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Kids Health and Young Teens

Maintaining your child's health as he grows can be a complex and multi-faceted task. Once your child becomes a teenager, there are several new health issues to deal with, such as sexual health, body image, and self-esteem problems. These issues can result in additional stress for your child and therefore it's important you tackle these challenges together. Creating an open dialog is important at this age.

Kids Health: Encourage Total Well-Being

You can help your child eliminate some of the stress that comes along with these changes by preparing them emotionally, mentally and physically. If you provide your teenager with knowledge about new changes he may experience, he may be more likely to communicate with you during this stressful time.

Whole Body Health and Wellness

  • Talk to your child about body image. Many kids struggle with self-esteem when they hit puberty because they notice changes taking place in their body. These changes combined with a longing to fit in can result in your child comparing his body to others. Improve your child's body image by explaining that his own body is his own and that's what makes him special. You'll also want to encourage him to be thankful for all his working parts, considering some children and teenagers don't have healthy hearts, are suffering from severe illnesses, etc.
  • Encourage a regular bedtime. Melatonin, a hormone in the brain, is produced later at night in teens than it is in very young children and adults. This institutes a change in the body's circadian rhythm, which makes it harder for teens to fall asleep earlier. Encourage your teen to have a regular bed time so that his body can get adjusted to a routine; allow him time to unwind before he falls asleep.
  • Persuade him to exercise. Exercising benefits every part of the body, including the mind. When you exercise your body releases endorphins, chemicals that help a person feel happy and more content. It can also help your child sleep better at night, improve self-esteem, and accomplish goals. Set up an exercise chart and set some rewards for accomplishing goals.
  • Explain the onset of puberty. Puberty usually starts at around age 8-13 for girls and age 10-15 for boys. You'll want to explain the development he's about to encounter and clarify the changes his body will go through. Additionally, you'll want to discuss sexual issues such as abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control options.

As a parent, you have a lot of health topics to cover with your child. Although some of these talks can seem daunting (i.e. the "sex-talk"), it's important you discuss these matters with your child. Think about it, if he's not getting the information from you, where is he getting it from? Is it the correct information? Just because you aren't informing your child about a certain subject like drugs, alcohol, or sex doesn't mean he's going to stay away from it. In fact, he'll probably be more curious to try it.