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The Teen Years

What to Expect at Well Visits During the Teen Years:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series, if not given previously
  • Second meningococcal meningitis vaccine at the 16-year OR the 17-year visit
  • Blood test for hemoglobin level when entering 10th grade

See the full immunization schedule ›

Safety:

  • Wear a seat belt at all times, as a driver and as a passenger. Remind your child never to text and drive and be a good role model for your child.
  • Absolutely no drinking and driving or getting in a car with a drinking driver. Formulate a plan to get home safely.
  • Appropriate protective equipment (helmets, mouth guards, eye protection) should be used for all high-risk sports. Seek medical attention for head injuries.
  • Make sure your child understands water safety and always wears a life jacket when on a boat.
  • Discuss privacy and boundaries especially surrounding dating.
  • It is best to keep guns out of the home. If you choose to keep a gun, it should be kept unloaded and in a locked place.
  • Discuss avoidance of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and firearms.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, reapplying every 2 hours.
  • AAP recommends insect repellents should be less than 30% DEET and used for infants 2 months old and older. Wash off skin with soap and water when done. Wash clothes before wearing again. Do not use combination DEET and sunscreen products. Apply permethrin for ticks to clothes, not to skin.

Social Media Safety:

  • Address what type of and how much media is used and what media behaviors are appropriate for each child.
  • Place consistent limits on hours per day of media use as well as types of media used.
  • Recommend that children not sleep with devices in their bedrooms, including televisions, computers or smart phones. Avoid exposure to devices for 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Engage in selecting and co-viewing media with your child.
  • Have ongoing communication with your child about online safety, including treating others with respect, avoiding cyberbullying, sexting and being wary of online solicitation.
  • Teach your children that everything they post, including pictures, will be “remembered” on the internet. Talk with them about leaving a “digital footprint,” and that they should not post anything they would not want remembered for a very long time.
  • Teach them to avoid communications that can compromise personal privacy and safety. Never give out phone numbers or addresses. Never agree to meet someone “offline” and encourage your child to tell an adult if someone wants to arrange an “offline” meeting. Your child should consider anyone met online as a potential predator.
  • Resource for social media management

Development:

  • The main developmental task for adolescents is achieving independence. It is critical to have this growing independence honored by their parents. The challenge for parents is to monitor safety, know when to jump in and when to stay out of the way.
  • Everyday issues can trigger parent-child struggles. Try to think of these events as opportunities for your child to master new skills and demonstrate responsibility.
  • Peer relationships and acceptance are very important. Positive and negative peer pressure can be stressful. Try to keep the lines of communication open with your teen. Relationships with supportive adults can help your teen through difficult times.
  • Talk to your child openly and honestly about dating, sex, and gender identity. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your child. If your child can talk with you about the “little things,” it will make it easier to discuss any problems or issues that arise later.
  • Their body clocks are shifting into “night owl” mode. Help your teen with time management and set a goal of 8-10 hours of sleep each night.

Diet:

  • Limit access to foods and drinks with added sugar, trans fats and salt.
  • Caffeine intake should be minimal and energy drinks avoided.
  • Aim for 16-20 ounces of low-fat milk per day or other foods with calcium such as yogurt, cheese, soy or almond milk. Calcium supplementation is an option as well.
  • At home, serve meals and snacks at the kitchen table; limit eating in other rooms of the house or while watching TV.
  • Have family meal times and keep mealtimes pleasant.
  • Support your teen’s evolving self-image by commenting on positive accomplishments rather than physical appearance or weight. Do not use food as a reward or to deal with their emotions.
  • Be a positive role model for healthy eating.
  • Discuss concerns about your child’s weight with your provider. Please let us know if you observe any preoccupation with weight or food choices.

Other Helpful Notes:

  • Contact your provider if your child has problems dealing with stress or seems overly anxious or depressed.
  • If you feel your child is at risk of hurting themselves or others, the State of Connecticut’s 211 Infoline has an Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Service for Children and Youth: www.211ct.org.
    Mobile crisis intervention team for children and youth will go to homes, community sites, and emergency rooms to assess psychiatric emergency and to provide emergency intervention and brief in-home follow up when indicated for children and adolescents ages 0 through 17. Will also take 18- and 19-year-old adolescents who are still in school. Mobile response is provided M-F: 6 am–10 pm; Sat, Sun, and holidays: 1–10 pm. Phone response is provided 24/7.