Teen Health Issues Every Parent Needs to Know About

Teenagers want to be independent of their parents, and they may act like they already know everything. But they still need their parents to provide guidance and supervision, especially about critical issues that can affect their well-being in the long term. If you’re the parent of a teenager, learn how to talk to your kids about serious health issues.

Sexual Health

Starting a conversation about sexual health is likely to be awkward for both you and your teen, at least at first. But as a parent, you have to take the first step. Once you open a channel of communication, you’ll find it becomes easier to discuss topics like relationships, gender, safe sex, and consent.

Your teen needs to understand your values and boundaries about sexual matters, but they also need to feel like they can come to you with questions and concerns. Prepare for “the talk” by reviewing the facts about sexual health and learning correct and respectful terminology. Your attitude will serve as a positive model.

Mental Health

During the teen years, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are more common than you might think. One in 6 youth experience mental health issues. Since changes and mood swings are typical of teens, neither you nor your child may notice the symptoms at first.

Your teen may not confide in you about how they’re feeling. Spending quality time with your teen is a great way to assess their mental and emotional states. Learn to recognize signs such as changes in sleeping or eating habits, problems at school, restlessness or lethargy, or expressions of defeat, despair, or self-harm.

Food Health

Eating disorders often develop during teen years. Peer pressure and unrealistic images in the media may cause your child to feel self-conscious or negative about their body. You may notice your child gaining or losing weight or foods they used to enjoy.

Before speaking to your child, examine your own eating habits and attitudes toward food and bodies. You may be unconsciously sending negative messages or demonstrating unhealthy habits. Consult your pediatrician or a dietician for expert advice.

Navigating the teen years isn’t easy for either kids or their parents. Try viewing your relationship with your child as a partnership. Talk about your common goals in living a healthy lifestyle, and make it clear that it’s okay to reach out for help when you need it.

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Simon Greenberg

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