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Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Growth and Development, Ages 6 to 10 Years
Children ages 6 to 10 are more independent and physically active than
they were in the preschool years. They also are more involved with friends and
are learning to think in more complex ways.
Progress in the major
areas of development—physical, intellectual, emotional, and social—is gradual.
But the changes you will see in your child from one year to the next can be
muscle coordination improve rapidly in these years. Many children learn to
throw, hit a baseball, or kick a soccer ball. Some children may even develop
skills in more complex activities, such as playing basketball or dancing.
6 to 10, your child develops a more mature and logical way of thinking. He or
she gradually becomes able to consider several parts to a problem or situation.
This is a change from the simplistic thinking of a preschooler.
Even though their thinking becomes more complex, children in this age
group still think in concrete terms. This means they are most concerned with
things that are "real" rather than with ideas. In general, these things are
those that can be identified with the senses. For example, actually touching
the soft fur of a rabbit is more meaningful to a child than being told that an
object is "soft like a rabbit." Because they still can mostly consider only one
part of a situation or perspective at a time, children of this age have
difficulty fully understanding how things are connected.
When children enter school, they leave the security of home and family.
They become players on the larger stage of school and friends. Here, they learn
some crucial skills—including how to make friends—that they can use for the
rest of their lives.
Children's self-esteem, which is their sense
of worth and belonging, is fragile and can change rapidly depending on what is
happening around them. At times, children of this age seem like little adults
as they march off to school with backpacks full of responsibilities. But at
other times, they can be as unreasonable as toddlers.
overestimate their children's ability to make good decisions. Children of this
age need firm and consistent rules that are explained clearly and
compassionately. Effective parents are able to give their children enough
independence to learn from their successes and failures and at the same time
provide consistent direction and unconditional support.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about growth and development in children ages 6 to 10 years:
Seeing a doctor:
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Although children from ages 6 to 10
display a similar range of physical abilities, mental strengths, and social
behaviors, they develop at their own pace. Even within families, differences
between children can be extreme. One sibling may be outgoing and popular, while
another is shy and awkward. Some children make progress in one area, such as
reading and writing, while making little or no progress in another skill, such
as math. Focus on helping your child enjoy and learn from activities rather
than on measuring the outcome.
expect children in this age group to progress in five major areas:
Growth and development milestones are roughly grouped
by year of age. Use age-specific guidelines as one of many tools to assess your
child's overall development. Many factors, such as inherited genetic traits,
health, personality and
temperament, cultural norms, and home environment,
influence a child's pace at reaching milestones.
6 years of age, most children:
7 years of age, most children:
8 years of age, most children:
9 years of age, most children:
10 years of age, most children:
A lot is happening within the
brains and bodies of children ages 6 to 10. Along with growing stronger and
more social, most children gradually gain critical thinking skills and a basic
understanding of complex issues. Also, children are becoming more aware of
their bodies and appearance.
This is a time of trial and error.
Children in this age group are figuring out how the world works and what their
place is in it. It is easy for parents to be alarmed when their child has
occasional lapses in good behavior or judgment.
Try to encourage
your child's independence while demonstrating your unconditional love. A child
who feels he or she has a strong safety net at home is better equipped to try
new things and to grow and develop in healthy ways.
concerns of parents usually relate to physical growth and development,
difficulties in school, and social situations.
The rate of growth varies a lot among individual children. Some
children are small for their age, and others are large. It can be hard for a
child who falls outside the range of "normal." A small child may find it hard
to succeed in sports. Children who are tall for their age may have problems
when people think they are older and expect them to act that way. Also, some
children, particularly girls, are "early bloomers" and may enter
puberty before their peers. This can lead to
self-consciousness and embarrassment.
Help your child understand
that everyone grows at his or her own pace. Assure your child that he or she
can handle difficulties related to size, appearance, or athletic skill.
Also, encourage and model
healthy eating and
physical activity habits for your child. Staying at a
healthy weight and eating healthy foods helps children to feel their best not
only physically but also mentally and emotionally.
Difficulties in school
Children ages 6 to 10 develop at different rates not only physically but
also intellectually. If your child seems to be struggling in certain subjects
and is not meeting general
cognitive development or
language development milestones, talk to your doctor.
Keep an open mind about having your child evaluated instead of waiting for him
or her to "grow out of it." Of course, be mindful that there is a fine line
between being concerned and over-reacting. Talk to your child's teacher and
other school staff about your child's strengths and weaknesses. Keep a friendly
and supportive relationship with your child's teachers to help build your
child's confidence. Working as a team also is likely to result in a more
consistent approach. A child is more likely to know what to expect and be more
assured when parents and teachers are helping each other.
strengthen your child's self-esteem. Help your child
recognize and nurture his or her unique talents. Children in this age group
often experience a wide range of emotions that can change very quickly
depending on what is happening around them. Try to show your child how to see
the big picture. Talk about all the successes he or she has had, such as doing
well on a test, learning new spelling words, or making an impressive art
ages between 6 and 10 are a confusing and exciting time for children. They make
new friends frequently.
Most children in this age group are
beginning to understand and be sensitive to the feelings of others—a trait
known as empathy. But they are still self-centered. Their feelings are easily
hurt. Likewise, they can casually hurt others' feelings. You can help your
child learn how to be more empathetic and to understand the importance of
healthy friendships. Talk about and list the qualities that make a good friend.
Talk about how your child can work on developing these qualities.
Bullying may start to become a problem
for some children near age 10 years. Take an active role in preventing and
educating your child about ways to deal with this type of behavior.
For more information about bullying, see the topic
your child between the ages of 6 and 10 may seem very independent at times, he
or she still needs your constant guidance. Being present is the most important
thing you can do to help your child grow in healthy ways. Knowing that you are
"around" and available provides him or her with a sense of security. Although
your child's world is expanding, you remain his or her primary influence.
You can do many things to help your child grow and
Also, you can help your child in other general ways.
You can also help your child through each stage of
development by evaluating your relationship from time to time. In many ways,
you have to "get to know" your child over and over again. Think about:
As a parent or caregiver of children, it is also important
for you to:
Talk to your child's doctor if
you are concerned that your child:
Sometimes school counselors or teachers identify children
who are having difficulties doing schoolwork, participating in gym classes, or
socializing with other children. They can recommend a course of action that may
family doctor or
As your child becomes more
involved at school and with friends, sports, and other activities, your skills
as a parent will be tested. You may want to talk with your doctor if you feel
overwhelmed. Also, classes that are often offered by schools, churches, or
community groups can help you learn valuable parenting skills.
Routine checkups (usually once a year) allow your child's doctor to keep a close eye on your child's general health and development. You also can discuss any concerns you have at these appointments. Routine dental care is important for your child too.
well-child visit, the doctor:
Routine checkups are a good time for you to ask about what
to expect. Ask your doctor about your child's health, growth, development, or
behavior. It may help you to go to your child's checkup with a prepared
list of questions(What is a PDF document?).
Sometimes it may be appropriate to have your child spend part of the
visit alone with the doctor. This can give your child a chance to talk about
issues that he or she has difficulty discussing with the doctor if you are present.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a
variety of educational materials about parenting,
general growth and development, immunizations, safety, disease prevention, and more. AAP guidelines for various conditions and links to other
organizations are also available.
The Bright Futures Web site offers current information
about health promotion and health care needs of infants, children, teens,
families, and communities. Bright Futures is sponsored by the National Center
for Education in Maternal and Child Health at Georgetown University.
This Web site has information about things you can do to
help yourself and your family members be healthy. Topics address child
development, physical activity, healthy eating, reproductive health, mental
health, and more.
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities provides
up-to-date information about learning disabilities in adults, teens, and
children. From the Web site you can access free newsletters and online talks
from parents and experts in the field. Parents and professionals can find
information on building skills, recognizing warning signs, and responding to
young children's needs.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development (NICHD) is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The
NICHD conducts and supports research related to the health of children, adults,
and families. NICHD has information on its Web site about many health topics.
And you can send specific requests to information specialists.
Council on Communications and Media, American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Policy statement: Media violence. Pediatrics, 124(5): 1495–1503.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Policy statement: Impact of music, music lyrics, and music videos on children and youth. Pediatrics, 124(5): 1488–1494.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Pediatrics (2001, reaffirmed 2005). Sexuality education for children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 108(2): 498–502.
Combrinck-Graham L, Fox GS (2007). Development of school-age children. In A Martin, FR Volkmar, eds., Lewis's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 4th ed., pp. 267–278. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Dixon SD, Stein MT (2006). Encounters With Children: Pediatric Behavior and Development, 4th ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.
Feigelman S (2007). Middle childhood. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed., pp. 57–60. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Rappley MD, Kallman JR (2009). Middle childhood. In WB Carey et al., eds., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 4th ed., pp. 50–61. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Strasburger VC, et al. (2010). Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 125(4): 756–767.
May 16, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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