Chapter 4: Middle Childhood Module 4.1 Physical Development in Middle Childhood
While they are in elementary school, children in the United States grow, on average, 2 to 3 inches a year. By the age of 11, the average height for girls is 4 feet, 10 inches and the average height for boys is slightly shorter at 4 feet, 9 1/2 inches. This is the only time during the life span when girls are, on average, taller than boys. This height difference reflects the slightly more rapid physical development of girls, who start their adolescent growth spurt around the age of 10.
Weight gain follows a similar pattern. During middle childhood, both boys and girls gain around 5 to 7 pounds a year. Weight is also redistributed. As the rounded look of “baby fat” disappears, children’s bodies become more muscular and their strength increases.
These average height and weight increases disguise significant individual differences, as anyone who has seen a line of fourth-graders walking down a school corridor has doubtless noticed. It is not unusual to see children of the same age who are six or seven inches apart in height.
Benefits of Adequate Nutrition
More peer involvement
More positive emotions
More eagerness to explore new environments
More persistent in frustrating situations
Generally higher energy levels
Test of the speed and accuracy of response on problem-solving tasks given to children who did or did not eat breakfast skipping breakfast had an adverse influence on their performance on the tests (Pollitt et al. 1991)
Most common causes :
Lack of physical activity
Unhealthy eating patterns
Combination of these factors
Only in rare cases is being overweight caused by a medical condition such as a hormonal problem
Costs of Childhood Obesity
More likely to be overweight as adults
Greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases
Some scientists believe that an epidemic of obesity may be leading to a decline in life span in the U.S.
Obesity and Eating Disorders
In fact, concern about weight can border on an obsession, particularly among girls. For instance, many 6-year-old girls worry about becoming “fat”
Some 40 percent of 9- and 10-year-olds are trying to lose weight. Why? Their concern is most often the result of the U.S. preoccupation with being slim, which permeates every sector of society
Children become overweight for a variety of reasons: genetic and social
In the United States over the past 20 years, obesity has increased by 54 percent in 6 to 11 year old children and by 39 percent among 12 to 17 year olds.
Obesity and Eating Disorders
Even very young children are aware of society's fixation on thinness
Lowered self-esteem has been associated with being overweight in girls as young as 5
Attitude was closely correlated with parents' perceptions
Gross Motor Development
Improved muscle coordination
Do boys and girls differ in motor skills?
Gender differences in gross motor skills became increasingly pronounced during middle childhood,
Boys outperform girls
Little or no difference when equal participation in exercise/activities
Influenced by societal expectations
American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that boys and girls should engage in the same sports and games, and that they can do so together in mixed-gender groups. There is no reason to separate the sexes in physical exercise and sports until puberty, when the smaller size of females begins to make them more susceptible to injury in contact sports.
Fine Motor Development
Necessary for wide range of school-related tasks
Influenced by increase in amount of myelin speeds up electrical impulses between neurons
Six- and 7-year-olds are able to tie their shoes and fasten buttons; by age 8, they can use each hand independently; and by 11 and 12, they can manipulate objects with almost as much capability as they will show in adulthood.
Middle childhood is period of robust health
Routine immunizations have produced considerably lower incidence of life-threatening illnesses
More than 90 percent of children in middle childhood have at least one serious medical condition but most are short term illnesses
Fires and burns
Reduced by use of seatbelts and helmets
Safety in Cyberspace
Newest threat to the safety of school-age children comes from Internet and the World Wide Web
Parent and Caregiver Resources:
The Serious Risks of Cyberspace - What are the dangers facing children on the Internet? This site will help answer that question. Created by Donna Rice Hughes, Internet safety expert and author of Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace
Child Safety on the Information Highway Risks Online - This is a great place to learn about the basics of child safety on the Internet. It also talks about some guidelines that parents might consider. Created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Safety Net for the Internet: A Parent's Guide - This is a quick, easy-to-read Internet safety guide for parents. Created by the New York Public Library
Risks Online — Internet safety concerns are not always the same for a toddler as they are for an older child. This site will help you think about safety concerning different ages. Created by the Internet Education Foundation
Psychological disorders in children overlooked for years
One in five children and adolescents has psychological disorder that produces at least some impairment.
About 5 percent of preteens suffer from childhood depression
Thirteen percent of children between 9 and 17 experience anxiety disorder
Symptoms inconsistent from those of adults
Antidepressant drugs used for treatment have never been approved by governmental regulators for use with children
Drugs As Treatment
Depression and other psychological disorders treated successfully using drug
More traditional nondrug therapies that largely employ verbal methods simply are ineffective
Long-term effectiveness of antidepressants with children not known
Use of antidepressants on developing brains and long-term consequences more generally not known
Correct dosages for children of given ages or sizes no known
Some observers suggest that the use of special children’s versions of the drugs, in orange- or mint-flavored syrups, might lead to overdoses or perhaps eventually encourage the use of illegal drugs.
Some evidence linking the use of antidepressant medication with an increased risk of suicide.
Children with Special Needs
Blindness (20/200 after correction)
Partial sightedness (20/70 after correction)
Even if a person is not so impaired as to be legally blind, their visual problems may still seriously affect their schoolwork. For one thing, the legal criterion pertains solely to distance vision, while most educational tasks require close-up vision. In addition, the legal definition does not consider abilities in the perception of color, depth, and light—all of which might influence a student’s educational success. About one student in a thousand requires special education services relating to a visual impairment.
Loss of hearing or some aspect of hearing
Affects 2 percent of school-age children
Varies across number of dimensions:
Hearing losses affect a significant number of people, and range from a slight to a very severe loss. Very few people with hearing impairments are totally deaf; most have some degree of residual hearing.
Some people with hearing impairments benefit from the use of amplification. However, in the majority of cases, even when a sound is amplified loud enough to be heard, the sound quality is affected; the sound may still be unintelligible.
People with hearing impairments communicate in a variety of ways, depending on several factors: amount of residual hearing, type of hearing impairment, language skills, age when the impairment began, speech abilities, speech-reading skills, personality, intelligence, family environment, and educational background.
Children with speech-language impairment have an impairment of their speech and/or language structures and functions
Parts of the body used in speaking and understanding - the brain, nerves, mouth and throat - may be damaged or not developing or working properly
Level of speech-language impairment can range from mild to severe
Impairment may be obvious before school or not show itself until the child has difficulty learning at school
A severe speech-language impairment may result in one or more of the following:
The child not being able to speak
Having speech that is very hard to understand
The child having great difficulty making sense of speech sounds
The child not always being able to understand others
The child not being able to say what he or she wants.
Substantial disruption in rhythm and fluency of speech
Most common speech impairment; 20 percent of all children go through stage
No clear-cut answers to the causes of stuttering
Learning Disabilities: Discrepancies Between Achievement and Capacity to Learn
Difficulties in acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities
2.8 million children in US
Dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia
Developmental Reading Disability
Dyslexia affects 2 to 8 percent of elementary school children
Inability to separate sounds in words
Problems sounding out words
Developmental Writing Disabilities
Writing involves several brain areas and functions ( dysgraphia )
Brain networks for vocabulary, grammar, hand movement, and memory must all be in good working order
Developmental writing disorder may result from problems in any of these areas
Developmental Arithmetic Disability
Arithmetic involves recognizing numbers and symbols, memorizing facts, aligning numbers, and understanding abstract concepts like place value and fractions
Any of these may be difficult for children with developmental arithmetic disorders, also called dyscalculia
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Persistent difficulty in finishing tasks, following instructions, and organizing work
Inability to watch an entire television program
Frequent interruption of others or excessive talking
Tendency to jump into a task before hearing all the instructions.
Difficulty in waiting or remaining seated
Be excessive, long-term, and pervasive
Appear before age 7, and continue for at least 6 months
Create a real handicap in at least two areas of a person's life, such as school, home, work, or social settings
Different than "normal" distractibility or overstressed lifestyle prevalent in our society
Only a trained clinician can make an accurate diagnosis following an extensive evaluation of the child and interviews with parents and teachers
ADHD Treatment Controversy
Ritalin or Dexadrine reduce activity levels in hyperactive children and are routinely prescribed
Effective in increasing attention span and compliance BUT side effects considerable and long-term health consequences unclear
Help scholastic performance in short run BUT long-term evidence for continuing improvement is mixed
Are there other treatments for ADHD?
Behavioral therapy - With behavior therapy, parents and teachers are trained in techniques for improving behavior, primarily involving the use of rewards (such as verbal praise) for desired behavior. In addition, teachers can increase the structure of classroom activities and use other class management techniques to help children with ADHD, who have great difficulty with unstructured tasks.
Diet - Because some research has shown links between ADHD and children’s diet, particularly in terms of fatty acids or food additives, dietary treatments have sometimes been prescribed. However, dietary treatments are usually insufficient by themselves.
Informed Consumer of Development
Keeping Children Fit
Make exercise fun. Gear activities to the child’s physical level and motor skills.
Be an exercise role model.
Encourage the child to find a partner. Start slowly.
Urge participation in organized sports activities, but do not push too hard.
Don’t make physical activity, such as jumping jacks or push-ups, a punishment for unwanted behavior.