16 Essential Health Lessons for Tweens and Teens

How to raise a kid who's independently healthy (16 Photos)

Susan Carlton on Jul 29, 2011 at 3:21PM

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16 Essential Health Lessons for Tweens and Teens

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Health Lessons for Tweens and Teens

It’s a classic conundrum: Just as tweens and teens take more responsibility for their health, they need more guidance from parents -- about everything from soda guzzling to tooth brushing, not to mention sex, drugs and rock and roll. Of course, most kids between 8 and 18 aren’t exactly hanging on their parents’ every word, so how to get your point across? Two rules:

Number one, steer clear of formal sit-down discussions. “Try talking when you’re shoulder to shoulder, not eye to eye.” says D’Arcy Lyness, Ph.D., behavioral health editor for Nemours’ KidsHealth.org. “Great conversations can happen when doing the dishes or driving to the mall. It's easier to bring up difficult topics when you're doing something relaxing together.”

Number two, walk the walk. Even if your kid is old enough to shave, he’s still watching -- and emulating -- your every move. A national health survey in Norway found that teens were five times more likely to follow a low-fat diet if their mother’s diet was low in fat. A survey by State Farm Insurance found that 65 percent of parents talk on cell phones while driving, though 94 percent restrict their kids from doing the same. The point is that your tween or teen will likely follow in your footsteps whether your actions are healthful or harmful.

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