Manic: When your little kids turn into teens and suddenly you can’t control or police how healthy they choose to be every day, especially when they start driving.
Managed: I have lived this twice now and it is one of the things I worry about. The nutrition my kids are taking in..or NOT taking in..since they are out driving through fast food restaurants on their own. Are they getting enough sleep? How are they handling stress? It is a whole new ballgame for all when the teen years arrive. So, when guest writer, Sarah Cummings asked to share this article on my blog, I agreed as she has some good tips. And one of her best ones (that I have learned myself through the years) is to set the example. That old saying, “monkey see, monkey do” is very true! I believe our kids will do more of what we do than what we say. And with that, here is Sarah’s very helpful guest article:
Parents I know it’s easier to forget when Junior is slamming doors in your face and generally being obnoxious, but the life of a teenager is tough. Seriously!
Cast your mind back to your own adolescence. You may initially remember it quite fondly as a time of parties, dating and responsibility-free living. But have a real hard think and you might start to recall the stress, the lack of self-confidence, the acne, the tears, the heartbreaks and yes, all the times your parents just didn’t understand.
Yep, Mom and Dad, it’s time to cut your kids a little slack. Being a teenager is indeed tough. It’s also a period when they may start to fall into some unhealthy ways, picking up habits that if kept unchecked, may have a big impact on their later life. It’s your role to help them, where possible, to embrace as healthy a lifestyle as possible.
Now this is, of course, easier said than done, but it is possible. Below I give you four little nuggets of advice on how to keep your tearaway at least a little bit healthy.
Set a good example
Nothing will help keep your child healthy more than you being healthy yourself. If your son or daughter comes home from school to see you sat on the couch eating potato chips then you will lose all credibility when it comes doling out advice on healthy eating. If they see you staying up all night watching movies, then they are likely going to respond in kind.
On the flipside, if you keep yourself fit and in good shape this cannot help but rub off on them.
Get them interested in healthy pastimes
If you can get your kids interested in the same things you are at an earlier age, then hopefully this passion will continue into their teenage years. Don’t despair however if suddenly they fall out of love with soccer or baseball, or whatever it was you bonded over in their pre-teen days.
This is normal as teenagers will always want to differentiate themselves from their parents in some way. They want to make their own mark. What you need to do is try and direct their energy into something new and equally healthy. Suggest new and alternative hobbies, rock climbing, kayaking, martial arts, etc.
Once you get a bite and they latch onto something, it’s then up to you to get passionate about their new hobby.
Keep constant routines
Human beings are creatures of habit. Our bodies and brains absolutely adore routine. Being confident something is going to happen at roughly a similar time day in and day out allows our brain to ready itself. One of the healthiest routines you can encourage in your teenager is to sleep at roughly the same time every day. Sleep is vitally important in teenage years.
Of course, Junior is probably going to rebel against you telling him or her when they should go to sleep. The phrase, “I’m not a kid anymore” will likely be flung around a few times. Well, this is where you use a little bit of psychology. At the same time every night, dim all the overhead lights and switch to side lamps. Turn off all your screens and make the home as calm and sleep-inducing as possible. They will likely retreat to their own room but you’ve set a good example.
There are other easy wins when it comes to helping your teen sleep. These include making sure the surface they sleep on is fit for purpose, clearing your house of any product containing caffeine and turning of your television early in the evening.
Cook real food
Parenting is tough. You toil away at work all day and then when you get home you have to keep on working hard to feed a collection of hungry mouths for often very little thanks. But you get your reward by seeing your teens grow into healthy happy adults.
When you’re tired however it can be very easy to simply stick a ready meal in the microwave and be done with it. It’s food after all, isn’t it? Well, yes, but barely!
Whenever you can you should try and serve your teens real food. Real food is any meal that you’ve cooked from scratch and which you know all the ingredients that have gone into it. It’s not meals that have come out of a packet that are often so choked full of preservatives and additives that they would survive a nuclear explosion unblemished.
Use as many fresh ingredients as you can get your hands on and try and make the plate as colorful as possible. This way your teen will get their entire vitamin requirement. And I don’t mean make it colorful by squirting that luminous yellow canned cheese on top. That stuff is nasty!
Your kids are going to be subjected to terrible choices of food at school and peer pressure is going to see them hangout at fast food restaurants. it’s up to you to make your home a sanctuary of good eating.
Well, there you have it my friends – four ways to help your teenager embrace a healthy lifestyle. It won’t be easy as the teenage years are full of confusion and temptation but all you can do is provide a sanctuary of health at home and hopefully some of it will rub off on them. Good luck, you’ll need it!
About our sponsored guest writer: Sarah Cummings is the main editor to The Sleep Advisor site. Sarah is a sleep addict and she regularly writes on this topic. Sarah believes that by improving our sleep habits just a bit will lead to a healthier and happier life. She is also a big fan of spreadsheets, sunbathing on a beach and travel.