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Growth & Development: 9-11 Years

Your child's growing independence from the family and interest in friends might be obvious by now. Healthy friendships are very important to your child's development, but peer pressure can become strong during this time. Children who feel good about themselves are more able to resist negative peer pressure and make better choices for themselves. This is an important time for children to gain a sense of responsibility along with their growing independence. Also, physical changes of puberty might be showing by now, especially for girls. Another big change children need to prepare for during this time is starting middle or junior high school.

How to Support Your Child's Learning Process

  • Spend time with your child. Talk with her about her friends, her accomplishments, and what challenges she will face
  • Be involved with your child's school. Go to school events; meet your child's teachers
  • Help your child set his own goals. Encourage him to think about skills and abilities he would like to have and about how to develop them.
  • Make clear rules and stick to them. Talk to your child about what you expect from her when no adults are supervising. If you provide reasons for rules, it will help your child to know what to do in those situations
  • Talk with your child about respecting others. Encourage your child to help people in need. Talk with him or her about what to do when others are not kind or are disrespectful.

Developmental Milestones

Your child is unique! Regardless of age, children develop both physically, socially and emotionally at different paces. Children of this age develop a sense of self and find it important to gain social acceptance and experience achievement. Friends become increasingly important. Secret codes, shared word meanings and made up languages, passwords and elaborate rituals are important ways to strengthen the bonds of friendship. Close friends are almost always of the same sex, although children in this age group are usually increasingly interested in peers of the opposite sex. The best way to understand the stages your child is going through is by talking to her and making sure she feels secure in talking with you. If you ever have specific questions regarding your child's development, talk with your doctor.

Social and Emotional Development

  • Likes rituals, rules, secrets, codes, and made-up languages
  • Enjoys being a member of a club
  • May form more complex friendships
  • May have increased interests in competitive sports
  • Has better control of anger
  • Prefers spending more time with friends than with parents
  • May experience more peer pressure
  • May face more academic challenges at school

Physical Development

  • Girls are generally as much as 2 years ahead of boys in physical
  • Girls may begin to menstruate
  • Increase in body strength and hand dexterity
  • Improved coordination and reaction time
  • Since some adolescents begin puberty during middle childhood, children need access to information about sexuality and puberty prior to the middle-school years

Cognitive Development

  • Shows interest in reading fictional stories, magazines, and how-to projects books.
  • May develop special interest in collections or hobbies
  • May become more project and goal oriented
  • May enjoy games with more complex rules
  • Things tend to be black or white, right or wrong, great or disgusting, fun or boring
  • Is learning to plan ahead and evaluate what she does
  • May often say, "That's not fair!" and does not accept rules that she did not help make.

Speech & Language Development

  • Comprehension and use of language becomes more sophisticated
  • May share his/her opinions often
  • May pick up on words that peers use. Your child could begin to learn new language without understanding the meaning.

Sexual Development

(Adapted from kidshealth.org)

Kids at this age are especially interested in pregnancy, birth, and gender roles. Boys usually play with boys, and girls usually play with girls. As your child starts to enter pre-adolescence, it may become apparent to you that their peers and the media will begin to have great influence over your child's sexual awareness and attitudes. If you aren't a reliable resource, your child may turn to a peer or perhaps an older child for information about sex, sexual organs, and reproduction. The chances are usually slim that the information your child receives from peers will be correct so try hard to make yourself available for questions.

If your school-age child isn't asking you about sex, consider initiating a conversation. If you have previously stated that a man and a woman make a baby, your child may now want to know how. As always, be honest with your child- kids at this age tend to jump to their own conclusions leaving room for misguided interpretations.

Children may pick up bad language and inappropriate slang from TV, movies, their friends, or even you, if you use it. Many times, they use these words without even knowing what they mean. It's a good idea to explain why the word is inappropriate and suggest better words to use next time. As with bad language, kids often tell these jokes without understanding them. It's important to be a good role model for your child — don't tell inappropriate jokes, especially ones that disparage a particular group of people. Tolerance and respect are learned behaviors.

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