Being a teenager, or the parent of one, is not for the faint-hearted. Taking care of their health is vitally important, also for their emotional wellbeing. These five principles are a good starting point to support teens in living healthy, happy lives.
1. Ensure they get enough sleep
Contrary to their own popular belief, teenagers still need around nine hours of sleep to maintain health. Some teens may need even more. Signs that a teenager is not sleeping enough include difficulty with studying and concentration, struggling to stay awake during class, behavioural problems and mood swings.
2. Ensure they eat a proper breakfast
Eating a good breakfast gets the metabolism going and provides energy for all the activities of the day ahead. A healthy breakfast includes whole grains, fruit, protein and fibre. Somewhat unusual examples of nutritious breakfasts: a fruit smoothie; a piece of fruit and a wholesome sandwich made with some protein such as cheese or low fat cold meat; a serving of raw veggies with dip.
3. Encourage healthy friendships/relationships
Friendships and relationships are important tools in teaching teenagers to find their way in the world and provide them with support and acceptance. Parents can help by teaching that a good friendship is one who makes you feel good about yourself, that honesty is important, that it takes time to build and maintain friendships, and that friendship is not always easy.
4. Encourage them to stay active
Sports and outdoor activities can serve as a great de-stressor for teens. Teenagers who do not enjoy team or organised sports can take a long walk or go for an afternoon jog or skateboarding, Teens are especially vulnerable to depression so it's good to know that being out in the sun helps with the production of vitamin D3 in the body – higher levels of this vitamin help them cope better with stress and can play a role in preventing depression.
5. Encourage personal hygiene
Younger teens, especially, may not realise how or how fast their bodies are changing as the hormones kick in and personal hygiene aspects such as sweating, oily hair and acne can become issues. Guide them to learn healthy daily hygiene regimens that may now include shaving, use of deodorants and how to take proper care of their skins.