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In today’s world, teens have a lot on their plates. They take on jobs, begin relationships, play sports or join other extra-curricular activities. While trying to keep their grades up, it can be too much. Many times, they think they have it all figured out and won’t let anyone tell them otherwise.

Let’s face it, raising teenagers is hard. Because teenagers like to make their own decisions, parenting teens is a lot more difficult than parenting younger kids. You want to make sure your child is healthy, safe, and continues on the road to success that you started them on. But, you’re no longer in control of every decision they make. Many adults think that teens don’t have much to worry about, but a National Sleep Foundation poll showed that most adolescents were likely to say they worried about things too much (58%) and/or felt stressed out/anxious (56%). Many of the young people surveyed also reported feeling hopeless about the future or feeling unhappy, sad, or depressed.

The Trick to Raising Teenagers in 2017

To help your older child find balance and not feel overwhelmed by her teenage life, follow these tips.   

Provide Healthy Diet Choices

Sometimes when young people are busy, they don’t make time for healthy meals. Teen choices in snacks tend to be pretty bad. From candy bars and chips out of vending machines to jumbo caffeinated drinks that help them stay awake studying. Try to keep snacks in the house that your teen can grab on the way out the door. Protein-rich nuts, cheese sticks, and yogurt are great for keeping hunger at bay. While whole grain granola bars are a good source of energy to get through after-school activities.

And talk to your teen about the effects of too much caffeine. Using soda and energy drinks to make it through work can delay crashing, but excess caffeine can lead to sleep problems at night. Encourage them to drink healthy fruit smoothies or water instead, which can also provide the energy they need.

Discuss Ways to Find a Healthy Balance

Sometimes ambitious teen choices can only lead to more pressure. If it’s obvious your child has too much going on. Help pinpoint tasks or activities that are more important and suggest dropping what isn’t. Does he really need to pick up that extra shift at work when he has a midterm next week? Can she logistically be a part of the school play when she’s already struggling in Algebra? You know what’s best for your child’s schedule. To avoid a battle, help them to make their own choices rather than telling them what to do.

Encourage Regular Exercise

Many teenagers in 2017 are so used to texting and playing video games that they end up sitting still much of the time. Exercise produces natural stress-relieving endorphins and is a great way to battle obesity. Invite your son or daughter to join you for a run, set up a basketball hoop in the driveway so he can invite friends to play, or look into video games that encourage them to get up and move. He’ll be much more likely to feel good about himself after regular exercise each day.

Keep Sleep Habits in Check  

Finding room for sleep is hard for teens. Not only are they busy, but hormones cause sleep patterns to shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking. This can make it difficult to fall asleep before 11:00 pm. While teens should sleep between 9 and 10 hours a night, most get closer to 7 or 8.  Research shows that lack of sleep affects mood which can lead to depression and hinders the ability to focus in school.

Here are some tips for parenting a teen who needs more sleep:

  • Encourage your child to start homework earlier so he can get more sleep. Students who sleep for 60 extra minutes get higher grades, have improved alertness and mood, and are less likely to get sick.
  • Teach your teen what blue light does to the sleep cycle. Looking at screens from TV, phones, tablets or laptops right before bed makes it hard for your body to know it’s time to fall asleep. There are lots of great books they haven’t read yet!
  • Don’t let them sleep too long on weekends. We all know teenagers like to stay up late watching movies or talking to friends on Friday night, but this leads to needing to catch up on sleep on weekend mornings. A dramatic change in the sleep-wake schedule could throw your child off for the rest of the week, so wake them up within an hour or two of their normal routine on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • If your kid is using pills and drinks to replace sleep, tell them about their harmful effects. Not only can they be addicting, but they also deprive him of the natural brain boost and better grades that only sleep can give.
  • Talk about the dangers of being sleepy behind the wheel. When you are sleep deprived, you are as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is illegal for drivers in many states. Drowsy driving causes over 100,000 crashes each year.

On another note, if you have a teenager who is sleeping his or her days away, you may want to talk to your pediatrician. Excessive sleep is a sign of depression and should be addressed by an expert.

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