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

The Basics
Kids need to go to the doctor or nurse for a “well-child visit” once a year between the ages of 11 and 14.

Take Action!
Have your child write down questions for the doctor.

Start Today: Small Steps

The Basics

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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 to make sure she is healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

At a well-child visit, the doctor or nurse can help catch any problems early, when they may be easier to treat.

To make the most of the visit:

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover well-child visits. Depending on your insurance plan, your child may be able to get well-child checkups at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

How do I know if my child is growing and developing on schedule?

Your child’s doctor or nurse can help you identify “developmental milestones,” the new skills that children usually develop by a certain age. 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 in your child’s body.

Visit these websites to learn more:

What are some changes I might see in my child’s feelings, relationships, and behavior?

Developmental milestones for pre-teens and teens ages 11 to 14 include:

This is also a time when some kids may start showing signs of depression or eating disorders.

What are some 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 starts between ages 9 and 13. For boys, it usually starts between ages 10 and 13.

You can help by giving your child information about what changes to expect during puberty. You can also encourage your child to talk about puberty with the doctor or another trusted adult, like a teacher or school nurse.

To get ideas for answering questions from your child, check out these questions middle schoolers ask about puberty.

Take Action!

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

Gather important information.

Take any medical records you have to the appointment, including a record of shots your child has received.

Make a list of any important changes in your child’s life since the last visit, like a:

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

Help your child get more involved in visits to the doctor.

Once your child starts puberty, the doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during your child’s physical exam. This lets your child develop a relationship with the doctor or nurse and ask questions in private. It's an important step in teaching your child to take control of his health care.

 Your child can also:

For more ideas,  check out these tips to help teens take charge of their health care. External Links Disclaimer Logo 

Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor.

Before the well-child visit, write down 3 to 5 questions you have. This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

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

Ask what to do if your child gets sick. 

Make sure you know how to get in touch with a doctor or nurse when the office is closed. Ask how to get hold of the doctor on call, or if there's a nurse information service you can call at night or on the weekend. 

Know what to expect.

During each well-child visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you questions, do a physical exam, and update your child’s medical history. You'll also be able to ask your questions and discuss any problems. 

The doctor or nurse will ask you and your child questions.

The doctor or nurse may ask about:

The answers to questions like these will help the doctor or nurse make sure your child is healthy and developing normally. See a list of other questions the doctor may ask [PDF - 1.3 MB]. External Links Disclaimer Logo

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

To check your child’s body, the doctor or nurse will:

The doctor or nurse will pay special attention to signs of certain issues. 

The doctor or nurse will offer additional help if your child may be:

And if your child may be having sex, the doctor or nurse will talk to your child about preventing STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and pregnancy.

The doctor or nurse will make sure you and your child have the resources you need.

This may include telling you and your child about:

If necessary, the doctor or nurse may also refer your child to a specialist.

Start Today: Small Steps

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