Child Development by Age

18-Month Old2-Year Old2 1/2-Year Old3-Year Old •  3 1/2-Year Old4-Year Old4 1/2-Year Old5-Year Old5 1/2-Year Old6-Year Old6 1/2-Year Old •  7-Year Old •  8-Year Old9-Year Old10-Year Old •  11-Year Old12-Year Old •  13-Year Old •  14-Year Old •  15-Year Old •  16-Year Old

For more information about any of these ages, check out the following books.  Purchasing from Amazon.com through our website supports the work we do to help families.

Your One Year Old by Ames, Ilg and Baker Your Two Year Old by Ilg Your Three Year Old by Ilg Your Four Year Old by Ilg Your Five Year Old by Ilg
Your Six Year Old Your Seven Year Old Your Eight Year Old by Ilg Your Nine Year Old by Ilg Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old by Ilg

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 18-MONTH OLD CHILD

18 month old boyAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to take into account, his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your One Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of 18-month olds: “I do it myself!”

 

Typically, an 18-month old child:

  • does the opposite of most instructions given by a parent
  • seldom obeys any verbal command
  • uses “No!” as chief word
  • is not motivated by words
  • is not able to wait — NOW is the time that is important
  • cannot stand frustration
  • constantly seems to find ways to frustrate self
  • treats people like objects (will step on, push, hit others, including babies, without remorse)
  • has no concept of sharing
  • needs one word commands (which probably won’t be followed)
  • is very limited in what he understands, even though he now can use words to some extent
  • is extremely immature emotionally; may tantrum easily and often
  • has boundless energy and needs many outlets for it (especially stair climbing)
  • can be distracted or lured away from a forbidden object or activity

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 2-YEAR OLD

two year oldAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Two Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.
 

Basic description of 2-Year Olds: Terrible and Tender

 

Typically, a 2-year old child:

is less frustrated than a child between 18-23 months

  • is more willing to do what he can and doesn’t try too hard to do things beyond his ability
  • is more coordinated; less likely to fall
  • is less pre-occupied with keeping his balance; runs, climbs more easily
  • has better language skills, is less frustrated because he can make himself more easily understood
  • can wait a few minutes for want he wants
  • can stand slight or temporary frustration
  • is beginning to like the idea of pleasing others
  • still cannot share, but can give another child a substitute toy
  • is loving and affectionate

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 2½-YEAR OLD

Boy in his truckAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Two Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.
 

Typically, a 2 1/2-year old:

  • is in a difficult phase
  • is rigid and inflexible
  • has almost no patience; wants what he wants when he wants it
  • cannot adapt, give in, or wait a little while
  • demands that everything be in its proper (to him) place
  • requires routines be followed rigidly; in the same sequence, wears the same clothes, eats the same food
  • is extremely domineering and demanding: he must give the orders, make the decisions
  • is subject to violent emotions; there is little modulation of emotional expression (it is all intense!)
  • is in an age of opposite extremes; he finds it almost impossible to make a choice and stick with it
  • finds it nearly impossible to change gears, is highly persistent
  • is vigorous, enthusiastic, energetic

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 3-YEAR OLD

three year old in bath
As you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Three Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of 3-Year Olds: Friend or enemy

 

Typically, a 3-year old:

  • loves to conform
  • uses the word “Yes” easily
  • likes to share, likes the idea of “We”
  • no longer needs the protection of rituals
  • feels more secure in his relations with others and with himself
  • enjoys cooperating
  • likes to make friends
  • has increased motor abilities
  • has a marked increase and interest in vocabulary and language
  • is easily influenced to behave when exciting new words are used, such as “secret,” “surprise,” “different,” “guess”
  • willingly goes forward toward new adventures
  • is in a high period of equilibrium; pleased with himself and with others

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 3½-YEAR OLD

3 1/2 year old girl
As you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Three Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Typically, a 3 1/2-year old:

  • enters a period of marked insecurity and disequilibrium
  • can be extremely uncoordinated motorwise: stumbles, falls, may fear heights, hands may tremble, cannot draw firmly
  • may become uncoordinated language-wise: may seem to stutter (esp. if was highly verbal previously) — it is as if the mouth can no longer keep up with the mind
      [Note: It is important for parents to stay relaxed and accepting and to not make a big deal over speech struggles in order to prevent a later problem]
  • may complain that he cannot see or hear right; may cross eyes frequently
  • uses tensional outlets more frequently: nail biting, eye blinking, nose picking, facial tics, grabbing genitals, thumb sucking may increase – 3/12 is a peak time for usage of tensional outlets
  • is emotionally insecure which leads to increased whining, crying, frequent questioning “Do you love me?” and frequent complaints “You don’t love me.”
  • may say, “I hate you” when frustrated by limits
  • is extremely demanding of adults: may demand “Don’t look!” “Don’t talk!” “Don’t laugh!”
  • may demand all attention be on him; is very jealous of attention given to others
  • is insecure with friends: demands all their attention, shows emotional extremes – shy one minute, over-bearing the next

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 4-YEAR OLD

4 year old boyAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Four Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of 4-Year Olds: Out of Bounds

 

Other descriptions Gesell offers:

  • Expansive
  • Boasting
  • Joyous
  • Exuberant
  • Adventuresome
  • Energetic
  • Bossy
  • Enthusiastic

 

Typically, a 4-year old:
Intellectual Development

  • has learned about time — can understand past, present, future. Understands concept of days — today, everyday, yesterday, tomorrow, a week, a month, every morning, afternoon, evening
  • can learn seasons and holidays
  • can understand spatial concepts: up, down, in, out, over, around, under. Is often extremely interested in what is behind things. May want to check behind objects and people
  • can count three objects
  • can recite numbers from 1 to 10
  • can draw a man with two parts: head and legs
  • may repeat and repeat a “why” question, because he or she may not be able to understand the explanation and may feel frustrated with you and with himself because he cannot make it make sense. He keeps asking because the desire to understand remains but the ability is not there yet.
  • loves anything new – loves adventures, loves to experiment
  • Uses lots of why questions. Usually isn’t as much interested in the exact mechanics of something, i.e., the how it works part, but rather the purpose of something, the why of it. May not have the intellectual maturity to fully understand explanations.
  • is less interested in fully completing something as beginning it and moving on quickly to the next thing

Language Development

  • has approximately 1550 vocabulary words
  • is becoming a conversationalist: wants to have discussions, wants to use new-found vocabulary and the power he has discovered in language. Sometimes the child asks “why” because he wants to have conversations with parent and has learned that this is a way to achieve that
  • loves exaggeration: “a million, billion ants on the sidewalk,” “as tall as the sky,” “as big as my house” and loves silly language
  • loves to boast about being the biggest, strongest, best, happiest, meanest, etc.
  • uses lots of “bathroom words” — 4-year olds delight in the shock value of words that upset or surprise parents. Expect phrases like “poopey-head” and “doo-doo face.” They also will use swear words they have heard without knowing what they mean, just because they get a rise out of people.

Social Development

  • loves to play with other children and is learning to play cooperatively
  • much more willing to share and take turns
  • likes to do big projects with a group
  • likes to have friends, likes to meet new friends, likes to see himself as a friend
  • may engage in sex play, “playing doctor.” Curious about bodily functions of others

Emotional Development

  • exhibits intense emotions: can go from love to hate in a heartbeat. Will love or hate certain foods and people
  • is passionately in love with mother, and hates it when she changes anything about herself (a new hair style, new clothes)
  • loves to laugh; can get almost hysterical with laughter
  • when angry, will hit, kick, spit
  • is less stressed and has less need for tensional outlets
  • may like violent stories with lots of action. May demand gory details, especially related to death. “What’s it like to be inside a coffin.” “How much time does it take to dig the hole.” Doesn’t understand that death is permanent; expects the person to magically be able to return

Fears

  • may have some fears, such as: fire, the sound of sirens, the dark, wild animals, and mother leaving, especially at night

Imagination

  • has a very active imagination, may have an imaginary friend
  • has trouble differentiating real from pretend
  • parents should not label behavior as “lying” when a child makes up a story. The child is not lying in the same way an older child might lie.
  • Parents should not punish child for telling untruths, nor should they readily believe all stories children tell, even when they swear the stories are true. The wise parent requires real evidence before believing!

Physical Development

  • has energy to burn, seems to be in perpetual motion. Loves to run, jump, climb
  • is much more coordinated than in the last year
  • loves to be speedy
  • can skip on one foot

Sibling Relationship

  • not ready to be trusted around younger siblings. May promise to be gentle but may not be able to follow through

Health/Self-Care

  • can dress and undress self
  • can lace shoes
  • is fascinated with body functions, especially what bodies produce. One result is a fascination with bathrooms
  • starts to want privacy when using the bathroom
  • may forget to go to the bathroom when into serious play
  • may need to urinate in difficult situations or at mealtimes
  • can wash and dry face and hands
  • can brush teeth
  • may get frequent colds and may have stomach aches in social situation

Discipline

  • needs to have adults intervene if his behavior is getting out of his control
  • has discovered that the adult is not all powerful as once was believed. The child learns that he can do bad things and the world will not stop.
  • wants limits, wants to know the rules and boundaries. Can understand simple directions — “You can go as far as that tree,” “You can play with everything on the playground up to that fence”
  • responds well to praise

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 4½-YEAR OLD

4 1/2 year old girl paintingAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Four Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Typically, a 4 1/2-year old:

  • is more interested in figuring out what is real and what is pretend
  • is a little less wild
  • can stick with a task a little longer
  • emotions are still quite volatile and uncertain: he laughs and cries easily
  • more persistent and demanding, less easy to distract. Behaviors may seem purposely obnoxious
  • has a new awareness of “good” and “bad.” Loves real life stories that show who is the good guy and who is the bad guy
  • spiritually, may like the idea that there is a God who is strong and a friend. If part of family routine, likes to say prayers and bless everyone. This can allay some bedtime fears.
  • may struggle to get to sleep

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 5-YEAR OLD

5 year old boyAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Five Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of 5-Year olds: A golden age

 

Typically, a 5-year old:

Outlook

  • enjoys life
  • looks consistently on life’s sunny side
  • uses positive language “Sure!”, “Alright!”, “Fine!”, “Lovely!”, “Wonderful”, “I just love…!”
  • lives in the here and now
  • is not as adventurous; is quieter by nature
  • likes the security of tried and true
  • is less resistant, not working on proving that he is his own boss
  • can protect himself from over-stimulation, i.e. knows his own limits/li>

Abilities

  • is impressed with his own increased abilities
  • loves to read, learn new facts, practice writing…
  • is able to judge what he can and cannot do; therefore, is more confident and secure
  • is determined to do things “just right”
  • may ask for permission to do even simple things
  • cares a lot about his own room, home, street, neighborhood, classroom
  • may ascribe human feelings to inanimate objects (“It is raining because the clouds got angry”)
  • has a more accurate and detailed concept of death – however, since he may still think death is reversible, he often can be matter-of-fact and unemotional about death
  • some may still wet the bed at night (not a concern)

Family

  • adores parents and sees them as the ultimate authorities
  • has strong feelings for family, including pets
  • sees mother as the center of his world and wants to please her and be near her
  • needs reassurance that he is loved
  • may do better with siblings, but may over-estimate abilities to care for younger children

Fears

  • is not much of a worrier
  • may have occasional nightmares
  • may have frequent frightening animal dreams

Play/Imagination

  • gets along well with others, although plays better with two friends than with three
  • loves to play “house”
  • plays with blocks
  • loves to climb, swing, jump, and skip
  • has less interest in sex play
  • may make up stories with violence as the main theme

 
Parents may need to consider whether their 5-year old is ready to begin first grade. Some are not ready in the different areas of maturity: emotional, social, physical, as well as the often more emphasized intellectual.
 

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 5½-YEAR OLD

5 1/2 year old girlAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Five Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Typically, a 5 1/2-year old:

  • is brash and combative
  • is hesitant and indecisive at times
  • can be over-demanding and explosive at other times
  • can be shy one minute, bold the next
  • is in a constant state of tension, which results in an increase in tensional outlet behaviors (chewing on lose clothing, biting or tapping pencils)
  • is restless and finds it hard to sit still
  • is more awkward

Discipline Issues

  • is not as likely to obey as age 5
  • will rebel and go against what he is asked to do
  • defies in order to dawdle
  • may throw temper tantrums

School/Learning

  • is calmer at school than at home
  • finds it hard to maintain grasp of pencil
  • may reverse numbers or letters (this is not a good age to teach reading or writing)

Health/Self-Care

  • experiences an increase in colds, headaches, earaches, stomachaches – feet hurt, face hurts
  • may have toileting accidents when overly excited

 
Parents may need to consider whether their 5-year old is ready to begin first grade. Some are not ready in the different areas of maturity: emotional, social, physical, as well as the often more emphasized intellectual.
 
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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 6-YEAR OLD

6 year old girlAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Six Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic Description of 6-Year Old: Loving and Defiant

 

Typically, a 6-year old:

Behavior

  • is expansive and out of bounds
  • is dramatic and loud
  • likes to show off
  • can be very affectionate
  • can be extremely enthusiastic and adventuresome
  • asks a lot of questions
  • is demanding, contrary or combative
  • is competitive – needs to be the fastest, best, the winner
  • may be aggressive
  • is stubborn
  • cries easily when hurt physically
  • tends to fling clothes all over the house
  • often loses shoes
  • suddenly seems clumsy and uncoordinated
  • may go through parents’ private stuff

Emotions

  • has a hard time dealing with any failure
  • cannot bear to lose or be criticized
  • loves to be flattered and praised
  • can be ambivalent, may have trouble making choices
  • is easily hurt emotionally

Parents

  • sees self, not the mother, as the center of the universe
  • goes from hating mother to loving her; can fear that she will get sick, die, not be there
  • when he comes home from school
  • may think father knows everything
  • is at his best and worst with primary caregiver

School/Learning

  • likes to learn and be read to
  • frequently reverses letters and numbers
  • wants to be good at school
  • likes to conform
  • may like a “strict” teacher
  • can get confused if school rules differ from home rules
  • relationship with teacher is not as intense as it will be in another year

Siblings

  • can be very jealous
  • can be very bossy, especially with younger siblings
  • argues, bullies, torments, hits

Friends

  • can make friends easily, but relationships tend to be stormy because he is so stormy
  • aggressive, quarrelsome, belligerent
  • excitable, emotional
  • will cheat to win and will accuse others of cheating

Eating

  • stuffs mouth
  • talks with mouth full
  • grabs for food
  • knocks over milk
  • falls off chair
  • wants “biggest” piece

Bedtime is easier than at 5 1/2

  • likes to talk before bed
  • may rebel at bedtime
  • sleeps well

Elimination

  • occasionally has a daytime accident
  • will be very ashamed about such accidents

Tensional outlets increase

  • restless, hands always busy, wiggles, kicks
  • temper tantrums
  • bites fingernails
  • chews on hair or pencils
  • picks nose

Many health complaints

  • legs hurt
  • arms hurt
  • back of neck hurts
  • scalp is very sensitive
  • increased illnesses
  • mucous membranes are easily irritated
  • peak of ear infections
  • complains that it is too hot and perspires easily
  • increased allergies
  • more accidents
  • hates the sight of blood and anything that penetrates the body
  • makes a big fuss whenever hurt

Parents may feel

  • incompetent
  • out of control
  • angry and losing their tempers a lot
  • the 6 year old may remind parents of 2 1/2-year old

Suggestions for parenting your 6-year old

  • offer frequent praise
  • give three chances to comply
  • use counting (“Let’s see if you can do that by the time I count to ten”)
  • use of clock (“See if you can do that by 3 o’clock”)
  • side-step versus confront issues i.e. change subject, if possible
  • limit direct commands
  • negotiate whenever possible
  • ignore unless it is life-threatening, morally wrong or dangerous (B. Coloroso)
  • use time-outs

 
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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 6½-YEAR OLD

6 1/2 year old boy
As you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Six Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.
 

Typically, a 6 1/2-year old:

  • is a little calmer than at six
  • has a huge capacity to enjoy life
  • is more warm and loving
  • is sympathetic
  • is more appreciative
  • loves mother again
  • has boundless enthusiasm
  • loves to explore
  • loves intellectual challenges
  • shows off accomplishments proudly
  • loves jokes and guessing games

 
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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 7-YEAR OLD

7 year old boyAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Seven Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.
 

Basic description of a 7-year old: Age of Withdrawal

 

Typically, a 7-year old:

Emotional Growth

  • is calmer than at age 6
  • is thoughtful and a good listener
  • loves to think, observe, and reflect
  • is self-absorbed
  • loves to argue but goes along with solutions
  • likes to plan his own days
  • has increasing control over body, thoughts, and temper
  • is less selfish and more forgiving

Mood

  • is moody, morose, melancholy
  • broods and sulks
  • often asks, “Why do I have to?” and “Why should I?”
  • does not respond well to humor
  • is hard to satisfy
  • is easily disappointed

Intellectual Growth

  • is absent-minded
  • procrastinates
  • is easily distracted

Friends

  • thinks others are mean, hateful, unfriendly, always picking on him, not liking him
  • may tell stories of maltreatment
  • may join several peers to gang up on one child or may become target of other children ganging up on him
  • does not want others to laugh at him

Fears

  • has overcome some previous fears such as of the dentist or swimming
  • has new worries, including:
    • not doing well in school
    • hurricanes (or any natural disaster)
    • war
    • that family won’t have enough money
    • people he loves will die
    • that any pain or discomfort is a sign of a fatal illness
    • being late for school
    • the dark

Privacy

  • wants control and privacy
  • likes a room of his own to which he can retreat
  • does not like to be touched or seen without clothes
  • may talk to himself in front of mirror

Parents

  • gets along rather well with mother
  • wants her support and sympathy
  • believes parents like the other children in the family more than they like him
  • admires father, especially boys may “worship” them

Siblings

  • fights with siblings
  • is best with much older and much younger siblings
  • with siblings close in age, things are “just not fair enough”
  • enjoys family outings
  • less tattling

Sex

  • may not notice sex differences
  • are “mushy”
  • some, especially boys, are more hostile towards the opposite sex

School/Learning

  • enjoys learning
  • can idolize a teacher
  • may have a crush on a teacher
  • frequently asks for permission to do tasks
  • wants to be special
  • at home, can complain a lot about school
  • not a good messenger for bringing papers home from school
  • may give a “gift” to the teacher that actually is something that belongs to mother
  • enjoys reading as skills improve
  • understands time better (which may be why there is an increase in worrying about being late)
  • sets high standards for self, wants perfect scores and papers, erases a lot
  • perseveres once starts an activity

Physical development

  • has more headaches, rubs eyes
  • complains of pain, especially knee pains
  • is more coordinated
  • is more cautious

Play

  • not as adventuresome
  • can stick with one activity for a long time
  • can play competitive games better because winning is not so important
  • likes computer play
  • likes to collect things
  • loves nature
  • loves to participate in sports

Frequent use of

  • “I can’t”
  • “This is serious”
  • “I feel embarrassed”
  • a lot of self-criticism

Ethics

  • tries to live up to standards for being “good”
  • tries to tell the truth, but is quick with excuses
  • believes fairness is very important
  • may collect things that really don’t belong to him

Suggestions for parenting your 7-year old

  • Use a gentle approach
  • Show appreciation
  • Provide reasonable amounts of sympathy
  • Do not take reports of unfairness too seriously
  • Stay calm

 
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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 8-YEAR OLD

8 year old girlAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Eight Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of 8 Year Olds: Lively and outgoing
 
Typically, an 8-year old:
Physical Behavior

  • is high energy, speedy, walks quickly, talks quickly, eats quickly, reads quickly
  • can shift easily from one activity to the next
  • likes rough and tumble play and loud games
  • is better coordinated
  • wants to expand boundaries of personal space
  • is careless, sloppy, and accident prone

Emotional Development

  • is more self-aware
  • can express himself through emotions such as amazement and curiosity
  • loves to talk
  • can be very dramatic
  • often exaggerates
  • is demanding
  • is evaluative
  • hard on self regarding mistakes
  • extremely sensitive to perceived criticism from others
  • can shift blame quickly to others when he attacks someone (verbally or physically)
  • can tell time better but may be more careless than the more anxious seven-year-old stage
  • eagerly meets challenges
  • can over-estimate abilities
  • often boasts and then comes up with alibis
  • hungry for praise (may put himself down in order to get it)
  • likes to bargain

Intellectual Development

  • daydreams
  • tends to miss instructions and may frequently say “What?”
  • not a good self-starter, but once started, needs some freedom to do it his own way
  • the beginning of abstract thinking
  • can apply simple logic to arrive at conclusions
  • can reason deductively
  • can classify

Parents

  • curious about all that is going on in the family
  • wants to be sure parents’ relationship is working
  • is quick to pick up parents’ attitudes and values

Mother

  • has a more intense relationship
  • is highly possessive
  • is very in-tune with her
  • wants all her attention, including constant conversations
  • wants her to play board games with him
  • wants to please Mother
  • wants to help her satisfy her needs

Father

  • the relationship is not as intense as with mother
  • may be less openly affectionate
  • may mind father better than previously
  • may mind father better than minds mother

Siblings

  • wants his fair share and all privileges that other siblings have
  • needs specific instructions and lots of praise when caring for and playing with younger siblings
  • can be too strict if caring for a younger sibling
  • may take out frustrations toward others on siblings

Friends/Relationships

  • has more friends than previously
  • some eight-year-olds have many friends, others only one or two
  • wants a good two-way relationship
  • is more willing to cooperate and conform
  • may pick on any child considered to be an outsider
  • plays more with same sex children
  • beginning of “secret clubs”
  • cares about relationships
  • heightened curiosity in learning how relationships around him function
  • can approach strangers with more confidence

Eating

  • increased appetite
  • will eat more new foods

Clothes

  • sloppy
  • throws clothes on floor
  • is increasingly interested in brand names and in being in style

Health

  • tends to be healthier
  • when sick, recovers rapidly
  • when upset, may get stomach aches
  • when overly excited, may get headaches
  • may have numerous eye complaints

Collections

  • extremely interested in and concerned about possessions and collections
  • likes to acquire, barter, arrange, classify, and gloat about possessions
  • loves money

Sex

  • increased interest in babies
  • increased curiosity about life, sex and marriage
  • shifted interest in the opposite sex
  • boys can recognize and admire “pretty girls”; girls can recognize and admire “handsome boys”
  • some sex play may occur
  • boys especially may become interested in dirty jokes and smutty talk

Suggestions for parenting your 8-year old

  • Give specific, descriptive praise often
  • Provide protection from trying to do too much
  • Provide protection from excessive self-criticism
  • Mother can try to spend a specific dedicated time each day where she is fully engaged

 
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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 9-YEAR OLD

Nine year old boy
As you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Nine Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of a 9-year old: Unpredictable

This is an age marked by more individual differences. Therefore, it is a more difficult age to describe and predict. For example, some:

  • have strong feelings about family; others seem indifferent
  • love money; others don’t seem to care about it
  • spend all their money; others hoard it
  • are dexterous with their hands; others are not
  • love sports; others are not interested
  • are fascinated with violent TV shows and games; other are not and sometimes are even offended or upset by them
  • are good eaters; others are not
  • have little or no sleep problems; others have many
  • go through activities or tasks with great speed; others much more slowly

 

Typically, a 9-year old:
Outlook

  • is described by parents as “in a fog,” “in a daze,” “in another world”
  • is more thoughtful than at age eight, and not as unhappy as at age seven
  • can have wide mood swings
  • may be impatient and short tempered, may have angry flare ups, but gets over them quickly
  • is more eager to please, wants to be liked, loves to be chosen, will work for a favor, thrives on praise
  • is more independent, self-motivated
  • is more dependable and trustworthy
  • worries more, is more anxious, more withdrawn, less certain, less speedy than the typical 8-year old
  • is restless; boys let off steam by wrestling, girls are more likely to wander around the house

Interests

  • has various and numerous interests
  • loves to collect things
  • can keep collections neat and organized
  • likes to make checklists, likes to classify, identify and categorize information
  • likes to understand how other things are classified, such as the various ranks in the military, car brands and models, types of airplanes
  • likes to know what things cost

Intellectual Development

  • is willing to attack new and difficult tasks
  • is better able to reason things out
  • can thoughtfully plan approach to a project or activity
  • likes to complete every last detail
  • sometimes can exhaust himself trying to get everything finished satisfactorily
  • may have trouble finding the time to do everything he has planned
  • is willing to do something over and over again in order to become proficient at it
  • boys can seem almost obsessed about achieving their goals, especially if there is a time pressure
  • makes finer, more detailed evaluations of things, notices subtle differences in things and in emotions
  • loves to talk about things; talks less just for the sake of hearing his own voice
  • may ignore requests unless they make sense to him
  • complains and gives excuses for not doing tasks, such as having some sudden physical ailment (eyes hurt so cannot read, stomach hurts so cannot clean up a mess). These complaints may be legitimate, i.e., the pain is real, but usually it is temporary
  • tends to be matter-of-fact about death

School/Learning

  • practicing and refining skills learned in the first three grades
  • replaces learning to read with reading to learn
  • loves to soak up information and memorize facts
  • has trouble paraphrasing and explaining the real meanings
  • can recognize views of others
  • can correct false first impressions using logic
  • may find it hard to sit still at school; often drums fingers, hums, sings, whistles, whispers

Ethical Development

  • blames others less
  • shows the beginnings of a conscience
  • is more able to take responsibility for his actions and mistakes
  • is very interested in determining what truly is fair
  • is especially interested in “Who started it?”
  • shows a lot of self-criticism. Won’t accept a compliment if he thinks it is not fully deserved

Imagination

  • tells less tall tales and wild exaggerations
  • believes less in fairy tales and magic, although may be very superstitious

Friends

  • can be a loyal and devoted friend
  • is willing to overlook small errors
  • doesn’t want to hurt others
  • exhibits more intense disdain and disgust for opposite sex
  • boys like to “dash about, shouting”
  • girls are quieter, like to giggle and whisper
  • likes to be a member of a “club” or group

Family relationships

  • is less willing to share details of his life with parents
  • may question parents always being right and having all the power
  • may question the rules
  • may seem to be drawing away from the family circle
  • may object to being called, “My son,” or “My little girl”
  • may not like to talk about when he was younger
  • may not want to be recognized in public by a parent
  • appreciates grandparents

Mother

  • is moving away from earlier preoccupation with mother
  • has less interest in her comments or company
  • Boys are often sulky around her and frequently find fault with her and can resent her efforts to make them neat and clean

Father

  • may be a growing respect for father and for father’s occupation
  • enters a new relationship with his father based on shared interests, especially for boys

Siblings

  • may get along better than previously did with siblings
  • is proud of older siblings
  • able to respond nicely to younger siblings, especially if given some responsibility for caring for them

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 10-YEAR OLD

10 year old girlAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of a 10-year old: Relaxed and easy-going

 

Typically, a 10-year old:

  • is frank, un-self-conscious, accepts life and the world as they are
  • delights in physical activities – sliding, running, climbing, jumping

Family

  • is closely attached to family; mother has special prestige, but still gets along well with father
  • can be very nurturing towards younger siblings, even pets

Social

  • is fond of friends
  • likes to be in groups, clubs, gangs, which tend to be inclusive in their membership
  • loves to talk

School/Learning

  • likes school, likes to learn and accepts a reasonable amount of homework without resentment
  • is good at memorizing

Moral/Ethical

  • has a strong moral sense of right and wrong – emphasis on finding out what is wrong
  • has a matter-of-fact attitude about philosophical issues – life, death, deity, time, space issues
  • is not self-centered but becoming aware of a conscience

Summary of adolescence:

  • 10 is reminiscent of 5 – self-contained, relaxed, direct, easy give-and-take
  • 11 is tense, questioning, searches and tests self through conflicts with others
  • 12 is better balanced – accepts others, more objective, fluctuates from childish to mature attitudes
  • 13 withdraws – reminiscent of 7
  • 14 more outgoing, compares self with others
  • 15 is more introspective – explores self in relation to ideas, ideals, opinions of others
  • 16 more at ease, independent, self-reliant

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 11-YEAR OLD

11 year old boyAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of an 11-year old: Fluctuates between extremes
 
Typically, an 11-year old:

Outlook

  • is talkative, outgoing and friendly
  • is self-assertive, although may be called “rude and difficult”
  • experiences wide range of moods and emotions- can fly into a rage or burst out in laughter
  • can be loud and exuberant
  • has a talent for gaiety and laughter

Behavior

  • interrupts often
  • is impulsive
  • is highly curious
  • is still emotionally immature and unaware of how others see him
  • exhibits best behavior when away from home
  • resists imposed tasks

Physical

  • wiggles a lot
  • is increasingly hungry – has appetite for experience as well as food
  • fatigues readily
  • can feel too hot or too cold – even the body becomes unstable as he enters adolescence

Family

  • still has a strong attachment to home
  • quarrels with siblings
  • rebels against parents; finds fault, argues, calls names, yells, talks back
  • is more critical of father
  • needs parents to balance reactions and not be too sensitive or too lenient

Summary of adolescence:

  • 10 is reminiscent of 5 – self-contained, relaxed, direct, easy give-and-take
  • 11 is tense, questioning, searches and tests self through conflicts with others
  • 12 is better balanced – accepts others, more objective, fluctuates from childish to mature attitudes
  • 13 withdraws – reminiscent of 7
  • 14 more outgoing, compares self with others
  • 15 is more introspective – explores self in relation to ideas, ideals, opinions of others
  • 16 more at ease, independent, self-reliant

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 12-YEAR OLD

12 year old girlAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of 12-Year Olds: The calm before the storm
 
Typically, a 12-year old:

  • shows many changes for the better
  • is less impulsive, more reasonable, more companionable, and shows better self-control
  • can be more objective
  • is more insightful
  • doesn’t want to be seen as a “baby” – works at being grown-up
  • accepts correction and discipline
  • can atone for guilt felt

Social

  • can be excellent conversational company
  • is friendly, out-going, cooperative, ready to please, spontaneous, positive and enthusiastic
  • has a growing sense of humor, more cheerful, sociable
  • is less naive in social relationships
  • gets along better with all peers
  • is influenced by the attitudes and interests of peer group
  • shows empathy and can views things from the standpoint of others
  • wants to win approval from others

School/Learning

  • likes to learn
  • shows warm admiration for firm, well-informed teacher who has sense of humor
  • can work independently, but desires group activity
  • seizes opportunities for discussion or debate of political and civic issues
  • shows increase in conceptual thinking, in abstracts
  • shows initiative (example: might start own newspaper)

Family

  • shows increased tact when caring for younger siblings
  • has improved mother-daughter relationship

Summary of adolescence:

  • 10 is reminiscent of 5 – self-contained, relaxed, direct, easy give-and-take
  • 11 is tense, questioning, searches and tests self through conflicts with others
  • 12 is better balanced – accepts others, more objective, fluctuates from childish to mature attitudes
  • 13 withdraws – reminiscent of 7
  • 14 more outgoing, compares self with others
  • 15 is more introspective – explores self in relation to ideas, ideals, opinions of others
  • 16 more at ease, independent, self-reliant

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 13-YEAR OLD

13 year old boyAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.

 

Basic description of 13-Year Olds: Introspective

 
Typically, a 13-year old:
Mood

  • exhibits occasional moodiness
  • is more serious, less spontaneous, more reflective and more self-critical

Communication

  • is not as open or communicative and may lapse into spells of silence
  • is more guarded – may hesitate before expressing self, may be more shy with strangers
  • is very sensitive to criticism and keenly perceptive of the emotional state of others
  • needs a lot of sympathetic understanding

Responsibility

  • is more adaptable and dependable
  • has a strong sense of duty
  • muses about future, wishes, ambitions
  • shows increased resistance to authority figures

Intellectual Development

  • at school, responds with intense interest to assignments and discussions
  • has a great capacity to acquire knowledge through reading, listening, looking
  • states propositions and questions ideas, thinks in terms of hypothetical conditions
  • enjoys matching wits with a cooperative adult
  • becomes aware of ability to reason
  • searches for the “right” word or phrase

Family

  • makes detailed criticisms of parents – girls may be very critical of mother, especially her dress, clothes, make-up
  • seems to withdraw from family circle and from close confidential relationship with parents
  • fights with siblings, particularly those between 6 and 11 years of age

Social

  • is intrigued by the wide array of interpersonal relations
  • is more discriminating about companions, has fewer friends
  • is contemptuous of “kid stuff” of 12’s

Summary of adolescence:

  • 10 is reminiscent of 5 – self-contained, relaxed, direct, easy give-and-take
  • 11 is tense, questioning, searches and tests self through conflicts with others
  • 12 is better balanced – accepts others, more objective, fluctuates from childish to mature attitudes
  • 13 withdraws – reminiscent of 7
  • 14 more outgoing, compares self with others
  • 15 is more introspective – explores self in relation to ideas, ideals, opinions of others
  • 16 more at ease, independent, self-reliant

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 14-YEAR OLD

14 year old on phoneAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development, with the primary source being Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. Also included is information from Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary.
 

Basic description of 14-Year Olds: Coming into His Own

 

Typically, a 14-year old:

  • is robust, vigorous, expressive, gregarious
  • enjoys life
  • laughs a lot, has a good sense of humor
  • is friendly and outgoing
  • is optimistic
  • has a new sense of contentment and relaxation
  • is more self-assured
  • may over-commit

Intellectual

  • is reasonable
  • can look at all sides of an issue
  • likes to reason and is capable of independent thinking
  • has the verbal comprehension and word fluency equal to 4/5’s adult level
  • shows greater respect and confidence based on increased understanding
  • tries to be realistic and objective in judgments, not as impulsive
  • is exuberant, energetic but reasonable, has a fair measure of wisdom and philosophy, often expressed in wit and humor
  • can be objective about own development thus far and can begin to consider long-range plans

Social

  • prefers company of peers
  • can perceive how others feel and can see self as others see him
  • is tolerant of differences in people
  • wants to be popular
  • has a high interest in being member of formal clubs, teams
  • communicates with friends at all hours of day or night
  • is interested in people and aware of personality differences
  • loves to talk – analyzing other people and their motives, confessing, denying, disputing

Family

  • feels embarrassed by parental conduct, yet home relations are more genial and less tense
  • shows a more mature attitude towards adults in general
  • gets along well with younger siblings

Summary of adolescence:

  • 10 is reminiscent of 5 – self-contained, relaxed, direct, easy give-and-take
  • 11 is tense, questioning, searches and tests self through conflicts with others
  • 12 is better balanced – accepts others, more objective, fluctuates from childish to mature attitudes
  • 13 withdraws – reminiscent of 7
  • 14 more outgoing, compares self with others
  • 15 is more introspective – explores self in relation to ideas, ideals, opinions of others
  • 16 more at ease, independent, self-reliant

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 15-YEAR OLD

15 year oldAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development.
 

Basic description of 15-Year Olds: A Very Complex Age

 

Typically, a 15-year old:
 
Mood

  • is moody, but not as intense and piercing as at 13
  • is serious-minded but does not indulge in heavy moods
  • may be seen as indifferent or apathetic
  • is more thoughtful, serious, introspective, and quiet than at earlier ages – even speaks with a soft voice
  • may be more withdrawn, slow-to-warm, unwilling to reveal self
  • is more belligerent and defiant
  • is very vulnerable
  • resists limits and is striving to be more independent

Social

  • is gregarious in groups, likes gatherings, will follow a crowd, and enjoys spontaneous informal groupings
  • shows increased self-awareness and perceptiveness
  • focuses attention on details of thought and feeling, notices sensitivities, irritabilities, resistances, aversions and suspicions
  • is capable of harboring feelings of grudge, revenge and violence

Communication

  • uses exaggerated language to express scorn
  • respects the spoken word and works hard to accurately state thoughts and ideas

Family

  • feels conflicted over issues of attachment and detachment
  • virtually secedes from family – omits or skimps on greetings, keeps to self, won’t sit with family at family functions; family unity at all-time low
  • gets along better with siblings
  • analyzes the personality traits of parents
  • is reconciling loyalty to home, school and community

School/learning

  • loves or hates school
  • can enjoy competence in school, which can serve as an outlet from subservience at home
  • craves guidance from outside the home
  • is sensitive about own limitations – tasks that are too hard send him into a slump
  • can be confused about own potential and responsibilities
  • is a stickler for precision and, at times, is a perfectionist

Physical

  • has less energy, which may appear as laziness
  • has less interest in food, even sweets

Summary of adolescence:

  • 10 is reminiscent of 5 – self-contained, relaxed, direct, easy give-and-take
  • 11 is tense, questioning, searches and tests self through conflicts with others
  • 12 is better balanced – accepts others, more objective, fluctuates from childish to mature attitudes
  • 13 withdraws – reminiscent of 7
  • 14 more outgoing, compares self with others
  • 15 is more introspective – explores self in relation to ideas, ideals, opinions of others
  • 16 more at ease, independent, self-reliant

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 16-YEAR OLD

16 year old boyAs you read these lists of typical child behavior, remember every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule. Every child does not exhibit all of these characteristics.  

In order to fully understand your child, you need to consider his temperament, situational factors, age-related developmental tasks, maturity level, and whether he is in a period of equilibrium or disequilibrium.

Much of the following information is based on the studies by The Gesell Institute of Human Development.

 

Basic description of 16-Year Olds: A Sense of Independence
 
Typically, a 16-year old:
Emotional

  • is more self-possessed and under better control
  • has greater self-reliance
  • shows a deeper self-contentedness
  • is cheerful, friendly, outgoing, well-adjusted, self-assured
  • likes to banter and enjoys laughter – teasing is good-natured
  • is more tolerant of world, takes life as it comes
  • is not as self-critical
  • is not as moody or ruled by emotions, not as touchy, cries infrequently, can curb anger
  • does not worry and tells others “Don’t worry about me”

Intellectual

  • is more oriented towards the future– plans for college, can talk about marriage in serious vein
  • is less impulsive and shows better judgment

Social

  • is interested in human nature
  • is more willing to see another’s point of view
  • is interested in people– likes to build up multiple friendships – much companionship on a non-romantic basis
  • is less influenced by peer group
  • likes to meet friends in own home

Family

  • has fewer arguments with family members, including siblings
  • separates from home, may get summer job or attend special camp

Summary of adolescence:

  • 10 is reminiscent of 5 – self-contained, relaxed, direct, easy give-and-take
  • 11 is tense, questioning, searches and tests self through conflicts with others
  • 12 is better balanced – accepts others, more objective, fluctuates from childish to mature attitudes
  • 13 withdraws – reminiscent of 7
  • 14 more outgoing, compares self with others
  • 15 is more introspective – explores self in relation to ideas, ideals, opinions of others
  • 16 more at ease, independent, self-reliant

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Many thanks to Diane Wagenhals and Lakeside Educational Network for sharing this material with us.
© 2002 Lakeside Educational Network’s PREN. “18 month – 16 year old.” All rights reserved.