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Help Your Parents Get Healthy

Do your parents follow healthy habits, like exercising regularly or eating lots of fruits and vegetables?

We asked that question in a recent survey, and lots of you told us, "No!"

Three quarters of all teens who took our survey want their parents to make a health change. Almost half have already asked their parents to get healthier.

It can be hard getting parents to change. But you may have more influence than you think: Almost all the parents who took our survey said they'd make changes to get healthier if their kids asked them to. Your parents might not realize how important their health is to you. Now's your chance to let them know!

Here are 4 tips on talking to your parents about their health habits:

1. Think about it ahead of time.

2. Approach parents the same way you'd like them to talk to you.

You know it's a turnoff when parents nag or criticize. Now's your chance to set an example with good talking skills! If you do this well, your parents may approach you positively the next time they want you to do something.

3. Come up with a plan together.

Has your mom or dad agreed to your request? Well done! Now it's time to help them come up with a plan.

4. Show encouragement, understanding, and support.

Expect ups and downs. Don't scold or criticize your parents if they fail at first. Nobody's perfect.

What If a Parent Says "No"?

If parents say "no" to your request, ask them (gently): "Could you at least think about it for me?" Then give your mom or dad a little time to reflect. How many times have you pushed back on something your parents asked you to do, but then later thought more about it?

If all else fails, you could remind your parents that there are things you do for them that you don't want to. Say (kindly): "Even though I don't want to turn my phone off at night [or whatever your point is], I do it because you've told me it's good for me and it's important to you. Please think about what I'm asking."

Asking parents to make a change is about more than helping them to be healthier. Working together on a shared goal can bring you closer. Maybe your mom and dad never expected they'd learn from you!

Soon you'll be grown and out of the house. Here's your chance to set your parents on the right track while there's still time to mentor them.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2014

Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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