Your Child's Checkup: 13 Years

Your Child's Checkup: 13 Years

Lea este articulo en Espanol

What to Expect During This Visit

Your doctor and/or nurse will probably:

1. Check your teen's weight and height, calculate body mass index (BMI), and plot the measurements on growth charts.

2. Check your teen's blood pressure using standard testing equipment. Examine spine for curvature. Examine your teen to determine sexual maturity and screen for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) if warranted.

3. Ask questions, address concerns, and offer advice about your teen's:

Eating. At this age, teens should begin making healthy food choices on their own. Explain that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day and avoiding sweet, salty, and fatty foods not only is better nutritionally but will support a healthy weight. Calcium and iron are important for supporting the growth spurts of adolescence. Aim for three daily servings of low-fat dairy products to provide 1,300 milligrams of calcium. One cup of low-fat milk has 300 milligrams of calcium. Include enough lean meats, poultry, and seafood in the diet to reach 8 milligrams of iron per day. One serving of beef has 2-3 milligrams of iron.

Sleeping. Teens generally need about 9 hours of sleep per night. Inadequate sleep is common during the teen years and can have negative effects on school and athletic performance. Changes to the circadian clock make teens want to stay up later, but early school start times can make it hard for them to get enough sleep. Establish a bedtime that allows for adequate sleep and encourage your child to follow a relaxing bedtime routine.

Physical activity. Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Experts recommend limiting screen time, including TV, DVDs, video games, smartphones, tablets, and computers, to no more than 2 hours per day.

Growth and development. By age 13, it's common for teens to:

4. Update immunizations. Immunizations can protect people from serious illnesses, so it's important that your teen receive them on time. Immunization schedules can vary from office to office, so talk to your doctor about what to expect.

5. Order tests. Your doctor may assess your teen's risk for anemia, high cholesterol, and tuberculosis and order tests, if needed.

Looking Ahead

Here are some things to keep in mind until your next routine visit at 14 years:

School

  1. Encourage your teen to participate in a variety of activities, such as music, arts, sports, after-school clubs, and other activities of interest.
  2. Praise accomplishments and provide support in areas where your teen is struggling.
  3. Provide a quiet place to do homework. Minimize distractions, such as TV and cell phones.
  4. As school becomes more challenging, poor school performance may be a sign of attention or learning problems, bullying, or depression. Get to the root of the problem.
  5. Peer pressure can lead to dangerous activities, such as drinking or smoking. Know who your kids are spending time with and make sure that an adult is monitoring them.

Self

  1. Talk openly about sex and encourage your teen to wait until he or she is older to engage in sexual activity with others. Explain the risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancy.
  2. Talk to your daughter about menstruation before menarche occurs and encourage her to come to you once it does.
  3. Assure your son that erections and "wet dreams" are normal.
  4. A growing need for independence means teens may test the boundaries of established rules. Decide which rules can be eased and which must remain in place.
  5. Encourage your teen to bathe or shower daily and start to use a deodorant.
  6. Your teen should brush his or her teeth twice daily, floss once a day, and see a dentist once every 6 months.
  7. Look for signs of depression, which can include irritability, sadness, loss of interest in activities, poor academic performance, and talk of suicide.
  8. Your daughter can visit the gynecologist between 13 and 15 years of age. This first visit typically does not involve a pelvic exam unless she is having problems.

Safety

  1. Talk to your teen about the dangers of smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Limit your teen's exposure to secondhand smoke, which increases the risk of heart and lung disease.
  2. Teens should always wear a seatbelt while in a vehicle. Teach your teen to never get into a car with an intoxicated driver. Instead, let your teen know to always call you for help.
  3. Make sure your teen wears a helmet while riding a bike, skateboard, or scooter.
  4. Your teen should apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher at least 15 minutes before going outside and reapply about every 2 hours.
  5. Monitor your teen's Internet usage. Keep the family computer in a place where you can watch what your child is doing. Install safety filters and check the browser history to see what websites your teen has visited.
  6. Prevent gun injuries by not keeping a gun in the home. If you do have a gun, keep it unloaded and locked away. Ammunition should be locked up separately. Make sure kids cannot access the keys.

These checkup sheets are consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/Bright Futures guidelines.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationNational SAFE KIDS Campaign The National SAFE KIDS Campaign offers information about car seats, crib safety, fact sheets, and links to other health- and safety-oriented sites.
OrganizationPartnership for a Drugfree America This site features information about drugs and their effects and treatments. The site also shows paraphernalia associated with different drugs and includes personal stories.
OrganizationCampaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Launched in September, 1995, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids was created to protect young people from tobacco addiction. Contact them at: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
1400 Eye St.
Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 296-5469
OrganizationAmerican 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.
Web SiteCDC: Vaccines & Immunizations The CDC's site has information on vaccines, including immunization schedules, recommendations, FAQs, and more.
OrganizationImmunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.
OrganizationAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) This site offers information on numerous health issues. The women's health section includes readings on pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care, breast health, menopause, contraception, and more.
OrganizationAmerican 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.
Web SiteAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Bright Futures Bright Futures is a national health promotion and disease prevention initiative that addresses the health needs of growing children. To learn more, visit the website.
Related Articles
Medical Care and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Regular visits help your teen's doctor keep track of changes in physical, mental, and social development. The doctor can also help your teen understand the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle.
Helping Kids Cope With Cliques With cliques prevalent in middle and high school, most kids encounter them at some point. Here's how parents can help kids maintain confidence and self-respect while negotiating cliques.
How Can I Avoid Struggles With My Child About Going to School? Find out what the experts have to say.
Feeding Your Child Athlete All kids need to eat balanced meals and have a healthy diet. But should that balance change for kids who play on a sports team or work out?
Fitness and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old Kids who enjoy exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives. Learn how to encourage fitness in your teen.
Leaving Your Child Home Alone It's natural for parents to be a bit anxious when first leaving kids without supervision. But you can feel prepared and confident with some planning and a couple of trial runs.
Teaching Kids Not to Bully Whether bullying is physical or verbal, if it's not stopped it can lead to more aggressive antisocial behavior - and interfere with a child's success in school and ability to form and sustain friendships.
Sports Physicals Just as professional sports stars need medical care to keep them playing their best, so do student athletes. That's why it's important to make sure that kids get a sports physical.
A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years You've lived through 2 AM feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why is the word "teenager" causing you so much anxiety?
Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias Experiencing and dealing with anxieties can prepare young people to handle the unsettling experiences and challenging situations of life.
Preventing Children's Sports Injuries Participation in sports can teach kids sportsmanship and discipline. But sports also carry the potential for injury. Here's how to protect your kids.
Nutrition & Fitness Center You know the importance of exercising and eating nutritious foods, but do you know how to raise a healthy and active child? Get practical advice and tips.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter