Age: 7–8 Years
This age is a welcome reprieve for most parents. Kids this age are settling in socially and emotionally. They are getting good at self-regulation and can follow instructions well. It is a delightful age in childhood.
- Car: Use a booster seat in the back seat of the car (I prefer the booster style with a back). The general guideline is to continue to use a booster until the child is 4’ 9” (53”), for most kids this is around 9 years old. To use the regular seat of the car, your child should be able to sit upright against the back of the seat and have his/her knees bend over the edge of the seat. The lap portion of the seat belt should fit securely across the child’s hips, not up on the stomach at all and the shoulder strap should cross at the collarbone, not the face or neck. (Note: do NOT use after-market products that adjust the position of the should strap of the seat belt).
- Strangers: Reinforce stranger safety (e.g., never opening the door to strangers, getting in stranger’s cars, etc.). Identify who your child can consider a safe adult should he or she get lost.
- Adults: Teach rules on safety with other adults.
- No adult should tell a child to keep secrets from parents
- No adult should ask to see/touch private body parts (either the child’s or the adult’s)
- Smoking: Make sure your home and cars are smoke-free zones. Also, check smoke alarms to ensure that they work properly, and change batteries annually.
- Water: Teach your child to swim. Do not allow children to swim unattended. Teach your child to put on sunscreen.
- Helmets: Wear a helmet on all things a kid can ride (e.g., bicycles, scooters, go carts, ATVs).
- Guns: Lock guns with ammunition separate and in a gun safe. (Disturbing Fact: More children are killed from guns every year than are intruders.)
- Household: Reinforce home safety rules: Don’t play with matches, electrical tools, etc. Teach emergency numbers (e.g., 911).
- Street safety: Teach your child rules to getting to and from school safely, including pedestrian safety.
- Provide 3 meals and 1–2 nutritious snacks a day.
- Limit the number of fats and sweets your child gets in a day. Soft drinks/soda do not belong in a child’s diet.
- Engage your child in helping choose the menu and choosing foods that are “good for our bodies.” Offering good nutrition at an early age builds good lifetime eating habits. Consider the fact that you’re fueling your child’s growing brain. As a society, we are propagating this notion of “kid food” (e.g., mac n’ cheese, hot dogs, French fries, chicken nuggets). These have very little nutritional value. Offer a variety of foods rich in fruits and vegetables. Also try to include foods rich in protein.
- Dairy products should be low fat. If your child isn’t a big milk drinker, just ensure your child is getting enough calcium and vitamin D from other sources (e.g., almond milk, dark leafy greens, milk products, supplements, etc.).
- Eat meals as a family (around a table with no media). Not only does eating together as a family develop good nutritional habits, it has multiple lasting effects on the social support of a family.
- Model good eating habits. Teach the concept of listening to our body’s hunger cues (e.g., eat when you are hungry, stop when you are satisfied).
- Keep in mind it is very difficult to eat healthy when eating out (especially at fast food restaurants).
- Give a multivitamin daily only if your child is not eating a balanced diet.
Children this age need 9–12 hours of sleep at night.
- Should be a good reader at this age, starting to read simple chapter books.
- Conquering math skills (including addition and subtraction).
- Can write sentences.
- Engages in organized sports/games (understanding the concept of team play and rules).
- Gets along well with others.
- Understands nonviolent conflict-resolution techniques.
- Continue to brush twice daily and floss once a day.
- Should continue to see a dentist every 6 months.
- Fluoride supplementation depends on the level of fluoride in the drinking water in the city where you live (your pediatrician or dentist can prescribe it if needed).
- Media Exposure: Set limits on total media time, type of media, and review content. Try to co-view media. Create media free zones in the household (e.g., no media at the table or in bedrooms). Ensure that media use isn’t interfering with sleep, homework, activities, or family time. Utilize safe guards on computers and devices to limit type of content brought into the home.
- Sexual Education: Answer questions at a level appropriate for your child’s understanding. Be direct and honest. Always use the correct anatomical terms. Teach that certain body parts (those covered by a bathing suit) are private and should never be touched without the child’s permission. Be warned that you need to discuss puberty and sex by the time a child is 9 years old. Start laying the groundwork now.
- Social Interactions: Praise your child for accomplishments. When correcting, make the clear distinction that the choices a child makes, not the child him/herself is bad. Encourage your child to talk about feelings and experiences at school and with friends. Provide opportunities for your child to interact with other children and learn teamwork. Ensure that you know your child’s friends and their families. Discuss bullying at this age.
- Learning Experiences: Make sure your child is reading at least 20 mins every day. You may enjoy reading books together. Provide educational opportunities (this a good age for music lessons, visiting museums, etc.).
- Discipline: Discipline is about teaching, not punishment. Set limits. Be consistent. Ensure your child knows the house rules (e.g., bedtime rules, respect for others). Teach natural consequences for unacceptable behavior (e.g., deny a privilege until chores are done). Set reasonable expectations. Teach how to resolve conflicts and handle anger.
- Chores: Give your child some age appropriate chores and household responsibilities (e.g., help set the table, keep own room clean, fold and put away laundry, etc.). Having predictable, set jobs every day help with consistency and setting expectations. Teach your child responsibility for personal belongings.
- School: Meet with your child’s teacher. Become involved with school. Know some of the kids in your child’s class (esp. his/her friends) so you can ask about them and be involved.
Treat fever and minor illnesses at home as long as your child looks and acts ok. Bring your child to the doctor if: symptoms are severe or prolonged (e.g., fever beyond 5 days, bad cough, etc.), your child has signs of dehydration, your child reports specific symptoms (e.g., sore throat, hurt arm, etc.), your child has difficult or labored breathing, your child is lethargic, or you are concerned.
YOUR NEXT VISIT
Your child’s next well child check is in 1 year. If all vaccines are up to date, your child should not need any shots aside from an annual flu shot at the next visit.