The Stages of Development: Six to Eleven
Childhood is more than how a child grows, it's about the series of stages a child goes through to get to adulthood. Going through childhood is work, a lot of work. Each stage of a child's life has different demands on the child. A new parent may not always be aware of what is considered "normal" during the various stages of their child's life. Below are a few examples of the various stages.
Age Six: Children often become more self-centered at this age. They test the waters for their independence. They may become annoying to others because they are always trying to boast about what they can do. Your child may become more difficult to discipline. Some children may have difficulty at school. They may develop issues with other children (bullying, fighting, etc). Address each issue as it arises. Conference with their teacher, principal or counselor at school. Get to the root of the problem before it becomes more of an issue.
Ages Seven & Eight: By the time your children reach this age they will again be looking for acceptance from the adults in their lives (parents, teachers, etc.). Some children will demand attention from their teacher and will be hurt if they do not feel special. Most teachers understand this period and will try to make all their students feel important. Some children will strive to achieve more independence during this period. They will become frustrated if they fail too often. Be patient with your child. Do not put too many expectations on him. Try not to embarrass your child during this stage of their life. Help them with their school assignments when possible so they feel successful in school.
Ages Nine & Ten: This is the time when best friends develop. This is also the time when children begin thinking about the opposite sex. It is a very innocent time for them. Do they like girls (or boys)? Do they want to have a girlfriend (or boyfriend)? This is also the time when their appearance begins to matter. Some children will pick on others for the way they look. Children can be very cruel with the comments they make to one another. If you notice that your children are being picked on for their appearance (of if they happen to be the ones doing the picking), speak with them about how they feel (or how they make others feel with their comments). Help your children be objective about their friendships.
Age Eleven: At this stage of your child's life she may begin to talk about sex with her peers. Some children may feel pressured to experiment with sex. During this stage, it is important that parents be very open with their children about sex. Depending on your beliefs, it is critical that you talk openly with your child. Your child may also become emotionally stressed out. Children go through a lot of emotional stress from their friendships, popularity issues, personal issues, and how they look overall. Some children may be concerned about how their bodies are developing. Surprisingly, there are more and more young girls starting their menstrual cycle during this age. This can be a scary situation for a such a young girl. Some girls may also be developing breasts at this age. Help your daughters through this period of adjustment. Boys may also be transitioning at this age. Do not be afraid to speak with your children about how their bodies will change as they grow.
by Wendy Greif
Wendy Greif is a mother and graduate of USF in Special Education. She has taught children with various disabilities in both South Carolina and Florida. Mrs. Greif operates an informational website for parents and caregivers of children and/or adults with special needs (http://www.specialneedschildrenandadults.com).