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Growth and Development, Ages 6 to 10 Years (cont.)

Common Concerns

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.

Common concerns of parents usually relate to physical growth and development, difficulties in school, and social situations.

Issues related to physical appearance and skills

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.

Work on ways to 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 project.

Socialization

The 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.

  • Equip your child with ways to deal with and avoid being bullied.
  • If your child engages in bullying behavior, address the problem right away. Talk about how his or her words and actions affect other people. You play an important role in making your child aware of others' feelings.
  • Involve parents and other adults who are around where the problems occur. For example, talk to staff and teachers at your child's school in situations that include classmates.

For more information about bullying, see the topic Bullying.

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