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By Appointment Only: Preparing Your Teen For His or Her Solo Doctor’s Appointment

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By mia bolaris-forget

Part of parenting is not only raising our kids but raising them to be “grown ups”. But, before they can be adults, they must first become young adults and that means many phases and stages not only for your child but for you, the parent.

One of these crucial areas and rites of passage is not only taking responsibility for taking care of themselves but taking control of their lifestyle, health, and going into the doctor’s room alone.

But, when is a “child” or adolescent truly ready for the realities that may be revealed even during a so-called standard check up? According to some, it’s likely at the same age as some cultures would celebrate a young boy or girls transition from childhood into young adulthood at around the age of 13, the age, typically when puberty begins.

Still while they are maturing physically, its imperative for parents to note if their child is maturing equally emotionally and mentally. After all, he or she may not be completely prepared for what goes on and/or what is discussed behind closed doors. And, that means moms and dads must be well prepared for this medical milestone and get their kids prepared as well. Besides giving young men and women the option to choose their own doctor (most boys want a male physician, while most young girls are more comfortable with a female), while explaining the benefits of sticking with someone who already know them and their family history, it means having a detailed discussion about what the doctor will be checking for, what kids of tests, pokings and prodding they can expect and what each helps determine. This in addition to advising them to be honest about concerns or ailments, it’s imperative to stress taking the doctor’s advice seriously, encouraging them to also discuss things with you, especially if they have questions or are confused about their experience. Remember, young boys and girls will be questioned on their lifestyle, activities, choices and confronted with exams that target their private parts. And, many may not be ready for the exam, or the results. In fact, waiting to find out may make your child anxious. But, remember, you’ve already been through it, so its up to you to be calm, cool, collected and reassuring. Plus, you’ll want to let them know beforehand what’s acceptable medical protocol and what may be considered crossing the line.

Don’t’ forget, this is the age where kids begin to develop habits and behaviours that will carry them through young adulthood or maybe stay with them for the rest of their life. So, make sure that both you and your child’s physician have good communication with the young patient.

Here are a few prepping pointers:

· Start by making your child’s first appointment, preferably with him or her around, listening and watching how you do things. Make sure you set up a pre-appointment meeting with a new MD, to help ensure the patient/doctor relationship clicks. Next explain that the doctor WILL examine most or all parts of your child’s body (but remember to set boundaries as well) and ask lots of questions about your child’s health habits, lifestyle, etc. And, make sure your child is prepared to answer truthfully because honest answers are imperative to a proper assessment and diagnosis. Also make sure your child has questions of his or her own. It’s preferable you meet the doctor too and at least initially have authority to discuss the findings with him or her, especially in the case of serious findings or concerns. Don’t forget to discuss with your child why a doctor asks certain questions or touches and examines certain body parts. Lastly, it’s probably ideal that you take your kid to his or her first (few) appointments and teach them about keeping accurate records firs and foremost by teach them about the immunizations and other pertinent health records you have kept for them.

As far as what kids can expect:

· General checkup: Teens can expecta a blood pressure check, heart rate check, and a documenting of height and weight. In addition the doctor will also look at his or her eyes, ears, nose and mouth, listen to heart and lungs, feel glands, internal organs, joints and bones, checking for lumps, sore spots or abnormalities.

Young men’s exams: Boys can anticipate a genital exam, including having their testicles felt for swelling or lumps. According to statistics testicular cancer, while rare can be fount in young men at around age 15 and is know as being a condition that generally affects younger males.

· Ladies’ exams: Young women can expect a pelvic exam, though it’s not recommended at 16 anymore, but rather once she becomes sexually active, or if the young lady feels there may be a problem. Sharing your own experiences may help make this a more comfortable experience for your daughter, especially if YOU stay strong and positive.

Note that many modern docs try to make youngsters feel as comfortable as possible by allowing them to keep as many of their clothes on as possible. However, it’s best if he or she dresses in easy-access wear, such as a button-down shirt and loose fitting pants, for the exam. Wearing a cami may afford a young lady more privacy.

It’s also important to help your child do research (about an impending or previous medical exam) on the net; as well as encouraging him or her to ask other peers about what they’ve been through. Just make sure their friends are knowledgeable and sincere when answering questions, especially since misinformation can be most damaging.

Last but not least, explain to your teen that while all of this is standard and routine, he or she can say no if they feel extremely awkward or uncomfortable. All he or she had to do is express this and or his or her desire to wait for another time to the doctor at hand, and he or she SHOULD comply and understand.

Guidelines for teens:

· Don’t hold back information: Even if it seem “too private” or “trival” it may be essential to your exam and diagnosis. Also make sure to voice your questions and concerns.

· Know your rights: Remember, that if you feel uncomfortable, you need to speak up. After all it’s your health, you body, and you need to be proactive and take charge.

· Make a list and check it twice: Jot down everything you want to ask or know and don’t hesitate to ask. In fact, don’t leave until you are satisfied with the answers, even if it means calling mom or dad into the room to explain some of it to you. Another option is discussing it with your parents afterwards.

· Make sure you’re on time: In fact not only is it advisable to be prompt but early. Give yourself plenty of time to fill out paperwork, ask questions, etc. And, if you need to cancel, give the office as much of a head’s up as possible, especially if there’s a fee for “last-minute” cancellations.

· Accept that you’ll have to wait: YES, YOU should be prompt, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait. So, make sure you bring a book, iPod or something to help you bide your time.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > By Appointment Only: Preparing Your Teen For His or Her Solo Doctor’s Appointment

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