Parenting Children 9-12 Years Old 

Many physical and emotional changes occur during this time in a child’s life. But the biggest change of all might be in the way children think. 

Little kids are focused on themselves and less concerned about what others think and feel. This changes around age 9 and children become much more focused on what others think about them. Fitting in with the group becomes more important. 

Kids this age are growing more independent from their families. Their peer relationships become stronger and more complex. Peer pressure can start at this age. Kids aged 9-12 are also becoming more aware of their bodies as puberty approaches. Negative body image or eating problems can sometimes start around this time. 

It’s normal for a child at this age to start turning away from their parents and more toward their friends. But children still need the support and guidance of their parents – even when they say they don’t! Children who feel good about themselves can better resist peer pressure and make positive choices.  

To support your child during these years, start by understanding how they are changing physically and emotionally.  

 

Supporting Self-Confidence 

To thrive, kids need to trust themselves and their abilities. Kids need to know and believe that they can handle it if they fail at something. We build confidence by coming back from failure, trying again, and continuing to build skills. 

What can we do as parents to help kids feel capable and support their belief in their skills and talents?

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Body Safety

It’s not an easy subject, but to prevent childhood sexual abuse, we need to talk to our kids about how to stay safe. As children get older, these conversations change.

Learn more about how to teach children between 6 and 11 years old about body safety, including topics like consent, body ownership, boundaries, secrets, and more.

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Screen Time

Screens are a daily reality of our lives. The most important thing is that kids have balance in their lives. So in addition to some screen time, kids should also have plenty of sleep, time with family and friends, and playtime outside.

It’s also important that the content children consume is age-appropriate and high-quality.

Common Sense Media is a great resource. Find out whether a show, movie, or video game is appropriate for the age of your child, learn more about screen time recommendations, and more.

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Puberty

Puberty is the time when a child’s body begins to develop and change as they move from being a kid to an adult. Puberty is a time of rapid physical, emotional, and sexual changes. It’s another topic that’s not always easy to discuss with our kids, but luckily there are great resources to help you start the conversation.

Learn more about the different concerns boys and girls might have about puberty, as well as information about gender identity and puberty. (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics)

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Peer Pressure

The desire children have to fit in can contribute to peer pressure. Children want to be liked by their peers and they worry about being made fun of or left out of the group.

Encourage honest and open communication, and don’t overreact when your child confides in you (this will make them less likely to share in the future). Talk to your child about peer pressure, the importance of saying “no”, and how to get out of risky situations.

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Positive Parenting Tips

Here are some tips to support your child (Source: CDC):

  • Spend time together; talk with your child about their friends, school, and their challenges
  • Talk with them about risky things friends might pressure them to do
  • Involve your child in household tasks like cleaning and cooking
  • Talk with your child about saving and spending money
  • Meet the families of your child’s friends
  • Talk with your child about respect for others and helping people in need
  • Help your child set their own goals
  • Make clear rules and stick to them (explain the reason behind the rules)
  • Talk with your child about the changes of puberty

Learn more about positive parenting for children aged 9-12 in this article from Child Mind Institute, Parenting Tweens: What You Should Know.

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