What kinds of development occur between ages 6 and 10?
Children ages 6 to 10 are more independent and physically active than
they were in the preschool years. They also are more involved with friends and
are learning to think in more complex ways.
Progress in the major
areas of development—physical, intellectual, emotional, and social—is gradual.
But the changes you will see in your child from one year to the next can be
How will my child change physically?
muscle coordination improve rapidly in these years. Many children learn to
throw, hit a baseball, or kick a soccer ball. Some children may even develop
skills in more complex activities, such as playing basketball or dancing.
How will my child change intellectually?
6 to 10, your child develops a more mature and logical way of thinking. He or
she gradually becomes able to consider several parts to a problem or situation.
This is a change from the simplistic thinking of a preschooler.
Even though their thinking becomes more complex, children in this age
group still think in concrete terms. This means they are most concerned with
things that are "real" rather than with ideas. In general, these things are
those that can be identified with the senses. For example, actually touching
the soft fur of a rabbit is more meaningful to a child than being told that an
object is "soft like a rabbit." Because they still can mostly consider only one
part of a situation or perspective at a time, children of this age have
difficulty fully understanding how things are connected.
How will my child change emotionally and socially?
When children enter school, they leave the security of home and family.
They become players on the larger stage of school and friends. Here, they learn
some crucial skills—including how to make friends—that they can use for the
rest of their lives.
Children's self-esteem, which is their sense
of worth and belonging, is fragile and can change rapidly depending on what is
happening around them. At times, children of this age seem like little adults
as they march off to school with backpacks full of responsibilities. But at
other times, they can be as unreasonable as toddlers.
How can I manage this active time?
overestimate their children's ability to make good decisions. Children of this
age need firm and consistent rules that are explained clearly and
compassionately. Effective parents are able to give their children enough
independence to learn from their successes and failures and at the same time
provide consistent direction and unconditional support.
Try to check in with your child every day. Ask him or her about the good and bad things that happened. And help your child learn from those experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about growth and development in children ages 6 to 10 years:
- What kinds of growth and development occur from ages 6 to 10 years?
- What kinds of changes can I expect?
- What are the general milestones by age?
- How can I help my child?
- Is my child at a healthy weight?
- How can I teach my child healthy eating habits?
- How does stress affect children?
- How can I help build my child's self-esteem?
Seeing a doctor:
- What kinds of medical exams does my child need?
- When should I call a doctor?
- What are some common concerns?
- How can I find out about after-school programs?
- What are some tips for using backpacks safely?
- How can I help my child be fit?
- How can I help my children—and myself—sleep well?
- What are some tips for giving over-the-counter medicines to children?
- How can I help my child be safe and healthy?
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition.
Interactive tools are designed to help people determine health risks, ideal weight, target heart rate, and more.
- Growth and Development: Helping Your Child Build Self-Esteem
- Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits
- Sleep: Helping Your Children—and Yourself—Sleep Well
- Interactive Tool: What Is Your Child's BMI?
Although children from ages 6 to 10
display a similar range of physical abilities, mental strengths, and social
behaviors, they develop at their own pace. Even within families, differences
between children can be extreme. One sibling may be outgoing and popular, while
another is shy and awkward. Some children make progress in one area, such as
reading and writing, while making little or no progress in another skill, such
as math. Focus on helping your child enjoy and learn from activities rather
than on measuring the outcome.
General development from ages 6 to 10
expect children in this age group to progress in five major areas:
- Physical development. Children ages 6
to 10 usually grow in spurts, averaging about
7 lb (3 kg) and
2.5 in. (6 cm) each year. Your
child will also lose about four baby teeth each year. These are replaced by
permanent teeth .
- Cognitive development. Thinking and reasoning skills, called cognitive skills,
mature rapidly between ages 6 and 10. As these skills develop, so does a
child's ability to solve problems. But reasoning remains simple in that most
children only understand concepts as they relate to the here and now. Concepts
such as the distant past are usually too abstract for children at this age to
- Emotional and social development. Children ages 6 to
10 are developing friendships.
Self-esteem, which is a person's sense of worth and
belonging, becomes increasingly important as your child interacts more with
people outside of his or her immediate family. Children this age also compare
themselves to others.
- Language development. At age 6, most
children know the meanings of about 13,000 words. From ages 6 to 10, they
gradually think in more complex ways. For example, children advance from
understanding simple sentences to being able to interpret complicated content
within a paragraph. They grow from writing a few words at a time to composing
complex stories and reports.
- Sensory and motor development. Children between ages 6 and 10 make major gains in muscle
strength and coordination. Most children within this age range develop basic
motor skills, such as kicking, catching, and throwing. Gradually, children
become more skilled at more complex activities, such as dancing, shooting a
basketball, or playing the piano.
Growth and development milestones are roughly grouped
by year of age. Use age-specific guidelines as one of many tools to assess your
child's overall development. Many things, such as inherited genetic traits,
health, personality and
temperament, cultural norms, and home environment,
influence a child's pace at reaching milestones.
Milestones by age
6 years of age, most children:
- Have gained enough muscle strength and
coordination to hop and skip, and they can catch a ball.
- Begin to
understand cause-and-effect relationships. "Magical thinking"
typical of preschoolers quickly fades around this age. But your child keeps an
- Focus on only one issue at a time when solving
- Begin to understand how combinations of letters and
sounds form words. They recognize some written words and may even have started
reading simple text.
- Become increasingly social with their peers.
But they depend on caregivers for most personal interaction.
7 years of age, most children:
- Begin to show a preference for a certain
learning style, such as hands-on or quiet reflection.
friendships, usually with other children of the same gender.
to be involved in some group play but need time alone too.
arts and crafts and physically active play.
8 years of age, most children:
- Generally think of things as "either-or."
Things are either great or awful, ugly or beautiful, right or wrong. Children
focus on one part of an issue at a time, which makes it hard for them to
- Are reading.
- Enjoy being
around their friends. Some enjoy group activities, such as team
- Have rapidly changing emotions. Angry outbursts are common.
Many children of this age are critical of others, especially of their parents.
They may seem dramatic and sometimes rude.
- Have well-developed
speech and use correct grammar most of the time. Many children have
well-developed conversation skills.
9 years of age, most children:
- Think more independently and are developing
good decision-making skills. This reflects their increasing critical-thinking
skills and ability to consider more than one perspective at a
- Have caring, solid friendships.
- Have gained a
strong sense of empathy, which is understanding and being sensitive to the
feelings of others.
- Are curious about relationships between boys
and girls. Few will admit to this interest. And most will insist that they are
horrified by the opposite sex.
- Speak well and pronounce words
- Become increasingly interested in team
- Like to draw, paint, make jewelry, build models, or try
other activities that use fine motor skills.
10 years of age, most children:
- Know the complete date (day of the week, day
of the month, month, and year).
- Enjoy being with friends and often
have a "best" friend of the same gender.
- Continue to enjoy team and
- Continue to insist that they are not interested
in children of the opposite sex. But they may show off, tease, or act silly as a way of
interacting with them.
- Have speech patterns that are nearly at an
- Sometimes seek out magazines and books in subjects of
- Have good control of large and small muscles.
Some children enjoy activities that use all these skills, such as basketball,
dancing, and soccer.
A lot is happening within the
brains and bodies of children ages 6 to 10. Along with growing stronger and
more social, most children gradually gain critical thinking skills and a basic
understanding of complex issues. Also, children are becoming more aware of
their bodies and appearance.
This is a time of trial and error.
Children in this age group are figuring out how the world works and what their
place is in it. It is easy for parents to be alarmed when their child has
occasional lapses in appropriate behavior or judgment.
Try to encourage
your child's independence while you demonstrate your unconditional love. A child
who feels he or she has a strong safety net at home is better equipped to try
new things and to grow and develop in healthy ways.
concerns of parents usually relate to physical growth and development,
difficulties in school, and social situations.
Issues related to physical appearance and skills
The rate of growth varies a lot among individual children. Some
children are small for their age, and others are large. It can be hard for a
child who falls outside the range of "normal." A small child may find it hard
to succeed in sports. Children who are tall for their age may have problems
when people think they are older and expect them to act that way. Also, some
children, particularly girls, are "early bloomers" and may enter
puberty before their peers. This can lead to
self-consciousness and embarrassment.
Help your child understand
that everyone grows at his or her own pace. Assure your child that he or she
can handle difficulties related to size, appearance, or athletic skill.
Also, encourage and model
healthy eating and
physical activity habits for your child. Staying at a
healthy weight and eating healthy foods helps children to feel their best not
only physically but also mentally and emotionally.
Difficulties in school
Children ages 6 to 10 develop at different rates not only physically but
also intellectually. If your child seems to be struggling in certain subjects
and is not meeting general
cognitive development or
language development milestones, talk to your doctor.
Keep an open mind about having your child evaluated instead of waiting for him
or her to "grow out of it." Of course, be mindful that there is a fine line
between being concerned and over-reacting. Talk to your child's teacher and
other school staff about your child's strengths and weaknesses. Keep a friendly
and supportive relationship with your child's teachers to help build your
child's confidence. Working as a team also is likely to result in a more
consistent approach. A child is more likely to know what to expect and be more
assured when parents and teachers are helping each other.
strengthen your child's self-esteem. Help your child
recognize and nurture his or her own talents. Children in this age group
often experience a wide range of emotions that can change very quickly
depending on what is happening around them. Try to show your child how to see
the big picture. Talk about all the successes he or she has had, such as doing
well on a test, learning new spelling words, or making an impressive art
ages between 6 and 10 are a confusing and exciting time for children. They make
new friends frequently.
Most children in this age group are
beginning to understand and be sensitive to the feelings of others—a trait
known as empathy. But they are still self-centered. Their feelings are easily
hurt. Likewise, they can casually hurt others' feelings. You can help your
child learn how to be more empathetic and to understand the importance of
healthy friendships. Talk about and list the qualities that make a good friend.
Talk about how your child can work on developing these qualities.
Bullying may start to become a problem
for some children near age 10 years. Take an active role in preventing and
educating your child about ways to deal with this type of behavior.
- Equip your child with ways to deal with
and avoid being bullied.
- If your child engages in bullying
address the problem right away. Talk about how his or
her words and actions affect other people. You play an important role in making
your child aware of others' feelings.
- Involve parents and other
adults who are around where the problems occur. For example, talk to staff and
teachers at your child's school in situations that include classmates.
For more information about bullying, see the topic
your child between the ages of 6 and 10 may seem very independent at times, he
or she still needs your constant guidance. Being present is the most important
thing you can do to help your child grow in healthy ways. Knowing that you are
"around" and available provides him or her with a sense of security. Although
your child's world is expanding, you remain his or her primary influence.
You can do many things to help your child grow and
- Promote physical development by
encouraging and modeling healthy eating habits. Also,
foster a healthy body image by talking about and showing how it is important to
accept people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. For more information, see the topic Healthy Habits for Kids.
- Promote cognitive
development—thinking and reasoning skills—by being involved in your child's
school. Volunteer if possible, cultivate good relationships with teachers and
other staff members, and show your interest in what your child is learning.
Also, work on skills at home, such as simple math problems, money handling,
reading, and writing. Age-appropriate workbooks are widely available. But be careful not to pressure your child. Simply spending
time with him or her is an important part of setting a foundation for cognitive
- Promote language development by reading to your child every
day. Make reading a routine, even as he or she gets older and seems to lose
interest. Set aside time that you and your child can look forward to and talk
about stories, words, and ideas. Visit your local library and try finding books
with new subjects that you think might interest your child.
- Promote social and emotional
being aware of sibling rivalry, which can become a problem around this age.
Also help your child learn
social skills, such as by showing your acceptance of
others and not gossiping or saying mean things about other
- Promote sensory and motor skill development by encouraging
exercise every day. It doesn't have to be highly
structured: the main point is to move around and limit TV time and other screen time. Practicing somersaults, playing
catch, going to the park, or riding a bike are all helpful in developing
muscular skill and endurance. Also, encourage your child to create art
projects, such as drawing, cutting with safety scissors, gluing, and stringing
beads. These and similar activities help improve eye-hand coordination and fine
motor skills. For more information, see the topic Physical Activity for Children and Teens.
Also, you can help your child in other general ways.
- Deal with fears. Understand that your
child may become extremely interested in scary subjects or images as a way to
overcome fears about them. Help your child as much as you can by answering questions and
providing reassurance as needed.
- Discourage physical violence and show your child ways to deal with anger without being violent. Protect your child from violent media as much as you can. Some TV programs, movies, video games, and websites show a lot of violent acts. Children who watch a lot of this violence may come to believe that such behavior is okay. This can make them more likely to act violently themselves. It can also lead to nightmares, aggression, or fears of being harmed.1
Music lyrics affect children's behavior and emotions, too.2 Monitor the type of music that your child is exposed to, and be aware
of the music your child buys.
- Establish limits.
Set limits for your children to show them that you love and care about them.
Make sure your rules are reasonable and that your child understands them. It is
important to follow through on any consequences you have established for
failing to follow rules.
- Recognize and develop special talents.
Help your child discover interests and practice skills. For example, kick a
soccer ball around the yard with your child or help him or her practice
- Recognize his or her
curiosity about the body and sexuality. You can help
your child gain basic knowledge and a healthy attitude toward these issues by
showing a willingness to listen and discuss them.
- Before your child
starts middle school, teach him or her
how to resist using tobacco and other drugs.
You can also help your child through each stage of
development by evaluating your relationship from time to time. In many ways,
you have to "get to know" your child over and over again. Think about:
- What do I like most about my
- What could be triggering difficult behavior? Are any of these new
- What new skills has my child developed within the past
year? Six months? Three months?
- What tasks can I encourage my child
to do for himself or herself? How can I encourage him or her?
am I happy about how I treat my child?
- What don't I like about some
of our interactions? When do these episodes tend to occur?
As a parent or caregiver of children, it is also important
for you to:
- Learn and use effective
parenting and discipline techniques and avoid the use
of corporal punishment. Parenting classes are offered in
most communities. Ask your doctor or call a local hospital for more
- Learn healthy techniques to resolve conflicts and
manage stress. For more information, see the topic
- Ask for help when you
need it. Call a family member or friend to give you a break if you feel
overwhelmed. Find out about community resources that are available to help you
with child care or other necessary services. Call a doctor or local hospital to
find out about a place to start. Some communities have respite care facilities
for children, which provide temporary child care during times when you need a
Talk to your child's doctor if
you are concerned that your child:
- Is not meeting growth or development milestones
for his or her age.
- Has signs that he or she is entering
puberty at a very early age (before 8 for girls, and 9
- Exhibits unusually aggressive behavior or shows signs of
bullying others. Boys, especially, may behave
aggressively when they are faced with a difficult situation. Girls are more
likely to shun other girls and gossip about others.
- Struggles to understand or use
spoken or written language. Having learning problems in school could be a sign
learning disability or a vision problem.
- Shows signs of
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such
as inattention, impulsivity, and/or
hyperactivity, that are causing problems at home or
- Seems withdrawn or
depressed. Girls are more likely than boys to react to
problems quietly. This behavior can make it hard for parents and teachers to
recognize that they are troubled. A child who loses interest in friends or activities that he or she liked in the past may be
Sometimes school counselors or teachers identify children
who are having difficulties doing schoolwork, participating in gym classes, or
socializing with other children. They can recommend a course of action that may
family doctor or
As your child becomes more
involved at school and with friends, sports, and other activities, your skills
as a parent will be tested. You may want to talk with your doctor if you feel
overwhelmed. Also, classes that are often offered by schools, churches, or
community groups can help you learn valuable parenting skills.
Routine checkups (usually once a year) allow your child's doctor to keep a close eye on your child's general health and development. You also can discuss any concerns you have at these appointments. Routine dental care is important for your child too.
well-child visit, the doctor typically:
- Measures your child's weight and height. These
measurements are plotted on a growth chart and are compared to previous and
later markings to make sure the child is growing as expected.
- Checks your child's body mass index, blood pressure, hearing, and vision, and
examines your child for any visible problems.
- Reviews your child's immunization record. Needed immunizations are given or scheduled. For more information, see the topics:
- Immunizations: Questions Parents Ask.
with your child. For example, the doctor may ask about his or her friends,
favorite activities, and most interesting school subjects. From this
conversation, the doctor will briefly assess your child's language skills and
hearing and also perhaps his or her social skills and other developmental
- Observes how you and your child interact, to assess
emotional and social development. The doctor will ask you questions about your
child's behavior, school performance, how your child handles difficulties, and
what activities your child is involved in, among others.
Routine checkups are a good time for you to ask about what
to expect. Ask your doctor about your child's health, growth, development, or
behavior. It may help you to go to your child's checkup with a prepared
list of questions (What is a PDF document?).
Sometimes it may be appropriate to have your child spend part of the
visit alone with the doctor. This can give your child a chance to talk about
issues that he or she has difficulty discussing with the doctor if you are present.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U.S.)
- Basic Dental Care
- Child Car Seats
- Choosing Child Care
- Depression in Children and Teens
- Energy and Sports Drinks
- Fitness: Getting and Staying Active
- Growth and Development, Ages 11 to 14 Years
- Health Screening: Finding Health Problems Early
- Healthy Eating for Children
- Learning Disabilities
- Protecting Your Skin From the Sun
- Talking With Your Child About Sex
Council on Communications and Media, American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Policy statement: Media violence. Pediatrics, 124(5): 1495–1503.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Policy statement: Impact of music, music lyrics, and music videos on children and youth. Pediatrics, 124(5): 1488–1494.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Pediatrics (2001, reaffirmed 2005). Sexuality education for children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 108(2): 498–502.
Combrinck-Graham L, Fox GS (2007). Development of school-age children. In A Martin, FR Volkmar, eds., Lewis's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 4th ed., pp. 267–278. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Dixon SD, Stein MT (2006). Encounters With Children: Pediatric Behavior and Development, 4th ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.
Feigelman S (2011). Middle childhood. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 36–39. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Newman BM, Newman PR (2012). Middle childhood (6 to 11 years). In Development Through Life: A Psychosocial Approach, 11th ed., pp. 288–332. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Rappley MD, Kallman JR (2009). Middle childhood. In WB Carey et al., eds., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 4th ed., pp. 50–61. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Strasburger VC, et al. (2010). Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 125(4): 756–767.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2013). Screening for primary hypertension in children and adolescents. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspshypechld.htm. Accessed January 11, 2014.