Middle childhood development defines milestones reached during early school years, described as anywhere between seven and 12 years old. Children experience certain physical, emotional, and intellectual changes during this period to prepare them for adolescence. During middle childhood, physical growth becomes slow and steady, compared to the rapid changes in early childhood. Social development occurs more rapidly, while intellectual growth is considered crucial to future academic success.
Children typically gain 5 to 7 pounds (2.2 to 3.1 kilograms) per year and grow 2 or 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 centimeters) during middle childhood development. Their bodies begin to shed baby fat as muscles develop and strength improves. As fat disappears and legs grow longer, children appear taller and slimmer during this growth phase. Coordination typically improves, with greater control over large motor muscles.
Middle childhood marks the time youngsters might begin participating in organized sports. The increase in large muscle mass is more prominent in boys than girls. The concept of teamwork is better understood, and concentration improves, making this period of development optimal for group activities.
Children might learn to deal with conflict during this stage as their personalities emerge. Some child development experts believe children are especially susceptible to images of violence during middle childhood, which might lead to desensitization and aggressive tendencies. Television and violent computer games might influence a child’s personality during this period, according to some studies.
Social milestones during middle childhood development might lead to a desire for independence while still depending on family. Children passing through middle childhood no longer need constant supervision and seek acceptance from peers. They commonly choose best friends during this period and begin evaluating where they fit among classmates. This might also mark a period of bullying aimed at children not accepted by peers.
The development of self-esteem and moral beliefs commonly forms during the middle years. Children begin understanding the difference between right and wrong and evaluate situations in black and white terms. They see activities as interesting or grossly dull; they love or hate participating in them. Child psychologists advise parents to set clear rules and limits on behavior during middle childhood to teach responsibility.
Mental abilities increase rapidly during middle childhood development, aided by the increased ability to concentrate. A longer school day takes advantage of the intellectual milestones possible during this period of growth. Children develop problem-solving skills and learn to grasp concepts. Specific interests might emerge during this stage, such as music or stamp collecting. Educators believe these intellectual milestones crucial for continued academic success, and unidentified learning problems might have a lasting effect on a child’s success or failure in school.