Your Child at 9: Milestones

Your 9-year-old is a good example of the old saying “still waters run deep.” There’s more going on inside his head than you might realize. And it’s an age when he’ll get a lot done in so many ways.

Mental and Physical Development

Your 9-year-old might seem to drift off like he’s “in a daze” or “in another world.” But the world he’s in is a new and interesting one. He begins to understand about being liked and seeking approval. He also will start to show he knows right from wrong and understands rules.

She’ll probably start to tell you about her feelings and emotions. She might even surprise you by using slang and repeating things her friends said at school.

You may also notice the first signs of puberty: Girls’ breasts start to develop, while boys’ testicles and penis may begin to grow. Next, hair sprouts under the arms and in the pubic area.

Your 9-year-old may be more coordinated and get better at things like kicking, throwing, catching, and showing balance. Some kids will take a leap forward in sports like soccer, baseball, or basketball. They also may start to see themselves as athletic or unathletic.


At 9, hanging out with friends may begin to be a big deal -- boys will be more likely to want to be with other boys, and girls with other girls.

They also may change the way they play: Boys may be outside more often and be more physical, though the girls can be right there getting sweaty with them, and both boys and girls might get more interested in board games.


Most 9-year-olds are in fourth grade. Their writing is usually neater by this point. They can connect letters, write letters of the same size, and write in a straight line without lines on a page.

They also can put their ideas in writing. They’re able to write a story several paragraphs long on the same subject or an outline with a beginning, a middle, and an end.


They’re able to read aloud and are reading more complex and longer books. They’ll probably be able to learn from what they read and follow instructions.

If they find a topic they like, they can start to find more information on it on their own. They’ll also start to learn more complicated math subjects, like decimals, long division, and possibly geometry.

With a longer attention span, they’ll have more interests and start doing things like collecting and starting hobbies. But with so many interests, they’ll change things up.

If you think your child is struggling in school, talk with his teacher to see if you have reason to be concerned. She also can suggest ways you might help your child with schoolwork and keep him interested in learning.

Your Role

As your 9-year-old starts to spread her wings, you can help by being there for her. Talk with her about her friends and things she’s doing. Encourage her to take part in school activities and groups or sports.

When your child comes home from school, talk with him about his day and help with homework if he needs it. Setting a time and place for homework can provide structure and let him know what’s expected.

Set rules for how to treat adults and other children and compliment her when she behaves well.

You also can start giving him chores around the house, like picking up his clothes, making his bed, emptying trash, and washing dishes.

Screen time should be limited to 1 or 2 hours a day. Make it something to look forward to after homework or chores are done.

This is also a good time to start laying ground rules for being online. Tell your child not to give any information to anyone, such as passwords, pictures, your home address, or phone number. She should know that not everything she reads or sees on the internet is true and that she must let you know if a stranger tries to talk with her online.

Spend some time online together, and let her show you where she likes to go.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on April 19, 2019


SOURCES: “Your Child’s Checkup 9 Years.”, PBS Parents: “Child Development Tracker.”

The Institute for Human Services for The Ohio Child Welfare Training Program October 2007 “Developmental Milestones Chart.”

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: “Your Child’s Communication: Fourth Grade.”

Government of Western Australia, Department of Health: “Early Detection Guidelines, How Children Develop – 9-10 Year Olds.”

Understood, For Learning & Attention Issues: “The Learning Challenges of Fourth Grade,” “Why It’s Important to Partner With Your Child’s Teacher.”

Michigan State University Extension: “9- to 11-year-olds: Ages and Stages of Youth Development.”

CDC: “Middle Childhood (9-11 years of age).

KidCentral TN: “Growth At The Speed of Light.”



© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


Get Pregnancy & Parenting Tips In Your Inbox

Doctor-approved information to keep you and your family healthy and happy.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.