Being 9

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Being 9 is a strange age; on the precipice of reaching double figures but not quite there.

As many of us know, when we are approaching a new decade we have expectations that we are going to change, things are going to be different at 10, 20, 30, 40....... This can make us feel like we are in limbo, caught between what we were and what we are about to become.  This is particularly pronounced for that first experience of reaching a new decade.Being 9 is obviously very different depending on family backgrounds, social grade, gender and the very different personalities that children have. 

But there are some common themes that unite all 9 year olds. 

  • At age 9 children start to have a strong desire to belong to a group and to fit in, and are more susceptible to peer pressure
  • It becomes more emotionally important to have friends and they start to form stronger, more complex friendships and peer relationships
  • They may begin seeing the point of view of other people more clearly

We conducted an in depth study with ten x 9 year olds in the UK to hear their take on what life is like for them at this age.

One step on the ladder to independence...

One of the best things about being 9 is that they are beginning to get a taste for freedom as parents start to very slightly loosen the reins.  Growing older is unlocking a new world of experiences for them.  They’re experiencing more of the adult world by themselves and acquiring new skills such as interacting with new people, using money, finding their own way, which is exciting but can also be daunting.

This is just the start….

  • “I can now go to the local shop on my own and buy things by myself.” 
  • “I can now go to Youth Club”
  • “I got to stay up all night at a family wedding.”

Getting taller brings its advantages....

Being 9 means being taller!  Obviously each year brings a growth spurt but at 9 it seems that this growth spurt matters. 

  • “I’m taller now and can go on the scary rides at Alton Tower.”

...and its worries

But being 9 also brings its disadvantages.  Life can seem to get more serious in those Key Stage 2 years as teachers start to increase the pressure and expectations.  School work becomes more difficult, homework increases and results start to be put into context for children.  Nine year olds begin to start piecing together their performance at school or in out of school activities with their future life – scary stuff!

  • “Maths is much harder now.”
  • “The days seem so long – it’s difficult to explain.”
  • “I worry about school tests and SATS”                                         

... and responsibilities

Greater expectations from school and greater expectations at home.  9 year olds are more likely to be asked to help out at home and with younger siblings – a key source of frustration when you want to chill on your IPad or play out.

  • “Sometimes I have to change my baby brother’s nappies”
  • “You have to wait for the little ones to do things first!”
  • “I have to help out at home more” 

They're still a kid....

Most nine year olds still have one foot very firmly in camp kid.  This is more evident for boys in particular, with favourite films being more cartoon led such as Despicable Me 2 and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

With hormones making an early appearance

There are marked differences between boys and girls at this age and, there can be marked differences between the girls themselves depending on whether those hormones have begun to make an appearance.

In fact, when kids are nine you could say there are three key groups – boys, girls with hormones and girls without hormones.

Nine year olds where puberty has started are very different.  They become less interested in toys, and more concerned with their appearance, clothes and make up. They are more ‘conscious’ of the opposite sex and become more concerned with other’s opinions of them.  Even at 9, hormonal moods can begin.

The average age of puberty for girls is 11, usually beginning between the ages of 10-14 although can start from the age of 8. For the boys the average age is 12, and occus later for them usually around the ages of 12-16 but can also start earlier from the age of 9.

They are developing a strong sense of 'me'...

At 9, children have begun to form a sense of themselves so they can say “I am the kind of person that likes to…..”  They have really clear likes and dislikes and use this to select friends, choose their activities and talk about their future hopes and dreams.

  • “I love clothes and fashion and I want to be a fashion designer.”
  • “Playing on Minecraft is my favourite activity. I want to be a coder as good as the Minecraft creators.”
  • “I hate 1D!”

...and friends become more important but family and pets are still central to their lives.

At nine, family and pets are still important. Friends become more important but this doesn’t mean family becomes less central to their lives (yet). The connections, routines and traditions that nine year olds share with immediate and wider family members such as grandparents is still a really important part of a nine year olds lives, and family members (including pets) remain a big part of their daily routines.

  • “I go to the supermarket with dad on a Saturday morning."
  • I go to my Nan’s on Tuesday after school.”
  • “Me and dad take Harvey for a walk in the woods.”
  • “My mum and dad are my favourite people because they are my parents and I love them lots.”
  • “I like being 9 because I get to go to school and see all of my friends.”


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Guest Sunday, 18 February 2018