Talking about sexuality with teens & tweens

by |  September 26th, 2014

Last week I was interviewed by MedPage Today about a study that found many pediatricians weren’t engaging in “the talk” with their pre-teen patients.

doctor with male patientDiscussing sexuality with teens and tweens (a.k.a the birds and the bees) is a sensitive matter for the parent and the child. And setting the tone for a successful talk (trust is key!) can often take time which we (pediatricians) often don’t have much of during wellness visits. So, this study does not really surprise me. However, there are ways to make it successful. Here are three tips to think about before arranging your pre-teen’s next visit with the pediatrician.

If your pediatrician doesn’t bring it up, you should. Before the visit, voice your concerns about your teen’s sexual activity or risky behavior with your pediatrician.

Honor the privacy of your pre-teen and the doctor. You shouldn’t be in the room for their discussion nor should you pester your child about what was shared. This would negate the trust you’re trying to establish with your doctor and teenager.

If your pre-teen is tight lipped, , find an alternate communication method. Does your pediatrician’s practice offer email or phone consultation? Many kids are uncomfortable discussing sex in a face-to-face meeting with their doctor. Finding a compromise that might help your child to open up.

Don’t forget to set the tone early. It’s important to let your pre-teens know that they can rely on their doctors, that they can speak to them in confidence, that we can offer advice and education, and, if necessary, treatment.

Ari Brown, MD

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Dr. Ari Brown founded 411 Pediatrics and After Hours Care in Austin after two decades of education and experience in child development, behavioral pediatrics and pediatric healthcare. Our pediatric associates, consisting of pediatricians, pediatric nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and lactation consultants, share a common goal. We partner with parents to help children grow up healthy, happy, and resilient!

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