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Childhood milestones age 10

Child development: Your 10 year old

Your child is now on the cusp of adolescence and the changes of puberty may become apparent, especially for girls. At this age, children are becoming increasingly adept with physical skills and more mature in their thinking and reasoning. They still need parental support and security, and value and respect parents' opinions, though some children may begin to show irritation at adult-imposed restrictions.

Age 10: Physical development

By age 10 most children have good control of both large and small muscles (gross and fine motor skills) and may have a keen interest in activities that require coordinated physical skills - strength, endurance, dexterity, vision and balance - for example tennis, dancing or football. They should now be ready to learn to cross the street alone and may undertake simple journeys unaccompanied. Increased control of hand movements enables more legible and even handwriting and more detailed art work, and many children enjoy activities such as drawing, painting, sewing or playing musical instruments.

Between 10 and 12 your child will lose about four baby teeth each year, to be replaced with permanent adult teeth. These need to last a lifetime, so it is especially important to teach good dental hygiene habits and ensure that your child has regular check ups with a dentist.

Pre-teens will begin to develop adult body proportions now, and girls may undergo a growth spurt and develop the early signs of puberty such as breast buds. The onset of puberty occurs between ages 8 and 14 in girls, with the first period (menarche) following about two years later. As a few girls may start to menstruate as early as 9 or 10, it is important that parents prepare their daughters for this. For the next two or three years, girls will generally be taller, heavier and stronger than boys of the same age.

Age 10: Cognitive and language skills

Most children by age 10 have almost adult language skills and can hold prolonged conversations both with other children and with adults outside the family. They may enjoy using their communication skills to write letters or talk on the telephone. Children now can follow complex sentences in written material and read longer books with chapters in stages, being able to pick up threads where they left off. They may enjoy books and magazines on non-fiction topics that interest them. They have learned cursive ('joined up') handwriting and can compose simple stories. In maths they should be competent with addition and subtraction and beginning to handle fractions, multiplication and division.

Your child is now becoming able to reason, use logic, think about cause and effect and take information acquired in one context to use in another. At age 10 children start to look beyond their personal experiences and acquired knowledge, and expand their perspective beyond simplistic right-wrong, black-white assessments to realise that many actions and events in the wider world need to be interpreted in shades of grey.

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