Advice For Parents Of Kids 6-10

Family Counseling Insights brought to you by Patricia McTague-Loft

Styles of parenting are almost as individual and unique as parents themselves. Some parents just wing it, figuring that loving their kids and providing for their basic needs is just fine, thank you. Others obsess over the latest research on parenting, reading every new book and listening to every new podcast on the subject. Others turn to their parents, asking for advice especially when they hit the inevitable rough spell with discipline.

Some parents simply remember back to when they were kids, recalling the good and bad lessons from their tumultuous teen years. Unfortunately, that’s probably where their vivid memories begin to fade — who can recall much about being six or seven or how their parents guided them?

That’s why it’s important to have a good idea about what to expect and how to react to your children’s behavior in the crucial years when they’re six to 10. The staff at Psychology Today (PT) zeroes in on this age and puts their imprimatur on advice about a variety of stages of development for this age group. It’s an age of growing independence and the advice covers a range of topics:

Becoming More Independent. “Metacognition means being aware of one’s own thinking,” according to PT. An example of metacognition is being aware of the difficulty of an upcoming test in math. Simply developing the ability to anticipate the future can help in forming good habits like following a study schedule.

Losing Motivation. Often, declining motivation is a reaction to new challenges: frustration with the amount of schoolwork required; distraction from their social life; or being excluded from events by friends. The important thing is for parents to be calm and non-judgmental as they offer advice.

Developing Resilience. Resilience has to be developed — it’s not simply a personality trait. A fundamental requirement for developing resilience is the ability to control your emotions, which helps kids avoid becoming anxious or depressed. Encouraging younger kids to practice simple mindfulness techniques such as breathing slowly when they’re angry can help them learn to control their emotions.

Managing Early Puberty. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, early puberty is eight for girls and nine for boys. One of the problems with early puberty, says PT, stems from the fact that the child is experiencing a “mismatch between one’s physical and emotional development.” Parents can help by reassuring their kids it’s a normal process that everyone goes through and simply expressing an openness to listening to them talk about any subject.

Avoiding Depression. Unfortunately, recent research indicates a third of kids experience depression even before they enter puberty. A red flag to watch for is irritability, and it’s important to watch for that because kids are seldom able or willing to express the nature of complex feelings. Remember, though, that depression can be treated. If a child is acting irritable, sad or lethargic, encourage them to talk, and let them know you want to help. This also may be the time to turn to professional help because untreated depression can turn into a lifetime problem.

Offering What’s Really Needed. Most parents just want their kids to be happy and healthy. They’re willing to do most anything but often don’t know exactly how to act or what advice to offer. The good news is that research says the most important thing to offer is love — love, says PT, that takes the form “of warmth, forgiveness and understanding.” So, when in doubt, let kids who are struggling simply know they’re loved.