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.
Itâ€™s important to start talking about sex with your child. Ask your child if she has any questions about sex. If she doesnâ€™t want to talk about sex, donâ€™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 and Screen 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. Donâ€™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 childâ€™s use of the phone.
Your child should brush her teeth at least twice a day and floss before bedtime.
Your child should see a dentist every 6 months or as often as the dentist recommends.
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.
Make sure that your child uses a lap and shoulder belt in the back seat of the car. Children under 13 should always ride in the back seat.
Always wear a seat belt yourself, and make a rule that the car doesnâ€™t start until everyone is safely buckled in.
Traffic and Bicycle Safety
Children at this age will generally cross streets safely. However, be sure that you practice this skill with your child when your child has a new street to cross.
If your child has a bicycle, make sure that it fits your child. Have your child stand over the bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between your child and the top bar of a road bike, and 3 to 4 inches for a mountain bike.
Your child and all family members should always ride with a bicycle helmet.
Your child is not yet ready for riding alone on busy streets. Ride with your child and make sure that your child knows to ride in the direction of traffic, use hand signals, always keep 2 hands on the handlebars, and stay alert for cars.
Discuss safety outside the home with your child.
Make sure your child knows how to contact you at work.
Remind your child never to take anything from or go anywhere with a stranger.
Children who live in a house where someone smokes have more respiratory infections, like colds, flu, and throat infections. Their symptoms are also more severe and last longer than those of children who live in a smoke-free home.
If you smoke, set a quit date and stop. Ask your healthcare provider for help in quitting. If you cannot quit, do NOT smoke in the house, car, or near children. It helps keep your child healthy and sets a good example.
Immunizations protect your child against several serious, life-threatening diseases. Your child should get a flu shot every year. Your childâ€™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.
Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2013-10-03 Last reviewed: 2013-10-03
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.