10 Things Your 10-Year-Old Should Not Do


rules for kids

It’s completely natural that your tween wants to rush into all the things he or she sees older kids doing. But slow down. Just because a particular choice is the “norm” these days doesn’t make it a good choice. Think about these ten areas where you may need to hold your child back—for her own good.

We’ve put together a list of 10 things 10-year-olds should not do to help you spot the danger zones for kids of this age range. We realize that all children mature at different rates, and there may be some exceptions to the rule, but this list gives you a place to start in determining if you need to put the brakes on your tween in some areas.

1. Having unrestricted Internet access.

The Internet is everywhere: the family computer, the family TV, that tablet on the coffee table, and on every smartphone. But with all that educational good and convenience come some real risks. Consider this:

  • According to a study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in five Internet users ages 10-17 received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet in a given year.
  • One in 33 received an aggressive solicitation including trying to arrange a meeting, gifts of meals or money, and phone calls.
  • One in four had unwanted exposure to sexually explicit material.

Bottom line: Giving your child unrestricted, unmonitored access to the online world is asking for trouble. Get your head in the game by reading iMOM’s Ready, Set, Internet! Guide.

2. Drinking diet drinks.

In the war against childhood obesity, some kids and parents have turned to diet sodas to satisfy that craving without the added sugar and calories. But it’s a lousy trade, it seems. Research is emerging which suggests that artificially-sweetened beverages are addicting and may actually increase food cravings and contribute to weight gain. Of even greater concern is that there has been almost no research on the effects of these sweeteners on the still-developing bodies and brains of children.

3. Drinking sugary drinks.

At the end of the day, the great majority of our calories should be eaten, not drunk. But if your child is enjoying several sugary soft drinks, sports drinks, or energy drinks each day, he or she is getting tons of sugary calories and zero nutrition in return. The American Heart Association recommends that children consume no more than three teaspoons (12-24 g) of added sugars (not including naturally occurring sugars in whole foods like fruit or plain milk) per day. That’s about 50 calories. The vast majority of sugar-laden drinks marketed to children far exceed that limit in just one serving.

4. Sitting for hours on end.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology determined that children spend about 8.6 hours per day or 62% of their waking time being sedentary. While some sitting time is necessary (mostly at school), their time outside of school should be spent in moderate-intensity activities like helping to prepare meals or household chores or in higher-intensity activities like outdoor play or sports. Need some help to get them going? Read 10 Tips to Get Your Kids Moving.

5. Watching PG-13 and R-rated entertainment.

Kids are working hard to develop a sense of self at this age and will model a lot of what they see. Tweens are heavily influenced by television and movie characters they deem “cool.” Movies and television rated for older audiences will feed your child a steady diet of sex, drug and alcohol use, and violence before they have enough life experience to even put those images in proper context. And take note: Gritty sex and violence aren’t the only negatives in entertainment at this age. If your tween is watching sitcoms and other tween shows whose characters are disrespectful to adults, or use sarcasm and insults to get laughs, you can expect the same from your child. Use our iMOM Movie Monitor to filter movie and music choices for your child.

6. Using social media (Facebook/Twitter) or texting.

Your child wants a social media account to peer into the lives of others, especially older kids they think are cool. The problem is that these older kids aren’t always a good example. Also, your child is not mature enough at this age to be responsible for his or her own posts. The same goes for text messaging. Kids seem to say things on these platforms that they would never say in person, and that’s not a good thing. Tweens who spend time engaged in social media are at greater risk for bullying, humiliation, and sexual experimentation {Tweet This}. Set up some guardrails to keep them safe like the ones in iSpecialist Mark Merrill’s How to Create Boundaries for Your Children.

7. Wearing provocative clothing.

While there’s little official research on this topic, it doesn’t take a scientist to realize that provocative or revealing clothing promotes sexual thoughts, interest from boys, and earlier sexual experimentation. Regardless of what the trends may be, you have every right to reject the status quo and set higher standards for your tween. By teaching her to dress modestly, you’re sending the message that she is more than her body and that people should value her for her heart and mind. Teach her to respect herself and the world will follow suit.

8. Playing teen-rated or mature-rated video games.

Every respected medical association in the country—from the American Medical Association to the American  Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry—took part in a joint statement to Congress in 2000 which cautioned parents about violence in the media and it’s negative effect on children. Their report states that exposure to violence can elevate aggressive feelings and thoughts, especially in children and that these effects can be long-term. Find out how to keep violent games out of your home, and know what they’re playing at friends’ homes.

9. “Going out” with a girlfriend or boyfriend.

You may think of it as harmless, or even cute, but allowing your child to claim a romantic attachment this early is a bad idea. The tween years are a major period of developing an identity and a self-concept for kids. A University of Denver study found that allowing romance into your child’s life at this stage can cause an unhealthy mingling of romantic self-concept and overall confidence, particularly in the areas of appearance and peer acceptance. What’s more, a bad experience in the romantic arena can have negative consequences for your child in other domains. Learn how delaying romance can help to keep your child sexually pure, too.

10. Getting less than 10 hours of sleep per night.

No child can perform well at school, keep up with after-school activities, do household chores, and maintain a pleasant attitude without sufficient rest. Yet that’s what many 10 to 12-year-olds are trying to do, day in and day out. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sufficient rest is about 10 hours per night at this age! Help them sack out by creating good sleep routines in your home. Do you have others to add to our list?

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