Help Your Parents Get Healthy
You’re not the only one. We did a survey of kids and 46% said they worry about their parents’ health. And 69% of kids would like their parents to make changes to be healthier. Maybe your mom and dad would be surprised to learn that you are concerned about them.
Here’s some good news: We also surveyed parents, and they said that if their kids asked them to, they’d work extra hard to get healthier.
So let’s do something about it. If you talk with your parents in the right way, you might inspire your mom and dad to make some changes, like exercising more, eating more fruits and vegetables, or even quitting smoking.
Here are 6 tips on talking to your parents about their health habits:
- Create an idea list. Try to remember what got you thinking about this topic. Is there an unhealthy thing you’d like to see them stop doing, or do less often? Is there a healthy habit — like exercising or eating fruits and vegetables — that you’d like to see them do more often? Get your list together. And don’t forget to add relaxing more and getting more sleep — two great, healthy ideas for parents and kids!
- Practice how to say it. Changing can be tough. And it’s not always easy to hear that someone you love thinks you need to do it. So you’ll want to bring up this topic in just the right way. If your parents wanted you to make a change — like spending less time on electronic devices — how would you like them to ask? A gentle, caring approach often works best. Avoid insults or criticisms. Instead, you might tell your mom or dad: I want you to be healthy and strong so we can do a lot of fun stuff together. Do you think we could eat more healthy foods/exercise more/slow down and relax for a couple hours a week?
- Find the right time to bring it up. Pick a moment when everyone’s relaxed and there’s time to talk.
- Be willing to pitch in! In our survey, a whopping 85% of kids said they’d be willing to make healthy changes if it would help the whole family. You might be willing to go for a walk after dinner, help make a healthy meal together every Sunday, or pitch in and do a few more chores if it helped your parents feel less stressed. Let your parents know you’re willing to make an effort.
Make a decision together. Once you’ve brought up the subject, remember that both you and your parents should agree on which steps to take next. It helps to pick a single goal and be specific. It can be overwhelming if you try to make too many changes all at once, your goal is too general, or you don’t have specific steps in mind.
For example, here are some possible action steps to agree on if your family goal is to eat healthier:
- I’ll eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day.
- I’ll eat breakfast every morning.
- I’ll stop buying snacks from the vending machine.
- I’ll drink water instead of sweet tea at lunch.
- I’ll have an apple or nuts as my snack instead of cookies.
- Cheer them on! Encourage your parents as the family starts making changes. Tell them you’re proud of them. An extra hug or a homemade card of encouragement can give them the boost they need to keep going down the healthy road. What a great way to show how much you care!
Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2014