Parents, Are You Ready?
As a parent, you've been responsible for arranging appointments, filling prescriptions, and talking to your child's healthcare team for many years now. Time has flown by, and it's hard to believe that your teen will soon be transitioning to adult medical care. We find this can be a challenging time for parents as they learn to let go and allow their child to manage their own healthcare.
You're Not Alone
It's important to remember you're not alone. Hundreds of youth and parents go through this experience each year. There's no doubt, this time can be both stressful and full of uncertainty. To help keep things in perspective:
- Don't forget to take care of yourself. Your child will still need you to provide direction and encouragement.
- Get support if you need to from another parent, friend or adult.
- Let us know if you'd like to connect with another family who has already gone through this.
- Visit TeensHealth to learn more about stress, and strategies that can help you and your child deal with it.
How You can Help
We believe planning early and being prepared is the key to a smooth transition into adult care. You can help your teen prepare by allowing him/her to take a more active role in managing his/her own healthcare. Assuming such responsibilities however, doesn't happen overnight. Transitioning is a process and mastering new skills takes time. It starts with your child acquiring new knowledge or skills, then practicing being independent and finally taking charge of his/her own healthcare. Some tips on getting ready:
- Encourage your teen to gradually take on more responsibility for his/her healthcare. Start with simple tasks and move to more complex ones.
- Starting at age 12, review the Checklist Tools every 6-12 months with your child, to set goals and plan ahead.
- Giving youth new responsibilities doesn't always mean they'll get the job done. Your teen could rebel. This is normal. Continue to be patient and encouraging.
- Learning how to advocate or speak up for him/herself will help boost your teen's confidence when talking to the healthcare team.
- Your child may stumble and make mistakes; that's OK. It's all part of the learning process. It's better for this to happen while your child is still under your care.
- A big concern for many parents is that their child's health will get worse. Rest assured, you will have the pediatric healthcare team behind you, as a safety net.
If Your Child has Special Needs/Disabilities
Youth with special health needs, chronic conditions or disabilities may need additional support to transition into adult care. A special section called Becoming Independent addresses some of the concerns these youth face.
- Listen to Jan's Story about letting go and allowing her son to manage his own healthcare, even in a crisis.
- Go to the Transition Resource lists for resources and links that may be helpful during the transition process.
- Look in the Getting Ready section for useful tools to help you and your child prepare and plan ahead.
- Review the Patient & Family Centered Care Tip Sheets for information you can teach your child about building a relationship with their healthcare providers, information sharing, making medical decisions and addressing disagreements.