Planning early and being ready will help make the the transition into adult healthcare easier. You can help your child by giving them a more active role in managing their own health. Some important things to do:
- Review the Transition Readiness Checklists every six–12 months to plan ahead and set goals.
- Encourage your child to gradually take on more responsibility for their healthcare.
- Start with simple tasks, like asking one question at a clinic appointment, and move to harder tasks, like meeting with healthcare providers on their own.
Finding the right balance between giving your child responsibility for managing their life and being involved in their decisions can be a challenge. You do not want to give them too much responsibility so that the transition becomes too much for them, but you also do not want to over-control and do it all. It may take time to figure out what works best for you and your child.
Teens who share responsibility for managing their health condition with their parents or caregivers do better.
- Put your child’s medicine into a weekly medication case or have the pharmacy put them in a blister package. This way you can check each day to see if they are taking all their medicine.
- Look to see if your child has taken their medicine rather than asking them. Some teens think ‘asking’ is ‘nagging’, and they may resent it.
- Teach your child how to re-order and pick up their medicine and/or equipment.
- When your child is going out with friends, to school, or an activity, do not ask questions like “Did you pack your medicine?” Instead say:
- “Show me what you packed for the day.”
- “Tell me your plan for managing your health condition during your sleepover.”
These types of questions or statements teach their brain how to problem solve.
- Be consistent with the rules about health management and clear about your expectations.
- Do not forget to praise them when you see them doing things to manage their health condition. It makes them feel good and reinforces positive behaviour so they are more likely to do it again.
Supporting Independence at Clinic Appointments
- Encourage your child to talk with their healthcare providers and ask questions. Parents who answer all the questions at clinic visits mean to be supportive, but stop their children from learning how to advocate for themselves.
- Give your child time alone time with healthcare providers to talk about lifestyle choices, like sexual health, drinking, smoking, and drugs. This information is not usually shared with parents unless your child is at risk of hurting themselves or others. This may be hard for parents but it is important for their children.
- At the end of the appointment have your child book their next appointment. Have them put it in their phone calendar with a reminder of what they need to bring.