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10 Things You Should Know When You Have a 10-Year-Old

By Lynn Shattuck Feb 11, 2020

Welcome to the double-digit club! When you squint a little, you can still see hints of the baby your child once was—but you can also glimpse the adolescent they're well on their way to becoming.

From developing bodies and bullying to worries about college and camp expenses, the stakes of parenting a 10-year-old may feel higher than ever.

Here are 10 ways to navigate the challenges and joys of having a 10-year-old.

1. Help Them Navigate Their Changing Landscape

As they hover on the verge of tweendom, 10-year-olds experience plenty of change, from the increasing demands of schoolwork to their growing, morphing bodies.

According to Planned Parenthood, girls are likelier than boys to enter early puberty, and sometimes grow taller than and outweigh their male peers. This can often lead to feelings of insecurity.

Keep an open dialogue with your child about the mental, physical and emotional changes of puberty. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these conversation starters.

2. Play College Catch-Up

Now that you have a 10-year-old, you might feel very aware of looming college expenses. But don’t panic—even if you feel like you’re behind in funding your child’s college account.

If college savings is a priority, you might ask family members to contribute to your kid’s 529 plan for holidays and birthdays. If you receive any raises or bonuses, you could also continue to live on your prior income and direct the difference toward your child’s college savings.

Some states, like Maine, even offer limited matching funds when you open an account or contribute.

3. Keep Money Casual

Your 10-year-old is very interested in the world around them, and they've likely got some interesting opinions about money (and plenty of other topics). “I’m a big fan of talking to your kids often about money,” says Erica Sandberg, consumer finance expert and author of Expecting Money.

You can make talking about money a casual, open part of your lives by:

  • Mentioning a financial article you’ve read on a topic such as the magic of compound interest

  • Share your opinion about a financial splurge that you consider ridiculous

  • Open up about how you plan to budget for your next family vacation

Sandberg says, “If you’re planning a trip to Disney, you might say, ‘We can drive there, which will take six hours. That would save us $400, which means we can stay in this cool hotel. We could fly, but then we’d need to stay in a cheaper hotel.’”

This teaches children about financial trade-offs and prioritization.

You can even turn grocery shopping into a game. “I’d take my daughter to the grocery store. If I needed to get whole wheat bread, I’d have her go check out prices and report back to me on what’s on sale,” Sandberg says. “If you have more than one kid, it’s even more fun. You can have them compete to see who can find the best deals.”

This challenge helps teach your child about comparison shopping. Pro tip: Show your child how to find the price per unit to truly compare costs accurately.

4. Learn About Money Together

Some parents, Sandberg notes, avoid talking about money with their kids because of their own money baggage, themselves.

Don’t let a lack of knowledge stop you from discussing money, Sandberg says. “If your inclination is to keep kids out of financial matters, start to change that. You can even talk to your child about what you don’t know—for instance, you might not know that much about investing. Go ahead and learn together.”

Not sure where to start? Consider these 5 tips to get kids started investing

5. Be on the Lookout for Bullying

Bullying tends to pick up in middle school, sadly, so keep it on your radar as your child’s social life develops. Talk to your child about bullying. You can even roleplay or practice what to say and do if your child encounters bullying.

Ask about their friendships, and if you notice any warning signs, like a change in eating or sleeping habits, unexplained injuries or damaged clothing or property, get in touch with your child’s teacher to start gathering information and come up with a plan.   

6. Budget for Summer Camp

If you’re a working parent, you may already be more than familiar with the cost of summer day camp. The first way to minimize the pain of this sizable expense is to plan ahead. Save a portion of your budget year-round, rather than scrambling just before summer break. (Here's a sense of how much you should probably save each month, in general.)

If you’re looking to minimize the impact to your budget, city-sponsored summer camps can be significantly less expensive than other offerings. Signing up early can also net you a discount, and if you have other kids, ask if there’s a sibling discount. And come tax time, don’t forget that your summer day camp expenses may qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

By 10, your child might be ready for the time-honored tradition of sleepaway camp, at least for a week or two. But is your wallet ready? According to the American Camp Association, you can expect to spend somewhere between $630 to $2,000 or more per week for residential camp. Note that while costs associated with overnight camps do not qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit, many camps offer need- or merit-based scholarships.

7. Do an Emergency Check-In

When was the last time you checked in on your emergency savings? After ten years of child-rearing, your “just in case” fund may have taken some hits. Now that you’re a decade in (!), it’s a good time to pause and make sure you have enough liquid savings to cover at least three to six months of expenses in case of a financial emergency like job loss or a health crisis.

Similarly, ask yourself: Does your family have the money on hand to handle an emergency like something happening to you? Could they handle funeral expenses, a mortgage, debt payoff and living expenses without your financial contribution? 

For many people, that’s where life insurance comes in. Take our quiz to find out if life insurance would make sense for you.

8. Focus in on Their Core Interests

By age 10, many kids are honing in on specific interests or passions. “In the past, they might’ve done three different after-school activities—now, they may just want to pursue one,” says Keri Ann Wilmot, a pediatric occupational therapist. Whether your child is into flag football, figure skating, robotics or running, Wilmot suggests following their interests and shying away from overscheduling.

“Let your kids lead the way. As parents, we have to be OK with not signing our kids up for everything,” she says.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in competitive parenting and wanting your child to master a musical instrument, juggle multiple sports and learn how to play chess. That said, focusing your family’s time, money and energy on just a few extracurricular interests can help you keep your schedule manageable.

9. Make Sure Everyone’s on the Same Page

Did you know that Consumer Reports estimates there’s more than $1 billion in unclaimed life insurance payouts? Your life is increasingly complicated, but making sure your loved ones have the info they need is an important part of helping to make sure they’re protected.

If you haven’t already, tell your spouse or other loved ones about any life insurance policies you hold (what is life insurance?), who the insurers are and where they can find your policy info. In fact, if you have a term life insurance policy through Fabric, you can grant loved ones access to your info—allowing them to see things like your coverage amount and giving them direct access to customer support, should the need ever arise.

10. Enjoy a Special Day Together

You’ve made it through an entire decade of parenting! Consider scheduling a special date with your kid to celebrate ten years of learning and loving together.

Dream up something you’d both enjoy and set a budget for it together. Whether you choose something simple like a nice lunch out or a pedicure, or a more extravagant outing like an overnight ski or camping trip, a date with your 10-year-old is a lovely way to celebrate this milestone birthday and create memories for both of you.

Alternatively, if you don’t have the financial wiggle room or the time, consider writing a letter to mark the occasion. Jot down your favorite memories of their childhood and don’t be afraid to gush over their strengths and talents. Writing a letter costs nothing, and they're likely to treasure the document for years to come.

Watching your baby turn 10 is a genuine milestone. Take some time to reflect and celebrate how far you’ve both come, and to consider your hopes for the coming years.

Curious what you should know at other stages in life? What you should know from the first year of life to age 10.

Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.

This material is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific financial advice or to serve as the basis for any decisions. Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want a easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.

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Written by

Lynn Shattuck

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