What You're Not Telling Your Teen's Doctor, But Should

If you notice your teen is having behavioral issues, bring it up with his or her doctor during the next appointment. 

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Chances are your teen's next doctor's appointment will be on the calendar before you know it. As a parent, you’re likely to bring up your kid’s stuffy sinuses or a weird rash you’re not sure how to treat. But you may be forgetting to tell the doctor about one very important issue, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed nearly 1,300 parents of kids ages 5 to 17 and found that only half would tell the doctor about their kids' temper issues that seemed worse than their peers. A mere 37 percent would tell the doctor if their child had trouble organizing homework, the study also found. Some good news? Sixty percent of parents reported they would definitely tell the doctor if they noticed that their kid was extremely sad for over a month.

So, why should you tell your teen’s doctor about things like procrastination, disorganization, and temper tantrums? These aren’t medical problems, right? You may think you can handle it yourself.

Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H., associate research scientist at the University of Michigan of Pediatrics, explains why that may not be the case:

Behavioral health and emotional health are closely tied to a child’s physical health, well-being and development, but our findings suggest that we are often missing the boat in catching issues early. Many children experience challenges with behavior, emotions, or learning. The key is for parents to recognize their children’s behavior patterns and share that information with the doctor. Unfortunately, our findings suggest that parents don’t understand their role in supporting their children’s behavioral health. 

When it's time to schedule an appointment with your teen's doctor, write down any behavioral issues you notice leading up to the appointment. Nothing is too small to bring up when it comes to your child’s physical health and well-being.

A growing concern for many teens, parents, teachers, and doctors across the country is teens' mental health. Another recent study found that while many parents are concerned their child may be depressed or anxious, only a third of those kids have been diagnosed. That number suggests there's a lack of action being taken, when it comes to addressing mental illness. Don't make the mistake of neglecting your teen's mental health. 

If your teen gets nervous about going to the doctor, share our “How to Survive the Dreaded Doctor’s Visit” story filled with expert tips and advice.