Being a parent is a delicate balancing act — you don’t want to helicopter and smother your children. At the same time, you must protect them from real threats like school bullies, predators and temptations like drugs and alcohol.
It’s challenging to know where to draw the line. However, there are signs of trouble you should never ignore. Here are six things you need to pay attention to in your kids.
As your children grow older, their adult teeth come in, which can start problems. Some youth struggle to lose their baby teeth, requiring dental intervention to remove the issue. Others develop issues like grinding their teeth or problems biting because of a misalignment between the upper and lower teeth, necessitating braces.
Check your insurance policy. Many insurers treat adult and child dental coverage differently, providing options for the youngest family members while adults need a separate policy that may not cover nearly as much. The clock is ticking — get them to care now to spare them a potential lifetime of trouble.
Many underlying reasons can explain why your kid begins falling behind in school. Trouble at home, disagreements with teachers and bullying can all affect academic performance and require considerable intervention to fix.
However, one cause of failing grades is simple to address — poor vision. Students who need glasses may struggle to see the board or read out loud. These issues can further cripple their academic progress as they grow shy and insecure about speaking up in class. However, the right pair of corrective lenses can get them back on track. Schedule an exam at your nearest eye care center if you think their vision could use some help.
3. Mental Health
The mental health crisis in America knows no age limit. In 2021, over 15% of all American teens had at least one major depressive episode. Sadly, over half of them received no treatment.
ADHD, depression, anxiety and substance use disorders are all prevalent among adolescents. So are eating disorders, particularly among females. Fifty-nine percent of teenage girls have tried to lose weight — and incidents are rising among males.
Remain aware of the following signs of mental illness in your child. If you notice any of these signals, please seek professional help:
- Persistent sadness lasting two weeks or more.
- Withdrawing from social interactions.
- Drastic personality changes.
- Outbursts or violent behavior.
- Changes in eating habits or weight loss or gain.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Lagging school performance.
- Frequent complaints of physical illness.
- Talk of self-harm, death or suicide.
Eating disorders of all kinds are significant issues parents need to remain aware of in their children. Nearly 20% of American kids aged 2 to 19 qualify as obese and more are overweight. This excess puts their health at risk and it doesn’t get easier for your little one to shed the pounds as they age.
You shouldn’t encourage dieting in children as it increases the risk of other eating disorders. However, you should support healthy eating and make a variety of low-calorie, nutritious snacks available for them to choose. Honor family mealtime at least a few nights a week and invite your kids in the kitchen for mini cooking lessons that also impart sound nutritional advice.
5. Physical Activity Level
Many children today don’t get nearly enough exercise. This lack also threatens their health and makes it harder for them to adopt healthier practices as adults.
Encourage physical movement in your little ones by getting active together. Take them to the playground when they’re young and let them see you sneaking in bench squats and triceps dips in between playing on the monkey bars with them. Take a family walk after dinner and participate in weekend activities like hiking and biking. You’ll all benefit from the extra movement and support a lifetime love of staying fit.
6. Screen Time
One reason for the inactive state of American youth lies in the gadgets so many hold in their hands nearly all day. While some screen time is inevitable — especially if your kid goes to school online — you should limit their exposure.
Why? Doing so can cause symptoms like the following:
- Loss of interest in other activities: Your child may resist going outside to play when they once begged for more time.
- Withdrawal pains: Kids addicted to their gadgets may act out when you take them away, throwing tantrums.
- Mood changes and mental health concerns: Screen time can leave your children at risk of online bullies, which can devastate their mental health.
- Headaches and visual problems: Too much time looking at a screen can pose health risks. If your kid learns online, ensure they know the 20/20/20 rule — every 20 minutes, they should look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Sleep disturbances: The blue light screens emit affects melatonin production, a vital hormone for getting sleep. This effect can compound if your children sneak phones and handheld game consoles beneath the sheets after hours. Make a charging port in your kitchen or elsewhere to discourage gadget use 30 minutes before bedtime.
Keeping Your Kids on The Right Track
While you don’t have to over your children, you also want them to grow and thrive. However, you should pay attention to the above six things in your kids. Noticing the warning signs and taking swift action can help protect your child’s health.