6 Conversations to Have With Your Kid by Age 10

6 Conversations to Have With Your Kid by Age 10

Experts reveal the chats every parent should have before their kids hit double digits.

By Heather Chaet

As my daughter moved from the little wiggly babe stage into the young kid era, there were some basic life skills that I knew to tackle with her at certain times. The whole potty-training thing, that walking gig, and learning how to read all kind of fell into place when they needed to. Insert a mama happy dance!

Alas, my celebration has quickly turned to panic. She’s almost 8. She’s inching eversoclose to 10. The whole “parenting a tween” chapter is looming. Just using the word “looming” indicates something big, eh? Yes, I’ve stopped busting a move and am currently in total freaking mode. This stage of her life will bring algebra, essay writing, and (probably) braces, but it’s all of the Other Life Stuff that I’m worried about. When should I talk about hefty topics like peer pressure, online safety, and -- gulp! -- her first kiss?

I reached out to a few parenting experts to see what I should be discussing with her, and when. What did they say? It all starts now. This age is all about setting up the solid communication foundation with first talks about money skills, body changes, and much more.

1. The (First) Birds and the Bees Talk
By age 10, “grows in Mom’s belly” will no longer cut it as the answer to the “How are babies made?” question. As much as it makes us all a little uncomfortable, if you start at this age discussing the birds and the bees and relationships, you become their resource for these topics, rather than their not-as-knowledgeable friends.

“Get to them before someone else gives them inaccurate or dangerous information,” says parenting author Traci Lester. “Besides, at this age, they are surprisingly pretty cool about the basic facts and much less embarrassed than if you wait until they are older.” Lifestyle and parenting strategist Natalie Blais agrees this is the age when parents need to begin conversations about what will be happening to their bodies during puberty. “Kids need to know the facts about their body’s development [to] ensure they are ready for the changes to come.”

2. The (First) Money Talk
One of the most valuable life lessons we teach our kids is how to handle money. Blais tells parents it is a long-term, constant conversation that kicks off around the age of 10. “This is the perfect age to begin teaching financial responsibility,’ says Blais.

How to start the financial chat? Use that ol’ allowance to explain money basics, such as saving, spending, and donating. “Most kids are getting an allowance of some sort,” explains Blais. “Teach kids how to save a percentage, how to donate a percentage, and how to contribute to a common family goal.”

Does Junior want a new video game? Blais suggests having him chip in on the purchase. “Kids this age are now wanting more expensive things,” she says. “It is not uncommon to expect kids to pay for 25 to 50 percent of a larger item.”

3. The (First) Peer Pressure Talk
BFFs. Buds. Pals. “By the time kids are 10, friends are very important to them,” explains parenting expert Jennifer Chung. “Talking to them about peer pressure is vital at this age to help them discern when to follow and when to lead in a situation.”

Use examples of situations that might occur when you may not be around. “Talking to them about what is wrong and right will also help them make good choices when they are in someone else’s home,” suggests Chung. “For instance, if you don’t allow PG-13 movies in your home, and he is staying at a friend’s house, empower him to decline the movie and offer up an alternate activity.”

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4. The (First) Self-Esteem Talk
When she doesn’t make the top score on the spelling test or misses that shot in the soccer game, your 10-year-old’s self-esteem may start to waiver. Your guidance is key to helping her navigate these feelings.

“Fear of failing is a new concept for kids this age,” says Chung. “They want parental approval more than anything. Explain it is OK, as we can’t all do everything perfectly.” Chung suggests discussing how everyone has a certain set of gifts and talents, and that there are some things they will do better than their friends, and some things their friends will do better than them.

5. The (First) ‘A Bad Choice Doesn’t Make You A Bad Person’ Talk
Say your 10-year-old fibs about how that lamp in the basement was broken or why the dog “messed up” the carpet. How do you handle this? “Self-concept forms around age 10, and learning to differentiate between making a bad choice and being a bad person is an important conversation to have,” says Chung. “Kids can believe that they are bad if they aren’t perfect at all times. Forgetting to feed the dog can be a big issue for them to process. Reinforce the idea that they are valued for who they are as a member of your family, and that love isn’t based on performance.”

6. The (First) Digital Talk
Perhaps your child has been around computers or electronic devices since before he could talk, but this is the age to really begin communicating about online safety. Digital literacy educator Diana Graber reminds parents it’s not one talk, but “a million small talks.”

Graber says, “If a child has a connected device at age 10, it is important to talk to them about the basics of online life.” She suggests that parents have conversations about privacy and reputation management as the essential first steps in forming a good and safe relationship with technology. Questions about what your child is doing on his phone or tablet need to be as common as asking if he brushed his teeth or took out the trash. “They need to know that their digital footprint begins forming with their first post,” notes Graber.

Which topics have you talked about with your 10-year-old?

Heather Chaet documents her mini parenting successes, epic mommy fails, and everything in between for a plethora (love that word!) of publications and websites such as CafeMom, New York Family, and AdWeek. While her online persona is found at heatherchaet.com, Heather lives in New York City with her film director husband and one insanely curious, cat-obsessed daughter.

Image ©iStock.com/LittleBee80

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Good info thanks for any advice you can share.

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