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10 Things Your 10-Year-Old Should Not Do

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Ten is a big age for kids. Being double digits feels important—like you’re one step closer to maturity. For moms, having a kid who’s 10 years old is a sweet spot in parenting. You get to enjoy a bit of maturity, but there are still glimpses of your baby. That being said, you might find yourself butting heads more often than you used to as your kiddo pushes boundaries and tries to rush into all the things he or she sees older kids doing.

But hold your ground, Mom. Just because a particular choice is the “norm” these days doesn’t make it a good choice. To help you spot the danger zones for kids of this age range, we’ve put together a list of 10 things a kid who’s 10 years old shouldn’t be doing. We realize 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 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. If your child has a phone, be sure to use one of these five ways to monitor handheld devices.

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. Research 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, whether your kid is 10 years old or 25, the great majority of his or her calories should come from food, not drinks. 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

While some sitting time is necessary (mostly at school), kids’ 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. They are heavily influenced by the television and movie characters they deem “cool.” Movies and television rated for older audiences will feed your child a steady diet of sex, violence, and drug and alcohol use before they have enough life experience to even put those images in proper context. There’s plenty of time for them to see that PG-13 movie you loved as a kid. Don’t rush it. Use solid movie reviews to filter movie choices for your child.

6. Using Social Media 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 texting. Kids seem to say things on these platforms that they would never say in person, and that’s not a good thing. Kids who spend time engaged in social media are at greater risk for bullying and sexual grooming, so set up some guardrails like these to keep them safe.

7. Wearing Provocative Clothing

Regardless of the trends, you have every right to reject the status quo and set higher standards for your 10-year-old. By teaching kids to dress modestly, you’re sending the message that they are more than their bodies and that people should value them for their hearts and minds. Teach kids to respect themselves and the world will follow suit. If you have boys, it’s never too early to start talking to them about respecting girls and women, regardless of how they are dressed.

8. Playing Video Games Rated Teen or Mature

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 that cautioned parents about violence in the media and its 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. There are so many fun games for kids these days that it shouldn’t be hard for your 10-year-old to find something non-violent that his or her friends are also into. Don’t be afraid to bring it up with another mom and join forces.

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. 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.

10. Getting Less Than 9–10 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! This battle will have to be hard-fought. Set yourself up for success by establishing a cutoff time for screens of all sizes to help your child wind down.

Want to add to our list? What other things should a child who’s 10 years old not be doing?

ASK YOUR CHILD...

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