Promoting Healthy Growth and Development – age 11 to 14 years.
During this often emotionally charged period, parents need to offer open, positive communication while providing clear and fair rules and consistent guidance. You significantly influence your adolescent’s habits and attitudes, choices, and adjustments to physical changes.
However, realize that your child’s way of doing things do not always have to exactly match your own. Help your child identify important issues and be prepared for increasing responsibilities. Allow your child the freedom to figure things out in his or her own way within the boundaries you have set.
Parents have the delicate responsibility of respecting a teen’s need for independence and privacy and making sure that he or she does not make mistakes that have lifelong consequences.
Help your adolescent build healthy eating habits. Support your teen in making healthy choices
by talking about what things make it easier or harder to eat well.
Promote a healthy body image. Help your adolescent recognize that the media often produce
unrealistic and unattainable images of the ideal body. Stress the importance of being healthy,
rather than being “skinny” or “buff.” Be aware of the things you say about how you and other people look.
Recognize changing sleep patterns. Rapidly growing and busy adolescents need a lot of sleep.
Beginning sometime in adolescence, your child’s natural sleeping pattern may gradually shift.
Many adolescents start going to bed later at night and sleeping in.
This pattern can make it hard to get up for school. Help your adolescent get enough rest, such as by discouraging talking on the phone or using the computer after a certain evening hour. Drugs and Alcohol. If you believe your adolescent is using drugs or alcohol, it is important to talk about it. Discuss how he or she gets the alcohol, tobacco, or drugs and in what kind of setting they are used. Seek advice from a health professional if the behavior continues.
Address problems and concerns. Building trust gradually will help your adolescent feel safe in
talking with you about sensitive subjects. When attempting to talk with your adolescent about
problems or concerns, schedule a “date” in a private and quiet place. Be ready to deflect questions you aren’t prepared to answer and make sure to follow through.
For example, you may say, “You know, this is so important that I need a little time to think about it.Can we discuss it later?” Then set a specific time and place to further discuss the issue. Prevent involvement in violence. Be a good role model for how to handle disagreements, such as by talking calmly.
Help your teen come up with ways to defuse potentially violent situations, such as making a joke or acknowledging another person’s point of view. Praise them for successfully avoiding a confrontation, such as by saying, “I’m proud of you for staying calm.” Help your child develop more mature ways of thinking. Let your child make as many of his or her own decisions as possible.
This includes involving your adolescent in setting household rules and schedules. Talk about current issues together, whether it be school projects or world affairs. Brainstorm different ways to solve problems, and discuss their possible outcomes. Encourage your child to exercise every day.
Vigorous exercise, such as running, biking, or playing soccer or basketball, helps your adolescent to stay fit and promotes cardiovascular health. Vigorous exercise also helps your child feel good about him or herself. If your child is not used to exercise, encourage light to moderate exercise, such as walking, at first. Be careful about expecting too much too soon.
Gradually build up an exercise routing, too much exercise at first can make your child tired, and then he or she may not want to exercise as much.