Do you remember being nine years old? It’s an interesting age, and somewhat stressful for the parents, as their children’s bodies, emotions and friendships change. I don’t remember a lot from that time but one thing I do recall was the friendships and social circles. How important they were to me and how I wanted everyone to like me. Gosh how times have changed! Now you either like me for me or you can keep on walking 😊
My eldest is nine so we will always go through the firsts with him. He’s a quieter and more reserved child than his brother. He looks for encouragement though can be quite competitive. But boy have we experienced all the emotions possible over the past six months or so! When it first happened I was confused as to way he was raging or becoming upset over something that seemed irrational to me. There were a lot of heated arguments which ended in both of us in tears. I couldn’t understand what was happening to my boy. He didn’t feel like my son.
Anxiety also made an appearance and it came out of the blue. While he is the more cautious one of my two boys, this was next level. I initially couldn’t pinpoint what had started it until a friend asked if he’d recently had stranger danger classes at school. Sure enough he had and it was around this time anxiety raised its head. Although he’d had these classes before, for an unknown reason and one he couldn’t even identify, this class triggered fear and anxiety about someone coming into the house and killing him. Every window and door was checked numerous times to make sure they were closed and locked properly. There were tears if we wanted to leave the front door open with the screen door locked to get air into the house (this was the middle of summer!). Forget about me even being in the kitchen and him in the backyard – I can see him from the kitchen window but no. If he was outside then I had to be physically there. If he couldn’t see me in the room he’d call out to me, asking where I was and what I was doing – there were some great toilet conversations! It was never ending and exhausting.
I looked for all the advice, guidance, reassurance that I could on nine year old boys but I didn’t find much. Most articles just said it was hormones or a testosterone surge. But he was 9! Isn’t that too young? And if it was that, how should I deal with it? I ended up reaching out to our GP after noticing some body changes and she confirmed that he had entered puberty (there were tears and a bit of disbelief from my husband and I). I also reached out to some parents with similar aged kids and it was a relief to hear that a couple of them had kids experiencing the same. I enrolled him for two resilience classes; one that focused on the different emotions we feel and how they’re all good but need to be managed differently, and the other on friendships and what it really means. Both of these have been so good for him and it’s like a light went off and out came the boy I know.
Now, puberty goes on for a few years and he’s just entered it so not everything is going to change and happen straight away. We have spoken to him and explained what’s happening. He turns 10 at the end of the year and while we haven’t delved too far into the detail, just what he needs to know for now, I know other conversations are going to have to happen. His brother thinks it’s hilarious!
Below I’ve listed nine things I know about nine year old boys.
- Emotions are high and while it’s not directed at one person in particular, mum tends to bare the brunt of it. One minute everything is hunky dory then the next minute they’re moody or there’s tears (for no apparent reason!)
- They can hit puberty at this age. It’s not uncommon. Puberty takes a few years and they are only entering it at this age but it brings emotional and physical challenges
- There’s noticeable changes to their body
- They want to be more independent but crave security from those they are close to
- One that crosses over a few ages: they think they know it all but then question their decisions
- Friendships are important though peer pressure appears too. I’m reinforcing the statement ‘Run your own race’ which I hope instills confidence in themselves
- Anxiety that may never have been there before now appears. This can be anxiety over a number of things and may occur from them hearing the news or a death happening in the family
- There is more of a focus on sport activities with the same gender. Catch ups with girl friends are fine on a one-on-one basis. These are girls who are friends, not girlfriends – there’s a difference!
- They seek more responsibility like getting to a friend’s house on their own. But ask him to increase this chore responsibility in the house and he’ll look at you like you have two heads!
While it’s a roller coaster of emotions that I’m sure are only the start, there’s also the cuddles at home or in the evening when he wants to lie on me and have his time with me. His cuddles, his wanting to be with me. My arms wrapped around him, kissing the top of his head. A request for a head massage to make time last a bit longer. It’s at this time I’m made very much aware that he’s still so young yet trying to manage all these big changes and emotions that are coming his way. And everything else that might have happened during the day is forgotten.
The list above is based on my experience with my son. I’m sure there are many other things to note. What else would you add for parents navigating this age?