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7 Mistakes Parents Make With Grade-Schoolers

You may not be able to avoid all parenting pitfalls, but looking before you leap may help you miss the big ones.
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2. Not Watching What You Say (and How You Say It)

"Many times, parents think that they are being helpful and come across as nagging or critical," Mackey says.

What should you say and how should you say it? Offer praise when your grade-schooler does something that is great, such as trying a new sport. "Say, 'I am proud of you for going out and trying a new activity,'" Mackey says.

She also says don't praise your child unless you really mean it. "You can't really over praise a child, but there is a danger of not being genuine if you are doing it all the time. It is also helpful to be specific in your praise," she says. "Say, 'Thank you so much for cleaning up your room. It makes me feels so proud of you for being so responsible.' Label what it is and tell them how it makes you feel."

3. Not Practicing What You Preach

Mackey says, "The fastest way to get a child to not listen to you is saying one thing and doing another. Take a really hard look at yourself and make sure you are a good role model and that what you are doing is what you want your child to do."

This includes every aspect of your lifestyle -- from whether you smoke, binge drink, or use other drugs, to how you handle stress and how you treat other people in your family and in the community.

4. Waiting Too Long to Have “the Talk”

"Puberty is happening as early as nine, and it is really important to talk about body changes so your kids know what to expect," says Children's National Medical Center pediatrician Yolandra Hancock. "Some parents have been hesitant to start this conversation during this age range," she says.

Volin agrees: "In girls, we see the age of menarche or first period creeping up earlier and earlier. So ages 10 and 11 are really an ideal time to be sitting down with your daughters and sons and starting the conversation about puberty and body changes."

With girls, this may mean talking about menstruation, underarm hair, and breast buds. In boys, it can mean bringing up pubic hair and voice changes. "It is a difficult conversation to start, and some parents assume that the school will have health education classes on puberty so they don't have to discuss it," Volin says. "That is a really big mistake."

5. Skipping Annual Well Visits to the Doctor

These routine checkups are not just recommended for tiny tots. "You should still come in every year, and sit down with a pediatrician who is monitoring your child's growth and development," Volin says.

"These are the appropriate times for children to be educated about the norms for height and weight and body mass index," she says. "We also start conversations about good nutrition and adequate physical activity." That includes making sure grade-schoolers are getting the calcium they need to support healthy growth.

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