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What’s normal behavior for kids ages 6-12?


"At this stage, the most significant relationships are those with his friends and peers." ~Eric Erikson


Eric Erikson was a psychoanalyst who studied and identified the developmental progression of humans in specific stages of life. His work is known as Erikson's Developmental Stages. During Industry vs. Inferiority (ages 6 -12), your child develops a sense of worth and feels useful! Your child starts to ask questions like, "How can I be good?" while creating a strong sense of competence.


Social and Emotional Development

  • Age 6 & 7: Your child may need alone time. At this stage, your child begins to crave their own personal space. Support this need by coming up with fun or creative steps for your child to communicate their need for quiet time/personal space.

  • Age 7: Children begin to develop fears. For example, hearing scary stories on the news. An excellent way to reassure your child is to help them come up with ways they can feel in control, such as what to do during a fire, break-in, or school fight.

  • Age 8: Children will become aware of their looks. Help them by guiding them to use their judgment for self-praise rather than criticism.

  • Age 9: Your child may feel torn between wanting to spend time with mom and dad versus their friends. Encourage your child to manage this preoccupation by acknowledging this concern and comforting the ambivalence they may feel.

  • Age 10: Your child may begin to treat mom and dad as a confidant with whom they want you to share in their activities. Show enthusiasm and make time for your little one soon to turn 11.

  • Age 11: Children become increasingly conscious of moralistic behaviors. Be their biggest cheerleader by helping them sort out their need for fairness versus how to respond to others' moral' behaviors.

  • Age 12: Your child's identity will soar in their strong sense of security and confidence. Guide their ongoing security development by providing a safe environment where they can express themselves.


Physical Development

  • Age 6 & 7: Your child's abundant energy will begin to test limits even more and demonstrate increased coordination. Help them develop a fun sense of competency and fun by providing ample play opportunities that may involve coordination in a safe environment.

  • Age 8: Children will become more focused on being more detailed in their activities and will utilize hand-eye coordination or timing of self in their tasks. Encourage them by praising their efforts and their desire for self-efficacy.


  • Age 9: Children will increase activity repetition to increase their skill and may even demonstrate a strong desire to compete in sports. Cheer them on by supporting a desire to compete and hone their skills at home.

  • Age 10: Your child may demonstrate increased temper tantrums by stomping feet, yelling, or throwing things to express displeasure. This is a perfect opportunity to help them recognize their thoughts and feelings and validate this independence.

  • Age 11: Your daughters and sons may begin to experience development changes: growth spurts, menstruation, and breast development. Show them compassion and patience by remembering how confusing these changes can be and providing positive reinforcements.

  • Age 12: Your child will begin to demonstrate a huge leap in their concern with self-esteem, peers, sexuality, and feeling like an adult! Respond by providing ample conversations about this time in their life and a reminder that you are an adult they can trust to disclose the wide range of emotions and the intensity in which they may be experiencing the many changes.


Cognitive Development

  • Age 6 & 7: Children will increase daydreaming, humor, and self-evaluation (that includes self-criticism and judgment). Being mindful that their ongoing need to use their imagination will be mixed in with a harsher judgment of their actions. Guide this time by using encouraging and kind words and recognizing their precious individuality.

  • Age 8: Your child will begin to communicate via exaggeration of events like "I'm starving" and a move away from pretend and towards reality. They will also increase reasoning and categorizing. Guide this shift in cognition by showing interest in what they recognize about reality, including how they make sense of things, i.e., reasoning and categorization.

  • Age 9: Children will display increased empathy, planning for the future, time concept, and higher standards for self. Provide your child growth via games, activities, and educational outings that will support this inner sense of responsibility.

  • Age 10: Your child will place increased importance on feeling accepted by others and may also exhibit the need to display personal interests like favorite musical artists, movies, and fictional characters via posters, t-shirts, and miscellaneous items. Please show your support by sharing their excitement via listening to artists' songs, learning about characters they like, and what your child admires about each.

  • Age 11: Children may demonstrate an increase in their high standards for others, require a sense of purpose for their learning, and gain significant insights into their strengths and capabilities. Including feeling grown and will appreciate being treated as capable of taking care of themselves. Provide your space to independently understand this new world by listening and validating their intellectual processing and need to understand the world at this stage.

  • Age 12: Your pre-teens mind will rapidly shift from school-age closeness to mom and dad towards adolescence. Sexuality heightens along with intense emotional experiences that are paired with physical changes. Provide your child with comfort by allowing them to experience said changes without shame, embarrassment, or treating them like a child (most importantly, in front of their peers). Demonstrate your trust in their intellectual and emotional ability to problem solve and turn towards you when they feel stuck or ask for help.



Throughout their Industry vs Inferiority stage, your unconditional love is the most important element to tie each approach! Your child must believe and feel that no matter the challenges and celebrations, you are on their team, guiding and helping them sort out this big and, at times, overwhelming world.


For more tips, please check out our other tips here https://www.plantationcounseling.com/blog. You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services.


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