February 22, 2012

Stages in Growing Up: From 6 years old to 12 (part 2)

Stages in growing up
The stages in growing up (from six to 12) are usually on the move, going, doing, trying, and seeing different things.  Perhaps they are described as restless.  Because they love being active, they easily miscalculate how dangerous their exploits can be.  They become overconfident and, lacking judgement, have accidents.

Nervous reactions such as nail biting, twitches or tics, or finger drumming may suddenly appear.  They are usually caused by anxiety and can fade as swiftly as they appear.  Parents and teachers can help reduce anxiety by having realistic expectations and goals.  Children need adults to praise their efforts, regardless of the outcome.  In other words, the effort, as well as the achievement, needs recognition.  The environment thus created is one in which young people are willing to take risks as they try to find out who they are for these stages in growing up.

Children between six to twelve are eager to learn and are interested in a wide variety of things.  Generally, they can speak better than they can write, and they like hearing themselves talk.  They delight in repeating a story that has gory or scary details.  They willfully dominate conversations and may need some help in learning to share the spotlight.

The stages in growing up (from six to 12) have a strong desire for peer acceptance.  They might participate in sports or join clubs devoted to some special interest and thus begin forming a peer-group identity.  They usually like the stability of having a best friend of the same sex.  Together, they share secrets, interests, and enemies. They attack their enemies, verbally or physically, without realizing how devastating their words or actions might be.  Parents must maintain a delicate balance between interceding and letting the young people work out conflicts on their own.

As children identify themselves with peers, they want to dress like other members of the group and they sometimes go along with collective decisions, even when they know their parents would disapprove.  To pre-adolescents, the admiration and respect of their peers are more important than how their parents or teachers regard their behavior.  They might show off, boast, act silly, or even break the law to gain peer approval.  They seem to enjoy the shock value of using swears words, belching, and passing gas; and they roar with laughter over their blatant obnoxiousness. The stages in growing up (from six to 12) are well aware of what is acceptable and unacceptable and seem to love defying family standards.

On the other hand, pre-adolescents fear rejection by their parents as well as rejection by their friends.  This puts parents in a difficult position—they have the responsibility of keeping their children safe, of enforcing family rules, and of maintaining family values without seeming to reject or belittle the children.  During these stages in growing up it is imperative that parents maintain an atmosphere in which the children feel free to discuss their feelings. Their complaints, even when seemingly unjust or ridiculous, should be discussed, not dismissed.

If pre-adolescents are frequently made to feel ashamed of themselves, they may threaten to behave in self-destructive ways.  Threats of leaving home or harming themselves are too serious to be taken lightly.  When a youngster feels there is no hope, he or she needs professional help.  Family therapy can help the child and parents become more effective with each other.

As children pass through these stages in growing up, parents need to continually believe that there will be a positive outcome.  The hope-filled attitude will encourage everyone involved.  Undoubtedly there isn’t a more challenging job than being a parent; at the same time, there isn’t a job with more potential satisfaction and joy.


Stages in Growing Up: From 6 years old to 12 (part 2) is a blog post on  Modern Parenting Tips: Styles & Approach to Train & Discipline Children

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