Child's Routine Checkup, 12 Years to Young Teen: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your teen may be busy with school, sports, clubs, and friends. Your teen may need some help managing his or her time with activities, homework, and getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods.

Most young teens tend to focus on themselves as they seek to gain independence. They are learning more ways to solve problems and to think about things. While they are building confidence, they may feel insecure. Their peers may replace you as a source of support and advice. But they still value you and need you to be involved in their life.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

Eating and a healthy weight

  • Encourage healthy eating habits. Your teen needs nutritious meals and healthy snacks each day. Stock up on fruits and vegetables. Have non-fat and low-fat dairy foods available.
  • Do not eat much fast food. Offer healthy snacks that are low in sugar, fat, and salt instead of candy, chips, and other junk foods.
  • Encourage your teen to drink water when he or she is thirsty instead of soda or juice drinks.
  • Make meals a family time, and set a good example by making it an important time of the day for sharing.

Healthy habits

  • Encourage your teen to be active for at least one hour each day. Plan family activities, such as trips to the park, walks, bike rides, swimming, and gardening.
  • Limit TV and screen time to 2 hours or less a day. Check programs for violence, bad language, and sex.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around your teen. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good. Be a good model so your teen will not want to try smoking.

Safety

  • Make your rules clear and consistent. Be fair and set a good example.
  • Show your teen that seat belts are important by wearing yours every time you drive. Make sure everyone buckles up.
  • Make sure your teen wears pads and a helmet that fits properly when he or she rides a bike or scooter or when skateboarding or in-line skating.
  • It is safest not to have a gun in the house. If you do, keep it unloaded and locked up. Lock ammunition in a separate place.
  • Teach your teen that underage drinking can be harmful. It can lead to making poor choices. Tell your teen to call for a ride if there is any problem with drinking.

Parenting

  • Try to accept the natural changes in your teen and your relationship with him or her.
  • Know that your teen may not want to do as many family activities.
  • Respect your teen's privacy. Be clear about any safety concerns you have.
  • Have clear rules, but be flexible as your teen tries to be more independent. Set consequences for breaking the rules.
  • Listen when your teen wants to talk. This will build his or her confidence that you care and will work with your teen to have a good relationship. Help your teen decide which activities are okay to do on his or her own, such as staying alone at home or going out with friends.
  • Spend some time with your teen doing what he or she likes to do. This will help your communication and relationship.

Talk about sexuality

  • Start talking about sexuality early. This will make it less awkward each time. Be patient. Give yourselves time to get comfortable with each other. Start the conversations. Your teen may be interested but too embarrassed to ask.
  • Create an open environment. Let your teen know that you are always willing to talk. Listen carefully. This will reduce confusion and help you understand what is truly on your teen's mind.
  • Communicate your values and beliefs. Your teen can use your values to develop his or her own set of beliefs.
  • Talk about the pros and cons of not having sex, condom use, and birth control before your teen is sexually active. Talk to your teen about the chance of unwanted pregnancy. If your teen has had unsafe sex, one choice is emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs). ECPs can prevent pregnancy if birth control was not used; but ECPs are most useful if started within 72 hours of having had sex.
  • Talk to your teen about common STIs (sexually transmitted infections), such as chlamydia. This is a common STI that can cause infertility if it is not treated. Chlamydia screening is recommended yearly for all sexually active young women.

School

Tell your teen why you think school is important. Show interest in your teen's school. Encourage your teen to join a school team or activity. If your teen is having trouble with classes, get a tutor for him or her. If your teen is having problems with friends, other students, or teachers, work with your teen and the school staff to find out what is wrong.

Immunizations

Influenza (flu) immunization is recommended once a year for all children ages 6 months and older. Talk to your doctor if your teen did not yet get the vaccines for human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal disease, and tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your teen's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You are concerned that your teen is not growing or learning normally for his or her age.
  • You are worried about your teen's behaviour.
  • You have other questions or concerns.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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