Patient Education For Children And Adolescents
Adolescence is a distinct developmental stage that occurs between childhood and adulthood. Adolescents can reason abstractly. Although the family can still be included in education, adolescents are a primary focus of teaching because they have significant independence and, as a result, more control over the degree to which recommendations are carried out. Adolescents must complete several critical developmental tasks. They are developing their identities, distancing themselves from their parents, and adjusting to their rapidly changing bodies. Puberty can bring on a strong interest in bodily functions and appearance. Sexual adjustment and a strong desire to express sexual desires are essential. Adolescents may find it difficult to imagine becoming sick or injured. This may contribute to accidents due to taking risks or failing to follow medical recommendations. Adolescents have a robust natural preoccupation with appearance and a high need for peer support and acceptance, so health recommendations that interfere with their concept of themselves as independent beings may be less likely to be followed.
Because this age is marked by sexual adjustment and intense sexual urges, the nurse may need to provide extensive sex education and contraception instruction. In addition to teaching adolescents about why and how their bodies change, the nurse is well-placed to dispel any misconceptions they may have about sexual development or sexual behavior. Teaching adolescents about sexuality necessitates an exceptional level of sensitivity and comprehension. Respect for the patient’s modesty, privacy, and opinions is essential for fostering an environment of openness and trust. Other important patient teaching areas besides sex education are alcohol and drug abuse and general health measures, such as the importance of good nutrition and exercise as the foundation for lifelong health. Health education for adolescents is more effective when the nurse establishes trust by respecting the adolescent’s needs, demonstrates empathetic understanding, and answers questions honestly, regardless of the topic. Instead of lecturing, patient teaching for adolescents should take the form of guidance. Nurses who establish credibility with an adolescent patient position themselves as the teen’s advocate rather than the parents’ representatives. By involving the family, the nurse can improve the effectiveness of health education. The nurse can guide and support family members, assisting them in understanding and respecting adolescent behavior. Parents should be encouraged to set realistic limits for their children while also allowing them to take on more responsibility for their health care management.
To the greatest extent possible, children of all ages should be included in the teaching process to the extent appropriate for their age level. Except for adolescents, it is usually the child’s parent or parents who will supervise the extent to which the treatment regimen or prevention recommendations are followed. As a result, the nurse performing patient teaching must establish rapport not only with the child as a patient but also with the parents. In order to prepare for teaching both the child and the parent, the nurse should assess the quality of the parent-child relationship. Some parents encourage their children’s independence by being open and honest. Other parents provide structure and guidance while allowing the child to make some independent decisions. Other parents are less accommodating and allow their children little involvement in the process. In other cases, parents provide little structure or guidance, enforcing no rules and emotionally abandoning the child. The nurse’s approach to patient teaching in each situation varies depending on the parent-child relationship. It is critical to remember that the nurse should use whatever relationship exists as a starting point for teaching rather than judging it.