You thought it was hard raising a toddler? Wait until you have a teen. They’re more independent, less easily persuaded, and often just as likely to have massive meltdowns. And while you’ll avoid earaches and frequent stomach bugs, teens are more susceptible to serious health issues like stress and weight gain. Help your teen thrive with these tips that address six crucial concerns.
It’s one of the most critical aspects of teen health—and the most universally neglected. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 10–12 hours a night for teens, but studies show that most kids bag a fraction of that. In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey of 12,000 high school students, only 900 said they got the recommended amount of shut-eye, and 39 percent slept for only 6 hours a night or less.
Kids miss sleep because of stress, busy schedules, or late-night screen time. Over time, lack of sleep impacts immunity, weight, learning, and emotional health. Simple changes such as going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding caffeine, and minimizing pre-bed stress can help. If your teen suffers from insomnia, try gentle herbs like chamomile, passionflower, or lemon balm, or homeopathic combination sleep remedies.
According to the CDC, obesity has more than tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, and in 2010, more than one-third of adolescents surveyed were found to be overweight or obese. It’s a serious health issue. In one study, 70 percent of obese teens had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and were more likely to be prediabetic.
If your teen is overweight, have a heart-to-heart about the health dangers to avoid triggering body image issues. Model healthy eating, don’t buy excessive amounts of candy or sugary snacks and discourage quick-fix solutions like pills or starvation diets. And ban sodas from your house, period. In one study, teens who swapped sugary sodas for noncaloric beverages lost weight, even when they made no other changes.
It’s not just for adults. In fact, as many as 30 percent of high school students in a study said they were stressed to “serious” levels. And stressful life events in childhood can predispose teens to weight gain. In one study, experiencing negative life events was linked with a 50 percent higher risk of being overweight by age 15.
Help teens handle stress by encouraging them to exercise, eat regularly, get enough sleep, and avoid excess caffeine. Supplements such as lemon balm, B vitamins, omega-3 fats, and GABA can help soothe excess stress as well. Also, teach and model healthy stress-management techniques including muscle relaxation and time management. And encourage your kids to avoid perfectionism—good enough is often enough.
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