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Your Child's Checkup: 10 Years

What to Expect During This Visit

Your doctor and/or nurse will probably:

1. Check your child's weight and height, calculate body mass index (BMI), and plot the measurements on growth charts.

2. Check your child's blood pressure, vision, and hearing using standard testing equipment.

3. Ask questions, address concerns, and offer advice about your child's:

Eating. Schedule three meals and one or two nutritious snacks a day. Serve your child a well-balanced diet that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Kids this age should get 3 cups (720 ml) of low-fat milk daily (or equivalent low-fat dairy products or fortified milk substitute). Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Limit high-sugar and high-fat foods and drinks, and offer no more than 8 ounces (240 ml) of 100% juice per day.

Sleeping. Kids this age need about 9–12 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep can make it hard to pay attention at school. Set a bedtime that allows for enough sleep and encourage your child to follow a relaxing bedtime routine. Keep TVs and digital devices out of your child's bedroom.

Physical activity. Kids this age should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Set limits on screen time, including TV, DVDs, video games, smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Growth and development. By 10 years, it's common for many kids to:

  • show more independence from family and begin to prefer being with friends
  • have friends of the same gender
  • read to learn about a topic of interest
  • accomplish increasingly difficult tasks in school, like gathering and organizing information into a book report
  • begin to take on chores at home and handle more homework
  • begin to show the signs of puberty (oily skin, acne, body odor). Girls may start breast development and grow hair in the armpit and pubic area. Boys also may develop body hair in addition to testicle and penis enlargement.

4. Do a physical exam. This will include listening to the heart and lungs, examining the back for any curvature of the spine, and checking for the signs of puberty. A parent, caregiver, or chaperone should be present during this part of the exam, but siblings should remain outside in the waiting room to give your child privacy.

5. Update immunizations. Immunizations can protect kids from serious childhood illnesses, so it's important that your child get them on time. Immunization schedules can vary from office to office, so talk to your doctor about what to expect.

6. Order tests. Your doctor may check your child's risk for anemia, high cholesterol, and tuberculosis and order tests, if needed.

Looking Ahead

Here are some things to keep in mind until your child's next checkup at 11 years:

School

  1. Encourage your child to participate in a variety of activities, including music, arts and crafts, sports, after-school clubs, and other activities of interest. But try to avoid overscheduling and allow for some downtime.
  2. Praise accomplishments and provide support in areas where your child struggles.
  3. Provide a quiet place to do homework. Minimize distractions, such as TV and cell phones.
  4. As schoolwork gets harder, your child may struggle academically. If this happens, work with the school staff to determine the cause, such a learning or attention problem, bullying, or other stressors.
  5. Talk to your child about the dangers of smoking, vaping, alcohol, and drugs.
  6. Teach your child to use technology wisely. A general rule: Don't text, post, or send pictures online that you couldn't share with a grandparent.

Self

  1. Spend time with your child every day. Share mealtimes, be active together, and talk about things that are important to your child. 
  2. Set rules and explain your expectations. Have fair consequences for rule-breaking. Praise good choices.
  3. Be prepared to answer questions about puberty and the feelings associated with those changes. Encourage your child to bring questions or concerns to you. Girls usually get their first period about 2 years after breast development (between ages 10 and 13). Boys may have wet dreams and their voices may begin to deepen and crack.
  4. Encourage your child to bathe or shower daily. If body odor is a concern, have your child use a deodorant.
  5. Remind your child that his or her private areas are private and that no one else should touch them or ask him or her to touch their private areas.
  6. Make sure your child brushes his or her teeth twice daily, flosses once a day, and sees a dentist once every 6 months.

Safety

  1. Your child should continue to ride in the back seat of the car and use a belt-positioning booster seat until he or she is 4 feet 9 inches (150 cm) tall, usually between 8 and 12 years of age.
  2. Make sure your child wears a helmet while riding a bike, skateboard, or scooter.
  3. Teach your child to swim but do not allow swimming unless an adult is watching.
  4. Apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher at least 15 minutes before your child goes outside and reapply about every 2 hours.
  5. Protect your child from secondhand smoke and secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes.
  6. Monitor your child's Internet usage. Keep the family computer in a place where you can watch what your child is doing. Install safety filters and check the browser history to see what websites your child has visited. Teach your child not to give out personal information.
  7. Protect your child from gun injuries by not keeping a gun in the home. If you do have a gun, keep it unloaded and locked away. Ammunition should be locked up separately. Make sure kids cannot access the keys.
  8. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned about your living situation. Do you have the things that you need to take care of your child? Do you have enough food, a safe place to live, and health insurance? Your doctor can tell you about community resources or refer you to a social worker.

These checkup sheets are consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/Bright Futures guidelines.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2017

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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