Purple letters "DD" inside a circular cloud.Orange circle with figure and three clouds coming out of the head to represent "Decisions"Healthy Living

Healthy living starts with healthy  behaviors, so it is important to talk with your child about making healthy choices. Here are some key elements to consider to encourage a healthy lifestyle:

Diet: Eat smart by avoiding unhealthy foods; be sure to include vegetables and fruits.

Physical Health: Be active, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep (8 hours/night).

Mental Health: Manage stress by doing some form of stress release every day.

Hygiene: Brush teeth for two minutes twice a day and practice good skin care and proper washing.

Sexual Health: Make sex a choice between two consenting individuals, and always carry a condom.

Safe Behaviors:
Hearing – protect ears from noise louder than a lawn mower.
Helmet – wear one when biking, rollerblading, skiing, etc.
Internet Safety – know that a post is saved forever.

Alcohol use: The best advice, don’t drink. If you drink, eat first, and don’t let anyone else pour or top off your drink.

Avoid Toxins: Cigarettes, vapors, huffing, alcohol are all forms of toxins that are harmful.

Driving: Keep your phone and other devices out of your hands, and wear your seat belt.

Interests: Have a passion, and do it as often as you can.

Making simple decisions gives children the confidence to make bigger decisions.

Five steps to help your child make good decisions:

  1. Explore the Details
  2. Evaluate the Consequences
  3. Trust Your Judgment
  4. Make the Best Decision
  5. Recognize You Can Change Course

– Gary and Joy Lundberg

Privacy and Health Information

As your adult child gets older, their rights to privacy change.

In Wisconsin, parents’ access to medical information for children ages 12 to 17 is limited. Although they are still considered children, and referred to as minors, they have the right to consent to certain health care services without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

Clinics and health care systems will start to recognize your child’s growing independence, and at each doctor visit, your child might need to sign a HIPAA authorization in order for you to continue to have access to their medical information. Some clinics may also remove your access to view your child’s health information online. Different forms allow access to
different things relating to your child’s health and transition ages.

Take time to read the forms, and ask your clinic if you have questions about what they mean when it comes to viewing, accessing, and making decisions for your child.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now

  1. Develop a good relationship with your child’s providers.
  2. Know your child’s legal rights and the ages when they change.
  3. Encourage taking responsibility for health care decisions.

Confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Our partners at Wisconsin PATCH can help!

Providers And Teens Communicating for Health (PATCH) has resources for teens, parents, and providers about a variety of health topics, from mental health to confidentiality and much more!


HIPAA authorization (Release of Information):

The Health Insurance Portability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) authorization is like a permission slip. It permits healthcare providers to disclose health information to anyone your child specifies. It sets boundaries on the use and release of health records to protect privacy and is essential to keeping trust between a doctor and the patient. Signing this agreement does not allow you to make medical decisions for your child.

Note: Privacy permissions can be revoked verbally by the patient at any time.

Medical power of attorney (MPOA):

In signing an MPOA, your young adult child will appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions on their behalf in case they are incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for themselves. Each state has different laws governing MPOAs. An MPOA is a legal document that is highly recommended for every adult.

Durable power of attorney (DPOA):

As an additional step, young adult children might consider appointing a durable power of attorney, enabling a parent or other designated agent to take care of financial business on the adult child’s behalf.

Note: MPOA and DPOA do not go into effect unless and until the person is incapacitated and unable to make decisions.

Additional questions to consider…

  • What decisions are you currently making for your child that you could allow them to make for themselves?
  • How can you make decisions more accessible to your child (offering options to choose from, using pictures)?
  • What support will your child need to make legal decisions?


Guardianship: a person or agency chosen or appointed by a court to make legal decisions for another person, who is unable to make those decisions on their own. Guardianship can be applied for at age 17 years and 9 months.

Self-Advocate: a person who actively promotes their wants and needs that lead to achieving a goal.

Supported Decision-Making: a process used to have friends, family members and professionals help a person understand situations and choices they face, so they may make their own decisions.


Every day encourage your child to make decisions, for example, giving 2 choices of snacks.

For more information about Supported Decision-Making and alternatives to guardianship, visit Family Voices of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.

For more information about Guardianship, visit the Greater WI Agency on Aging Resources, Inc. (GWAAR).

Bonus Material:

Check out the Bonus Material page for more information on this topic.