10-Year-Old-Child Development

What to Expect as Your Child Approaches Adolescence

It's important to know what to expect from your 10-year-old.
Uwe Umstatter / Getty Images

As children reach the age of 10, many will start to think of themselves as being almost teenagers. But, it's not always the case. While some will start looking and acting more mature, others will remain more child-like, both physically and emotionally.

Being 10 is all about change. It is a period of transition that can offer challenges and delights as children start to embrace the approach of adolescence.

Physical Development

Many children will start to experience major growth spurts by the time reach the fifth grade. Girls tend to grow at a faster pace and may suddenly find themselves towering over boys the same age.

By contrast, many 10-year-old boys may only just beginning to show the signs of puberty, while others will have to wait until they are 11, 12, or even 13. This disparity in growth can create discomfort in many children, either because they are growing too fast or not fast enough.

There are ways you can help your child overcome this:

  • Talk about puberty. This is especially true if your child is developing faster or slower than others. Be watchful for body image issues that can arise as children start to compare themselves to others.
  • Encourage healthy diet and exercise. Doing so now can help your child avoid obesity and learn habits they can carry into middle school. At 10, children are better able to see benefits of these behaviors, both in how they look and feel.
  • Establish healthy sleep habits. Because 10-year-olds expend so much energy, they need between nine to 10 hours of sleep per night. Don't fool yourself into thinking they need any less.

Social Development

Peer pressure can play a big role in social relationships of most 10-year-olds. At this age, kids will be eager to fit in by wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, or liking and disliking the same things.

It is important to instill in your child a strong sense of self-worth to better cope with the pressures and influences at school and with friends. While children of this age may do everything to look grown up, they still have vulnerabilities that can place them in harm's way.

As a parent, there are certain things you can do:

  • Monitor your child's online activities. This includes social media and online searches. Use parental controls on all devices as well as GPS tracking on cell phones.
  • Allow your child privacy with friends. Now is the time to start acknowledging and respecting your child's independence. Establish rules but allow your child the room to demonstrate responsible behavior.
  • Help your child to find solutions. Rather than telling your child what to do, offer options so that he or she can make an informed and responsible choice. If the child makes a poor choice, discuss the consequences of the choice rather than scolding or berating the child.
  • Focus on values. This is especially true if faced with tough choices. By focusing on the value of kindness, honesty, fairness, and self-worth, a child can often come to the right decision.
  • Encourage personal growth. Now is the time to help your child explore new interests and uncover new talents. Mastering these skills is key to building self-confidence. This includes encouraging group activities to help your child attain important socialization skills.

    Emotional Development

    While most 10-year-olds will have gained a certain mastery over their emotions, others may fall behind emotionally. It is important to be empathetic and to not place unreasonable expectations on where your child should or should not be.

    By demonstrating empathy, you can instill many of the same instincts in your child. Even if he or she behaves unreasonably or acts childishly, by focusing on emotions, you can turn even an adverse event into an opportunity for learning.

    Here are few things you can do to support your child's emotional growth:

    • Label emotion. Teach your child how to label how he or she is feeling. A child who can say, "I feel angry," will be less likely to act out with aggression.
    • Validate your child's feelings. Acknowledging pain not only tells the child that you are listening, it helps the child understand that what he or she is feeling is not wrong.
    • Teach coping skills. It is equally important for a 10-year-old to learn how to deal with uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way. So, rather than trying to cheer the child up, help your son or daughter find strategies to acknowledge and resolve these emotions.
    • Assign responsibilities. At age 10, your child will be able to handle a wider range of chores and responsibilities. Provide guidance, but don't nag or plead. If needed, use age-appropriate discipline to correct behavior and encourage responsibility.

    A Word From Verywell

    If you are worried that your child is not developing as he or she should, start by reminding yourself that now is a time of transition for a 10-year-old. There is not a set place as to where your son or daughter should be. While some will be toying with makeup and sports, others may be happy playing will dolls or reading comic books. Both are fine and perfectly healthy.

    If you are still concerned that your child is lagging, speak with your pediatrician. He or she may be best qualified to assess your child's development and to refer you to the appropriate specialist if needed.

    Sources:

    Keane, E. Kelly, C.; Molcho, M. et al. "Physical activity, screen time and the risk of subjective health complaints in school-aged children." Prevent Med. 2017;96:21-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.12.011.

    Tarasova, K. "Development of Socio-emotional Competence in Primary School Children." Procedia Soc Behavior Sci. 2016; 233:128-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.10.166.