With supervision, your child may enjoy helping to choose and prepare the family meals. This will help teach him good food habits. Mealtime should be a pleasant time for the family. Keep healthy snacks on hand. Choose meals that have foods from all food groups: meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and cereals and grains. Most children should limit how much fatty food they eat. Children watch what their parents eat, so set a good example. Bring healthy foods home from the grocery store. Milk is a healthier choice than soda pop. Children over 2 years of age usually should drink low-fat or skim milk, unless they need more calories. Kids should drink soda pop rarely.
Growth in height and weight during this year should remain steady. If your child has rapid weight gain or no weight gain for more than 4 months, then you should check with your doctor. Kids usually have a lot of energy at this age. Make sure there is ample opportunity to run and play outdoors.
Physical skills vary widely at age 8. Find activities that fit the physical aptitudes of your child. Ask your doctor for more information about choosing a sport that fits your child's interests and body type. Fine motor skills improve greatly during this age. Children often develop improved writing. Let your child know that you see how he or she is improving.
Finding compatible friends is very important. Children at this age are imaginative and get along well with friends their own age. They are becoming very concerned about what other kids think about them. They are beginning to understand that the emotions others experience are similar to their own.
Use encouraging words when speaking with your child. Kids have a strong need to feel like they are valued in the family and with their friends.
The ingredients to build a strong conscience include a warm and caring family, a strict code of conduct, and consistent and firm enforcement of the rules. Model how you wish your child to behave.
It is important to begin discussing sexuality. Children should be asked if they have any questions about sex. At first, they often don't want to talk about sex. Do not impose information on them. Once kids realize that parents feel comfortable discussing sex, kids will often ask their parents for information. Parents and kids should discuss the values that parents want their children to have about sexuality.
The elementary school years are a period which parents and children can enjoy reading together. Reading will promote learning in school, too. Make reading a part of the pre-bedtime ritual.
Limit TV, computers, and electronic game time to a total of 1 or 2 hours per day. Make sure that home computers have some kind of filter or parental control. Encourage participation in family games and other activities. Carefully select the programs you allow your child to view. Be sure to watch some of the programs with your child and discuss the show. Avoid violent programming and using the TV as an electronic babysitter. Do not put a television in your child's bedroom.
Brushing teeth regularly after meals is important, but it is most important to brush teeth at bedtime. It is also a good idea to make an appointment for your child to see the dentist.
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 degree of those risks. Therefore, children still need close supervision at this age. Parents should model safe choices.
Fires and Burns
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
An annual influenza shot is recommended for children up until 18 years of age. Additional vaccines are also sometimes given when children travel outside the country. The next routine vaccines are given to children at 11 years of age. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about recommended immunizations. Be sure to bring your child's shot record to all visits with your child's doctor.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your child's next routine check-up be at 9 years of age.