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Growth and Development, Ages 15 to 18 Years - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development

You can help your teen between the ages of 15 and 18 years by using basic parenting strategies. These include offering open, positive communication while providing clear and fair rules and consistent guidance. Support your teen in developing healthy habits and attitudes, help him or her make wise choices, and offer guidance in how to balance responsibilities.

The following are examples of ways to promote healthy growth and development in specific areas. But remember that many growth and development issues overlap. For example, having a healthy body image is important for physical development and emotional development. Use these ideas as a starting point to help your teen make good choices that will help him or her grow into a healthy and happy adult.

Promote your teen's physical development by doing the following:

  • Be aware of changing sleep patterns. Rapidly growing and busy teens need a lot of sleep. The natural sleeping pattern for many teens is to go to bed later at night and sleep in. This can make it hard to get up for school. To help your teen get enough rest, discourage phone and computer use and TV watching after a certain evening hour.
    actionset.gif Sleep: Helping Your Children-and Yourself-Sleep Well
  • Teach your teen how to take care of his or her skin. Most young people get at least mild acne. Help your teen manage acne with daily facial care and, if needed, medicines. Also have your teen avoid sunbathing and tanning salons. Sunburn can damage a child's skin for a lifetime and put him or her at risk for skin cancer. Studies suggest that UV rays from artificial sources such as tanning beds and sunlamps are just as dangerous as UV rays from the sun. For more information, see the topics Acne and Skin Cancer, Melanoma.
  • Talk about body image. What teens think about their bodies greatly affects their feelings of self-worth. Stress that healthy eating and exercise habits are most important for the short and long term. Help your teen recognize that television and other media often produce unrealistic images of the ideal body that are not healthy. For more information, see the topic Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, or Depression in Children and Teens.
  • Help your teen choose healthy foods camera.gif. By eating a wide variety of basic foods, your teen can get the nutrients he or she needs for normal growth. And he or she will be well-nourished. Help your teen choose healthy snacks, make wise food choices at fast food restaurants, and not skip meals, especially breakfast. Make a point to eat as many meals together at home as possible. A regular mealtime gives you and your family a chance to talk and relax together. It also helps you and your child to have a positive relationship with food. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating for Children.
  • Offer strategies to avoid tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Set firm, fair, and consistent limits for your child. Help him or her understand the immediate and long-lasting results of substance use, such as falling grades and poor health during adulthood. Practice how to respond when a harmful substance is offered, such as simply stating "No, thanks" and moving on to another subject. If you believe your teenager is using drugs or alcohol, it is important to talk about it. Discuss how he or she gets the alcohol, tobacco, or drugs and in what kind of setting it is used. Seek advice from a doctor if the behavior continues. For more information, see:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

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