Developmental Milestones for a 9-Year-Old

A Period of Major Transition as Adolescence Nears

At age nine, girls and boys are poised for major transition as they stand on the cusp of adolescence. In many ways, they can still be considered children but are becoming much more independent and able to handle certain responsibilities with minimal adult supervision.

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9 year old child development - father and son doing dishes
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At nine, children are capable of taking on a wider range of chores and responsibilities around the house and will want to start participating in decisions affecting the family.

Children of this age also tend to crave a certain level of organization in their life and will often keep track of their daily activities and schedules. They will still need 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, but it may be more difficult to enforce an earlier bedtime.

Children of nine can be paragons of contradiction. While most will want to expand their social circles, they will still seek refuge with family if ever they feel insecure. At nine, children are still greatly influenced by their parents.

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9 year old child physical development - kids in gym class
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Nine-year-old children will begin to face numerous physical and emotional challenges as they approach adolescence. It can be a taxing time for some as fellow classmates begin to develop at starkly different rates.

Puberty can begin anywhere from eight to 12 for girls and nine and 14 for boys. As a parent, it is important to discuss this with your child, especially if the changes (or lack of changes) are causing distress. Body image issues may even start to arise.

Nine-year-old children will begin to have stronger and smoother muscle control, allowing them to expand their physical limits and interests. They will also be more independent and particular in the ways they manage their personal hygiene and grooming.

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9 year old child emotional development - boy smiling with family at breakfast
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At nine, children will have become more emotionally mature and better able to handle interrelational conflicts. Their growing independence will lead to them to seek relationships independent of their family, including sleepovers at friends' houses.

Many nine-year-olds will have a strong desire to belong to a group and establish their place within the social order of school. As result, many will become vulnerable to peer pressure and other influences.

Children can often become moody because of this and struggle with stresses that are still unfamiliar to them. Fortunately, at nine, most will be willing to turn to their parents for support.

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9 year old child - girl looking through microscope
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Nine-year-old children are incredibly curious about the world around them and will readily shift from interest to the next. As their attention span increases, they will devote an increasing amount of time to outside activities, particularly if they involve groups or specific social circles.

At nine, children will be able to think critically and may want to share their opinions about a diverse range of subjects. Their reading and writing skill will become more complex, and they will learn how to work with multiple digits, geometry, and data organization in math.

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9 year old child - girls smiling on bed
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The social world of nine-year-old children is opening up in ways previously unimagined. Many will have cell phones and high-level acuity in social media. This (along with an inherent curiosity) makes them vulnerable to influences that you may be less able to control, including online bullying and inappropriate web content.

While you can overcome some of these issues by using parental controls, others, like peer pressure, may require ongoing guidance, encouragement, and support.

On the positive side, children of nine tend to have a strong sense of fairness and what is right or wrong. They will also become more socially conscious as they yearn to find a place in the bigger world.

It is a period of great discovery that you can participate in by:

  • Showing affection to your child
  • Recognizing and praising personal accomplishments
  • Assigning more "adult" responsibilities and chores
  • Talking with your child about school, friends, events, news, and things he or she looks forward to
  • Using discipline to guide your child rather than punishment that can undermine a child's self-confidence
  • Encouraging your child to pursue interests including sports, arts, and community events

Source:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Middle Childhood (Age 6 to 8)." Atlanta, Georgia; updated January 3, 2018.

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