What to Expect: Age 9
The rapid growth seen in younger children can often disappear by the time your child turns nine. Many of the changes parents will experience shift to social and emotional differences during the ninth year. How can you tell if your child is developing in an age-appropriate way when compared to their peers?
The best way to make sure your child is on track is to consider the developmental milestones for each age group. As your child enters into the pre-pubescent years, these milestones become a little more generalized than they were in the previous years. Reflect on your child’s overall behavior to determine if they meet some of these classic standards for a nine-year-old.
Social and Emotional
This is the area where children will see the most growth this year. Independence becomes essential to children nearing this age, even if they began to develop it in the years prior. They take their friendships and relationships with peers far more seriously. In fact, friendships become much deeper, and the importance of these friendships grows significantly.
Parents may start to notice their child is more susceptible to peer pressure. It’s quite possible for children who have low self-esteem to be easily persuaded. Be sure to have plenty of conversations about setting boundaries and choosing good friends during this time.
You should pay careful attention to your child’s sense of self-worth. They may begin to develop a negative view of their bodies throughout all of the changes. Many children will start to develop eating issues around this age, according to the CDC.
For some children, there may be no physical changes this year. Others may begin to experience the beginning stages of puberty though. Be sure to have open and frank conversations with your child about the changes their body is about to undergo. This may mean discussing the growth of body hair or the development of breasts in girls.
Depending on your child’s physical maturity, this may still be a few years away. However, it’s important to have these conversations early, so children have the opportunity to ask questions.
Your nine-year-old is gaining an even longer attention span. In areas that interest them, they may even be able to focus for hours at a time. Parents can encourage their child to make greater academic gains in these areas.
They are far more capable of reasoning and critical thinking, which naturally affects their school work. Consider all of the things they can process and understand, including:
- Increased writing skills
- Better reading comprehension of more complicated passages with sentences up to twelve words
- Handling more detailed math problems, including multiplication
- Better grasp of geometric concepts
- Ability to organize numbers
- Completing book reports
With all of the major gains that your child is making this year, make sure you’re paying careful attention to their emotional health. Parents should remember that these are the formative years for a child to develop their sense of self. Make sure to spend plenty of quality time with your child, even if they resist it at first. This opens up the doorway to better communication and improved self-esteem later on.
Don’t try to speed through what can be a difficult year for you and your child. You can appreciate all of the ways they’re growing socially, emotionally, and cognitively. Delight in the daily opportunity to demonstrate how much you care for them in what could be a challenging year.