Frequently Asked Questions: 10 Years
When can I leave my child home alone?
Although it can be challenging to find safe and affordable child care for your school-aged child, it is generally recommended that no children younger than age 10 ever be left at home alone. In some states it is even illegal to leave children younger than age 10 home alone on a regular basis.
By the age of 11 or 12, some children can stay home alone safely for up to a few hours, but remember that every child matures at a different rate. Therefore, it is not just the age that matters in making your decision. To stay home alone safely, a child must be mature enough to handle any potential emergency or stressful situation that may happen. Be sure that your child feels safe and secure and wants to stay at home alone. In addition, he should be able to understand and follow important instructions in case of an emergency without forgetting anything.
For more information on preparing your child to stay at home when you go out, see Leaving Children Home Alone.
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My child doesn’t like milk. Should I give him calcium supplements?
It is important that all children get enough calcium, a mineral that is essential for building strong bones, teeth and other parts of our skeleton. Without enough calcium during childhood and early adulthood, children will not grow well, and their bones may end up being thin and weak later in life (osteoporosis), which means a higher risk of fractures (breaks) in the bone.
It is recommended that children 9 to 18 years of age get at least 1,300 milligrams of calcium each day. Some of the best sources for calcium are dairy products. However, calcium is also naturally found in many nondairy foods or added to other foods, such as some brands of juice, cereal, bread, vegetables, soy foods, beans and canned fish. In addition, there are many other dairy products besides milk that are high in calcium. Yogurt, for example, is an excellent source of calcium and can be eaten by most people who cannot handle drinking milk (are lactose-intolerant).
With careful planning, most school-aged children easily can get enough calcium in their usual daily diets, even if they do not drink milk. However, if you feel it is not possible to get enough calcium in his regular diet, consider giving your child calcium supplements, but discuss this first with his pediatrician. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the most common types of calcium supplements; another type, tribasic calcium phosphate, is also available. Actually, many common antacids also contain calcium. Avoid any calcium supplements that come from bone meal, oyster shell or dolomite, because these may contain toxic ingredients such as lead. For the maximum absorption of calcium, he should take calcium supplements in between meals, not take more than 500 milligrams at any one time, and not take any iron supplements at the same time.
For more information, see Calcium.
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When should I start talking to my child about puberty?
Puberty is that time in a child’s life when the body goes through changes to become an adult. It is important (and in the long run comforting for a child) if parents talk with their child about puberty before these changes begin. If a child is not prepared for these physical changes, he may be frightened by them and may wonder if something is wrong with his body. Children need to know what to expect and also that these changes are perfectly normal.
Parents should talk with their child about puberty (or at least mention it) before the age of 8 or 9. Puberty usually starts earlier in girls than in boys — between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls and between the ages of 9 and 14 for boys. Each child develops at his own rate, and the actual age for an individual child varies depending on many factors, including sex, family history and ethnic background. Even if your child is not beginning to show the early signs of puberty, some of his friends may be starting it already and he probably will have questions about the changes he sees.
For more information on discussing this subject, see Puberty.