It may seem as if as soon as you get the hang of how to handle, interact, nurture, and teach your child in the life stage that they’re in, they are out of that stage and into the next, requiring a whole different set of tools and techniques. The teenage years can be some of the most challenging years in a child’s life, and also some of the most influential. Making sure that you encourage healthy habits while your child is a teen will assist them in becoming a healthy and thriving adult once they leave the nest. Here are a few tips to help your children develop healthy habits in their teen years.
Set a good example
Parents encourage imitation by their actions, especially when they’re no longer able to demand certain behaviors without any questions or defiance. Prior to adolescence, children are more likely to abide by rules whether or not they understand them, agree with them, or see their parents modelling those behaviors. Once adolescence hits a child is more likely to question why certain things are expected, and push their boundaries.
Setting a good example doesn’t mean you must be perfect 100% of the time, as that would be a nearly impossible task and sets an unattainable goal; but practicing what you preach is the best way to show your teen what’s acceptable and expected from them. Without a good example set by parents, teens aren’t likely to follow rules blindly and abide by specific guidelines.
Keep expectations realistic
While your child is acquiring all of the knowledge and skills needed to become an independent young adult, you’re likely to hit some bumps in the road. Keeping a realistic outlook on what to expect will help you feel prepared for life’s changes, and will help you feel less disappointed when you are faced with a difficult time.
Staying rigid with guidelines is important, and assists in teaching your teen to be accountable and responsible. Consistency is key, so make sure that the rules you set are realistic and something both you and your teen will be able to stick with. If your teen feels that your rules are constantly changing, or unrealistic, it’ll defeat the purpose of those rules and fail to teach them the accountability and responsibility associated with each rule.
Once your teenager is driving themselves to school and practice, heading off to after school jobs, and making their own weekend plans, it’s easy to become less and less involved in their lives. It’s important to stay active in your teen’s life in order to watch for warning signs, or any clues that your teen may be in need of help.
Teenagers are known to push the limits, test boundaries, and experiment with different things they know aren’t allowed. Staying involved in your teenager’s life will allow you to observe any changes in behavior that may cause concern. Staying involved also helps your teen know that although they are an adolescent, you’re still their parent and are available for them if they’re in need.
Parenting is no easy job, and what works for one parent may not work for the next, but sticking with these simple guidelines should set you on the right path to assisting your teenager in making healthy choices and creating habits that will last a lifetime.