HoG Handbook

The Teenage Years


Teens 1The teenage years can be both confusing and stressful. It is the time when people deeply feel the conflicts between growing up and staying children. They long to be dependent and independent at the same time. They are unsure and critical of themselves. They may be overly concerned about their bodies and physical appearance. Being accepted by others in their own age group becomes very important.

Although it can be a trying time for any young person, the teenage years can be especially tough for a person with a bleeding disorder. Having a bleeding disorder may make them feel different. The teen may even feel "defective" at a time when self-identity comes from "being like everyone else." If a teen cannot join in a popular sport, they may feel left out. If the teen has bruises, they may feel embarrassed.

Young people who feel they don’t fit in because of their bleeding disorder may begin to deny their medical condition. They may begin taking needless risks to try to prove they are normal. They may ignore the signs of a bleed and delay or avoid treatment. If you notice your child taking unusual or high risks, calmly mention this to them. Help your child to understand that being reckless is not the way to prove they can handle or do anything.

You can help your child feel better about themselves. If they have hemophilia and do not infuse their own factor, encourage them to try. Learning to treat themselves will build confidence and independence. Encourage a skill, hobby, or talent that provides opportunities for growth and success. As your child matures, increase their privileges and responsibilities. One of the best ways to promote children’s self-esteem and independence is to allow them to make their own decisions as often as you can. When children make the right decisions, they will feel good about themselves and feel capable of making other decisions. When they don’t make the best decisions, they will learn from their mistakes and the consequences..

Guiding children toward being able to make decisions on their own is one of the great tasks of parenthood. The young person who learns to make sound, creative, mature judgments about work and relationships is laying the groundwork for a fulfilling life. Allow your teenager to help fill out the paperwork and speak to providers when you visit the HTC. Your teen will learn about insurance, making appointments, and the other important information they need to know.

Handle problems with your teenager early, before the problems become more complex. Be alert for signs of emotional distress. Teenagers are prone to stress overload and depression just as adults are. Talk to your child about illegal drug use. If you notice major changes in your teenager's behavior, do not ignore the signs.

You can encourage your teen to express their feelings. One way is to calmly listen to your teen without passing judgment. It is important that they feel able to express feelings about having a bleeding disorder. If you have trouble talking to your teen or if they seem unable to manage these difficult years, seek outside help. The social worker at your HTC can offer support or information on counseling. Another source of support for your child may be group meetings for teenagers with bleeding disorders.

During the teenage years, your child may begin experimenting with sex. Talk to them about pregnancy, AIDS, and other STD/STIs (sexually transmitted diseases/sexually transmitted infections). The more teens understand about these topics, the better able they will be to protect themselves and others. Teen girls with bleeding disorders may be taking birth control pills to manage heavy bleeding during their periods. They need to understand that the pills will not protect them from getting an STD/STI.

Planning for your child’s career

GraduationMiddle school or junior high is not too early for your child to start thinking about a career. Career planning is a must for someone whose job options may be limited by physical problems. Your child’s school guidance counselor and counselors at a career guidance center can help in a few ways. They can help pinpoint your child’s interests and abilities. They can guide them in setting realistic goals. Counselors can inform them about trainings that are available, introduce different careers through summer jobs, or work-experience programs at school. The experience gained will be useful when they later seek long-term work.

You can encourage your child to work on the skills and interests that show promise. For example, if your child likes to draw, give them art lessons and supplies. Do not forget to add words of praise and support when they are doing well and when they may get discouraged. Teach that developing a skill involves hard work.

No field is entirely closed to a person with a bleeding disorder, just certain jobs in that field. A young person may dream of being a professional athlete. However, less physical work such as office duties in managing sports might be a better fit. These jobs may be just as satisfying in the long run.

Let your child know that the bleeding disorder will not prevent them from having a fulfilling career. Some areas of work your child might consider are professional, managerial, clerical, technical, and scientific fields. A career can offer more than just financial security. They will also gain a positive self-image and independence.