Services Offered By Your Local Health Care Clinic

When Are Children Old Enough to See Doctors Alone?

Your children strive for independence from an early age and grow up fast. In the blink of an eye, kids will turn from toddlers who insist on dressing themselves badly to teenagers who want to take on more adult roles. For example, at some stage in the teen years, kids are likely to ask when they can see a doctor alone. This a little more complex than putting on odd socks, and you may need to plan out how to ease your child into managing medical care without you.

What's Your Child's Legal Position?

Although kids aren't deemed to be old enough to accept or deny their own treatment from a doctor until the age of 18, they do start to gather some staged independence earlier in their teenage years. For example, your child can typically start to make basic healthcare decisions without your input—in terms of consenting to treatment—from around the age of 14.

There isn't, however, any set age when a child can attend a doctor's appointment without a parent or guardian in the room. Your surgery may have thoughts on when this works best; if not, they may leave the decision up to you.

Maturity Matters

Kids don't all mature at the same rates, and some are more capable of managing things like solo doctor's appointments than others. Parents are usually best placed to know whether their kids have the maturity to do this or whether they are so away with the fairies that they wouldn't be able to communicate effectively during an appointment.

If you feel that your child is old enough to start going it alone, then look at setting up steps that lead to full appointment independence.

Start With Small Steps

Rather than throwing your child in the deep end with a solo doctor's appointment immediately, it's worth establishing a gradual process. For example, try the following stages:

  1. Go in to the appointment but allow your child to do all the talking. You're there if the doctor needs your input or if your child needs your advice or forgets to mention something important. This allows your child to manage the appointment with you there as a comfort blanket.
  2. Encourage your child to make a list of the things the doctor needs to know. It's very easy to forget symptoms, problems and timelines during an appointment, and having this written down helps your child learn how to manage a consultation effectively.
  3. Once your child feels comfortable with taking the lead in appointments, you can let them see the doctor alone while you stay in the waiting room. You'll be on the premises if your child or the doctor needs to talk to you.

Bear in mind that this process works best for minor illnesses and issues. If your child is really sick, you may prefer to go back to taking the lead. For additional advice, contact doctors in your area.