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Childhood milestones age 9

Child development: Your 9 year old

Now that your child is nine, growing independence from the family will probably be obvious. Children still get their sense of security from parents and look to them for help and as role models, but will now be acting much more on their own initiative and choosing their own associates. While strong friendships are vital for a child's healthy development, peer pressure can be very influential at this age, and it's important for parents to be aware of and discuss potential hazards. Children who have healthy self-esteem are more likely to resist urgings from other children to make negative choices, and parents can do a lot now to impart a sense of self-worth, values and responsibility to boost the ability to withstand peer pressure before any adolescent rebellion properly kicks in.

Age 9: Physical development

At nine, physical growth may start to diverge between boys and girls as the first stirrings of puberty begin. Although both sexes continue to increase steadily in height and weight, and to gain coordination and strength, girls experience an earlier spurt in height and may now be taller and heavier than boys of the same age.

This is a time when children may be vulnerable to body image problems or the start of eating disorders. It's particularly important to ensure that they are eating a balanced healthy diet with a minimum of 'junk' food, and are engaging in sufficient physical and outdoor activity.

Age 9: Cognitive and language skills

By this age, children's speech is almost at adult level and they can understand and use an extensive vocabulary and complex sentence constructions. They are now able to think more independently, plan ahead better, think critically, and have improved decision-making and organisational skills.

Your child will now have a longer attention span and usually be intensely curious about the world and how things work. Nine year olds often spend prolonged periods absorbed in activities that interest them, and may read in depth, want to learn more about a topic, and share their thoughts and opinions. They understand that objects can be classified into categories, and may enjoy collecting sets of items. They can perform mathematical operations such as addition and subtraction sums with multiple digits, can understand, and use fractions and organise data.

Children at this age will be able to give detailed accounts of events and topics and complete more complicated school projects, though some may now struggle more with increasingly challenging academic work at school.

Age 9: Social and emotional growth

By age nine, children are more emotionally mature and becoming better able to handle their frustrations and deal with conflicts. They may experience mood swings and be prone to outbursts of anger, but start to cope with and recover from these emotions better. Such self-control is important for a child's sense of capability and achievement. However, although now past the stage of 'monsters under the bed' and able to let go of nebulous fears, at this age some children feel more pressurised by the need to succeed, and may experience anxiety, especially about school performance. Although increasingly independent, they will still need support and security from parents.

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