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The Informed Parent

Healthy Choices For Your Teenager And Family

by Lori A. Livingston, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Mar. 08, 2010

As pediatricians, we have a long list of advice about nutrition, development, safety, and overall healthy choices we would love to talk about with each and every family. The reality is that there is very little time at each physical to address all of these topics in detail.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has made a list of healthy choices to share with teenagers and their families. Although it only touches the surface of many important issues, this list hopefully can act as a starting point for open family discussions; and you can bring any questions you may have back to your pediatrician.

Daily Life

  • Eat with your family often
  • Aim for one hour of physical activity every day.
  • Limit TV and video or computer games to two hours per day.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily.
  • Visit the dentist two times per year.
  • Wear a mouth guard when playing sports.
  • Protect your hearing.
  • Take time for breakfast.
  • Drink more water and less soda.
  • Limit foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Try to eat healthy foods: five fruits and vegetables and three cups of low fat milk, yogurt or cheese daily.

School and Friends

  • Take responsibility for your schoolwork.
  • Be on time.
  • Aim high. Expect more of yourself.
  • Read often.
  • Form healthy friendships.
  • Spend time with your family.
  • Help at home.
  • Stay connected with your parents.
  • Consider volunteering and helping others in the community with an issue that interests you.

Violence And Injuries

  • Do not drink and drive or ride in a car with someone who has been using drugs or alcohol.
  • If you feel unsafe driving or riding with someone, call a person you trust to drive you.
  • Make sure everyone always wears a seat belt.
  • Limit the number of friends in the car.
  • Don’t let yourself be distracted when you drive.
  • Protect yourself and others from physical harm.
  • Do not ride all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Make sure you know how to get help if you feel unsafe.
  • Never have a gun in the home.
  • If you must keep a gun in your home, make sure it is stored unloaded and locked with the ammunition locked separately from the gun.
  • Figure out nonviolent ways to handle anger or fear.
  • Healthy dating relationships are built on respect, concern, and friendship, and saying “no” is OK.

Healthy Behavior Choices

  • Find fun, safe things to do.
  • Talk with your parents about drinking, drug use, tobacco use, driving, and sex.
  • Talk with your parents or other caring adults when you need support or help in making healthy decisions.
  • Support friends who choose not to use tobacco, alcohol, drugs, steroids, or diet pills.
  • Talk about sexual pressures with someone you trust.

Feelings And Family

  • When you do something good, feel good about it.
  • Find healthy ways to deal with stress.
  • Spend time with your family.
  • Always talk through problems and never use violence.
  • It’s important to have accurate information about sexuality, your physical development and your sexual feelings.

Please let your pediatrician know if you have any questions.

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