6-8 Years

Caring for Your 6- to 8-Year-Old

Development

  • At this age, children can learn to ride a bicycle without the help of training wheels.
  • Children this age are encouraged to contribute around the house. Assign reasonable chores to your child (tidy the bedroom, dust, set the table), and offer praise when the job is done well.
  • Encourage your child to tell you about his or her day, and be sure he or she knows to tell you if someone is hurting or bullying him or her at school. Read with your child each day.
  • Limit screen time to two hours or less each day. Be careful about the programs and advertising your child sees. Children this age should not have a TV or computer in the bedroom.
  • Set aside time to actively play with your child. Daily physical activity, outside of school gym, should occur. The recommendation is one hour of physical exercise daily.

Nutrition

  • Eat meals together as a family. Be sure that snacks are healthy and limit the amount.
  • Always ensure your child eats breakfast.
  • Limit candy, junk food and fatty foods. Avoid soda, tea, coffee, sports drinks, juice and flavored drinks.
  • Offer fruits and vegetables at meals and as snacks. Be sure your child is drinking low-fat milk or eating dairy products to maintain good growth, and for healthy bones and teeth.

Routines and Discipline

  • Never slap or hit your child; it will teach him or her to hit others.
  • Hug and praise your child for behaving well, being polite and doing well at school.
  • Set reasonable and consistent limits and be sure that, when using discipline, the priority is to teach and protect your child, not to punish.
  • Predictable routines help your child feel safe.
  • A consistent bedtime is important for healthy sleep habits.

Oral Health

  • Help your child brush his or her teeth twice a day, using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Daily flossing is encouraged.
  • Permanent teeth will start to grow in place of the baby teeth that are falling out. See the dentist every six months for routine checkups.
  • If possible, the child should wear a mouth guard during contact sports.

Safety

  • Never leave your child alone in the house, car or yard. Supervise play near driveways and streets.
  • Use sunscreen when playing outdoors.
  • Watch your child carefully around water. Swim lessons are encouraged.
  • Helmets should be worn when riding a bike, skiing, sledding, ice skating, horseback riding, skateboarding and using in-line skates. Parents should set an example and always wear a bike helmet.
  • Teach your child about being safe with other adults. No one (outside of trusted caregivers and physicians) should ask to see your child’s “private parts” or ask your child to see theirs. Your child should know not to keep secrets from parents.
  • If you have a gun in your home, be sure the ammunition is kept separately from the weapon and that these are both kept safely locked away.
  • Teach your child how and when to dial 9-1-1. Make a family emergency plan, for instance, in the event of a house fire.
  • Children should ride in the back seat of the car in a booster seat.

This document contains general parenting information based on American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and is not meant to replace the expert advice of your pediatrician.

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