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Helping Teens Embrace Self-Care

Teen girls hiking in a field

Before teens leave home, it is a good idea for parents 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.

It is important to remember that adolescents’ ability to cope with increasing responsibility is often improved by their parents’ willingness to support them as they face new challenges.

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

What can you do?

Here are some ways you can help your kids move toward independence in making health care decisions:

Be a good role model

Eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, follow your health care provider’s instructions, and take all prescription and over-the-counter medications as directed.

Don’t smoke, abuse alcohol or take illegal drugs

Your teen will take away a powerful message to respect his or her body and take care of his or her health and well-being.

Encourage your teen to think on their own and express his or her own thoughts

This will give your teen a healthy sense of self and a greater ability to resist peer pressure. Provide your teen with all the information he or she needs to make informed, responsible decisions about his or her reproductive health.

Encourage independence

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

Support self-care

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. When teens accept responsibility for caring for themselves, they feel an important sense of ownership in their own health. Letting them master day-to-day self-care can teach self-confidence that can prepare them for adult life.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, American Academy of Pediatrics

Here is useful advice about how you can help your teen learn more about healthy living: