Being a parent is hard work. But it’s also fun. And it can even be a healing process as your kids mature and go through tough times. With so many important decisions to make about your health, teens, and teens’ health, being a parent means knowing all the facts and being knowledgeable about them.
“This is your child,” says pediatrician Amy Waterman, MD, director of pediatric practice at Childrens Hospital Colorado. “Your kids and teens have the most important health questions. Parents need to have an active role in raising their kids and helping them deal with issues that come up.” Waterman has seen a lot of kids and teens in her professional career, “and some of them are just ordinary kids, going through things they never thought they would have to.” In this article, she shares the top five health questions for kids and teens.
It’s important to understand your kids’ eating habits because kids tend to overeat when they feel bad about themselves. Eating too much can lead to serious health problems, such as obesity and type II diabetes. You must monitor what your kids eat. For example, young kids who eat a lot of fast food, sugary foods, or processed foods are more likely to gain weight and become obese than kids who eat more balanced meals and who eat fruits and vegetables regularly. Kids and teens should be encouraged to develop healthy eating habits that promote good health.
Teens are often unsure about what they want to do as they get older. As a parent, you can help by setting clear goals for them, such as staying fit, losing weight, or becoming more healthy. Point out the benefits of healthy habits for your kids and teens, whether it’s eating healthy or playing sports. Encourage your kids to think about how these choices will affect their lives later on. For example, if your teen has a tendency to eat junk food, tell him that he’s not supposed to eat all the time.
Mental health includes general health and well-being. When your child starts to feel bad and thinks negatively, he may be withdrawing from friends, making him less likely to participate in activities that make him happy. Depression is a serious illness that can affect your entire family. Your teen needs to see a doctor if he or she sees signs of depression.
One of the most tragic instances of mental health problem is suicide. The news reports about teenage suicides every year are heartbreaking. Most of the time, the victims were depressed or suffering from other disorders. Yet, they chose to end their lives rather than face the discomfort and pain. If you have a teen or teenager who is thinking of suicide, talk to him or her about the alternatives to suicide. If your kid knows there are better ways to face life instead of ending it with a suicide, he or she might reconsider suicide as a way to end things.
Another leading cause of death among teens is car accidents. This is especially true for girls. Girls are involved in more automobile accidents than boys and their safety on the road is often neglected. Most parents are not involved in car accidents because they believe their girls will be safe in school and at home. However, there is a high incidence of girls committing suicide after being in an automobile accident.
If you suspect your teen is displaying warning signs of a mental health problem, talk to your pediatrician. If you have any worries or suspicions about your teen’s mental health, talk to a professional before it gets out of hand. An early diagnosis of any medical condition can save your life. If you think your teen may be displaying one of the warning signs of a mental health problem, get help as soon as possible. If you have concerns about your child’s behavior, talk to the school principal and ask for help. The sooner professionals intervene, the more likely they are to help prevent a tragic outcome.