4 Tips to Help Parents Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Habits in Children and Teens

One of the critical roles parents have is preparing their children for adulthood. This includes instilling positive values and social awareness, but it should also include helping kids make healthy choices in their everyday lives. That can be tough, especially for parents of teens, but these tips can make your job a little easier and their lives so much better.


Talk to Teenagers About Driving Safely

If you have a teenager, it is imperative to have discussions about driving safety. Try discussing lighter topics first if you feel odd about starting with safety. For example, you can use this auto insurance guide to give your teen a quick trip through car insurance 101, explaining what policies typically include, and the laws around driving uninsured. Once you open the discussion, however, do not avoid talking about the heavier topics as well. According to the CDC, accidents are a leading cause of death for American teenagers, so addressing basic driving safety with your teen could save someone’s life. Go over vehicle safety, and also touch on the common unsafe driving behaviors, such as texting behind the wheel, that can lead to fatal accidents.


Discuss Mental Health

Accidents may be a leading cause of injury and death for young Americans, but mental health is a common risk as well, especially for teenagers. Over the last few decades, researchers and health experts have started to recognize the importance of mental health in terms of overall wellness. One of the most helpful things you can do to help your children manage their own mental health is to treat mental health issues just as you would a physical illness. Doing so can reduce the stigma around getting help for and managing mental health for your children, which will make it much more likely for them to carry those important lessons into adulthood. You can also provide your children with the self-care tools they need to manage their emotions and lessen feelings of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.


Set Positive Examples When It Comes to Diet

Unhealthy eating habits can be another major risk to the long-term health of your children and teens. Helping your child eat more vegetables and fruits is a step toward creating lasting diet changes, but their habits around food can encompass so much more. It’s also important to set a good example when it comes to portion size and emotional eating. The last one is crucial for parents to address because researchers have found that adults who use food as an emotional crutch are not born with this behavior. Instead, they actually learn it from childhood, whether it’s through being rewarded with food or watching their parents practice the same unhealthy behaviors. If you tend to use food to feed your emotions, try to find ways to break those patterns and begin practicing the same healthy diet habits with your entire family.


Ensure Children Get Outside for Fun and Healthy Exercise

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand when it comes to preventing disease, like diabetes, which is why it’s so important to instill these healthy habits in your little ones. Getting children and teens interested in exercise can often be challenging for parents, especially when social media and video games are involved. However, staying fit as a family can help children of all ages learn to love exercise, so plan some of your activities together around fun and simple exercises. You can play a game of hopscotch at home or get out for a nature hike. Team sports are also a good way for your kids to stay active. Plus, playing sports can provide other life benefits as well, such as higher self-esteem, increased problem-solving skills, and better time management.

As a parent, you know that your job is one of the toughest in the world. After all, not only are you responsible for the health of your children now, but you are also responsible for helping them live healthy lives as adults. Help your children and teenagers make the best choices for their bodies and their minds now so they can live happier lives later.


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