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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

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2. Go for a Drive continued...

Ask about her day and what's going on in her life. Try not to disagree with her, says psychologist David Elkind, PhD, author of The Hurried Child. If she's upset that she doesn't have the coolest friends or clothes, for example, don't jump to say, "You don't need friends like that," or "You don't need to dress like other kids."

"Show your child that you understand how he or she feels. Say, 'I'm sure that must make you sad.' Or, 'I'm sure you must be disappointed,'" Elkind says.

3. Take a Break

When kids are young and cranky, you put them in timeout to cool off. When they're teens, they need to learn when it's time to give themselves a break. Some can de-stress by listening to music -- even if it's loud and doesn't sound all that calming to you. Others might relax with yoga or meditation. Or maybe there's a hobby like journaling, drawing, or playing an instrument that will get your teen's mind off life for a while.

4. Fix Food and Sleep

"We make bad decisions when we're angry, hungry, lonely, or tired," Hansen says.

Help your teen make healthy choices by explaining that. For example, being tired can make people crave high-calorie foods. But that doesn’t mean to go for a 2-liter soda and deep-dish pizza. They have the power to choose healthy foods.

Then check your pantry and make it easier for them to do that. Stock up on nutritious snacks: fresh fruit and cut-up veggies, low-fat yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, and whole wheat crackers. If chips and ice cream aren't around, teens will be more likely to eat healthy choices.

Also, emphasize that enough sleep is so important. Not only can a lack of sleep lead to unhealthy eating and moodiness, it’s also linked to not wanting to move, bad grades, car accidents, and concentration problems. Teens need at least 8 1/2 hours of sleep a night. If yours doesn't get even close to that, it may be time to re-evaluate his daily schedule.

"I think there has to be a sit down where you say, 'You're burning the candle at both ends and it's just not healthy,'" Hansen says. Figure out which activities are most important and cut where you can. There has to be room for healthy sleep.

 

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