You may have thought you’d left school behind when you, well, left school. Think again. Parenthood requires much study, especially when you want the best for your kids, and you want your kids to grow into the best possible human beings they can become.
The days and nights of diapers and feeding bottles may be over, but your six-to-12-year-olds present you with new challenges, new surprises. Raising them takes effort, patience, and a whole lot of assistance from the people and materials around you- your spouse or partner, extended family, teachers, fellow parents, household help, and knowledge found in books, television, and the Internet.
So what do you need to know about your six-to-12-year-old kids? Here are 10 helpful hints:
They are homing, developing, and refining their physical skills. Your youngsters may have taken their first steps years ago, but they are developing and refining motor skills such as throwing, catching, running, leaping. Getting them involved in activities such as sports and dance teaches them proper form, develops their grace, not to mention keeps them fit.
They become more aware of their bodies. Though you may not see it yet, the transformation of the body from child to young man or woman begins at the age of eight or nine for girls, and at around age 10 for boys. Your kids’ bodies begin secreting hormones that pave the way for their entrance into puberty. Your kids become more self-conscious about their bodies, and need to be reassured that these changes are normal.
They become more independent of you. Infancy to the age of six is the age of attachment. From six years onward, your kids begin to venture out more on their own, to discover as well as to form their own identity and self-concept. Keeping a healthy balance between your kids’ growing need for space and individuality and their integration into your family is one of your most challenging roles as a parent.
Your kids start to develop an interest in things and people around them and want to try out many new things. Hobbies, preoccupations, and relationships will shift as they figure out what they enjoy best, what they’re good at, what their goals are, and who they want to be.
Rapid mental development takes place. At this time, your kids spend much of their waking life in school or studying. Their education is one of the pillars of their future. You can support their cognitive development by knowing what kind of students they are and what kind of learning style they have.
They form various friendships and a wider social network. Peer acceptance and approval are a great need at this stage of childhood. Your consistent and genuine affirmation of your kids and their specific abilities help them make better choices for themselves as well as weather the social challenges they may encounter.
They begin to learn and understand values. Your kids start to understand the value of self, family, community, and the different virtues such as justice, compassion, excellence, peace, and so on. They are preoccupied with issues of fairness, of right and wrong.
This is the perfect age to emphasize the values that serve as the basis for good moral character and socioemotional stability. You may impart these lessons through words but more effectively through your deeds and convictions.
Development of self-confidence is critical. Your kids have a developmental need to become competent at something. They need your sincere and genuine approval of their abilities, because in a crucial way their self-concept depends on what you say. Do recognize, acknowledge, and affirm your kids’ gifts. Celebrate your kids for the unique and wonderful beings that they are!
They have the ability to express their thoughts and feelings more clearly. They are beginning to form their own thoughts and opinions, and are looking for the best and most comfortable ways to express them.
These forms of expression may be verbal, behavioral, or may be done through sports, the arts, and other activities. Pay attention to how your kids express themselves, because it is an invaluable form of support to their growth into secure and productive persons.
They experience important milestones. A girl’s first menstrual period, the deepening of a boy’s voice, the first best friend, the first crush- these milestones mark your kid’s lives from six to 12 years old. This is also the stage when your kids experience desires to belong and to be recognized, agonies over friendships and loss, and passion for TV and pop-music icons, and so on.
They question the way society, the world, and human nature work – and you cannot simply brush these off with easy answers. Your wise and thoughtful presence in these important moments is the ground on which your sons and daughters shall grow to become healthy, happy young men and women.