Having a relationship with a regular family practice team is important for all of us, no matter our age. But there’s one group of people who can get left behind: whether it’s from shyness, fear of others finding out, or worries about being judged or told-off.
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Building their own relationship with health care providers is one of many rites of passage that teenagers undertake as they begin to form some of their own networks and resources in the world.
Every family, teenager and practice is different – but the time will come for all, when visits become less shared, and more private affairs.
There’s no hard and fast rule for when the time is right, but certain ages and stages tend to start things rolling. Puberty is often a time when younger people crave more privacy and control over their own health. They’ll also be starting to take greater responsibility for their own health and lifestyle choices around this time.
Sometime between the ages of 12-16 is when many general practice teams suggest beginning to divide appointments up to allow a portion of time for the doctor and younger person to talk alone. Even just five minutes to start with can give either doctor or teen patient a chance to raise any issues that might not feel so comfortable in front of mum or dad.
Many factors, including ongoing or newly developing medical conditions, might influence whether or not it’s a good idea for a parent to attend when a young person is at that in-between age. It’s a good idea to check with your GP whether he or she is comfortable for your child turning up on their own, once you’ve started to make the transition.