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Becoming a teenager is difficult, with or without a stoma
As your child gets older and becomes a teenager, they may start to feel that they are slightly ‘different’ because of their stoma and the care and attention it needs. It's important at this time that you continue treating your child just like any other – don't try to stop them from living a full and active life or fuss too much about their diet if you don't need to.
Your child will be learning to take care of themselves and their stoma is a natural part of this. Just like any other adolescent without a stoma, they'll be dealing with things all teens have to go through, including making (and losing!) friends, taking part in PE lessons and beginning romantic relationships. For ostomate teens, there may be a few additional hurdles to negotiate - telling prospective boyfriends/girlfriends about their stoma, getting changed for PE and taking part in swimming lessons plus the added level of anxiety about body image. Information and advice for teenagers with a stoma can be found here.
Help your teen to connect with others like them
Other teens with a stoma can provide a great source of support for your teen so that they don't feel so alone or different from others their age. There are a number of very active online communities aimed at younger ostomates - information about some of these can be found on our Resources page. You may like to visit a patient open day with your child, which will also give you the chance to meet other parents and talk about your own worries and concerns. Don't forget that your Stoma Care Nurse is also on hand to support you.
Stoma confidence begins at home
Even if you or your child don’t want others at their school to know about the stoma, it's a good idea to make their teacher aware so that they can deal with any situations that may arise. Teens can be particularly cruel but, fortunately, the awareness around the existence of ostomies is much greater now than it was in the past and the majority of people who find out about your child's stoma will just be politely curious. The more comfortable that you are at home in caring for the stoma and talking about it as a family, the easier your teen will find it to embrace their body image and explain their stoma to others as they grow up.