I never thought I would reach the age when the adage “time flies” would come out of my mouth. Age is one of those things that we put a lot of stock into: “I’m too old for that” or “Maybe when you’re older”. In medicine, it is no different: certain exams, therapies and processes are reserved for specific ages. However, the one thing that we encourage at all ages, is a comprehensive annual exam. Believe it or not, it’s already that time of the year again: school physicals. See, time does fly!

When you think of a school physical, I would imagine that most see it as a nuisance or even unnecessary. It might seem pointless to make an appointment just to check basic things like height, weight and overall development of your child when all those things can be observed at home, right? Yes and no. While most metrics can be observed at home, the real question is: who is keeping a long-standing, detailed record of your child’s growth metrics, blood work, nutrition, and development?

Let’s dive into the top 3 reasons our parents choose to schedule annual visits for their children.

1.     Early Detection of Health Issues:

We are privileged to witness the growth and transformation of these young people into teenagers and beyond. Kids are resilient and adaptable, but they are not immune to health challenges. Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and developmental delays are all too common today. Early detection and prompt intervention can prevent complications and, in many instances, resolve the underlying issue. This not only improves their immediate health, but also provides them with a better chance at a long, healthy life. Undetected and untreated health issues in childhood, often lead to a lifetime of symptom-management and, ultimately, a poorer quality of life. If someone in your child’s immediate family has health challenges, it is even more reason to have regular check-ups to insure they are not also developing these same conditions.

2.     Signs and Symptoms of Mental and Physical Health Concerns:

No one knows your kiddo better than you do, but it’s not a bad idea to have a second set of trained eyes take a look at your child’s health from a broader lens. This is especially important when it comes to your child’s mental health. Stress-related disease, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high in recent years and the manifestation of these conditions may not be as apparent as you think. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10–24-year-olds and has increased 52.2% between 2000-2021. Think about that: a 10 year old.

Small things like: changes in sleeping patterns, eye contact, dietary choices and socialization habits can clue your doctor in on some of these issues. Regular physicals provide a trusted and safe environment for children to discuss any emotional or psychological challenges they are experiencing. Let’s face it, children reach a certain age when they don’t want to tell mom and dad all their secrets and insecurities. Having outside support is important for them and helpful to you.

This brings us to our top reason for maintaining consistent annual work-ups for your children.

3.     Developing a Trusted Relationship with a Healthcare Provider:

Let’s be honest, having the ‘eat your broccoli’ argument isn’t the pinnacle of being a parent, but it is important that your family has a good understanding of what is helpful and harmful as it relates to health. Getting connected with a healthcare provider that can EARN the trust of you and your child is powerful in the long-term wellness of your family. We are here to act as a guide and to assist in achieving your goals for your child, as well as keeping their well-being and health at the forefront of our minds. We become a team that not only improves your child’s health but that also shares the responsibility, so you can spend more time enjoying all the fun parts of parenting!

Regular school physicals foster an ongoing relationship between children, their parents, and healthcare providers. Over time, this relationship builds trust and enables open communication, which can be crucial for the child’s comfort during medical visits and overall healthcare experience.

Consistent monitoring helps ensure your child is growing appropriately and meeting developmental milestones, but these visits hold even greater value. Health checkups, sometimes referred to as well-child visits, are not merely routine appointments to mark on your calendar. Instead, they are preventive steps designed to keep your child healthy and thriving while ensuring their physical, mental, and emotional development are on the right track.