Overview of Typical Development (physical, social, mental, emotional) of Ten-to-Fourteen-Year-Olds

[ By on December 03, 2012 ]

  1. From: “Your-Ten-To-Fourteen-Year-Old” by Louise Bates Ames, PhD, Frances L. Ilg, MD & Sidney M Baker, MD – Gesell Institute of Human Development


In this resource on typical development of children in middle school years, the authors highlight the importance of understanding the natural occurrence of alternating periods of equilibrium and disequilibrium.

According to these authors, typical developmental patterns for the ten-to-fourteen-year-old child are as follows:

Age 10 – Age of equilibrium, good adjustment, comfortable functioning internally and between child and others.

Age 11 – Opposite of 10. A time of breaking up, discord and discomfort. It is a time of loosening up, of snapping old bonds, trial and error, as the child tests the limits of what authorities will and will not allow. “Perpetual chip on shoulder.”

Age 12 – Smoother in relationships and more positive in mood – more enthusiastic about life. Tolerant. Enthusiasm about new adventures.

Age 13 – Tendency to be inward looking even withdrawn. Spends time alone and can be painfully self-conscious, thoughtful, moody. Unwilling to cooperate, not as defiant against adults, but withdrawing from all unnecessary contact.

Age 14 – Time of expansion. All over the place with enthusiasm. Love of the new and different, new activities/friends/adventures. Boundless energy. Can be moody with parents but generally welcoming of others.

Some important, and interacting, factors in understanding a child at a given point in time are:

A. The child’s individuality (temperament)

B. What typical development is for a child their age

C. The current environment (home, school, peers, etc)


It would be interesting to hear how parents of Riverdale Middle Schoolers feel that these characterizations of the different ages from ten-to-fourteen fit or do not fit with observations of their own children’s development.


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