Raising a nine-year-old
July 22, 2006 3:58 PM   Subscribe

We're looking for a good book on parenting that lays out what kids are like at different ages.

Our kids are 2/5/6/9. The nine-year old is the most work right now because he's the oldest, of course. So we're looking for something reasonably objective, based on actual research, that discusses what kids are like cognitively, physically, socially at different ages. Something like Touchpoints that covers older kids, perhaps.

There are so many competing parenting theories that it is overwhelming. Also, we have realized that each of our kids is very different and will require a different approach.

Obviously, contacting our own parents and getting some mentoring would be a great thing to do too, but we are not that socially connected with other parents and our own parents are either deceased or not helpful in this area.

part of the problem is that our kid will do x,y, and z, and we will get all anxious and stop and think, "Hmm...maybe that's relatively normal for a nine-year old."

Links to good, tested online resources appreciated as well, thanks.
posted by mecran01 to Human Relations (10 answers total)
My dad had one of those books. He'd actually read to me what I was supposed to be experiencing (after explaining that he'd added a few years to my chronological age because I was "precocious") rather than listening to my actual feelings. That sucked.

None of these books is objective, and each of your kids in an individual. Use the book as a guide, but don't rely too heavily on it.
posted by orthogonality at 4:11 PM on July 22, 2006

This series by Louise Bates Ames, seems very sympathetic (I have only referenced up to age 6, but there is one for each year.) It is probably "old school" because the copies I borried from the library had pretty dated looking pictures, and I think the pulbishing dates were in the 1980s, but I found these books quite worthwhile. There was much talk about equilibrium and disequilibrium for each age.
posted by coevals at 4:12 PM on July 22, 2006

You might consider getting a textbook used for child development classes. The one I have on my shelf, "The Developing Person" by Berger, covers biosocial, cognitive, and psychosocial development through adolescence. It's definitely a step removed from the parenting aspect, so I don't know how useful you would find it, but if you're interested in the details, it could be one way to go.
posted by moira at 4:26 PM on July 22, 2006

Hmm...I suspect that I'm not asking the right question, but thank you for the suggestions thus far.
posted by craniac at 4:56 PM on July 22, 2006

Well, as a broader resource, I've found this site to be informed and helpful. Here is a page that addresses developmental milestones, but there is much more to be found if you look around a bit.

This is a stretch, but as the other suggestions haven't hit on what you need yet, perhaps Gottman's "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child" fits your needs? It isn't laid out by age except for a section near the end, and it definitely focuses on emotional development and interaction. A glance at the index would give you a good idea of topics covered, which are more extensive than the title suggests.
posted by moira at 5:38 PM on July 22, 2006

If you're looking for a one book resource, the The Good Housekeeping Book of Child Care is as good a place to start as any. But I'd really recommend a trip to your local public library, where you could peruse and maybe check out other candidates in the genre. Ask the librarian for suggestions. Ask your kid's school teachers and counselors for suggestions. Ask your pediatrician's office for suggestions, too.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of school personnel are reticent these days to make comparative statements about children, which used to be a great source of reassurance for parents, unless there is a diagnosed disability or mandated reporting problem. It's just too easy for such statements to be misunderstood by parents, and used against schools and teachers. If you're attending parent-teacher conferences regularly for your school age kids, and getting the typically brief "normal" reports that most kids get, take heart that your kid is actually "normal" in most respects.
posted by paulsc at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2006

Response by poster: Well, we don't think he has any major problems, we just don't really know what the average nine-year-old is *like*.

Is it normal for him to want to quit a lot of the projects he starts (or we start for him) like swim team?

Is it normal for him to get easily disillusioned?

Is it normal for him to base his whole life on his friends, or lack thereof? (we moved 10 months ago and there are fewer kids his age in the neighborhood, and it's summer.)

So he doesn't seem abnormal, we just have no baseline means of comparison, really.
posted by mecran01 at 11:06 AM on July 23, 2006

Best answer: Answering "Is it normal?" Yes. Yes. Yes. But so is it normal for kids not to understand why they can't spend all day every day playing on the computer, why they should stop believing they can do Superman stunts, and why you don't take it seriously when they say everyone hates them.

Kids are kids -- they need parental help with these sort of things. Parenting is partly about helping kids to learn how to cope with the real world. Teaching perseverance needs judgement -- which are useful lessons? Pick the things that really matter and/or for which he will experience a good payoff if he sticks with them, and let him do what he likes about the rest. (A swim team decision might be helped by talking to the coach.) Dealing with disillusionment is also difficult. You presumably want imaginative thinking and high ideals, but too high expectations lead to disappointments. Good luck with finding a happy medium!

How much you encourage your kids to conform to local norms (or those in books) is another decision. My view is that encouraging the young to stand out against peer pressure makes their teenage years a lot less worrying. Finding some families with kids of similar ages to be friends with should help with quite a lot of this, although it has to be said that even for people with similar backgrounds you may find some of their opinions very odd.
posted by Idcoytco at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

I don't have much faith in any single childcare book (crosscheck things) but you might find this British one useful: How Not to Raise the Perfect Child by Libby Purves, ISBN: 0340751371

Online, it can take work to detect the biases of websites, which I guess is why you asked. I used to believe one that suddenly tipped over into junk science. The (also British) BBC website should be fairly neutral. It has brief pages on developmental stages.
posted by Idcoytco at 12:19 PM on July 23, 2006

Best answer: I now have 3 kids: 15/13/9. I highly second the Louise Bates Ames series ("Your Nine Year Old", "Your Three Year Old"), etc. I don't know how far up they go but I always found the info in them to be spot on and still applicable today. Another great resource is "Your Child's Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence" by Jane Healy and, if you're worried about something Normal Children Have Problems, Too : How Parents Can Understand and Help by Stanley Turecki is also good. His book, The Difficult Child, which is much more sympathetic and empowering than the unfortunate title would suggest saved my life - or certainly the life of my child - since it finally opened my eyes up to the fact that how the seams of a t-shirt felt against my child's skin or an unexpcted errand that needed to be run really and truly could ruin his day.

Whatever you do, don't read John Rosemond. Although in large part, I agree with some of what he says, his condescending attitude toward parents and people who disagree with him is just not acceptable. And for a great example of true hypocrisy, read one of his earlier books on how to toilet train your child and then compare it to one of his later books regarding the same subjects. He appears to not remember anything he ever wrote before and calls the people who advocate the method he advised in his earlier books "idiots." I feel compelled to make some pun here regarding diapers and their contents and his advice to parents, but I can't come up with a good one. Insert your own here.
posted by katyjack at 7:20 PM on July 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

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