- Tobacco. This may seem to be small potatoes when there are illegal and dangerous drugs freely available today. But studies show teens who are regular users of tobacco are far more likely to be at risk. It is often a short step from tobacco to marijuana and studies show that smoking pot has serious implications for depression and other mental problems down the track. Apart from the well-known facts that smoking is bad for your health, there is the very real possibility that tobacco is often the starting point for other drug taking.
- Alcohol. This is another legal commodity like tobacco and although there are laws preventing the sale of alcohol to minors it is often very easy for teens to obtain booze. Today health experts stress that even moderate drinking can cause problems. When teens indulge in binge drinking they are certainly placing themselves in the at-risk category. Fights, accidents, unwanted pregnancies and loss of self-esteem are some of the consequences of teens imbibing in excessive alcohol.
- Diet. This too may seem to be a strange indicator. But many teens who are seriously overweight have a low level of self-esteem. Apart from the damage to their body with stress on their heart and increased risk of diabetes, a teen with poor self-esteem is certainly at risk.
- Lethagy. A teen who doesn’t take part in any or very little physical activity could do so for various reasons. Apart from those who simply dislike sport and/or are disabled in some way, a teen who is largely inactive may behave as such because they are depressed, on drugs or lack confidence in social matters. It can be a spiraling effect. The more the teen withdraws the greater the potential risk to their health.
For all of the above situations, you as the parent need a variety of skills to pass to your child. You become proactive. But look carefully at your own behavior. If you smoke and drink alcohol on a regular basis, it will be much harder to convince your teen that smoking and drinking can be harmful.
If you are overweight, eat poorly and spend a lot of time sitting watching TV, again you will struggle to improve the lifestyle of your teen. Do the right thing by yourself and then encourage your child to engage in a healthier lifestyle.
Like parent, like child is a pretty accurate saying. Remember to keep a constant eye on your teen and be aware of the signs and other unusual characteristics to help you know early if your teen is at risk.
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