Your 9-Year-Old Child's Emotional Development

9 year old child emotional development - boy smiling with family at breakfast
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A child at age 9 is entering adolescence and has one foot in the unsure young child stage and another in the maturing teenage years. Straddling these worlds means you can expect to see a 9-year-old run around and be goofy in one moment and then get down to serious business the next. Nine-year-old children are better able to handle frustrations and conflicts. They will begin to develop emotional maturity, such as an understanding of the value of delayed gratification or helping others, which will help them navigate their preteen and teen years.

They will benefit from some freedom to exercise their growing independence but will still need and want emotional reassurance from mom and dad. Parents can continue to provide 9-year-olds with the security of predictable routines and one-on-one time.

Nine-year-old children may also be moody, and may be upset one minute and then fine the next. Their feelings may get hurt easily, and they may have an occasional conflict with friends. Generally, 9-year-olds will be able to work out conflicts among themselves.


Many 9-year-old children will become more independent from their families and will be emotionally ready to do more things on their own. They may enjoy going to movies with a friend’s family or having sleepovers with friends. They may form emotional attachments to people outside their immediate family and may begin to develop crushes.

Nine-year-old children are really starting to come into their own. They will enjoy forming and sharing their own opinions and thoughts about things, independent of what their parents think.


Generally speaking, 9-year-old children have a strong desire to fit in (thus making them susceptible to peer pressure) and may be easily embarrassed or upset by criticism. They may be especially prone to self-doubt and self-criticism. Friendships—and the opinions of their friends—will be more emotionally important to 9-year-old children.

Children will be better equipped to handle the emotional turbulence of peer pressure if they have a strong sense of self-confidence. Parents can talk to their children about the importance of independent thinking and do what they feel is right, even if it’s different from what others are doing. Encourage them to make choices that are healthy and good for them, and to be kind to themselves and to others.


Just as with adults, children can experience stress from the demands of daily activities. At age 9, children are handling more challenging schoolwork and homework assignments. They may participate in extracurricular activities such as sports or music, which may require practice and dedication. For many 9-year-old children, the pressure to perform and work harder than they had to do as younger children can cause some anxiety and stress.

Nine-year-old children are also becoming more aware of real-world dangers and disasters. Fears about events such as crime or storms or anxieties about a parent dying one day may replace fears they may have had as younger kids such as a fear of monsters.

Parents can ease their kids’ anxiety and stress by talking to them about what they can expect when they experience upcoming changes such as puberty or middle school. They can also make sure that they support their child as she pursues interests and activities without pushing them too much to succeed and win at the cost of their child no longer loving that activity.

They can also make sure that their child gets enough sleep and does not watch too much mature or scary TV shows or movies. Not getting enough sleep can affect a child's mood, and violent or upsetting media can lead to an emotional upset in 9-year-old children.