boy and dogNo matter how many times people tell us to embrace every moment of our kids' childhood because "it'll be over before we know it" -- it still seems so amazing just how quickly the time really does go by.

My son will be turning 8 years old in less than two months. It has put me kind of in a state of "crunch time," trying to make sure he's having all of the necessary life experiences to get him ready to enter into "bigger" kid territory.

If we want our children to grow up to be mature, well-rounded individuals, we have to give them as strong a foundation as possible ... right?

From extracurricular activities to pure fun to learning responsibility -- here are 10 experiences every kid deserves to have before he/she reaches the ripe old age of 10.

  1. Having a pet -- We welcomed home our very first pup this past weekend, and the effect he's had on my son already is astonishing. This little guy is teaching him patience, kindness, and is also reminding him that he doesn't always have to be the center of attention. (Total plus.)
  2. Earning money -- I know they're way too young to go out and get a job ... but even something as simple as giving our kids an allowance for doing chores around the house is a great way to teach them some responsibility.
  3. Taking a trip to Disney -- I know, I know, it sounds kind of frivolous and cliché. But it really is freakin' magical the first time your kid sees the mouse. In order to get the full effect, you have to take 'em when they're still easily impressed.
  4. Giving back to the community -- Whether it be collecting items for a local food pantry, adopting a family around the holidays, or doing some other kind of service project -- kids need to understand that giving feels just as good, if not better than receiving.
  5. Going camping -- There's really no better way to teach your child how wonderful nature is than giving him the chance to sleep under the stars. And it can be fun for parents too. (At least that's what I've been told.)
  6. Having a sleepover with a friend -- Let's be honest ... staying up late, eating junk food, and telling ghost stories kind of loses its luster after the age of 10 or so. Sleepovers are memories every child will treasure forever.
  7. Being part of a team -- Whether it's sports or some other group activity, kids need to learn how to work together and play fair. And encouraging a little competitiveness can't hurt either ...
  8. Traveling by airplane -- Every time I hear a child say he's never been on a plane, I feel a little bad for him. Again ... it's really something that's only exciting when you're young. The older you get, the more of a hassle air travel becomes.
  9. Going on a road trip -- By the same token, planes are all sorts of fun, but kids need to take good old-fashioned car trips complete with car games and the whole nine yards -- like we did when we were young.
  10. Feeling disappointed -- It's awful to see our children upset. But they need to learn that it's ok if they don't always get their way. Nothing builds character quite like a blow to the ego. It may sting initially, but it's so good for them in the long run to learn that life sometimes is not fair.

Are there any experiences you would add to this list?

 

Image via Mary Fischer