At the Doctor's Office
Regular well-child examinations by a doctor are essential for keeping kids healthy and up-to-date on their immunizations. A checkup also is an opportunity to talk to the doctor about developmental and safety issues and to ask any questions you might have about your child's overall health. As kids grow, they can also ask their own questions about their health and changing body.
At a typical yearly exam, the doctor will weigh and measure your child to check progress along a normal pattern of growth. The doctor will perform a complete physical exam and check blood pressure.
During the visit, your child also may be screened for anemia, blood or protein in the urine, and exposure to tuberculosis, and you may be asked about your family's history of cardiovascular disease and hyperlipidemia (an excess of cholesterol and/or other fats in the blood).
Your child will also be checked for scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and for signs of puberty. Kids who have not received the varicella vaccine or have not had chickenpox (varicella) should be immunized.
The doctor might also ask about your child's sleep, exercise, and eating habits. A yearly exam also lets older kids talk with their doctors about any questions they have on sexual development.
In addition, the doctor may instruct your child about the importance of personal care and hygiene to maintain good health; warn against using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs; and emphasize safety, (wearing a bicycle helmet, using seat belts, etc.).
The doctor should also ask about and provide counseling on behavioral issues, learning problems, difficulties at school, and emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
As your child becomes a teenager, the doctor may ask you to leave the room to allow a more private conversation. It's an important part of kids moving toward independence and taking responsibility for their own health.
If You Suspect a Medical Problem
Parents can usually judge by a variety of symptoms, and their child's appearance, if their child is sick enough for a visit to the doctor. Some symptoms that may require a doctor's attention include:
- changes in weight or eating habits
- changes in behavior or sleep patterns
- failure to progress in height or pubertal development as expected
- menstrual problems
- temperature over 102ºF (38.9ºC) that lasts or recurs
- frequent or lasting vomiting or diarrhea
- signs of a skin infection or an unusual or persistent rash
- frequent sore throats
- stubborn cough, wheezing, or other breathing problems
- localized pain
Typical Medical Problems
Among the typical problems found in this age group are sleep disorders, bedwetting, strep throat, and colds. Preteens also may experience sports injuries, and many kids develop stress-related stomachaches or headaches. Although rarely serious, if the problem persists, call your doctor.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Immunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|CDC: Pre-teen and Teen Vaccines CDC site provides materials in English and Spanish for parents, teens, pre-teens, and health care providers about vaccines and the diseases they prevent.|
|Fitness and Your 6- to 12-Year-Old Kids who are 6 to 12 years old need physical activity to build strength, coordination, confidence, and to lay the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle.|
|Talking to Your Daughter About Puberty Help your daughter prepare for the changes that puberty will bring before she takes her first steps toward adulthood.|
|Growth and Your 6- to 12-Year-Old As kids grow from grade-schoolers to preteens, there continues to be a wide range of "normal" as far as height, weight, and shape.|
|Connecting With Your Preteen As your preteen becomes more independent, staying connected may seem like more of a challenge. But it's as important as ever – here are some tips.|
|Talking to Your Child About Puberty Talking to kids about puberty is an important job for parents, especially because kids often hear about sex and relationships from unreliable sources. Here are some tips.|
|Understanding Puberty Puberty was awkward enough when you were the one going through it. So how can you help your kids through all the changes?|
|Communication and Your 6- to 12-Year-Old Communicating with a child is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding experiences for both parent and child. Learn how to connect with your 6- to 12-year-old.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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