10 Year Olds and Social Development

The changing connections and priorities you can expect to see in kids this age

Boys playing outside using mobile phone
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Ten-year-old children are experiencing a natural need to have some distance from parents and family and are gravitating toward more social activities with peers. For parents who are used to being the center of their child’s universe, this can be somewhat disconcerting.

The important thing to remember is that while it’s normal for 10-year-olds to have more independence, they will still need and want guidance and support from parents.

While there may be a shift in how much hands-on supervision a child needs as he grows older, the role of a parent will change, rather than diminish.


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 good 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.

Children this age are also becoming more interested in their appearance, and how they measure up against others their own age. Insecurities about physical appearance can crop up at this age, making it important for parents to instill a healthy sense of body image in their children. You can also make sure your child practices healthy eating habits to help him stay in shape and stay healthy and strong.

You may also want to sign your child up for group sports, such as soccer, which can be a great way for your child to not only get in shape but feel like she’s part of a team. Playing sports can also help boost your child’s self-esteem by helping her feel like she’s contributing to a group effort and accomplishing goals, all while getting healthy and strong. One thing to be on the lookout for when she plays sports: Watch for signs of sports injuries in kids.


Just as it’s par for the course for 10-year-olds to want to spend more time with their friends rather than do activities with their families, it’s also natural for children this age to begin to think independently and develop their own opinions about various things in their world. A 10-year-old may suddenly view something he’d previously believed or followed without question -- such as, for example, eating meat -- and declare that he now believes he should be a vegetarian. Or he could change his mind about a favorite sports team and choose something different instead.

The changes you may see in your 10-year-old child may be passing phases, or they may lead to long-term ways of life. Whatever the case may be, it’s important for parents to try to support their child, and make sure that they know their opinions are valued and listened to.

Parents can help nurture this growing sense of independence in their 10-year-old child by giving her extra responsibilities and more age-appropriate chores around the house. Parents can also try to respect their child’s growing need to spend time away from family; at the same time, it is essential that parents of 10-year-olds always know what their kids are doing, where they are going, and with whom.

Morals and Rules

For 10-year-olds, right and wrong can be defined very rigidly, and according to what she believes based on her experience. Some of this strong sense of morals and rules is tied to her growing sense of independence, as she forms her own opinions about the world around her.

And as she increasingly spends more time with friends and independent activities away from her family, she will be exposed to an increasing number of different ways of seeing and thinking about the world.

At home, 10-year-olds will still need guidance as they navigate problems and work through behavioral issues (children this age are rarely prone to tantrums but may still grapple with behavioral problems like sibling fighting and rivalry or lying). ​​The fact is, 10-year-olds are still young children who may need disciplining from time to time as they figure out how to be the person they want to be and how to fit in with the ideals they develop as they grow.

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