Wow! Your once tiny baby is now a full-grown teenager somewhere between 13 and 18. This is a time of anxiety, excitement, and learning for parents and teens alike! So many changes, so little time. At the end of this period, your child will be considered an adult. They are taking all the lessons they have learned and exercising their independence. This is how they learn what works and what doesn’t work, its adulthood with training wheels and your hand on the seat.
Puberty and Growing Up
Teenagers are still growing. In fact, they are growing a lot. There is tremendous physical, emotional, and intellectual development that happens during these years. It is a complex transition period, so your support and role modeling will go a long way to help him thrive.
Sleeping like a Baby
Yes, teenagers sleep like babies. Getting at least 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep helps your teen do his best in school and at home. This means no electronics in the bedroom, relaxing activities for the hour before bed, and consistent wake up time on weekends. Early to bed, early to rise, but give them an extra 15-20 minute head start in the morning until they fully grasp time management.
As with younger children, teenagers grow and develop best when their emotional health needs are identified and addressed. For this reason, Dr. Moemeka does specific screening for depression, suicidal thoughts, and emotional challenges.
During the teenage years, your teen will get her meningitis vaccines. Additionally, she will get the HPV vaccine to protect her from certain types of cancer if she has not already recieved it in the past.
Teenagers have a health maintenance visit each year in which Dr. Moemeka speaks with them alone about overall wellness. For everyone’s comfort and safety, patients are always examined in the presence of an available chaperone of their choice, either a caregiver or a care team member.
Social media safety is important for teenagers. Not only the content, but the amount of time spent being exposed to media and its sometimes toxic messages can be harmful to his emotional and mental health. Modeling healthy use of social media and electronic devices will help.
Studies continue to show that more than half of teens make their choices based on parent and caregiver influence. These choices include some of the most important ones they will make: substance use, tobacco use, safe driving, healthy dating relationships, and bullying prevention. Model the behavior you want to see in your teen. Talk to him about your preferences and beliefs. Even if he has his earbuds half in, studies show he’s listening.
Pre-adulthood and the transition
Ready to take your hand off the seat? Yes, it’s time. Your child is now 18 and an adult. The training wheels are still on, probably until she is about 25. But she can pedal and glide off beyond your sight. Mark9 Pediatrics works with families starting at age 16 to plan for a teen’s transition to adult life. The first step is moving to a family medicine or internal medicine doctor before age 19. Dr. Moemeka will speak with her about self-care and reproductive health. Additionally, you will be connected with excellent doctors in the area who will best align with your teen’s health and wellness goals.