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Helping Teens Embrace Self-Care

Before teens leave home, parents need to teach them to make their own health care decisions. One way is to provide information and involve them in their own self-care from an early age.

As you develop, it is important to learn how to take care of your own body.

Yes, it's difficult for parents to give up control out of concern for their children's safety. But, it is important to remember that an adolescents' ability to cope with increasing responsibility is often enhanced by the parents' willingness to support them as they face new challenges.

By involving teens as full participants in their self-care, they're more likely to choose healthy behaviors throughout their lives.

Helping your teen

You can help your adolescents move toward independence in making health care decisions by being a good role model. Take all prescription and over-the-counter medications as directed, follow your health care provider's instructions, eat nutritious food, and exercise regularly.

Don't smoke, abuse alcohol, or take illegal drugs. Your teen will take away a powerful message that these activities jeopardize health and well-being.

Encourage your teen to think independently and express his or her own thoughts. This will give your adolescent a healthy sense of self and a greater ability to resist peer pressure. Make sure your teen has all the information he or she needs to make informed, responsible decisions about reproductive health, including the meaning of safe sex.

Work with your teen's health care provider to help your teen make age-appropriate decisions regarding treatment.

The teen years are a good time to foster an independent relationship between your children and their health care providers. Parents can make sure they have time at each appointment to talk to their health care provider alone. This will prepare them for relating to medical professionals independently as adults.

Chronic conditions

If you have a teen with a chronic illness, such as diabetes or asthma, help him or her learn as much as possible about managing the condition and treatment options.

Knowledge is empowering. It can help your youngster feel more in control. It is critical for parents to help their children accept appropriate responsibility for caring for themselves. Letting them master day-to-day self-care can instill self-confidence that can prepare them for adult life.