Eating meals together as a family has many benefits. Mealtime is a great time to let your child tell you about her interests, concerns, and worries. Encourage your child to talk and to listen to others as they share stories and experiences. This helps keep your family feeling close and connected. Children who have meals with their families are less likely to smoke, drink, and abuse drugs, and more likely to do well in school.
Serve meals that have foods from all food groups: meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and cereals and grains. Involve your children with meal planning and writing grocery lists. Try salads with low-fat dressing and homemade vegetable soups as appetizers. Limit high-fat foods, sweets, and large serving sizes. Keep healthy snacks on hand.
Many girls and a few boys have a growth spurt at this age as they start sexual development (puberty). Girls usually start puberty 1 or 2 years earlier than boys.
Doing well in school is very important at this age. Make sure your child takes responsibility for bringing schoolwork home and has a good place to study at home.
Help your child get involved in school clubs, sports, and other activities. Sports should be fun, rather than focused on winning and losing. Make sure your child gets plenty of physical activity each day.
Ten-year-olds like doing chores. Your child will enjoy hearing from you that she has done a chore well. It is important for your child to start thinking of herself as capable of doing things well. Ask your healthcare provider for help if your child doesn't believe she can do chores or other tasks well or often says negative things about herself.
Kids want to dress the way their friends dress. This is important for your child and, within reason, you should respect your child's choices. Your child will also use words that may be unique to her peers, age group, or pop culture. Again, within reason, give your child the freedom to make these choices.
It’s important to start talking about sex with your child. Ask your child if she has any questions about sex. If she doesn’t want to talk about sex, don’t force information on her. Once your child realizes that you feel comfortable discussing sex, she may ask you for information. Talk about the values you have about sexuality.
Your child should be able to make many decisions without adult supervision at school, on the playground, at home, and in the neighborhood. Your child knows the rules, and the need for rules. Let your child know that she should be responsible for her actions and expect responsible behavior from her friends and peers. Discuss with your child how to make good choices in the company of friends.
Parents are very important in the life of a 10-year-old and they will often copy your healthy and unhealthy behaviors. The parent of the same gender as your child plays a particularly important role at this time.
Reading is very important for 10-year-olds. Let your child read and tell you stories from books several times per week.
Limit screen time (TV, video games, computers, tablets, and cell phones) to no more than 1 or 2 hours a day. Encourage your child to participate in family games and other activities the rest of the time. Carefully select the programs you allow your child to view. Be sure to watch and discuss some of the programs with your child. Don’t put a TV in your child's bedroom. Having a TV, computer, or video game in your child's bedroom increases your child's risk for obesity, sleep disorders, and attention problems.
Schools, libraries, and many homes have Internet access. This can be a useful tool to help with homework and help your child learn. However, spending a lot of time on the computer may isolate kids. It also takes time away from sleep, exercise, or activities with others. Set up rules and monitor your child's use of the Internet. Make sure that home computers have some kind of filter or parental control. Your child should not be exposed to shows or games with violent or sexual themes.
Children often want a cell phone at this age. Consider how mature your child is and how your child will use the phone. Cell phones can be distracting and keep your child from face-to-face communication. Cell phones can also expose your child to cyber bullying (use of the cell phone to send or post text or pictures meant to hurt or embarrass your child). If you decide to give your child a cell phone, set careful guidelines and monitor your child’s use of the phone.
Accidents are the number one cause of deaths in children. Kids like to take risks at this age but are not well prepared to judge the dangers. You should model safe choices.
Traffic and Bicycle Safety
Immunizations protect your child against several serious, life-threatening diseases. Your child should get a flu shot every year. Your child’s healthcare provider will let you know if your child is up to date on all recommended vaccinations. Be sure to bring your child's shot record to all visits with your provider.
A routine checkup every year is recommended.