Brain Development
•    has an increasing attention and concentration span
•    strives to succeed
•    has strong opinions
•    begins to understand the motives behind the behaviour of another
•    children begin to manipulate abstract ideas
•    shows interest in reading fictional stories, magazines, and how-to books
•    may develop special interest in collections or hobbies
•    fantasizes and daydreams about the future
•    enjoys planning and organizing tasks
•    becomes more product and goal oriented
•    has great ideas and intentions but has difficulty following through
•    enjoys games with more complex rules

Inside the brain:

  • due to continued growth of their cognitive control centers, children may not yet be able to learn from negative feedback (i.e. learn from their mistakes)
  • from now into adulthood, the prefrontal cortex of the frontal lobes, often called the ‘brain’s brain,’ is a major focus of growth
  • while the first ten years of life are dedicated to the development of sensory lobes, the second ten years show great development of executive functions in the frontal lobe of the brain

Emotional development
•    may be experiencing sudden, dramatic, emotional changes associated with puberty
•    mature one moment, immature the next
•    begins to see that parents and authority figures can make mistakes and are not always right
•    often likes rules, rituals, secret codes and made-up languages
•    has better control of anger
•    shows interest in opposite sex by teasing, joking, showing off
•    tends to see things are right or wrong, with no room for difference of opinion
•    tends to conceal feelings
•    is hard on self and ultra-sensitive to criticism

Social development
•    wants parental assistance, but may resist when offered
•    is critical of parents
•    is concerned with prestige and popularity
•    likes to belong to a group and be like others
•    enjoys being a member of a club
•    has increased interest in competitive sports
•    may belittle or defy adult authority
•    prefers spending time with friends than with parents
•    may sometimes be verbally cruel to classmates with harsh ‘put downs’ and snide remarks
•    becomes quite faddish
•    spends about twice as much time on weekends with friends as with parents
•    friendships may change due to different levels of maturity
•    is acutely aware of the opposite sex

Physical development
•    has increased body strength and hand dexterity
•    shows improved co-ordination and reaction time
•    girls are generally as much as two years ahead of boys in physical maturity
•    girls may begin to menstruate
•    may begin to grow rapidly
•    may look out of proportion
•    may have an appetite that fluctuates sharply
•    may tire easily and appear lazy (growth spurts drain energy)
•    is preoccupied with, and self-conscious about, appearance
•    enjoys observing or participating in competitive sports
•    is keenly interested in learning about body changes
•    may be curious about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco

As every child is unique and there is a wide range of what’s ‘normal’ at every age, it’s important to remember these lists are guidelines only. If you are concerned about your child’s development, see your doctor.

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Sources: AboutKidsHealth, The Hospital for Sick Children, Health A-Z, Developmental Stages, Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services, Ontario Early Years Centres: A Place for Parents and Their Children,The Developing Brain: Birth to Age Eight, by Marilee Sprenger, Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence, by Jane M. Healy, Ages and Stages, by Lesia Oesterreich, M.S.,extension human development specialist, Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University and “Learning from mistakes only happens after age 12, study suggests,” from Science Daily, Sept. 27, 2008.