It’s an important time to be health-conscious. To do so means living a more proactive lifestyle and learning the latest information safely, since there’s a lot of not-so-great health information out there to go alongside our access to great advice.
It can be easy to obsess over the well-being of your kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best approach you should take when looking after them.
As your teens grow up, they need to have a more active role in looking after their well-being. So, how can you best encourage that?
Here are 3 ways to encourage your teens to be more health-conscious and to take responsibility in their overall health and well-being.
See also: How to be more responsible.
1. Parents Who Lead by Example Are A Huge Asset
Teens need to see the benefits of being more health-conscious with their very eyes. The best way for them to do that is to see you being proactive when looking after yourself.
If you’re comfortable doing so, try to be more open about managing any existing conditions that you have. Your confidence and calm could inspire them to be much more forthcoming about any health concerns they are experiencing.
Go to bed at a reasonable hour and rise early for exercise. Establishing a consistent routine will help your parenting tactics seem more credible.
You could even exercise as a unit. A family jog or bike ride may be a lot of fun and an opportune bonding moment for you all, especially if the thrilling activities take place in an exciting environment for them.
2. Browse Health Resources Together With Your Teen
Teens and adults alike can be fearful about visiting health experts. It can suddenly make the state of their physical and mental well-being very real for them. It’s like being hit in the face with your own mortality, especially if you start googling symptoms and coming up with the worst-possible outcomes.
Browse health resources together to be confident that they’re receiving the best care possible for whatever they’re dealing with. Conditions like diabetes can cause tremendous anxiety in patients and the care providers can either help reduce that or in some cases make it worse.
This London diabetes clinic, for instance, helps all their patients understand the situation and take back control, which builds confidence in patients because they understand what’s going on and how to address it.
Find resources that you and your teen can trust, whether they’re online sources of information or clinics and doctors locally to offer treatment. Make sure
Give your teens a push when browsing health resources, then take a step back and let them see for themselves what’s on offer. They may feel more agency in managing their conditions and be comforted that many of their health concerns have kind and gentle answers. There’s a world of quality care out there, and they should see that for themselves.
If they’ve had poor care in the past, that can feel traumatic and can result in people being less forward with seeking care in the future.
This applies to physical health, but it is very prominent in mental health, too, for example trying to find a therapist that is a great fit can sometimes take numerous tries.
The key is to take control as a patient, and to not give up on finding the care you need, and parents can help instill this in their teenagers by advocating for them and being by their side, while also equipping them with the confidence and the skills to advocate for themselves when it comes to healthcare.
3. Mitigate Social Media Use When It Comes to Health for Teenagers
There are many misconceptions out there when it comes to health. Many dubious companies promote misleading products and services too. Browsing credible health resources together is just one way to reduce your teen’s exposure to this world of lies, which is often found on social media.
Keep your teen informed about the perils of social media and how it can spread misinformation. For example, skipping meals won’t help them lose weight, but they may come across harmful feeds or personalities on their social media that claim otherwise. Put simply, they need to know who to listen to.
Try not to force your teens off social media entirely. That will likely only spark a rebellious streak from them and drive a wedge between you both, as it’s how they keep in touch with friends. Instead, encourage them to follow and engage with credible social media profiles, such as those belonging to the NHS or famed doctors. That way, you can better influence the content appearing in their feeds.
Read more about screen time for teenagers.
Don’t take health and well-being advice from random TikTok accounts or social media influencers, unless they are actual, credible doctors and even then – ensure that they’re following the consensus of research and other healthcare experts.
Just because someone is a doctor and posting on social media, that alone doesn’t mean that you can trust them. Sometimes, there are unscrupulous doctors who will lean on their credentials to promote misleading claims in order to get fame and to promote themselves, their channels, or products they may sell down the road.
It’s not easy to know which experts to trust and which ones are just pretending to be experts or that have ulterior motives. As such, it’s wise to stick to the most credible sources, and when it comes to your health or the health of your teenager, their personal doctor is where the medical advice should be coming from, not some YouTuber.
You may have to learn some of this as you go, and it’s important stuff to learn. It’s important to know when you can trust the experts on health issues, but if 9 out of 10 experts are saying one thing, and there’s some fringe Doctor on YouTube who is building a career off of telling you that the other 9 doctors are lying, you might want to give some extra weight to the 9/10 who are saying one thing, instead of the 1/10 who claims to know better and is using that to build their own personal wealth.
4. Keep Track of The Vitals
This doesn’t mean to become obsessed with the scale and with counting every single little calorie, that can become a very unhealthy obsession for teenagers, save for a tiny portion who have health issues that require such close care.
Having said that, it’s good for teenagers to have a rough idea how much they weigh so they can track things like sudden weight loss or gain (see also: why do teens gain weight?)
It also doesn’t hurt to have a rough idea how many calories they can eat in a day to maintain their weight, or to gain or lose weight as needed, but again – stressing over this too closely isn’t good, either. Get a baseline, learn how many calories you’re eating in a typical day, then maybe check-in once or twice a year, as long as everything is on track.
Other things to keep an eye on could be blood pressure levels, and anything else your doctor might test for.
Having basic health vitals throughout one’s teenage years can be really useful, because if you’re not feeling great at some point later on, you’ll have a baseline of where you were at, and generally just more info that could come in helpful.
A fitness tracker for teens can help with a lot of this sort of stuff, without any extra work needed. It can track fitness, exercise, heart rate, and more.