Modern life can bring with it all kinds of risky temptations for teenagers and, as a parent, it’s not always easy to keep on top of things. But if you’re willing to read up and exercise some patience, it’s possible to educate and help your children grow healthy decision making skills.

​Healthy Eating

In the age of smartphones, junk food is only ever a tap away. With the unhealthy options so easily accessed, it can be difficult for children and teenagers to resist indulging in fried chicken, burgers, and soft drinks. Fortunately, there are also incentives to drag us all in a more positive dietary direction – Instagram, for example, has given rise to a healthy-eating counter-culture. Sometimes, just by introducing a young person to positive, diet-focused influencers, you can shape their eating habits for the better.

Another great way to get the kids to make better decisions related to healthy eating is by introducing them to new recipes. Cooking is, in itself, an enjoyable activity when done right. And what better way to engage with your kids than for you to carve out time and spend prepping and cooking time in the kitchen with them. It’s an opportune way to show them how much you prioritize their company and their willingness to learn. Many children (and especially teenagers) would love to be more self-sufficient, and cooking could give them more independence as well as an outlet for stress. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of excellent recipes online that can be prepared by amateurs. 



It’s difficult to overstate the importance of exercise in the life of a growing child but many kids aren’t getting nearly enough daily exercise. Trying to get them engaged in sports and physical activity is a struggle when there is so much viewing content and video games on offer. The key is often to give them the choice; Psychology Today notes that by appealing to a child’s self-interest you can often incentivize them to volunteer to exercise.

Another way to interest them in physical activity is to add a home gym. A basement, garage, or unused bedroom makes a great spot for a gym. Start off slow by investing in some rubber flooring, resistance bands, and a few weights. Just remember to keep this space free of clutter; not only will it help you avoid any accidental trips and falls, but keeping your workout area clutter-free will help you to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.

If you love the water, heading to the beach for a swim is an excellent way to stay healthy. Not only are you getting physical exercise, but you’re also spending a lot of time in the sun. Before you head to the beach, make sure you have everything you need for an enjoyable outing.

If your child is someone who engages with online multiplayer games, there’s a good chance that he or she is competitive. This is also an advantage if you’re trying to influence their decision to exercise, since team sports will appeal to their sense of competition and often provide some much-needed relief from any pent-up stress or frustration. What’s more, National Sports ID points out that team sports can help your child learn things like problem-solving, teamwork, and time management. All of these traits can be applied to the real world, be it school or when they enter the workforce. Integrity and passion are important, and team sports can provide these skills as well as exercise.

Dating Decision Making

Dating apps are now an inextricable part of life for young people and there are some built specifically for teenagers (ages 13-18). Many young people have positive experiences through these apps but they also come with some risks. As a parent, it’s useful to define your own parameters on what is and what isn’t appropriate when it comes to online dating but, if you can’t keep the kids away from their phones, the next best thing is to open a constructive dialogue. By listening to their point of view and sharing your own, you may find you’re able to compromise and create some rules together.

Safety is always the primary concern when it comes to kids and dating – this is true on and offline. To help keep your child safe when exploring new apps, it’s important to observe police advice. A match should always have a verified profile, and it’s not uncommon to talk virtually on video before meeting in real life. Just keeping your kids informed on these issues is a surefire way to encourage safe and healthy dating decision making.

Growing up never was and never is easy. Part of being a teenager is making mistakes and part of being a parent is forgiving them – despite this, it’s still important to try and steer our loved ones in the right direction. Just remember to always keep conversations light and open.

Amanda Henderson is a mom to two wonderful, active boys and a preschool teacher. Her hope is that she can combine the knowledge and experience from both to educate others and keep our kiddos safe. Visit her blog at
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