The Terrific Ten-Year-Old: A Developmental View


I keep expanding the developmental entries by age; now I have ages birth through age ten, plus many posts on adult development, under the development tag.  I hope many of you will find the developmental posts helpful for your children, yourself, and your families as you create a nurturing homelife.


It goes without saying that every child is an individual, and every child has a different rate of development. However, I have found works of individuals who have studied children to be helpful in my own parenting, so I pass these notes on to you so you can take what works for you.


I find it interesting that the wonderful Gesell Institute books that I like have separate books for each age, but once the age ten comes, the ages ten through fourteen are condensed into one book.  I think as my children grow and I observe more and more children in these ages, including teaching children of these older ages in different settings, than I will keep writing and add to the information out there. It seems to me that there is quite a bit for the younger years, and not nearly as much for the older years – both in parenting and in homeschooling resources.


Anyway, on to TEN!   Here are a few highlights that I picked out of ten-year-old section of the book, “Your Ten-To Fourteen Year-Old” by Louise Bates Ames, Frances Ilg and  Sidney Baker.


Ten year olds are known to really love their family and family life.  Most ten-year olds, even if they have bouts of sounding less than loving to their family members, really do love and respect and admire their parents, family activities, outings.  They love to play in their neighborhood, if they live in a neighborhood, and sometimes even get along with their siblings (sometimes not!).


They tend to be more happy than they were at nine, but at the same time, occasional physical outbursts of anger surface.   Occasional is a key word here, because ten tends to be an age of happiness for most ten year olds.   When provoked and angry, a ten-year-old can be immediate and violent. They may stamp their feet or shout or storm out of the room.   This book notes that, “Responding merely verbally also occurs, but less often than at following ages.  Though verbal, the responses are nonetheless violent – Tens yell, screech, call names…”   There is more about this on page 213 of this book for those who would like further reading.



Ten year olds tend to respect their teacher and work hard in school. They have many interests and are very active. “Ten moves around a great deal, often just for the sheer joy of movement rather than to conform to any special rules of a game. The sheer pleasure of exercising one’s body is enough”. Collections, making models, sewing, cooking, drawing and reading are all popular.


Ten-year-olds may not always know right from wrong at this point, as a passage in the book states, “A boy of this age will admit he cannot always tell right from wrong, so he usually goes by what his mother tells him. Or by what he learns in Sunday school, or possibly by what his conscience tells him.” A ten year old may also become teary and cry when angry, but it is one of the last really tearful stages. Ten-year-olds generally don’t have the best sense of humor nor the best ideas for jokes.  Fairness is still really important. 


Ten year olds are not yet aware of when they are tired and need to be reminded about bed.  Bedtime is generally between eight thirty and nine thirty at night according to this text.  Girls often have more trouble falling asleep than boys.  They tend to sleep through the night and boys tend to sleep longer than girls.


Many ten year olds do not like to bathe or wash, nor brush their hair nor their teeth.  Again, individuals may vary.  Ten year olds typically do not do a good job taking care of things – their rooms tend to be messy, their clothes may be on the floor, and they still need “considerable supervision” to get through daily routines.


Ten to eleven year olds girls may show signs of puberty by the eleventh birthday, many may be disturbed if there is no sign of breast development. Many girls of this age know about menstruation and sexual intimacy whereas a boy’s awareness of sex is typically not too far ahead and the physical maturity into manhood is slower than what girls experience.


So, many parents ask me, what is life like post the “nine year change”, that big developmental leap that occurs usually around the age of nine.  I think one major shift is that for many ten year olds, mothers again become the center of the universe.  I have seen in my own child and in other ten year olds a dramatic increase in wanting to sit on a lap, be held, be near.  Fathers also hold a very important role, and ten year olds love to do things with their fathers!  Sibling relationships with those between six and nine years of age can be rocky.  Ten year olds do love their friends as well, and are thrilled to have a special best friend too.  Boys tend to form larger groups of friends to play with than girls.


In our next post, I would like to take a peek at the age of ten from the viewpoint of a Waldorf educator.

Many blessings,


10 thoughts on “The Terrific Ten-Year-Old: A Developmental View

  1. Nice post, Carrie. I just love 10 year olds. They’re wonderful companions and still pretty upbeat and chipper. My youngest will be 10 this year and we’ll be glad to be through the 9 year change challenges.

  2. Thanks so much for writing these great posts. You are right there isn’t a lot of age based information especially once children get into later years. I’ve taken to printing these posts off and then re-reading them as each child reaches the age. I’m very much looking forward to 10 with my oldest!

    • Sarah, I am so glad you are finding these helpful! Thank you for letting me know as it puts a smile on my face!
      Many blessings,

  3. Thank you!!! I also adore these developmental posts and come back to them often to remind myself of realistic expectations of my children. My oldest is 10.5, and the description is right on!

  4. Pingback: The Uneven Eleven-Year Old: A Traditional Developmental View | The Parenting Passageway

  5. Carrie, I have been reading your posts for years, and always find myself returning to the developmental posts, again and again throughout the year, each time taking something new from them. Today I thought to myself, ooh, my child turned 10 two weeks ago and I haven’t read Carrie’s post yet. It was a delicious realisation. And yes, my 9th year her was very challenging and great learning fodder for my, but a few things shifted in our life towards the end of that year, combined with nature’s course and lo and behold I have a very content 10 year old daughter. She loves playing in the neighbourhood, currently thinks I’m great, is much more appreciative, loves collecting all sorts of things (rocks for now) and more of what you say. Thanks for all the gifts you’ve given us both over the years.

  6. Pingback: Joyful July! | The Parenting Passageway

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