Health care learning is an important aspect of the life of any individual. The process starts the moment the child begins to understand the outside world. Parents are the first teachers of any child and during the initial years he generally looks towards them for any instructions on anything that he may have doubts about or needs clarification. As the child grows then comes the turn of the teachers, other members of society and electronic media as well.
Preparing a child to move towards adulthood becomes a priority of the parents with the teaching process starting with walking, maintaining proper hygiene which continues as the child grows up. During the childhood it becomes the duty of the parents to keep track of the healthcare programme of the child.
Then comes the time when the child can participate in the responsibility of his health care. The age at which this is to start depends upon the circumstances in which a child is placed and the general learning ability. In case of the children who live with parents who have ample time this process could start late but in case of the children whose parents are working the process needs to be started early as the child has to take his or her care on his own when the parents are away.
The learning process of health care should start with the teaching of how the child is to keep himself healthy. How he is to spend time, distributing it judiciously between learning and recreation activities and things that are harmful for the health of the child and restraints to be exercised in life at a particular age.
Teach benefits of healthy lifestyle: The child should know about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise and ill effects of smoking, drugs, liquor and sex at a particular age. The learning process should be such that child is able to understand the consequences of each and the recommended age for each activity. Due to exposure to the outside world and the information available on public domain, it is not possible to tell the child that he should never indulge in drinking etc. but he should be taught about the right age for these and such other things. This will go a long way in health care teaching for the child.
The extent of control that can be shifted to the child depends upon general development of the child, his level of maturity and ability to keep track of things. When you conclude that the child is able to exercise control on his activities it is the right time to start moving in this direction.
Be patient: A proper, open and continuous line of communication should be established between the parents and the child. They should spend time on a daily basis discussing about health care and other matters necessary and related to the life of any individual. The child should be taught about record keeping so that he is able to maintain his or her prescriptions etc. Parents should initially keep a check on the record of the child to ensure that it is kept in a proper manner, however subsequently it will become a habit.
In case the child does not keep track of things do not get angry and use rebuking language for the child. Explain again and again about the need of self health care and slowly the child will start learning. In extreme cases you may need the help of an expert or a psychiatrist to help the child accelerate the learning process. Moreover the child may be more comfortable discussing certain matters relating to his or her adolescent age with an outsider as compared to the parents.