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Stay-at-home guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic has kept many people behind doors for more than a year, but it is important that parents continue to focus on ways they can help protect their adolescent’s physical and emotional well-being.

Pediatrician Dr. Todd Wolynn, President & CEO of Kids Plus Pediatrics in Pittsburgh, PA, suggests parents consider the following tips to help keep adolescents healthy in the coming months.

1. Schedule health wellness visits:

While many parents delayed or cancelled routine wellness visits for their children in 2020, now may be the time to schedule your child’s wellness visit. It’s important to know that healthcare providers are working to keep in-person visits as safe as possible. This includes appointments for your child’s pediatrician checkups, dental, and eye care.

And don’t forget to ask your child’s doctor about health concerns that may not seem pressing right now but could potentially become serious in the future. For example, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can affect both males and females. For most people, HPV clears by itself. But, for those who do not clear the virus, it can cause certain cancers and diseases later in life. It’s important to talk to your child’s doctor to learn more about HPV and related cancers.

2. Be vigilant with your child’s emotional well-being:

While we’re still awaiting long-term data on the possible impact of the pandemic on social, emotional, and mental well-being, the CDC notes that trauma during adolescence may have long-term consequences. According to the CDC, some ways that parents can help provide stability and support to adolescents include maintaining a normal routine, helping them stay socially connected, and learning how to recognize and address their fear and stress.

3. Ensure your adolescent is exercising regularly:

According to the CDC, regular physical activity in adolescents can help improve academic performance and memory, and can help prevent risk factors for various health conditions like heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Adolescents should do at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. You can help incorporate exercise into your child’s daily routine by encouraging them to sign up for a sport or even by taking walks as a family after dinner.

“The coming months are an important time for parents to focus on aspects of their child’s health that may have been neglected in the last year,” says Dr. Wolynn. “Now is an important time to catch up on any missed wellness and routine immunization visits, and to discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s overall health with their doctor.” For more information on how you can help protect your child’s health, reach out to your child’s doctor.

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