Caring for Your 9- to 11-Year-Old

9-11 Years

Caring for Your 9- to 11-Year-Old

Development

  • Encourage your child to contribute around the house. Assign reasonable chores and offer praise when the job is done well. This teaches your child to help others, and also instills a sense of self-sufficiency and satisfaction.
  • Encourage your child to tell you about his or her day, and to tell you if someone is hurting or bullying him or her at school.
  • Limit screen time to two hours or less each day. Children this age should not have a TV or computer in the bedroom.
  • Set aside time to actively play with your child. Regular physical activity is fun and healthy. The recommendation is one hour of physical exercise daily.
  • Answer your child’s questions about his or her changing body. Your child’s doctor can help you start a conversation about puberty and sex. There are also several good kid-friendly, age-appropriate books on the subject that you can review with your child.
  • Hygiene is increasingly important. Daily bathing should be encouraged and older children may need to begin using deodorant.

Nutrition

  • Eat meals together as a family, whenever possible.
  • 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 healthy bones and teeth. Three servings of dairy and five servings of fruits/vegetables are encouraged daily.

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 trying hard in school.
  • Set reasonable and consistent limits. When using discipline, the priority is to teach and protect your child, not to punish.
  • Be a role model for your child. Show your child how to use appropriate words when angry, advocate for your child in school and apologize if you have made a mistake.

Oral Health

  • Ensure that your child brushes his or her teeth twice a day, using toothpaste with fluoride. Daily flossing is encouraged.
  • Permanent teeth will grow in place of the baby teeth that are falling out. Your child should see a dentist every six months for routine checkups.
  • If possible, your child should wear a mouth guard during contact sports.

Safety

  • Supervise your child while playing with friends. Know who your child spends time with, inside and outside of school.
  • Use sunscreen when spending time outdoors.
  • Watch your child carefully around water. Swim lessons are encouraged.
  • A helmet should be worn when riding a bike, skiing, sledding, ice skating, horseback riding, skateboarding and in-line skating.
  • Teach your child how to be safe with other adults. Explain that no one (outside of trusted caregivers and physicians) should ask to see your child’s “private parts” or ask your child to see theirs. Encourage children not to keep secrets from parents.
  • Educate your child about the dangers of cigarettes, alcohol and drug use. Your child’s doctor can help you with this conversation, but it is important for your children to know they can come to you with any questions.
  • 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.
  • The back seat of the vehicle is the safest place for children under 13 years old. All passengers should wear a seat and shoulder belt. Parents should serve as a role model and always buckle up.

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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