Illustrated graphic of Tough Talks #11

Tough Talks #11: Teen Health and Wellness

Broaching difficult subjects with your teen can be challenging. Even when you start a conversation with the best of intentions, teens can feel sensitive and believe they are being criticized. These years are a very vulnerable time of life as they continue to discover themselves and learn how to understand the world around them. As a parent or educator, you want the best for the teens in your life. And as you know, health is always a top priority. Here are our tips for things to talk about with teens when you want to encourage them to build healthy habits. 

Get Moving

Movement is essential! These days, it is easy for teens to stick to their screens and remain mostly indoors, sedentary. When left to fester, this can become an unhealthy excuse to avoid exercise. In order to work towards healthy habits for teens, remind them how important moving is for both mental and physical health. If they feel criticized when you bring it up, or if they begin to think they need to worry about their body, be clear with them that your suggestion comes from a place of care. Exercising is a requirement for a healthy mind, body, and immune system — not a requirement to be beautiful or handsome. 

Consider starting the conversation by offering a sense of community. If they are not already involved in an activity, ask if they would be interested in starting a sport or other workout routine that could also serve as a social outlet. If you have a physically active hobby, offer to share it with them. Show them the ropes and seize the opportunity as a chance to bond. 

Eat Well

While “eat healthy” might seem like a given, eating can be a very tricky subject for many teens. As their bodies are changing, it can be hard for teens to adjust mentally to the way they look or feel physically — no matter how beautiful we see them. Many teens have concerns about their weight, whether they believe they have too much or two little of it. Check in by starting a tough conversation about what healthy habits for teens look like. Provide examples and resources to demonstrate which ways to eat are good for them and which are not. 

Keep in mind that your teen might be struggling with this subject in a way that you are not yet aware of. Be sure to speak about eating habits with sympathy, understanding, and without judgment. If you are concerned about upsetting your teen, offer to cook or share a healthy meal together and let the subject come up organically. Make it a priority to remind your teen to discuss any dietary concerns with you or offer to provide them with professional advice from a doctor, counselor, or nutritionist.

Mental Health

New, complex, and confusing emotions are a staple in the teen years. Young people may not realize that in many cases how they are feeling is completely normal and natural. Still other teens who are struggling deeply, might not know where to turn to for help. Whether or not you can see any concerning signs, provide them with the appropriate teen mental health resources so that they are prepared to get help if they ever need it.

All teens experience difficult emotions or stress. Continuing to have open and honest dialogue around emotional wellness is important during these years. Promote self-care activities and encourage your teen to be kind to themselves. You may not realize how important your sympathy and support can be for your teen. To you, what might seem to be just a difficult conversation could turn out to be a beacon of light for your teen.

At Tilly’s Life Center, we believe that starting tough conversations with teens is essential to their healthy physical and mental growth and development. Our mission is to help provide tools that empower healthy habits for teens and support them in their efforts to live positively and to their fullest potential. Our educational workshops serve as teen mental health resources both in the classroom and in the home. To learn more, visit us at