The Ages 10-13 years: Stages of Development of Children

A Guide to Developmental Considerations at Various Ages and Stages of Development of Children.

Part Seven: Ten to Thirteen Years

Child’s Developmental Considerations

  • Increasing desire for independence and beginning to shift primary focus from family to friends, sports, and other interests.

  • Increasing importance of social activities and acceptance by other children.

  • Increasing ability to think logically, express opinions and preferences, and argue their viewpoint.

  • Increasing capacity to understand time and to make future plans, including a parenting time schedule they have not yet experienced.

  • Experiencing hormonal changes and mood shifts associated with puberty.

  • Continuing to learn to manage feelings, fears, and anxieties.

  • Continuing to expand their understanding of other people’s feelings.

  • Some children may start to use abstract thinking, such as being concerned about the “fairness” of the schedule for either parent.

  • Stating preferences without understanding the impact. For example, a child may request a specific parenting time schedule without understanding the impact on their access to friends and activities.

  • Continuing to develop a sense of what they enjoy and what they are good at.

  • Understanding different parenting styles and following different rules in each parent’s home. Beginning to challenge rules.

  • Developing a sense of personal responsibility, such as completing and handing in their homework.

  • May begin experimenting with risky behaviors such as using alcohol and drugs, and breaking rules.

  • Adjusting to the demands of middle school may be stressful to the child.

Parenting Time Considerations

  • The child may feel the need to choose sides, especially if there is a lot of conflict between parents.

  • The child may want to have a say in creating the parenting time schedule, such as how often the child goes between homes.

  • The child may request a temporary adjustment in the parenting time schedule because of activities and events. This does not necessarily mean that the other parent is undermining the parent-child relationship, but indicates the child’s wish to have more input in the decisions that are made about them.

  • Recognize that parents may differ in their expectations about the balance between family time and time the child spends with friends and in activities.

  • Understand the demands of middle school/junior high may be stressful to the child.

  • The child may begin to spend more time at home alone, such as before or after school. Children continue to need patient, consistent, loving and supportive care.

  • Children have an increasing ability to be flexible with routines.

  • Some children may do better with or express a preference for longer blocks of parenting time and fewer transitions.

  • Children may say what they believe each parent wants to hear and may be saying something different to each parent.

  • Moving between parents’ homes may be difficult for some children and they may become resistant. This does not necessarily mean that the other parent isn’t a good parent or that the child doesn’t want to be with the other parent.