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Physical Development of 7 to 12 Year Olds

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell

Significant physical strides occur between the ages of 7 and 12. Children enter this period of development not terribly long after kindergarten and come out the other side on the verge of becoming a teen. Kids seem to "grow like a weed" during middle childhood. Parents may be running to the clothing store more often to replace the "new" pants, shirts or skirts they bought a few short months ago with the next size up.

Shape and Size

You may notice that your formally chubby cherub is slimming down. Most kids appear trimmer during middle child­hood compared to the preschool years. This is due to the fact that even though body size increases, the amount of body fat stays more or less steady. Generally speaking, a 7- to-12-year-old boy or girl grows slightly more than two inches taller and gains about 6.5 pounds each year, explains Healthy Children, a website published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, a child's height can vary by as much as four to five inches.

Looking Older and Getting Stronger

Light blonde hair may turn dishwater blonde while brown hair becomes a shade or two darker during middle childhood. The super smooth baby-like texture and appearance of skin will gradually become more like that of a grown-up. A child grows stronger during this 5-year span as muscle mass increases. Coordination gets better as well. For example, a 10-year-old can probably catch a fly ball while a 7-year-old isn't yet able to, says Healthy Children.

Hello Puberty!

Adolescence, which begins around age 11, often coincides with the onset of puberty. Girls typically enter puberty between the ages of 9 and 11 while boys are slightly behind -- starting anywhere from age 9 1/2 to 13, according to WebMD. Breast budding in girls is usually evident at age 10; menstruation normally commences about two years later or shortly before a girl's 13th birthday. Enlarge­ment of the testicles and a thinning and reddening of the scrotum -- the pouch that contains the testes -- is typically the first sign of puberty in boys. Peak growth usually takes place about one year into puberty in girls and two years in boys.

Nutrition and Exercise

A nutritious diet and regular exercise are the building blocks for strong growth, notes the American Psychological Association. Your child's calorie requirements slowly increase as she makes the transition from middle childhood into puberty. Your child may put on excess weight if she's eating more food than she's burning off. That's why it's so important for children to get 60 minutes of exercise each day.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

Photo Credits

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