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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Doctors Empowering Parents

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I had an interesting conversation with a parent the other day about the role of doctors in teen health. She felt strongly that at the age doctors start having some time with a teen without a parent present (usually about age 12), doctors could really empower parents by telling the teen, when the parent is present, that the parent's job is x, y, or z in relation to the health issue being discussed.

For example, if the issue is getting more exercise, the doctor should say that it is the parent's job to limit screen time to under three hours a day, organize family-friendly exercise outings on the weekends, or find an exercise class that fits the family schedule. If the issue was weight, the parent's job could be to keep empty calorie snack foods out of the house, leave easy-to-grab healthy snacks in the refrigerator, and make sure that meals add up to 5-6 cups of fruits and vegetables a day.

What a great idea! This suggestion empowers parents to be involved in the health of the teen without damaging the sense of ownership and responsibility that we want to instill in the teen, and is likely to keep the number of disagreements down, as well! Teamwork - what a concept!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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