One of the hardest, and most emotional periods in parenting are the adolescent care years, from the time your child reaches their pre-teen years and throughout their teen years. This is the time when their bodies begin to change, their tastes change, they discover what attracts them to others and they discover just how cruel the world can sometimes be. This will be a roller coaster time for everyone involved, and this is the time that they will need you the most, even if they will not willingly admit it.
From Pediatrician to the “Alone” Doctor
The first sign that your child is reaching the adolescent care stage is the realization that they do not need you with them at their doctor visits any more. Once they reach the age of 12, they will need a new level of medical care, far beyond just tracking their development and ensuring that they are healthy. Now is the time that they will have questions for the doctor that they may not want you to hear.
The doctor, too, may want to be able to examine your child and ask his own questions without mom hovering over it all. At this point in their lives, they need to be comfortable asking any questions they may have about puberty, depression, sex, drugs, tobacco, alcohol and birth control. Your doctor will want to evaluate their physical and mental health, whether they are having any trouble in school, and whether they feel pressured to do things that they do not want to by their friends. The only way to get honest answers is to make your child feel comfortable talking alone with them, and if there are issues, the doctor will discuss them with you later.
Keeping Diet And Obesity in Check
Starting now, it is all going to be about appearances between your child and their peers. Children can be some of the cruelest creatures on the face of this planet, and it only gets worse into the preteen and teenage years. Obesity, diet, skin care, acne, hygiene, dress and self-esteem suddenly become the high voltage issues of the day. Your job, as a parent, is to keep a level head, attitude and anger in check, and teach them as best as you can on how to do things properly.
Explain to them how good skin care habits and hygiene will help them to look their best. Explain how what they eat can affect the way they look, especially when it comes to their weight and how it can affect whether they develop acne or not. This will probably lead in, at some point, into discussions of attraction between the sexes, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and sex. Best advice we can give is to speak from the heart, and relate to them as best you can from experience.
Keeping Stress at Bay
It is important that children be socialized, participate in sports and other activities that build their self-esteem but there is a limit to everything. A growing problem, especially among teens, is over-scheduling. This can lead to your teen being stressed out, anxious and feeling pressured to succeed. Monitor their activities and be ready to act if it looks like they have taken on too much for them to handle. Praise them for their drive, but remind them that they need to think of themselves first, and their health.
Another growing issue that parents should be aware of is teen depression. Every parent should educate themselves on the symptoms of depression: mood swings, no longer taking pleasure in things they have always enjoyed, weight loss or gain, chronic insomnia or long periods of sleeping, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, lack of concentration and a fascination with morbid subjects like death and suicide.
When it comes to this issue of adolescent care, keeping communication lines open is very important. Encourage your child to talk openly about what is troubling them, try to keep them involved in daily activities, and it may be time to consider trying counseling. Do your best to comfort, reach out, and offer your own counsel at such times. Seek advice from your family doctor, and encourage your child to talk with them as well.