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.
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.
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, girlshealth.gov, American Academy of Pediatrics
Here is useful advice about how you can help your teen learn more about healthy living: