Key Point

Allow teens to talk to health care providers on their own.

Developmental Information

Teens are developing a sense of self. They need privacy. They struggle with conflicts about dependency and independence. The physical and emotional changes that accompany adolescence can lead to concerns about body image and relationships. When young people are hospitalized, their behavior may change. They may become tired, aggressive, withdrawn and uncooperative.

Teens want information about their health care needs. When preparing for medical procedures or hospitalization, ask the health care provider to explain the procedure and how you can support your teenager. Ask about pain medicines that can be given before and if you can be present during the procedure.

Ask teens what they understand about the procedure, and clarify any misconceptions.Let teens talk to health care professionals alone. Allowing them to discuss their concerns privately will promote self-confidence and a greater comfort level with their health care providers.

Let teens know ...

  • That it’s important to ask questions 
  • About any physical changes that may be visible after a surgery (stitches, bandages, casts or orthopedic devices)
  • What choices they may have
  • How to maintain contact with other family members and peers during their hospital stay (phone calls, visits, e-mail, letters)

Ideas for Helping Your Teen or Young Adult Cope

Sensory

Thinking or Behavioral

Imagery

Music 

Hand holding

Movies

Squeezing a hand, putty
or a pillow 

Support from a friend

Heat/ice packs

Deep breathing

Hand-held games

Magazines/books

Drawing or journal writing

Going on a trip

Talk about a fun topic

Visualize a place/activity

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team.