By Karen DeBord, Ph.D.
the ages of 6 and 12, the child's world moves outward from the family
as relationships are formed with friends, teachers, coaches, caregivers,
and others. Because they are having more experiences, many things
can affect how a child thinks and feels. Some situations can create
stress and affect self-esteem. The middle childhood is a time to
prepare for adolescence and to show their increased knowledge and
independence. Up to this point, children have always looked up to
parents as the source of information, but now children judge parents
more and label their actions differently.
and Emotional Development
are signs of growing independence. Children test their growing knowledge
with possible back-talk and rebellion.
Common fears include the unknown, failure, death, family problems,
Children are beginning to see the point of view of others better.
Children define themselves through their appearance, things they
own, and activities
They can control angry outbursts better and have a higher ability
to handle frustration.
They tend to 'tattle tale" to get attention
Children may still be afraid of the dark and monsters between 6-8
They become attached to adults other then their parents
Their feelings are easily hurt and can have mood swings
Practical Advice to Parents to Promote Healthy Social/Emotional
non-competitive games to avoid comparing skills from one child to
Give children lots of positive attention and let them help make
Show confidence in their ability to make good decisions
Ask, "How could you do that differently next time?" when
they make mistakes
Be aware of the child's underlying feelings when they talk to you
Give children positive attention for success
Avoid criticizing or humiliating children's skills or decisions.
is slower than preschool years, but steady. Eating levels may change
as they grow.
In the later stages of middle childhood, body changes show the start
Activity may bring tiredness. Children need about 10 hours of sleep
Muscle coordination and control are uneven and incomplete in the
early stages, but children become almost as coordinated as adults
by the end of middle childhood.
Small muscles develop quickly, making more difficult activities
more enjoyable now.
Baby teeth with come out and permanent ones will come in. Overcrowded
teeth are common.
Eyes reach full growth in middle childhood and eye exams are needed.
Advice for Parents to Promote Healthy Physical Development
both boys and girls choose from a variety of activities, not just
the ones that are usually boy or girl activities.
Help children to balance busy and quiet activity time.
Regular dental and eye check-ups are important at this stage.
can begin to think about their own behavior and see what may happen
because of their actions.
Children begin to read and write early in middle childhood and can
do it well by the later stages.
Children learn best through 'hands-on' activity.
Children usually can't sit longer than 20 minutes for any activity,
but their attention span gets better with age.
start many projects as they explore new things, but rarely finish
Children can talk through problems and solve them.
begin to see themselves as 'workers'.
Advice for Parents to Promote Healthy Mental Development
patient with the more challenging, rebellious behaviors children
show as they learn to think for themselves.
Adults can ask "what if" questions to help children develop
problem solving skills
children to read books and create their own stories
of ways to use daily activities as 'hands-on" learning time
sure to have one on one time with your child to listen and talk
development happens over time through direct experience
want to feel useful and to have a sense that they are a help to
violence can make children think that it is normal for people to
act that way.
need to practice activities that show caring for others.
caring, and positive relations play central roles in ethics and
Advice for Parents to Promote Healthy Moral Development
responsible caring behaviors by treating children with care and
You show you care for your child when you listen to their opinion
and show that how they feel matters and is important to you. They
then learn to do that for others.
that caring for, responding to, and working to understand others
is an important value in your family.
your child to do 'good deeds' for others to give them practice and
a feeling of pride in their kind actions through volunteer activities
sure to show your children how kind and loving they are when they
act in kind and loving ways.
DeBord, Ph.D.is a Child Development Specialist at the North Carolina
Cooperative Extension Service. Reprinted with permission