10-Year-Old-Child Development

Kids develop at different rates but here's what to expect around age 10.

It's important to know what to expect from your 10-year-old.
Uwe Umstatter / Getty Images

Once kids hit the double digits, many of them think they are almost teenagers. While some 10-year-olds start looking and acting more grown-up, others stay more child-like—physically, emotionally, and socially.

Understanding normal development for 10-year-olds can help ensure you're giving your child the support he needs to become his best. 

Physical Development

Ten-year-old children are approaching adolescence and some of them hit major growth spurts around this age.

Girls tend to grow at a faster pace around this time, and may actually be taller than some boys the same age.

At age 10, children have developed better gross motor skills, making it possible for them excel in sports such as soccer, baseball, gymnastics, and karate. 

Fine motor skills have also become more honed, and many 10-year-olds will be able to draw and write with better control. Working on the computer or playing video games will also be taken to a new level, with many children this age having the coordination and heightened reflexes to perform more difficult tasks than ever before. 

Here are some ways you can promote healthy physical development:

  • Talk about puberty - It's not uncommon for 10-year-olds to begin puberty so it's important to hold conversations about what your child can expect. Be on the lookout for body image issues as well as kids this age often begin comparing themselves to their peers. 
  • Encourage a healthy diet - It's a prime time to address your child's eating habits. Encouraging a healthy diet now can prevent obesity and other major health issues later in life.  
  • Make exercise a priority -  Make sure your 10-year-old gets plenty of physical activity. If she's not interested in traditional sports, look for other ways she can keep her body healthy, such as going on a family walk each day. 
  • Establish healthy sleep habits - It's recommended that 10-year-olds get 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night. So it's important to encourage good sleep hygiene habits so your child doesn't become sleep-deprived. 

Social Development

Peer pressure can play a big role in social relationships for 10-year-old children. At this age, many children are more concerned about what their friends and classmates are wearing, what music they’re listening to, and what new trends they’re following. Many 10-year-olds will naturally feel a great desire to fit in.

Having a strong sense of self and confidence can be very important at this age. When children have strong and healthy self-esteem, they will be better equipped to handle any potential pressure from peers who might try to convince them to do things they don’t feel are safe, healthy, or morally right.

It’s common for 10-year-olds to prefer friendships with children of their own gender. They may also have one or two best friends with whom they can enjoy a close relationship.

Here are a few ways you can promote healthy social development:

  • Monitor your child's online activities - Most 10-year-olds love to use electronics. And some of them try to use social media. It's important to keep a close eye on your 10-year-old's online activities to ensure she's not being exposed to inappropriate content or that she isn't interacting with unsafe people.
  • Give your child some privacy with friends - It's equally important to make sure your child has some an opportunity to play with friends without an adult refereeing their every move. Let your child practice compromising and resolving issues on her own. 
  • Proactively teach social skills - It's a great time to sharpen your child's social skills. Whether you teach her to shake hands when she meets someone or you coach her while she's ordering her own food in a restaurant, pay attention to things like manners, eye contact, and communication skills. 
  • Encourage your child to find solutions - When your child has a disagreement with his friend or he's struggling with his homework, encourage him to develop several potential solutions to the problem. Help him identify the best choice, but don't solve the problem for him. Ask questions like, "What do you think you should do about that," to encourage independence.
  • Talk about your values - Whether your child lies or you catch him teasing someone, it's important to talk about your values. In addition to talking about hard work, for example, emphasize the importance of being a kind person. 
  • Explore your child's talents - It's a great time to help kids explore their interests and discover their talents. Encourage your child to play an instrument, join a club, or try a new sport and he'll likely discover some hidden talents. Gaining mastery can be key to building self-confidence. 

Emotional Development

Most 10-year-olds are gaining more mastery over their emotions. It's also a time when it becomes more apparent that a child is lagging behind emotionally.

It's important for your child to be able to recognize her emotions and to have empathy for others. It's also important to give your child more independence so she can learn to trust her decision-making skills.

Mistakes are wonderful learning opportunities. So whether your child says something cruel when he's angry or he refuses to try something new because he's nervous, help your child learn how to do better next time. 

Here are a few ways you can support your child's emotional development:

  • Label emotions - Teach your child how to label how he's feeling. A child who can say, "I feel angry," is less likely to act out his aggression
  • Validate your child's emotions - It's important to validate your child's feelings, even when you think her reactions are a bit dramatic. Acknowledging her pain or her emotional state can go a long way to helping her cope. 
  • Teach healthy coping skills - It's important for 10-year-olds to be able to deal with uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way. So rather than calm your child down when's upset, teach him how to calm himself. And rather than cheer him up when he's in a bad mood, help him find strategies to take care of his feelings on his own.
  • Assign responsibilities - Give your 10-year-old chores and expect him to be able to do them independently. Provide guidance, but don't nag or plead. Instead, help your child become more responsible for his behavior. Provide age-appropriate discipline and you'll help your child gain emotional maturity. 

Kids Develop at Different Rates

There's a wide range of normal development for 10-year-olds. So while one 10-year-old may be interested in boys and make-up, the next one might still enjoy playing with dolls and watching cartoons.

If you think your child is lagging behind, talk to your child's doctor. Your pediatrician can assess your child's development and determine whether your child needs referrals for any other evaluations or services to help with his emotional, physical, or social growth. 

Sources

Keane E, Kelly C, Molcho M, Gabhainn SN. Physical activity, screen time and the risk of subjective health complaints in school-aged children. Preventive Medicine. 2017;96:21-27.

National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need? 

Tarasova KS. Development of Socio-emotional Competence in Primary School ChildrenProcedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2016;233:128-132.

 

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