How hospitals support teen independence

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Your child's paediatric hospital may have resources and processes to help your child prepare to enter the adult health-care system. Learn more about these.

Key points

  • As your child prepares to enter the adult health-care system their paediatric health-care provider may have resources to help facilitate this process.
  • Many paediatric hospitals are 'family-centred' and are aware of the need to find a balance between giving a teen responsibility for their own care and keeping parents informed.
  • As part of encouraging your child to be more independent with their health-care they may have clinic appointments by themselves.

It can be tempting to stay very involved in your teen's health care and not let them eventually take on as much responsibility as they can manage. However, letting your child become more independent – or even interdependent, performing some tasks themselves and getting help with other tasks – means changing your role from one of primary care provider to one of several people your adult child can turn to for support.

The choices that a teenager makes (good or bad) for themselves have a huge impact on their own sense of pride and confidence. Many hospitals have processes to help a child become more interdependent as they prepare to enter the adult health-care system.

Private appointments

Some hospitals may set up clinic appointments where they may ask teenagers to answer questions about their health and be examined without a parent present. This is often challenging for parents, with good reason.

For instance, when your child is quite ill and needs to be taken to the hospital, you are the one who is asked “What medication is your child taking? What is the dose? Have they been taking it regularly?” If you have not been in the room with your teen during their last clinic visit, you may not know their medication regime unless they told you recently (or unless you are the person who picks up everything from the pharmacy).

Balancing the roles of parents and teenagers in health care

Paediatric programs are aware of the need to find a balance between giving a teenager responsibility for their own care and keeping parents informed. Many children’s hospitals are ‘family-centred’ and want to balance your vital role in your child’s health care with helping your child develop the skill and confidence to interact with staff when you are not there.

Some hospitals first see teens on their own in clinic. At the end of the appointment, they may suggest to teens that their parents come into the examining room so that everyone can review the main points and discuss any questions. Most teens are pleased to have part of the appointment on their own and then have their parents join at the end for a review.

Last updated: March 3rd 2021