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Make the Most of Your Child’s Visit to the Doctor (Ages 11 to 14)

smiling pre-teen girl

Content last updated on:
February 21, 2014

The Basics

Kids ages 11 to 14 need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-child visit” once a year. A well-child visit is when you take your child to the doctor for a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury.

At these visits, the doctor or nurse can help catch problems early, when they may be easier to treat. Make the most of your child’s visit by:

  • Gathering important information
  • Making a list of questions for the doctor
  • Knowing what to expect from the visit
  • Helping your pre-teen or teen get more involved in the visit

What about cost?
Well-child visits are covered under the Affordable Care Act. Depending on your insurance plan, your child may be able to get well-child checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance provider.

How do I know if my child is growing and developing on schedule?
Your child’s doctor or nurse can help you identify the signs (called developmental milestones) to look for in your child. This is an important part of the well-child visit.

Some developmental milestones are related to your child’s behavior and learning, and others are about physical changes to your child’s body.

What are some of the changes I might see in my child’s feelings, relationships, and behavior?
Some developmental milestones for pre-teens and teens ages 11 to 14 include:

  • More interest in their looks and clothes
  • Mood swings (going quickly from happy to sad or sad to happy)
  • More concern about what their friends and classmates think
  • Stronger problem-solving skills
  • Clearer sense of right and wrong

This is a time when some children may start showing signs of depression or eating problems.

What are some of the physical changes my child will go through?
Many kids ages 11 to 14 are going through puberty. Puberty is when a child’s body develops into an adult’s body.

For girls, puberty usually happens between ages 10 and 14. For boys, it usually happens between ages 12 and 16.

Get more information about puberty to share with your kids.

You can help by giving your child information about what changes to expect during puberty. You can also encourage your child to ask questions of other trusted adults, like a doctor or nurse.

Learn more about pre-teen and teen development.

Take Action!

Take Action!

Take these steps to help you and your child get the most out of visits to the doctor.

Gather important information.
Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of vaccinations (shots) your child has received. Make a list of any important changes in your child’s life since the last visit, like:

  • A separation or divorce
  • A new school or a move to a new neighborhood
  • A serious illness or death

Use this tool to keep track of your child’s family health history.

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.
This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions related to:

  • A medical condition your child has (like an allergy)
  • Changes in behavior or mood
  • Sudden lack of interest in favorite activities

Some important questions include:

Take a notepad and write down the answers so you can remember them later.

Know what to expect.
During each well-child visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you and your teen questions and do a physical exam. The doctor will use this information to update your child’s medical history.

Questions the doctor or nurse may ask:

  • Behavior – Does your child have trouble following directions at home or at school?
  • Health – Does your child often complain of headaches or other pain?
  • Safety – Does anyone in your home have a gun? If so, is it unloaded and locked in a place where your child can’t get it?
  • School – Does your child look forward to going to school?
  • Activities – What does your child like to do after school?
  • Eating habits – What does your child eat on a normal day?
  • Family – Have there been any changes in your family since your last visit?

Your answers to these questions will help the doctor or nurse make sure your child is healthy. See a list of other questions the doctor may ask [PDF - 279 KB].

The doctor or nurse will also check your child’s body.
The doctor or nurse will check your child’s:

  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Vision
  • Body parts

The doctor or nurse will also give your child any needed shots.

Help your child get more involved in doctors’ visits.
Once your child starts puberty, the doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during your child’s physical exam. This is an important step in teaching your child to take control of her health care.

It also lets your child develop a relationship with the doctor or nurse and gives him a chance to ask questions in private. Your child can also:

Get more tips on helping kids take charge of their health care.

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