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What are some effective ways to encourage my preteen to make healthy choices?

Hi everyone,

I am a parent of a 12-year-old preteen who has been struggling with making healthy choices lately. My child has been eating junk food frequently and avoiding physical activities, which is concerning me a lot. I want to encourage him to adopt a healthier lifestyle and make better choices for his well-being.

I would really appreciate your suggestions on some effective ways to motivate and guide my preteen towards making healthier choices. How can I help him understand the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise? Are there any activities or games that can make healthy living fun and engaging for young kids?

Thank you in advance for your help and insights. I am looking forward to hearing your opinions and experiences.

All Replies


Hi there,

As a parent of a preteen, I have found that involving my child in the cooking process has been helpful in encouraging healthy choices. When my child helps to prepare a meal, they are more likely to try and enjoy the healthy foods that are being prepared. This has made a significant impact on my child's willingness to eat vegetables and whole grains.

Another thing that has worked for us is setting boundaries on the types of food that are available in our home. We have removed unhealthy snacks and replaced them with fresh fruit and healthier snack options. This has helped my preteen make better food choices when they are hungry and need a snack.

Lastly, I try to remember that positive reinforcement is key in encouraging healthy habits. When my preteen makes healthy choices on their own, I make sure to praise and recognize them for their efforts. This helps to build their confidence and reinforces that making healthy choices is a good thing.

In conclusion, I believe that involving preteens in the cooking process, setting boundaries on unhealthy foods, and providing positive reinforcement are all effective ways to encourage healthy choices.


Hi everyone,

As a parent of a preteen, I have found that involving my child in meal preparation and grocery shopping has been effective in promoting healthy choices. We discuss how different foods affect our bodies and we try to incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains into our meals.

Another thing that has worked for us is making small changes gradually. For instance, we started by replacing soda with water or flavored water and gradually reduced the amount of sugar in our meals. This approach has helped my preteen adjust to healthier options without feeling like they were being deprived.

To encourage physical activity, we make family outings active, such as hiking or swimming, and we limit screen time. We also encourage taking breaks during screen time to stretch or do a quick workout.

Lastly, I try to keep the conversation around health and wellness positive and encouraging, rather than focusing on weight loss or body image. I want my child to understand that being healthy is about feeling good and being strong, rather than a number on a scale.

In conclusion, involving preteens in meal preparation, making small changes gradually, promoting physical activity, and keeping a positive view of wellness can all contribute towards healthy choices.


Hi everyone,

As a teacher, I have seen first-hand how extracurricular activities can motivate preteens to make healthy choices. Encouraging students to participate in activities such as sports, dance or even nature walks can foster healthy living habits, as well as providing a positive social outlet.

At school, I have also noticed that peer influence can be impactful. When preteens see peers engaging in healthy activities or eating healthy foods, they are more likely to follow suit. Therefore, teachers can play a role in creating a culture of wellness and modeling healthy choices themselves.

Furthermore, I feel that older preteens can benefit from learning about the science behind their choices. For instance, explaining how certain foods can improve brain function or how physical activity helps with stress management can engage preteens who are interested in the 'why' behind what they are doing.

To sum up, extracurricular activities, peer influence and education on health can all be effective in inspiring preteens to prioritize their health. As a teacher, I know that a supportive environment and positive reinforcement can go a long way towards encouraging healthy habits.


Hello all,

As a health coach for preteens, I have found that setting realistic goals can be highly effective in encouraging healthy choices. For instance, I work with my clients to develop weekly or monthly goals around healthy eating or regular exercise. We discuss ways to make these goals achievable, such as prepping meals or finding a workout that they genuinely enjoy.

I have also found that assessing the preteen's level of readiness can make a big difference. Some preteens may be highly motivated to make changes, while others may need more education, coaching or time to develop the skills and confidence required to forge healthy habits.

Additionally, I incorporate fun, interactive games or challenges to learn about nutrition or ways to stay active. These can include cooking challenges, scavenger hunts or online movement classes.

Overall, I recommend working with a qualified health professional who can develop a personalized approach based on the individual needs of the preteen. Making small, consistent changes over time can lead to long-term healthy choices that become part of a balanced lifestyle.


Hi everyone,

As a preteen myself, I can offer insight into what motivates me to make healthy choices. First and foremost, I believe that having a supportive family and encouraging environment makes a big difference. When my family makes healthy choices themselves, it sets an example and creates a foundation for me to make good choices too.

Moreover, I feel like it's important to have a balance and not be too strict. It's okay to have treats and less-healthy foods in moderation. When my family makes an effort to find healthy versions of snacks or we have a fun treat day once in a while, it makes me feel like I'm not being deprived.

At school, extracurricular activities can motivate me to be healthy, especially if they are engaging and fun. Additionally, learning about how healthy choices benefit not only my physical health, but also my mental health, can inspire me to make good choices for my overall well-being.

Lastly, I think it's important for parents and caregivers to listen to preteens and understand their unique needs and motivations. Rather than forcing specific diets or activities, having discussions and offering choices helps us feel empowered to make our own healthy choices.

In summary, creating a supportive environment, finding a balance, engaging activities, and offering choices are all effective ways to encourage preteens to make healthy choices.


Hey there,

I think one of the most effective ways to encourage preteens to make healthy choices is to involve them in after-school clubs or sports programs. This is a great way to motivate them to be active and get involved in physical activities. By joining these groups, kids can meet other kids their age with similar interests, and they will feel more motivated to participate.

Another technique I have found to work well is to have a family challenge where we all compete to see who can make the healthiest choices over a period of time. It's a friendly competition where we all work together to make healthy meals, stay active and even incorporate mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga. This helps my preteen realize that we are all in this together as a family.

Lastly, it's important to talk to your preteen about the long-term impact of their choices on their health. Explain to them how healthy habits can prevent chronic diseases and lead to a happy and long life. This can motivate them to make good choices for themselves and their future.

I hope these tips help! Remember that every child is unique, so it's important to find what works best for your preteen.


Hi there,

As a parent of two preteens, I understand your concern and frustration with trying to get them to make healthy choices. One thing that has helped with my children is involving them in the process of meal planning and grocery shopping. I let them choose some of the healthy foods they like and we make meals together as a family.

We also limit their screen time to encourage physical activity. We try to make exercise a fun activity by going on family bike rides, playing sports together or even doing a dance challenge on YouTube.

Another helpful approach is leading by example. My husband and I also try to make healthy choices ourselves by modelling a healthy lifestyle. It's important for preteens to see that the whole family is involved in living a healthy life.

Lastly, I have found that rewards and positive reinforcement also work well. When my kids make healthy choices for an extended period of time, we treat them to a fun family activity or a small tangible item like a new book or toy.

Hope these tips help! Good luck with your preteen.

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