How to Help Your Teen Thrive

It is no secret that being a teenager is tough, perhaps even tougher than it was when we were growing up. From academic and social pressures to mental health challenges, teens need our support to create and maintain positive coping strategies. An easy way to remember the things to keep our teens thriving is the “SLEDS” approach: Sleep, Learning, Exercising, Diet and Social.

Teens need a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night to maximize growth (growth hormones are secreted after falling asleep), maintain mental health and simply feel good. Poor sleep can lead to learning and behavior problems, substance abuse and weight gain.


  • Try to limit screen time directly before bedtime (aim for one hour of no screen time) and turn off phones after bed.

A teen’s main responsibility is attending school and being both mentally and physically present. Ensure they have the tools to get to school on time and help them create a quiet, distraction-free area for studying (this means no social media or online gaming).


  • If your teen needs academic help, check with the school for free tutoring.
  • Limit non-learning screen time during the week. Learn how to create your family media plan.

An hour of daily physical activity helps boost mood and maintain a healthy weight. While some teens might say they have don’t have time to exercise, studies show kids who are involved in sports do better in school with less time studying because they tend to be more productive when they sit down to study.


  • If your teen is not involved in a team sport, a quick power walk after school or dinner will help their health and productivity. This could also be an opportunity to spend time together.

A balanced diet is key to physical development, strong immune system, and a healthy weight. Teens may argue that there’s no time for breakfast, but it is important to get them out the door with a healthy meal (skipping breakfast is proven to negatively affect school performance). Focus on a source of lean protein, fruit and water to get their day off to a good start.


  • Include fruits and vegetables with lunch and dinner.
  • Encourage teens to avoid processed foods and sugar-filled, caffeinated drinks.

Friendships can help teens feel connected. Know your teen’s friends and their parents if possible and try to be aware of those relationships that might not benefit your teen (maybe they are hanging out with friends you do not like, or your teen is the target of a bully). Open lines of communication can help create expectations for what is acceptable in a friendship.


  • Know your teen’s friends, both in person and online.
  • Set the example by exposing your teen to your own healthy friendships.
  • Be aware of the disciplinary and bullying policies at their school just in case you need additional support.