Growth & Development



Bright Futures Parent Handout: Early Adolescent Visits (11-14 years)

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Here are some suggestions from Bright Futures experts that may be of value to your family.

Physical Growth and Development

Your Growing and Changing Child

  • Talk with your child about how her body is changing with puberty.

  • Encourage your child to brush his teeth twice a day and floss once a day.

  • Help your child get to the dentist twice a year.

  • Serve healthy food and eat together as a family often.

  • Encourage your child to get 1 hour of vigorous physical activity every day.

  • Help your child limit screen time (TV, video games, or computer) to 2 hours a day, not including homework time.

  • Praise your child when she does something well, not just when she looks good.

Risk Reduction

Healthy Behavior Choices

  • Help your child find fun, safe things to do.

  • Make sure your child knows how you feel about alcohol and drug use.

  • Consider a plan to make sure your child or his friends cannot get alcohol or prescription drugs in your home.

  • Talk about relationships, sex, and values.

  • Encourage your child not to have sex.

  • If you are uncomfortable talking about puberty or sexual pressures with your child, please ask me or others you trust for reliable information that can help you.

  • Use clear and consistent rules and discipline with your child.

  • Be a role model for healthy behavior choices.

Emotional Well-Being

Feeling Happy

  • Encourage your child to think through problems herself with your support.

  • Help your child figure out healthy ways to deal with stress.

  • Spend time with your child.

  • Know your child's friends and their parents, where your child is, and what he is doing at all times.

  • Show your child how to use talk to share feelings and handle disputes.

  • If you are concerned that your child is sad, depressed, nervous, irritable, hopeless, or angry, talk with me.

Social and Academic Competence

School and Friends

  • Check in with your child's teacher about her grades on tests and attend back-to-school events and parent-teacher conferences if possible.

  • Talk with your child as she takes over responsibility for schoolwork.

  • Help your child with organizing time, if he needs it.

  • Encourage reading.

  • Help your child find activities she is really interested in, besides schoolwork.

  • Help your child find and try activities that help others.

  • Give your child the chance to make more of his own decisions as he grows older.

Violence and Injury Prevention

Violence and Injuries

  • Make sure everyone always wears a seat belt in the car.

  • Do not allow your child to ride ATVs.

  • Make sure your child knows how to get help if he is feeling unsafe.

  • Remove guns from your home. If you must keep a gun in your home, make sure it is unloaded and locked with ammunition locked in a separate place.

  • Help your child figure out nonviolent ways to handle anger or fear.

© 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics

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