The teen years are a fun and exciting time for your children. However, this season of growth and independence can be incredibly nerve-wracking for parents. While giving your kids more responsibilities and freedoms is a good thing, it’s also important that you instill healthy habits in them while they’re still young and under your supervision. If you help them develop these skills now, you’ll equip them with the right tools to navigate adulthood and its many temptations and challenges.
Here are a few simple ways to instill smart habits now so your kids don’t have to worry about cultivating them later.
More than 18% of children between the ages of five and 19 are overweight or obese. Sadly, their higher body mass index increases their risk of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. Therefore, it’s crucial that you encourage your kids to exercise. Better yet, be a good role model by lacing up your shoes and working out with them.
Complete a partner workout, go for a jog or try playing an interactive game that’ll get your blood pumping. A few rounds of badminton, tennis or even cornhole will do the trick. You might also drop into a class or two at your local fitness studio or gym. Let your teen choose between yoga, Pilates, boxing and similar activities to find something that piques their interest enough to go back and try it again.
In order to maintain a healthy weight and cultivate good habits, your teen must also develop a positive relationship with food. However, because many teens struggle with body confidence and self-esteem, helping them stick to a healthy diet can be challenging. Luckily, you can still impart wisdom during your weekly grocery runs by reading food labels together.
Compare various brands’ ingredients and nutrition information and choosing the healthiest one. Focus on just a few important parts of the label, such as the amount of sugar, saturated fat and sodium. Then, analyze the ingredients to determine whether the item is nutritious or full of empty calories. Eventually, this behavior will become a habit so your teen doesn’t have to think twice before selecting the best option.
Most kids already have an evening routine by the time they reach their teenage years. However, many could probably use a makeover, especially since nighttime habits directly impact your quality of sleep. Set them up for success — and a good night’s rest — by instilling healthy habits now.
For instance, you might replace watching TV or scrolling through Instagram with reading a book or journaling. Doing so will reduce blue light exposure and regulate their circadian rhythm so they can maintain a more consistent sleep schedule. Smaller habits like brushing teeth and wearing retainers are equally important and will vary depending on your teen’s needs. However, personal hygiene should remain a top priority for everyone before they hit they hay.
Staying hydrated is key to maintaining peak mental and physical health. That’s because every cell and organ in your body relies on water to function properly. However, most people don’t drink as much water as they should. Therefore, it’s important to instill healthy hydration habits in in your teens while they’re living at home.
Purchase a reusable water bottle for each person in the family and remind your kids to take theirs everywhere they go. Draw lines on the bottles to indicate how much they should consume before 10 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and so on. Otherwise, you can host daily competitions to see who can refill their bottle the most in a single day. Gamifying the activity can convince even the most stubborn teens to join in and make it more intentional and enjoyable for everyone.
When you experience very intense feelings, your brain’s amygdala goes into overdrive to figure out if what’s threatening you. In most cases, however, anxiety, fear or even anger are the threat. However, this part of your brain may still try to control your response and override logical thought processes, which can make you feel even worse.
In these instances, putting your feelings into words and talking things out is essential. This process is called affect labeling and is important for adults and teenagers alike. Encouraging open communication between you and your kids can facilitate affect labeling and diminish the amygdala’s response. Ultimately, this habit will allow them to regulate emotions so they can remain level-headed, which is a must in emergency situations.
The teenage years are some of the most challenging for both parents and kids so, when your teens slip up and forget a healthy habit, try to extend grace. Odds are you’ve forgotten to floss and chosen chips over carrots, too. On these days, it’s ok to let things slide. Beside, you’ll still be there to help them get back on track tomorrow.