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Well Teen Visit at 15-17 Years Handout for Parents
A well teen visit
is when your teen sees a healthcare provider to prevent health problems. It is a different type of visit than when your teen sees a healthcare provider because he is sick. Well teen visits are used to track your teen's growth and development. It is also a time for you to ask questions and to get information on how to keep your teen safe. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them. Your teen should have regular well teen visits from birth to 17 years.
Development milestones your teen may reach at 15 to 17 years:
Every teen develops at his own pace. Your teen might have already reached the following milestones, or he may reach them later:
- Menstruation by 16 years for girls
- Start driving
- Develop a desire to have sex, start dating, and identify sexual orientation
- Start working or planning for college or military service
Help your teen get the right nutrition:
- Teach your teen about a healthy meal plan by setting a good example. Your teen still learns from your eating habits. Buy healthy foods for your family. Eat healthy meals together as a family as often as possible. Talk with your teen about why it is important to choose healthy foods.
- Encourage your teen to eat regular meals and snacks, even if he is busy. He should eat 3 meals and 2 snacks each day to help meet his calorie needs. He should also eat a variety of healthy foods to get the nutrients he needs, and to maintain a healthy weight. You may need to help your teen plan his meals and snacks. Suggest healthy food choices that your teen can make when he eats out. He could order a chicken sandwich instead of a large burger or choose a side salad instead of French fries. Praise your teen's good food choices whenever you can.
- Provide a variety of fruits and vegetables. Half of your teen's plate should contain fruits and vegetables. He should eat about 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Buy fresh, canned, or dried fruit instead of fruit juice as often as possible. Offer more dark green, red, and orange vegetables. Dark green vegetables include broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens. Examples of orange and red vegetables are carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and red peppers.
- Provide whole grain foods. Half of the grains your teen eats each day should be whole grains. Whole grains include brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole grain cereals and breads.
- Provide low-fat dairy foods. Dairy foods are a good source of calcium. Your teen needs 1300 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. Dairy foods include milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
- Provide lean meats, poultry, fish, and other healthy protein foods. Other healthy protein foods include legumes (such as beans), soy foods (such as tofu), and peanut butter. Bake, broil, and grill meat instead of frying it to reduce the amount of fat.
- Use healthy fats to prepare your teen's food. Unsaturated fat is a healthy fat. It is found in foods such as soybean, canola, olive, and sunflower oils. It is also found in soft tub margarine that is made with liquid vegetable oil. Limit unhealthy fats such as saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. These are found in shortening, butter, margarine, and animal fat.
- Help your teen limit his intake of fat, sugar, and caffeine. Foods high in fat and sugar include snack foods (potato chips, candy, and other sweets), juice, fruit drinks, and soda. If your teen eats these foods too often, he may eat fewer healthy foods during mealtimes. He may also gain too much weight. Caffeine is found in soft drinks, energy drinks, tea, coffee, and some over-the-counter medicines. Your teen should limit his intake of caffeine to 100 mg or less each day. Caffeine can cause your teen to feel jittery, anxious, or dizzy. It can also cause headaches and trouble sleeping.
- Encourage your teen to talk to you or a healthcare provider about safe weight loss, if needed. Adolescents may want to follow a fad diet if they see their friends or famous people following such a diet. Fad diets usually do not have all the nutrients your teen needs to grow and stay healthy. Diets may also lead to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is refusal to eat. Bulimia is binge eating followed by vomiting, using laxative medicine, not eating at all, or heavy exercise.
Keep your teen safe:
- Encourage your teen to do safe and healthy activities. Encourage your teen to play sports or join an after school program. You can also encourage your teen to volunteer in the community. Volunteer with your teen if possible.
- Create strict rules for driving. Do not let your teen drink and drive. Explain that it is unsafe and illegal to drink and drive. Encourage your teen to wear his seat belt. Also encourage him to make other people in his car wear their seat belts. Set limits for the number of people your teen can have in the car, and limit his driving at night. Encourage your teen not to use his phone to talk or text while driving.
- Store and lock all weapons. Lock ammunition in a separate place. Do not show or tell your teen where you keep the key. Make sure all guns are unloaded before you store them.
- Teach your teen how to deal with conflict without using violence. Encourage your teen not to get into fights or bully anyone. Explain other ways he can solve conflicts.
- Encourage your teen to use safety equipment. Encourage him to wear helmets, protective sports gear, and life jackets.
Support your teen:
- Praise your teen for good behavior. Do this any time he does well in school or makes safe and healthy choices.
- Encourage your teen to get 1 hour of physical activity each day. Examples of physical activities include sports, running, walking, swimming, and riding bikes. The hour of physical activity does not need to be done all at once. It can be done in shorter blocks of time. Your teen can fit in more physical activity by limiting the amount of time he spends watching television or on the computer.
- Monitor your teen's progress at school. Go to parent-teacher conferences. Ask your teen to let you see his report card.
- Help your teen solve problems and make decisions. Ask your teen about any problems or concerns that he has. Make time to listen to your teen's hopes and concerns. Find ways to help him work through problems and make healthy decisions. Help your teen set goals for school, other activities, and his future.
- Help your teen find ways to deal with stress. Be a good example of how to handle stress. Help your teen find activities that help him manage stress. Examples include exercising, reading, or listening to music. Encourage your child to talk to you when he is feeling stressed, sad, angry, hopeless, or depressed.
- Encourage your teen to create healthy relationships. Know your teen's friends and their parents. Know where your teen is and what he is doing at all times. Help your teen and his friends find fun and safe activities to do. Talk with your teen about healthy dating relationships. Tell them it is okay to say "no" and to respect when someone else tells him "no."
Talk to your teen about sex, drugs, tobacco, and alcohol:
- Be prepared to talk about these issues. Read about these subjects so you can answer your teen's questions. Ask your teen's healthcare provider where you can get more information.
- Encourage your teen not to take drugs, or use tobacco or alcohol. Explain that these substances are dangerous and that you care about their health. Also explain that drugs and alcohol are illegal.
- Encourage your teen never to get in a car with someone who has used drugs or alcohol. Tell him that he can call you if he needs a ride.
- Encourage your teen to make healthy decisions about sexual behavior. Encourage your teen to practice abstinence. Abstinence means not having sex. If your teen chooses to have sex, encourage the use of condoms or barrier methods. Explain that condoms and barriers prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
- Encourage your teen to ask questions. Make time to listen to your teen's questions and concerns about sex, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Get your teen vaccinated. Vaccines may decrease your teen's risk for some STIs. Your teen should get vaccinated against hepatitis B and the human papilloma virus (HPV). Ask your teen's healthcare provider for more information on vaccines for STIs.
- Get more information. For more information about how to talk to your teen you can visit the following:
- Healthy Children.org/How to talk to your teen about sex
Phone: 1- 847 - 434-8000
Web Address: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/dating-sex/Pages/How-to-Talk-About-Sex-With-Your-Teen.aspx
- Healthychildren.org/Talk to your Teen about Drugs and Alcohol
Phone: 1- 847 - 434-4000
Web Address: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/Talking-to-Teens-About-Drugs-and-Alcohol.aspx
- Healthy Children.org/How to talk to your teen about sex
Future medical care for your teen:
Your teen's healthcare provider will talk to you about where your teen should go for medical care after 17 years. Your teen may continue to see the same healthcare providers until he is 21 years old.
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