9 Biggest Questions Parents Ask About Their School-Age Kids

Expert answers about about children ages 6 to 10
9 Biggest Questions Parents Ask About Their School-Age Kids

It’s often a confusing time. Your doting little son or daughter is transforming before your eyes — growing taller, leaner and more articulate. You probably have a lot of questions: Is she getting the right nutrition? How can you curb his video time? Is her development “normal”?

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To help you through this changing childhood landscape, pediatrician Hanan Nashed, MD, answers common questions from the parents of children ages 6 to 10:

Q: How can I help my child with problems completing school work?

A: Kids thrive best when they are in a structured environment.

In each grade, teachers expect students to spend a certain amount of time on homework. Talk to your child’s teacher to understand the goals and structure around that. If homework generally takes two hours and your child can’t sit for that long, break it into chunks.

Avoid TV or other distractions during homework time. Put your child in a quiet, comfortable setting. You may need to sit with them some at the beginning to help keep them focused, but once they get into a routine they will start doing it more on their own.

Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends kids participate in physical activity each day.

Try to schedule some activities after school, and remember to balance it with their load of homework. Give your kids some choices and options when it comes to extracurricular activities. Studies show that the results are better when kids are involved in making decisions. But use your judgment too.

Q: How much screen time is OK for a grade school-aged child?

A: The AAP recommends no more than two hours a day, including TV and electronics. I feel that if we can do less, it is even better for children.

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We encourage families to restrict the use of televisions/gaming systems in the bedroom because they can create a bad habit, and parents can lose control over what children are watching and what video games they are playing.

Q: What’s the best way to manage a child’s internet use?

A: Talk to your children about safety online, including social media and online predators, at ages 9 and 10. Provide supervision when it comes to internet surfing, and lock out websites that are problematic.

Go over texting and messaging and share with them how you feel about it. Set the rules from the get-go about how much they can do and why.

Q: How many hours of sleep should a school-aged child get?

A: The goal is 10 to 11 hours a night. If they are getting this amount and waking up tired, if they can’t sleep, or if they sleep way too much, visit your child’s doctor so he or she can make sure they don’t have an issue like a sleep disorder or depression.

Q: What should a parent know about puberty for children at this age?

A: The average age when girls start their period is about 11 to 12. But puberty starts three to four years before that.

It varies by the person, but around 8 or 9, they may start having breast changes and other signs of puberty. Girls may complain about breast pain, and this is often a sign of puberty — including pain and tenderness on one side. This is a normal progression of becoming a woman.

Q: What should a school-aged child be drinking: juice, milk or water?

A: We follow AAP recommendations when it comes to serving kids sugary drinks, which shouldn’t exceed 4 ounces a day.

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We suggest that kids diet should include

  • Three cups of milk a day — low-fat or 2%.
  • At least 21 ounces of water a day.
  • If you really want to give juice — no more than 4 ounces daily.

Q: How many servings of fruits and vegetables should a school-aged child eat?

A: We push for five to six servings a day of fruits and vegetables. The best bet is not to have junk food in the house so if a child gets hungry, they have healthy options available. Even if they don’t really like fruit and veggies, be consistent in offering them to help build healthy habits.

Q: What about multivitamins — do they need those?

A: If you think your child’s diet is incomplete, you can buy vitamins, but if they are getting enough of what they need from their food, I don’t think children this age need vitamins. You want them to eat as healthy as possible instead of supplementing.

Q: Does a 10-year old need the HPV vaccine?

A: AAP recommends both girls and boys to receive HPV vaccine, and we begin talking about it at ages 10 and 11. Deciding when to get them is up to you, but the vaccinations are most effective if they are given before youths become sexually active.

It is important to make yourself available to talk to your children about sexual activity, nutrition, schools and any other issues at this time. You want them to feel comfortable talking with you because the relationship you build with them now will help you stay close as they get older.

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