Poor posture isn't just an eyesore, it can result in postural kyphosis -- an abnormality in the way bones or muscles grow due to poor posture or slouching. This is especially common in teens. While this type of kyphosis usually doesn't cause any noticeable physical or health issues, it can sometimes result in feeling uncomfortable, developing a hump on the back or breathing difficulties. Instruct your teen about how to assume correct postures while standing and sitting to help him quit slouching.
Correct Standing Posture
Ask your teen to stand in her normal posture and face a full-length mirror. Stand behind your teen and gently pull her shoulders back, while instructing her to push her pelvis slightly forward. Ask your teen to hold this position, close her eyes and gently roll her head around until she finds a position that doesn't place any strain on her neck muscles.
Cut a length of string that exceeds your teen's height by approximately 6 inches. Tie a pair of scissors, or an object similar in weight, to one end of the string and allow the string and object to rest on the floor.
Ask your teen to turn sideways to the mirror. Hold the unused end of the string just above and behind your teen's ear. Tell your child to stay turned sideways and assume the posture from earlier -- shoulders back, pelvis forward and head in a comfortable position.
Check to see if the string falls in a straight line, touching your teen's shoulder, hip, back of knee and ankle. If it does, your child is assuming a good posture. If not, help your teenager adjust her posture until the string touches at the correct points. Tell her to remember her stance.
Correct Sitting Posture
Place a dining room chair or another similar chair in front of the full-length mirror.
Ask your teen to sit in the chair with his back against the back of the chair, feet flat on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor. His hips and knees should be at a 90-degree angle.
Ask your teen to straighten his shoulders so they are parallel with his hips and hold his neck and head in an upright, but comfortable position. Have him practice slouching and reassuming correct posture several times. This will help him remember how to sit correctly.
If you prefer an expert posture analysis, contact a physical therapy or spine center in your area.
If your teen carries a backpack, advise her to wear both shoulder straps and a hip strap, if available. Shoulder straps should be wide and adjustable.
To help your teen remember how to get into correct posture, tell him to imagine there's a cable on a pulley connected to the top of his head. Tell him to act as if the cable tightens and pulls his head upward. His spine should straighten and his shoulders drop as he pushes his shoulder blades back.
Teens who carry backpacks or purses with contents that exceed 10 to 15 percent of their body weight are at risk for poor posture.