Sixth Grade - Growing Up Quickly: Physical Growth and Wellness
Parents want to help their children build selfesteem, develop creativity and reach physical, social, emotional and intellectual potential. This article will help you better understand your sixth-grader.
Growing Up Quickly
You may be enjoying your role as the parent of a preteen. Many say that the 9- to 12-year-old years are the happiest years for parents. The busy caregiving times of earlier childhood are over, and the teen years are yet to come.
While you may be feeling quite comfortable in your parenting role, your preteen is going through some big life changes. Some people have identified the 10- to 12-year-old years as the most horrible time in a person's life. Your child must deal with feeling like a child and a teen at the same time!
One way parents can help their preteen through this period is by taking time to talk about physical and emotional growth and development and to help the child understand and adjust to these changes.
Preteens generally receive very limited factual information about the physical changes in their bodies. Much of their information comes from conversations with their peers, and this is often inaccurate or incomplete. They are very concerned about all the changes they are experiencing, and you are their best support.
The transition is gradual enough that it is easy for parents to overlook the difficulties a child may be experiencing during rapid physical growth. Even so, changes are so great that most children feel some sort of discomfort and distress at this period of their lives.
Girls usually have their slowest year of growth in their ninth year, with a growth spurt often starting at about 10 years and peaking at about 12 years of age. Girls are apt to be taller and heavier than boys at this stage of development, and this may make girls feel large, clumsy and unattractive.
The slowest growth rate for boys is usually from age 10 to 11. Boys commonly begin their major growth spurt at about age 12. Up to this time they may feel that they are never going to grow.
The greatest anxiety for the preteen seems to come when the child makes peer comparisons. Assure your child that it's common for growth rates to vary. You might explain what kinds of body changes and growth can be expected. A child who knows what changes to expect will usually find it much easier to deal with the changes as they occur.
Many excellent resources are available to help parents explain human physical development to their children. Your doctor, school nurse or teachers may be able to suggest resources for you to use. Check with the local Iowa State University Extension office for specific resources available. Browse at the local bookstore. There's a wealth of information available.
Reprinted with the permission of the Iowa State University Extension. © 2008 Iowa State University Extension.
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