Helping Teens Become Responsible for Health Care

Not only are teens likely to miss preventive medical care, there was also a recent report about young adults suggesting they do not get the health care they need, in part because they tend to healthy, but in part because they never really learned how to be responsible for their health care, access medical care, and include it in their daily life planning.

One way to avoid this is for parents of teens to encourage their teens to become responsible for their health care and build their own relationship with their health care provider. Tell your child starting at age 11 that they can receive confidential care from their doctor and that you want them to feel comfortable asking questions or seeing the doctor without you. When your child is ready for the responsibility, tell them when it is time for their annual physical and that you would like them to make their own appointment this year. Give them the number and let them make the appointment. Once they can drive, they can even take themselves to the appointment.

Tell the doctor that you want to encourage your teen to see them for any concerns they might not want their parents involved in, and leave written consent for your child to receive care. You may still have to come in to sign for immunizations, so encourage the teen to ask if their parent must be present for the visit.

Even with younger teens, you can let them know that as their body and feelings change, there may be questions they have that they would be more comfortable talking to a doctor about, so encourage them to call the doctor, and explore safe, medically accurate Web sites about teen health. You can even bookmark some for them. My favorites are obviously We’re Talking Teen Health and We’re Talking, Too: Preteen Health.

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