If you’re a parent, knowing what to check in on—as far as adolescence and your child’s transition to becoming an adult—is very important. (And even if you’re not a parent, thinking about these areas can help you and your loved ones stay on track!)
As a child begins adolescence, it’s important to establish a routine for annual checkups. This means knowing the key areas to address at your adolescent’s annual checkup in order to identify health concerns early on, and to provide guidance for making healthy choices in the years ahead.
Here are 11 key areas to discuss with your doctor at each checkup:
Puberty and Sexual Development:
Around age 12, your child will enter puberty and undergo many physical changes. Therefore, it is not only important to monitor their development but to answer any questions they may have about these changes, too.
Sometimes children will feel uncomfortable talking to their parents about their sexual development. Having a regular checkup with a trusted doctor can create another safe persona and opportunity for asking questions or learning about changes in their bodies.
Nutrition and Exercise:
During adolescence, your child’s body is growing and developing rapidly. As a parent, ensure they eat a balanced diet and get enough exercise and guide them into making these choices themselves. Also, use your adolescent’s annual checkup to figure out where they are nutrition-wise and whether they need to add specific nutrients to their daily meals.
In addition, your doctor can provide guidance on healthy eating and exercise habits for your child, specific to his/her needs, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
With all of the growth and development going on, it’s important to make sure your child’s bones stay strong. Your doctor can perform a bone density test to check for any potential concerns as well as provide resources for vitamins, supplements, and safety tips for exercise or weightlifting.
With all of the time your child will be spending outside, it’s important to make sure their skin is protected. Your doctor can advise on sunscreen usage, skin care products, and how to spot any skin concerns.
Skin blemishes and acne is also something that your child may experience during adolescence. Your child’s doctor can provide guidance on prevention, treatment, and healthy habits during hormonal changes.
Around age 13, your child may start to experience mood swings and other changes in their emotional state. It is important to be aware of these changes and watch for signs of depression or anxiety.
If needed, your doctor can provide help and resources for mental health support.
It is important to start getting your child into a dental routine early on. Your doctor can perform a dental exam and determine if your child might need dental implants, in addition to providing guidance on how to keep your child’s teeth healthy.
Several vaccines are recommended for adolescents. Your doctor will review which vaccinations your child needs and administer any necessary shots on schedule.
Your doctor can also talk to you about what vaccines may not be needed or the risks involved with certain shots if you have concerns.
Hearing and Vision:
In the teen years, it’s important to have your child’s hearing and vision checked regularly. Many health concerns can be caught early on with these tests.
In addition, your doctor can provide advice on how to protect your child’s vision and hearing in the future, as well as a potential referral to an eye doctor or specialist if your child needs/has glasses or contacts.
As your child enters their teen years, it’s important to talk to them about drug abuse prevention. Having conversations not only with you, but with other safe and trusted people, can help them to make informed decisions when they’re faced with peer pressure situations.
Your doctor can also provide information and resources on drug abuse and how to get help if needed.
Sexually Transmitted Infections:
Unfortunately, STIs are common among adolescents, so it’s important to be aware of the risks. Have conversations with your child about his/her sexual health, identity, and choices. Seek resources for safe sex and pregnancy prevention, and loop in your adolescent’s doctor to have the doctor provide additional information on how to protect your child from STIs (and/or how to get tested if needed).
During these annual checkups, your doctor will also assess your child’s overall health and wellbeing. In addition, they will ask about any concerns you may have and provide advice on how to keep your child healthy and happy.
During your adolescent’s annual checkup, make sure that your child is able to communicate his or her needs. While it’s important that you’re present (especially in your child’s younger years), you also want to make sure that you’re not dominating the conversation. This way, your child learns independence and grows his or her voice.
By establishing a routine for your adolescent’s annual checkup, you can help ensure your child’s health and wellbeing during their adolescent years. For other parenting and health tips, head to our parenting blog, Momish Moments!