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.