What to Expect During This Visit
Your doctor and/or nurse will probably:
1. Check your child's weight and height, calculate body mass index (BMI), and plot the measurements on growth charts.
2. Check your child's blood pressure and vision using standard testing equipment. Hearing may be checked.
3. Give a screening test that helps identify children with depression.
3. Ask questions, address concerns, and offer advice about your child's:
Eating. At this age, kids should begin making healthy food choices on their own. Your child's diet should include lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Kids this age should get 3 cups (720 ml) of low-fat or nonfat milk (or of low-fat or nonfat dairy products) daily. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Limit high-sugar and high-fat foods and drinks.
Sleeping. Kids this age need about 9–12 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep can make it hard to pay attention at school. Set a bedtime that allows for enough sleep and encourage your child to follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Keep TVs and all digital devices out of your child's bedroom.
Physical activity. Kids this age should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Set daily limits on screen time, including TV, DVDs, video games, smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Growth and development. By 12 years, it's common for many kids to:
- Show some signs of puberty:
- In girls, puberty usually starts when they're between 8 and 13 with breast development and the appearance of pubic hair. Menstruation usually follows about 2 years after breast development begins.
- In boys, testicular enlargement is the first sign of puberty. It happens around age 11, but may start as early as 9 years and as late as 15. Penile lengthening and the appearance of pubic hair follow.
- have oily skin and/or acne
- not always connect their actions with future consequences
- want to be independent and fit in with peers
- focus on personal appearance and behavior (they think all eyes are on them)
- want to engage in risky behaviors
After talking with you, the doctor may request some time alone with your child to answer any additional questions.
4. Do a physical exam. This will include looking at the skin, listening to the heart and lungs, examining the back for any curvature of the spine, and checking for the signs of puberty. A parent, caregiver, or chaperone should be present during this part of the exam, but siblings should remain outside in the waiting room to give your child privacy.
5. Update immunizations. Immunizations can protect kids from serious childhood illnesses, so it's important that your child get them on time. Immunization schedules can vary from office to office, so talk to your doctor about what to expect.
6. Order tests. Your doctor may assess your child's risk for anemia, high cholesterol, and tuberculosis and order tests, if needed.
Here are some things to keep in mind until your child's next checkup at 13 years:
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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