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Your 9-Year-Old Child: Social Development

The growing social network and intricacy of a 9-year-old's relationships

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Boys doing homework together
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The social world of the 9-year-old is opening up more than ever before. Children this age may have role models who are people outside of the immediate family, such as a coach or a teacher, or even a famous person they don’t know such as a singer or sports figure. Their friendships will take on more importance in their daily lives, and they will care more about what others think about them.

Nine-year-old children are much more independent. They may be more interested in having sleepovers with friends, and are more likely to be able to stay the entire night (younger children often get excited about the idea of sleepovers but may declare that they want to go home right before bedtime).

Since peer influence and pressure become larger issues around age 9 and beyond, parents may want to stay informed about their child’s friendships. The best way to know who your child’s friends are is by spending time with your child and talking to them about what’s going on in their lives. Regular conversations at the dinner table and during other daily activities is essential to keeping the lines of communication open, and helping your child navigate challenges or problems in friendships, at school, or in any other area of his life. Parents can also make sure that they meet their child’s friends, have regular conferences with their child’s teachers, and be involved in their child’s school.

Friends
Nine-year-olds will put more importance on friendships with peers and people outside of the immediate family. The flipside of this growing emotional attachment to others is the danger of negative peer influence and pressure -- something parents should be vigilant about at this age. Strong self-esteem is important at this age since it can help children resist peer pressure and avoid behaviors and choices that are not good for their health or well-being.

It’s common for friendships among 9-year-olds to fluctuate. Generally, children this age have a few close friends of the same gender. But they can shift those friendships and decide someone is or is not a friend and then shift back again. It is also common for 9-year-old children to develop crushes.

Nine-year-old children will also enjoy group activities such as playing on a team, and may like participating in group projects such as at school in which cooperation is required.

Morals and Rules
Many 9-year-old children have a strong sense of fairness and right and wrong. Children this age may still have a strong affinity for competition, and may want to win (and hate to lose). They may be sticklers for rules, and may become upset if they perceive an unfairness (if a sibling gets to watch more TV than they are allowed to do, for instance).

Nine-year-olds also have a tendency to see things in black and white absolutes, and may overreact to something they perceive as an injustice or a wrong.. They may abhor dishonesty and call out any perceived bad behavior they see, such as a classmate who lies about something.

Social Awareness
Nine-year-old children may begin to be more interested in current events. They may start to understand that things that are happening now, such as climate change, may affect their future. It’s not uncommon for many 9-year-old children to ask questions and become interested in doing something to help solve problems such as poverty or the impact of natural disasters. Nine-year-old children may become zealous about a particular issue, such as what we can all do to help the environment.

Parents can take advantage of this growing social awareness by encouraging children to help others and learn about ways to live a greener life.

Read More About Your Nine-Year-Old Child's Development

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