10 Things Every 10-Year-Old Should Know
A Sexologist and Mother's Guide to Navigating 21st-Century Life
When my kids were still toddlers, I committed to raising them with age-appropriate talks about sexuality and media literacy. For example, when we had 'the sex talk,' it wasn’t just about the basics of sex ed (“penis-in-vagina” sex or “how babies are made”); it was a bunch of talks on a broader range of topics, including relationships, gender roles, socialization, and self-awareness.
My kids are older now, and I recently reflected on all this and came up with a list of “10 things that I believe every 10-year-old should know” to navigate the complexities of 21st-century life.
How Loved They Are (Unconditional Love): Above all, I want my children to know how much I love them, regardless of their gender. Feeling loved and accepted is essential to their emotional and social development.
Basic Life Skills: Cooking, meal planning, budgeting, and healthy eating are essential skills that all children should learn. I don't want my daughters to feel obligated to fulfill outdated gender roles in the kitchen. Instead, I want them to be able to take care of themselves and others out of love and care, not obligation.
Body Changes: It's important for children to understand the changes their bodies will go through, regardless of their gender. They need to know what to expect so they are not scared, surprised, or shocked by what they experience. When my children were 10 years old, I talked to them about the whole experience of puberty, so they could relate to what other kids were going through as well.
Dangers of Drugs and Substances: As a parent, I understand the importance of having honest conversations with my children about drug use and abuse. And it’s not just about drugs, I added talks about alcohol, smoking, and prescription drugs in there too. I have seen first-hand the devastating effects of addiction, and I want my children to be aware. I also want them to know that it's okay to ask for help when they need it.
Sexuality: This can be a difficult topic for many parents to discuss with their children, but it's crucial that we start these conversations early. Children need to understand that sexuality is a broad concept that encompasses more than just the act of sex. If you need help with these conversations, my book "READ ME: A Parental Primer for 'The Talk'" can provide you with helpful tips and resources. Parents/grownups are expected to know everything and sometimes it’s hard to admit there are things we have absolutely no clue about, sex notwithstanding. So when parents feel uncomfortable, they need to know there is nothing wrong with getting help here too.
Awareness of the World Around Them: It's important for my children to understand that there are people who are less fortunate than they are. I also want to teach them that keeping up with the Joneses may lead to unnecessary debt and dissatisfaction with what they have. Instead, I want them to learn to be grateful for what they have and to help others when they can.
Financial Literacy: Money is an important part of life, and it's crucial for children to learn the basics of financial literacy. However, as a parent, I also want to ensure that I'm not passing on any of my own limiting beliefs about money to my children. Instead, I want to teach my kids the value of saving, budgeting, and making wise financial decisions that align with their personal goals and values. I believe that financial literacy is an important life skill that will help my children to navigate the world with confidence and independence.
Personal Care: Feeling confident and comfortable in our bodies is essential to our overall well-being. Therefore, I want my children to learn how to take care of themselves, both physically and emotionally. This includes developing good personal hygiene habits, such as bathing regularly and how to clean(I told my girls to wash their “bits, pits, ‘n tits” and recently, Actress Julie Bowen instructs her sons to do “pits, nuts, butts” in that order. Smart Mama), brushing teeth, and grooming themselves. At the same time, I want to instill in them the importance of self-love and self-care, so they can grow up to be confident and comfortable in their bodies. By teaching my children the importance of personal care, I hope to empower them to take control of their physical and emotional health for years to come.
Dealing with Difficult People: Life is not always easy, and it's essential for children to know what they could expect and learn how to handle difficult situations and people. I read "Queen Bees and Wannabes" by Rosalind Wiseman and it was a wonderful way to be prepared myself, so much so that I could clue my kids into what was coming in those preteen/teen years.
Asking for help: I want my children to know that it's okay to ask for help when things get too difficult to handle alone. Dude, shit gets “real” fast. All kids have it tough these days. For a kid to know they have a parent or other important adult that has their support? Well, that is a wonderful thing. But also, making sure our sons and daughters know it’s ok to ask for help should things get too difficult for them to handle alone… that’s the real safety net.
These are the 10 things that I believe every child needs to know in order to succeed in the 21st century.
While this list covers important topics that I believe every 10-year-old should know, it's not an exhaustive list. There are many other topics (internet safety, cultural diversity, creative expression, critical thinking, etc) and conversations that parents should have with their children as they grow and mature.
I hope this list inspires you to think about what you want your child to know.
p.s., You saw my book, "READ ME: A Parental Primer for 'The Talk'" above - it provides helpful tips and resources for parents who want to raise informed and empowered children. But If you’re looking for help or advice, HMU.