Preadolescent Ages 8 to 11

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Physical Development:

Period of rapid growth in height, then growth in weight
Boys may mature somewhat later than girls may
Girls usually taller and heavier than boys.
Reproductive organs maturing
Secondary sex characteristics developing
Rapid muscular growth accompanies increased interest in large muscle activities, which help to relieve tension

Characteristic Behaviors:

Wide range of individual and physical differences in maturity
Same-sex "gangs" continue to be important, though group loyalty appears to be stronger in boys than in girls
Interest in team games, pets, television, movies, computers, CD's and comics
Marked interest in commenting on boy-girl differences
Teasing and seeming antagonism between boys' and girls' groups
Episodes of awkwardness, restlessness, and laziness come and go
Rapid and uneven rates of growth make youth feel "everybody notices" small personal things, especially words, and clothes and behaviors; self-conscious about physical changes.
Opinions of own group beginning to be valued more highly than those of adults.
Moods vary from being overcritical, changeable, rebellious, and uncooperative.
Interest in earning money, spending money, and learning about how money can make a difference to him/her
Acknowledges warmth and affection and sense of humor from adults, but does not talk about the recognition, out of fear of being "different" or "strange" or a "nerd"

Special Needs:

Need to understand that parents and adults cannot read his/her mind
Need to have frequent conversations about physical and emotional changes
Need to talk to a trusted counselor, grandparent, teacher-some person other than a
parent-about sexual behavior, drug effects and topics that are "off limits" or embarrassing
Need to know and develop personal gifts and talents as early as possible at this time
Need to belong and be accepted by his/her peer group
Need to make "off the wall" comments, express extreme opinions, and get attention from adults who listen
Need to be given opportunities for independent activities away from home
Need to earn trust from family, as they are given increased privileges, or have privileges removed for flagrancies
Need to engage in jobs, tasks and activities that are considered valuable to the family

Ask Dr. Susan