Your child is entering the pre-teen years and parents can expect to see a wide range of developmental changes. Your child may show signs of puberty or enter into a growth spurt. Growth in height can be anywhere from 2-5 inches per year during this time for both boys and girls. If your unsure, talk to your PHA provider about how to prepare your 10-year old for the coming changes such as increased oil production in the skin, hair growth in the armpits and groin, increased body odor and body fat.
Along with the physical changes, your pre-teen will likely be exhibiting some contradictory behaviors. You are now entering the phase when hugs and snuggles may only be OK at home and when your child’s friends are nowhere in sight. School and peer influences begin to play a larger role in your child’s life and you may find yourself wondering what happened to your little baby.
While your 9 – 10 year old is gaining independence they’ll still need plenty of assistance with organizing their time and staying on schedule. Your rapidly growing child may have an increased appetite, making healthy eating habits even more important. Encourage healthy food choices by involving your pre-teen in grocery shopping and meal preparation. Now is also the time to put consider talking about the consequences of unhealthy choices like alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Sleep is crucial for your child’s healthy development and sleep interruptions should be a thing of the past. A sleep deficit can affect your child’s mood, cognitive function and overall health. Too much screen time (TV, computer, video games) can have a direct result on the quality and quantity of sleep your child gets and their ability to pay attention in school may then become a factor. Be diligent in monitoring screen time and setting appropriate limits.
It is sometimes helpful to introduce some sexual education at this point, particularly if the topic has not come up naturally. The average age for first sexual experimentation is getting younger, making early guidance and counseling essential. If you’re wondering where to begin, seek advice for your PHA provider on how best to start a healthy dialogue with your pre-teen.
Next Visit: 11 and 12 year checkup