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Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen – Ages 11 to 14

Yearly well-child visits for your preteen help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Your preteen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your preteen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Preteen’s Development

Your preteen’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your preteen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each child grows differently. Some preteens take longer to start puberty or be interested in the opposite sex. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most preteens ages 11 to 14 include:

  • Interest in looks and fashion
  • Mood swings
  • Worrying what their peers think
  • Gaining a clearer sense of right and wrong
  • Getting better at problem-solving
  • Wanting more independence
  • Challenging the rules and their parents

See more milestones for kids ages 9 to 11 or preteens 12 to 14.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your preteen, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your child’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Have they started showing signs of puberty?
    • Do they often complain of any type of pain?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do they have trouble following directions?
    • Are they sad or bored?
    • Do they show signs of depression?
    • Do they have someone to talk to about their problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do they like going to school?
    • What do they like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do they participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Does anyone in your home have a gun? Is it locked and secure so they can’t access it?
    • Are they experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Are they using any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friend questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?
    • Do they spend time with friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Have you talked to them about puberty?
      • Most girls start puberty between the ages of 9 and 13, and most boys start between the ages of 10 and 13.
    • Are they dating?
    • Have you talked to them about preventing STDs and pregnancy?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your preteen, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your preteen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your preteen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your preteen.

Know Your Family and Preteen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your preteen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, or a new school.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your preteen’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your preteen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Child Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your preteen by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma or allergies
  • Getting ready to talk to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your kids eat right and get enough exercise
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

Once your preteen starts puberty, your child’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your preteens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your preteens. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your preteen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your preteen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

Reliving Summers Past

Long View: Summer Memories

It’s been quite a summer hasn’t it? We’ve faced state budget issues, unreliable weather, and rising prices every time we turn around. By the way, when will we be done with the ragweed pollen? There seems to be a never-ending parade of things to worry about, and I’m worn out.

This summer does not fit with my memories of my favorite season. My main worries used to be how to get the frisbee off the roof and finding the next bag of Fritos. It seems I didn’t have much to worry about. But wait a minute, I was a kid, so it was my parents’ job to worry.

My mom and dad would leave my younger brother and me at my grandparents’ farm for a couple of weeks in the summer, and we had a great time. We were a little spoiled, to say the least, and at the time, I felt like we had no rules.

We could eat anything we wanted, as long as we cleaned up our plates at mealtime. We could stay up as late as we wanted, but we usually turned in early because we were exhausted from playing all day. We could go wherever we wanted on their property, as long as there was a grown-up or older cousin within shouting distance. Best of all, we could watch as much TV as we wanted, but there always seemed to be too many distractions on a working farm.

The day before my parents would come to pick us up, our grandfather would take us into town for haircuts at the same barbershop he had used since the Great Depression. The morning of my parent’s arrival, we were scrubbed and polished, from our fingernails and neck to our ears, and dressed in our traveling clothes. It was hard to leave, but I think we were ready to get back to our routines, our friends, and the start of the school year.

One of the nicest parts about talking to our Medicare members is hearing their memories. I think the stories and experiences they share enrich us and give us a better perspective on the present. Try asking an older family member or friend about their favorite summer. I bet you get a smile and hear a wonderful story from their past.

Looking back, maybe this wasn’t such a bad summer after all. There might even be kids today who will look back on the summer of 2016 as the best one they can remember.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Healthy Weight for Kids

Help Your Kids Reach a Healthy Weight

Childhood obesity is a regular topic in the news, and with more than a third of American children above a healthy weight, there’s a real reason for concern.

While many stories talk about school lunch programs and possible laws in the food industry, it can be hard to know what to do when when it’s your child. Then, it’s not about statistics or national efforts — it’s personal.

Get the Facts

The first step is to take an honest look at your kids, even though that’s incredibly hard to do. But denying a weight problem won’t help.

If you’re worried about your kid’s weight, the first step is to talk to their doctor. Some kids develop differently, and it’s possible that yours are still shedding their baby fat. Their doctor can give you a better idea of whether or not it’s a problem.

Getting Started

If their doctor diagnoses your kids as overweight or obese, the next step is to take it in without blaming them or yourself. These days, it can be harder and harder to be healthy when everything has sugar, salt, or chemicals hidden in the ingredients. But it’s not too late to learn to change bad habits and make better ones.

The key is for you to set a goal for your family to get healthy and active, and to stick to it. By helping them make healthy habits now, you can set an example that will last them a lifetime.

Talk About Weight

Next, it is important to really talk through the reasons for the coming changes with your family. Kids usually don’t understand the link between what and how much they eat and their bodies. And if you don’t explain what’s happening, they may think that you taking away their favorite foods is a punishment.

Make sure they understand that they haven’t done anything wrong, and that this is to help you all feel and live better. Don’t put it in terms of weight or looks, instead, talk about feeling good and being healthy and strong.

Kids can be sensitive about their weight, especially if they’ve been teased or bullied about it before. Make sure you always work to build up their self-esteem, and never make them feel guilty for being overweight.

Create a Weight Plan

Now it’s time to create an action plan to make big changes doable.

Get Active

Limits on screen time, like TV, video games, and computers, can help get them moving. You can also have them earn screen time, like playing outside for an hour could earn them 15 minutes of their favorite video game.

Try turning physical activities into family time. Take a bike ride together through your neighborhood. Teach your children games you played as a kid, like freeze tag, or kickball.

Play to what they’re interested in. If they like watching sports on TV, teach them rules or plays during a pickup game. If they love science, find experiments online that will get them moving, like learning about motion, or outside, like looking at plants and animals. Ask their friends or school about groups or teams your kids might want to join, or convince them to play with their dog after school each afternoon.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating better also needs to be a family effort. Kids’ eating habits are often learned from their parents, so first, take a look at what you eat and what you feed them. Again, don’t blame or stress about the past, just set goals for moving forward.

The biggest change you can make is to bring fruits and veggies into every meal. They should make up half of your plate at every meal, and they make great snacks.

Also, cut back on fast food and pre-made snacks like store-bought chips and cookies.  You can’t control how these things were made, which usually means extra calories. Swap these for healthy snacks like string cheese, nuts, grapes, rice cakes, and apples with peanut butter.

Cut out soda in your home. Don’t allow it at the dinner table, and drink low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or water instead. And if your family misses the bubbles, switch to sugar-free flavored soda water.

And the most important thing you can do is to start cooking at home. When you cook a meal, you control what goes into it, how it was made, and how big a serving is. When you eat out, you don’t always know what your family’s getting.

Make It Stick

These changes can seem huge at first, but you don’t have to make them all at once. Start small, like setting a goal of serving veggies with dinner five nights a week.

You can’t change your family’s diet and exercise routine overnight, and you wouldn’t want to. Change can be hard for kids (and adults!), so get the whole family into it:

  • Never single out one child who’s struggling with a weight issue. Even thin siblings will feel the benefits of healthy eating and exercise.
  • Make your kids a part of meal planning, shopping, and cooking. When they help pick out and prepare veggies for the stir-fry or cook ground turkey for tacos, they’re more likely to try new foods.
  • A good rule is 90% healthy food, and 10% fun food. Limit the not-so-healthy stuff, but definitely don’t ban it. Diets with strict rules are more likely to backfire, and could cause your kids to develop long-term issues with food.
  • Find great advice. With the internet, other parents’ tricks are always on hand. Many have found ways to sneak healthy ingredients into their kids’ favorite foods, like Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, zucchini, pumpkin, or banana breads, and desserts like these protein-rich Black Bean Brownies. They’ll be healthier without even knowing it!
  • If you’re having a tough time getting your kids on board, find outside help. As parents, we all know that some kids are more likely to follow advice when the info is coming from someone else. Find a registered dietitian for kids in your area at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Eat Right. website.

For more articles and tips on keeping your kids healthy and happy, and many more healthy recipes, visit our Pinterest.