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The Development of 8- to 11-Year-Olds

by Beth Greenwood, studioD

A child between the ages of 8 and 11 has come a long way from the infant or toddler stage but still has a long way to go to reach adulthood. Each child follows her own pace in meeting developmental milestones, but all children go through recognizable developmental stages in terms of physical, social, intellectual and emotional development.

Let's Get Physical

Children in middle childhood, as the 8- to 11-year-old stage is called, are still changing physically. Most children of both sexes grow about 2 to 3 inches in height and gain up to 8 pounds each year, according to a July 2010 article on the Education.com website. Small muscle development occurs during this period, which improves fine motor skills used for writing or similar tasks. There’s a considerable difference between an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old, especially if the latter has begun the early changes related to puberty. Girls in particular are likely to show some signs of puberty, such as breast development, but boys may also begin to develop physical changes related to puberty, such as pubic hair.

The Social Group

Socially, the peer group begins to assume increasing importance for children in middle childhood. Exclusive clubs, shifting peer alliances and same-gender attachments are common. Children in this age range tend to make friends with those of the same age who share their interests, live nearby or are otherwise similar. Hobbies and sports may also hold the interest of the 8- to 11-year-old. Individual differences become more pronounced, especially in the 9-year-old, according to the Center for Parenting Education. By the time a child reaches 11, she is more likely to be critical of parents or to resist authority than a younger child.

Growing Smarter

Intellectually, this group can use logical thinking but in a limited fashion. These children have considerable general knowledge and are often interested in learning life skills such as cooking or repairing items that break. The older children in this group are beginning to grasp abstract concepts and to be interested in moral or philosophical issues. This is also the time when learning problems may appear, according to Education.com, and parents should be stay alert for difficulties with reading or math. This age group is often restless and has difficulty sitting still in class.

All About Emotions

The changes in emotional development may be subtle, but one key developmental goal in this period is mastery and the need for accomplishment, according to Dr. Kay Trotter, a certified counselor and play therapist. The 8-year-old often has a more intense relationship, especially with her mother, according to the Center for Parenting Education. By age nine, the child begins to be less willing to share details about her day with parents, and by age 11 may develop obvious signs of impending teenage rebellion. Children are generally still emotionally immature during this period and may be unaware of how other people see their behavior.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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