- Cognitive Development
- Psychological Development
- Physical Development
- Tips for Parents
- Preteen Safety
In 1954, when J.R.R. Tolkien penned the Lord of the Rings, he christened the mid 20-year-old irresponsible Hobbits as "tweens -- between childhood and adulthood," which was arbitrarily achieved at 33 years of age in Middle Earth. This moniker has been recently resurrected to describe children between 9 to 11 years of age who are in their own transition from the relative tranquility of late childhood to the chaos that is endemic during the teenage years.
What are milestones in cognitive and academic development for tweens (children 9-11 years of age)?
In Piaget's stages of cognitive development, the 9- to 11-year-old child has entered the period of "concrete operations." This time span is characterized by the developing capability of organizing thought processes and use of deductive reasoning to successfully anticipate consequences. In addition, the ability to sort items by recognizing the abstract and more complex similarities is developing (for example, car, airplane, boat = all modes of transportation vs. a more immature lumping together based upon color similarities). Mathematical reciprocal relationships also become comprehensible (for example, 5 + 3 = 8, therefore 8 - 5 = 3). Generally, a longer attention span has set in (30-45 minutes), and the tween enjoys mental and physical challenges. Academically the 9- to 11-year-old student starts to develop the ability to form an opinion based upon presented evidence. He is also mastering the ability to present his own beliefs to his peers and parents. For example, the ability to analyze a written story and categorize it as fiction or nonfiction, is noted. By the end of this period, the child should be able to write several paragraphs supporting his argument. Editing his composition for grammar, punctuation, and spelling is expected.
What are milestones in psychological and emotional development for tweens?
The tween age range can be filled with anxiety. The development of real fears (such as kidnappings, war, violence) replaces fantasy fears (such as witches, monsters, boogie man). The development of delayed gratification is a consequence of the realization that current events may impact the future. The 9- to 11-year-old starts down the path of self-identity, independence, and development of moral values that will mark the teen years. The importance of "group identity" is established. Marketing capitalizes on this behavior when it exploits brand-name appeal (clothes, music, etc.) as more important than appearance or product quality. Advertising companies are also well aware that such allegiance is short lived and fickle; hence the rapid product-line changes. A major emotional step for this age group is exemplified in the realization that self-interest may need to take a back seat to the needs of others. Finally, it is during this two-year time frame that "puppy love" may first be experienced. The tween's experience of non-parental infatuation can be unnerving to both the child and his parents.
What are milestones in physical development for tweens?
The physical changes associated with puberty may start as early as 8 years of age in girls and 9 years of age in boys. While this early time frame is unusual, it is not uncommon to have the earlier pubertal milestones starting by 11 years of age. A moderate percentage of late tweens may develop body odor, an increase in sweat rate, and an increase in skin oils which may be associated with early acne.
Physical skills development in this age group underscores the neurologic ability to master complex integration of upper- and lower-extremity reciprocal actions. Competitive swimming and tennis require such a refined skill set. Likewise, the refinement of depth perception and visual anticipation becomes increasingly obvious when watching baseball, basketball, or soccer athletic matches. The ability to predict where the ball will be is paramount as skill level matures. For some children, however, it may become obvious that all athletes are not created equal and parental encouragement and exploring nontraditional sports (golf, martial arts, and distance running) are worthwhile.
What are tips for parents caring for a preteen?
The 9- to 11-year-old child is still emotionally dependent upon his parents. As such, parents maintain the status of a role-model figure. Healthy nutritional choices and an active lifestyle are very often reflected in children's choices of food and activities. If the parent's weekend is spent on the couch munching chips and dip, it is not surprising that children may withdraw from outdoor activities and spend an excessive amount of time watching TV or engaging in computer games. The tremendous increase in fast-food consumption and reduction in vigorous physical activity is linked to the obesity epidemic in both children and adults. A recent study indicates that if the obesity epidemic continues unabated, one in three children will develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. The individual and social/economic implications of such a development would be monumental.
Tweens are emotionally linked to their peers with a strong emphasis on "group think" - to be accepted implies being like your peers. The early understanding, "Soon I will be a teenager," and all that it implies, will appear on the horizon between 10 and 11 years of age. Conversely, the teenager's need to be independent of family has not yet developed. As such, children 9 to 11 years of age should be encouraged to participate in group events that benefit the common good. A social obligation for service to others should be discussed and practiced. Church groups, volunteer organizations, and scouting experiences all provide such an opportunity. Similarly, participation in family activities and individual responsibilities for the betterment of the family (such as chores) should also become part of a routine lifestyle. Children between 9 to 11 years of age are generally less egocentric than when they were younger and as such should find gratification and pleasure helping others.
How can parents ensure the safety of their preteen?
Preventable injury is the leading cause of death in this age range. Auto accidents account for 21% of all tween deaths, while non-auto accidents (bike, falls, drowning) collectively account for another 16% of deaths in this age group. Most parents are astounded to learn that 6% of all deaths in this age range are the result of suicide. Thus, almost half (43%) of all deaths in this age group are preventable. While peer pressure (for example, not to wear bike helmets) is a certain force, parental pressure ("no helmet, no bike") generally will prevail.
Any discussion regarding childhood safety must consider the pervasive and potentially corrupting effect of the Internet. Inappropriate web sites, social interactive sites (including Facebook and others), and general overuse must be addressed by parents. Limiting available content, hours of utilization, and time spent are all appropriate parental responsibilities.
Latest Healthy Kids News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Child Development Institute
Top Tween: Child Development Related Articles
Acne (Pimples)Acne is a localized skin inflammation as a result of overactivity of oil glands at the base of hair follicles. This inflammation, depending on its location, can take the form of a superficial pustule (contains pus), a pimple, a deeper cyst, congested pores, whiteheads, or blackheads. Treatments vary depending on the severity of the acne.
ADHD in Children: Understanding, Discipline and Better ParentingADHD is a common disorder seen in children. Parents can learn tips and techniques to teach children life skills, coping mechanisms, and better ways to learn with ADHD.
Bone CancerBone cancer is a rare type of cancer that occurs in cells that make up the bones. Primary bone cancer that arises in bone cells is different than metastatic bone cancer, which is cancer that arises in another part of the body and then spreads to the bones. Hereditary and environmental factors likely contribute to the risk of bone cancer. Signs and symptoms of bone cancer may include pain, the presence of a mass or lump, and bone fractures. There are different types of bone cancer (osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, pleomorphic sarcoma, fibrosarcoma). Treatment for bone cancer may include surgical removal of the tumor, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or a stem cell transplant. The prognosis for bone cancer depends on the type of cancer and the extent of spread.
CavitiesLearn more about cavities including symptoms, treatment, and prevention. See how tooth decay, plaque, and bacteria contribute to the creation of cavities and how regular brushing and flossing can help prevent dental caries.
Children's HealthChildren's health is focused on the well-being of children from conception through adolescence. There are many aspects of children's health, including growth and development, illnesses, injuries, behavior, mental illness, family health, and community health.
GERD (Acid Reflux) in Infants and ChildrenGERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is the upward movement of stomach content, including acid, into the esophagus and sometimes into or out of the mouth. Common symptoms of GERD in children include colic, feeding problems, poor growth, frequent vomiting or coughing, heartburn, regurgitation, recurrent wheezing, pneumonia, choking, or gagging. Treatment may involve elevating the child's bed, keeping the child upright after eating, limiting foods that seem to make the reflux worse, encouraging your child to exercise, and serving several small meals a day.
Heart Attack PreventionHeart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management. Symptoms of heart attack in men and women include chest discomfort and pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw, stomach, or back.
ObesityObesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20% over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.
Puberty in Girls QuizTake the Puberty In Girls Quiz to learn the myths and facts about normal adolescent growth and development for teens and tweens.
15 Tips for Clear SkinAcne, pimples, zits and blemishes often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and shoulders where skin has the most amount of oil glands. Few of us are immune to breakouts, but treatments can minimize outbreaks. Follow these 15 tips for a clear complexion and skin.
Sleep Disorders (How to Get a Good Night's Sleep)A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include:
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Concentration or memory problems
Lack of sleep and insomnia can be caused by medical conditions or diseases, medications, stress, or pain. The treatment for lack of sleep and insomnia depends upon the cause.
SuicideSuicide is the process of intentionally ending one's own life. Approximately 1 million people worldwide commit suicide each year, and 10 million to 20 million attempt suicide annually.
Teen Girls Tricky IssuesBeing a teenage girl comes with a variety of challenges. Here are tips on dealing with dating, sexting, cyber bullying, mean girls, periods, bad breath, and more as health experts explain when and how to get help.
Disease Prevention for TeensTeenagers recognize that they are developmentally between child and adult. Teen health prevention includes maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, preventing injuries and screening annually for potential health conditions that could adversely affect teenage health.
Food-Smart Kids SlidesHealthy kids' snacks and meals help your child develop a positive relationship with nutritious food. Teach your kids how to eat right for better nutrition.