University of Illinois Extension

The Middle Years

Diane Ryals, Family Life Educator

The ages of six to eleven are known as the middle years. All through this period, children continue to develop their special personalities. They are getting to know themselves and the world in which they live. Their growth is slow and steady. They become more independent and are better able to take care of themselves. They are eager adventurers who learn from their explorations.

The Six-Year-Old

  • is active, outgoing, and self-centered.
  • likes to roughhouse and doesn't know when to stop.
  • can play simple organized games with rules, but strategy and foresight are not highly developed.
  • may be clumsy and tends to dawdle.
  • wants needs met at once and gets upset when adults do not drop everything to meet those needs.

The Seven-Year-Old

  • begins to sift and sort information into categories and link together the bits of acquired information
  • begins to reason and may appear serious and reflective
  • can be moody because the digestion of knowledge is not always smooth
  • becomes more aware of self, and also of others

The Eight-Year-Old

  • is outgoing, curious, social and self-confident.
  • tends to be critical of self and judgmental of others.
  • is now concerned with the "why" of events and seeks out new experiences.
  • talks constantly and loves to gossip.

The Nine-Year-Old

  • shows a new maturity, self-confidence, and independence from adults
  • can evaluate herself, find that she is lacking, but not feel guilty about it
  • makes more discerning and objective judgements
  • is inner-directed and self-motivated.
  • has occasions of intense emotion and impatience, but outbursts are less frequent; shows greater self-control.

The Ten-Year-Old

  • takes pride in fitting in at home, at school, and with peers.
  • likes and enjoys friends.
  • likes outings, trips, games and belonging to groups.
  • moods are short-lived and soon forgotten.
  • girl may begin pre-puberty body changes; becomes concerned about her body, menstruation and about sexual activity in general.
  • male has less marked physical changes, thus concern for the body and physical maturity is much less noticeable.

The Eleven-Year-Old

  • accelerates in growth.
  • increases in activity, energy and appetite.
  • tends to forget manners.
  • takes unnecessary chances as a means of defying adult authority.
  • quarrels with adults and lacks emotional control, but usually. cooperates and is friendly with strangers.
  • needs firmness and understanding from adults.
  • is looking for new self-definition.
  • has best friends and a group of other friends with common interests.
  • can feel left out from his peer group.

Children are individuals with their own special temperaments and characteristics. The ages and stages children go through can vary tremendously from one child to the next. By respecting the uniqueness of children, you can help them develop strong and healthy self-concepts.