The formation of healthy habits are best learned early, and as your teen prepares to become a young adult, what better time to learn than now? However, the teenage years are also marked with a variety of struggles as teens try to explore who they are and who they want to be in the future.
This struggle can lead to troubling teenage behavior that may require intervention. But, if you catch on that your teenager is grappling with issues beyond them early on, it is far more likely that you can help your teen navigate this hard point in their life.
Part of learning to navigate life successfully is to learn healthy habits and coping mechanisms. And, unlike the popular myth that says it takes 21 days to cement a new habit, research has shown it can take anywhere from 18-254 days to form a new habit. So, if you want to help your teenager develop good habits, here are eight good ones you can start them on.
1. Meditate Daily
In addition to whatever spiritual practices your family follows, meditation can be an invaluable tool for your teen. Even if they only spend 5-10 minutes a day meditating, the time spent in quiet mindfulness can help your teen be more centered and calm throughout their everyday life.
Also, meditation doesn’t have to mean their mind is empty, as that can be tough for beginners. Instead, teach your teen to acknowledge the thoughts they have, but let them go. Learning to release intrusive thoughts can also assist with better emotional management.
2. Create And Follow A Realistic Study Schedule
Learning how to be a good learner is a lifelong skill your teen can use for the rest of their life, whether they are at work or developing a new talent. However, the majority of teens are inclined to procrastinate. So, with your help and encouragement, work with your teenager to create and follow a realistic study schedule with breaks built-in.
Part of what makes therapeutic boarding schools so effective for students who are behind academically is the structured and supportive teachers. While you don’t necessarily have to hire a tutor for your teen—though that may be an option you want to explore—helping them stick to a good study schedule and offering your help can do a lot in the long run.
3. Start Saving And Learning Good Money Management
Developing money management skills can help address concerns your teen may not even know they have yet. But in a few short years, your teen will leave for college or move out on their own, only to be suddenly faced with utility bills, car insurance coverage, rent, grocery shopping, and many things they never gave a thought to before.
Instead of leaving your teen to their own devices, help them learn about money management, and how to save effectively. You can start by teaching them about what household bills they can expect, how credit cards work—plenty of teens have the impression that these things are free money—and work from there.
Whether your teen gets a regular part-time job or you help them find gigs that pay—helping people move, pay for mowing the lawn, etc.—help them learn effective ways to save. It can help if they know what they are saving for, so talk to your teen about what they want in the future—more on that later.
4. Learn To Eat Healthily
Healthy eating is a tough habit to learn the later in life it is learned, and both teen girls and boys struggle with unhealthy eating. It is more common for teenage girls to be diagnosed with disordered eating, but without learning good eating habits, teen boys may turn to unhealthy eating for lack of knowledge and for stress relief.
The process of developing a healthy eating habit can include several steps, such as:
- Learning to cook using whole ingredients instead of boxed food or frozen meals.
- Determining proper calorie intake and sticking to an appropriate intake.
- Researching a balanced diet.
- Finding out if they have any food sensitivities that may interfere with healthy eating.
By developing a healthy eating habit while at home, your teen will be in a better position to moderate themselves in matters of consumption.
5. Take Time Every Day For Self-Care
Between school, homework, chores, sports, and extracurriculars, many teens push self-care to the side or substitute it for time spent on their smartphones. Instead, self-care is something important for teens to learn young, as it can help them learn to mindfully relax as they grow older.
Self-care can be simple things you can teach your teen, from making homemade sugar scrubs to sitting out in the backyard with a cup of tea for a peaceful ten minutes.
6. Set Effective Goals
Learning to set goals that are effective can significantly boost your teenager’s confidence and help them believe that their dreams are achievable. It is best to use the SMART goal setting method—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based.
Each goal should be examined to make sure that it fits the SMART model. That way, as your teen learns to create and follow through with attainable goals, they can work through their weaknesses more easily.
7. Make Time For Regular Exercise
Many young adults are shocked when they gain weight—the dreaded freshman fifteen come to mind. In many cases, this weight gain is due to the natural lessening of activity that comes with college and jobs, in contrast to the higher activity of high school.
By helping your teen learn to stick to a regular exercise routine, not only can you help them with weight management in the future, but also the mental health benefits linked to exercising.
8. Daily Journaling For Expression And Personal Reflection
Journaling can be a great way for your teenager to express their feelings and reflect on their thoughts in a private outlet. It can be difficult for teens to articulate to others how they feel, so giving them daily private time to write out their feelings and experiences can help them contextualize how they feel.
However, it is important that you avoid giving in to the temptation to read your teen’s journal. This breach of trust can have a serious impact on your relationship with your teenager and undo the good that journaling can bring.
By establishing healthy habits and learning effective coping methods early in life, your teen is far more prepared to enter the world of young adulthood, leading a happy and successful life.