. And make family meals a priority. All this will go a long way in helping your teen develop a healthy relationship with food.


Encourage open communication

Communication is so important for a healthy teen-parent relationship — one where they’ll listen to you and your advice. The more you encourage and promote a close, open relationship with your teen, the better you’ll be able to offer guidance and support.


Enlist help from a professional

Your teenager’s pediatrician is an amazing resource during these years. From adolescent wellness appointments to behavior counseling, these healthcare professionals are your partner in helping your teen live a healthy life. If you ever have questions or concerns about your child’s health, it’s important to seek their help.


Be realistic

Helping your teen adopt healthy habits won’t happen overnight. It will take time and energy on both sides. There will be days when your teen makes unhealthy choices — that’s normal. So avoid putting unrealistic expectations on your child. Instead, focus on being there, ready to help them get back on track and support them in this journey toward lifelong healthy habits.


Let us know how we can help

At Clackamas & Oregon Pediatrics, we’re here to help. We want to listen to your questions and help your teenager adopt healthy habits and a healthy life. Additionally, as your teen transitions into adulthood and ages out of pediatric care, we can help match them with a new primary care doctor that can continue to provide the top-quality care they need.

If you’d like more information about raising a healthy teenager or have concerns about their health, give us a call. We’ll get your teen scheduled for an appointment with one of our experienced doctors today.

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