If you always seem to tell your teen to “straighten up,” your advice to help your teen improve her posture can have far-reaching benefits. Poor posture in the teenage years causes muscle strain or abnormal bone growth. Poor posture also can make your teen appear less confident. Because teens may not always listen to suggestions from parents or adults, a careful approach is best for teaching teens to practice correct posture.
Identify Good Posture
Teaching your teen good posture gives her a model to practice from. Identify proper sitting position. Your teen should sit with her buttocks and back to the chair with the shoulders pulled back. Your teen should keep her feet on the floor whenever possible. When standing, your teen’s pelvis should be tucked in slightly with the shoulders pulled back. The head should be looking straight as well with the ears parallel to the shoulders.
Computer/Video Game Posture
If your teen plays hours of video games or spends time on a laptop, his posture may tend to be curved or hunched over. Encourage your teen to spend only short bursts of time at these exercises. Dr. Kristina Fortuna, an orthopedic specialist at Temple University in Philadelphia, recommends limiting television, video game or computer time to 20 minutes in one sitting. Encourage your child to stand and stretch frequently, which can reduce strain on the back. Taping a small piece of paper on the screen in the direction where your child should look while seated can improve his posture.
Be a Mentor
In order to promote good posture in your teen, it’s important to show good posture yourself. Modeling good posture shows your teen the correct way to sit. If you find yourself sitting improperly, comment on it to your child, emphasizing how you will correct it. You also can point out the posture of others, emphasizing those who practice good posture. If you note how confident the person appears, your teen may wish to practice this posture.
Some cases of poor posture can indicate a teenager is experiencing scoliosis — an abnormal curving of the spine. Scoliosis may not appear until your child reaches her adolescent growth spurt in her teenage years. Early diagnosis can mean earlier treatment intervention, which can prevent the curve from developing more severely. If your child complains of back pain, has trouble breathing or whose spine appears visibly curved, this can indicate your child is experiencing scoliosis.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.