Understanding Your Kid Through Middle Childhood

on Saturday, 01 October 2011. Posted in Toddler health, Kid's Health Written By: Anupam

Know what changes to expect through your kid's middle childhood

Understanding Your Kid Through Middle Childhood

Children go though various changes during their middle childhood phase. Some changes are subtle and others not so subtle. Yet, each change is important for parents to notice and understand, in order to continue strengthening their bond with their child.

The term middle childhood is commonly used for the developmental phase of children between the age groups of 6 to 12 years. This is also the period when we use the term “pre-teeners” for our kids. A period marked by not just physical growth of a child; but social, emotional and cognitive growth as well. This is the period between early childhood and adolescence.

Middle childhood period in a kid’s life is one characterised by calm and gradual changes. During these years parents will find their child gaining body awareness, retaining large amounts of information, building relationships within and outside the family and acquiring new skills

Middle childhood facts and trivia:

  • Studies confirm that peer pressure becomes 30 percent more effective during middle childhood as compared to the pre-school stage.
  • Divorce and parental discord leaves its effects on middle childhood kids for as long as two to six months.
  • Boys are seen to make friends in large groups based largely on competition.
  • Girls, between the ages 6-12 years, form smaller friend circles based on social status and popularity.
  • Middle childhood kids see the maximum increase in obesity.

It is essential for parents to know that, the changes a child undergoes in this phase form the basis of his personality as an adult. As the child comes more in contact with the outside world, at the school, playground, social circle and neighbourhood, new behaviours and thinking come into play.

Physical development during Middle Childhood:

There are some significant physical changes that take place during this phase. Some of these are:

  • Kids gain 2-3 inches per year and loose four milk teeth every year.
  • They can hold scissors, type on a keyboard and write better. Cursive writing skills also improve.
  • Muscle coordination, fine and gross motor skills all improve during middle childhood.
  • Common physical ailments during this phase are- obesity, asthma and allergies.

Parental Tips:

  • Parents must understand that during this phase, physical good health plays a major role in shaping a healthy personality of the child. If the child is not physically fit and healthy, it will directly affect the mood, emotional health and thus, personality of the child.
  • Good health and physical fitness adds to the confidence of the child, allowing him to gather life skills and boost his social abilities.
  • Build your child’s immunity. A child who constantly falls sick will not be able to concentrate anywhere, thus having an affected cognitive development.
  • Parents should involve kids in lots of physical activities such as cycling, racing, jogging, climbing, swimming etc.
  • Inculcate healthy and balanced eating habits in your kids by being a role model for them.

 Cognitive development and changes during middle childhood:

This is the period of major Cognitive Developments. By cognitive we mean the capacity to understand the environment and to solve problems. It is the capacity of logical as well as abstract thinking. As the cognitive thinking develops, the child begins to –

  • Use logic, which is further enhanced by social interactions and language skills.
  • Develop problem solving abilities, which too get better as the child is subjected to situations which tax his/her abilities.
  • The vocabulary and linguistic skills of kids improve. They master the skill of using two languages, are able to spell difficult words and frame long sentences.
  • Reading and writing skills also develop.

Parental tips:

  • Parents should encourage children to enhance their general knowledge.
  • Make them members of some good books and toys libraries.
  • Inculcating reading habits and giving age specific books helps build verbal and written skills.
  • Choose toys which enhance the child’s motor skills, like blocks, stringing bead activities, flash cards, sand and water activity tables etc. You can also go in for jigsaw puzzles, clay sets, art and craft toys and scrabble like games.

Social and emotional development through middle childhood:

Kids go through several social and emotional changes in middle childhood phase. Some of these are:

  • They learn to overcome their fear of the outside world and become comfortable and confident even in the company of strangers.
  • They are more expressive of their fears of failure, bad performance or lack of friends.
  • They gain understanding of other people’s opinions and point of views.
  • They start showing concern for others.
  • They can differentiate between their strengths and weaknesses.
  • It is the time they develop self esteem as well as complexes.
  • They develop and follow moral codes and values.
  • Sibling bonding and rivalry both surface in this stage.
  • Common mental disturbances bothering kids through this phase are- phobias sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression and abuse related problems if any. Bullying and social exclusion worsen these problems.

Parental tips:

  • Give your child lots of love, time and understanding
  • Think of ways to provide your kid with new learning experiences; ones that challenge the mind. Yet always be the constant assuring factor, by being around for support.
  • Remember to praise not just your kid’s achievements; but efforts as well.
  • Learn to trust your child. Your trust will add to his self esteem and confidence.
  • Encourage your child to take on responsibility and new tasks.
  • Talking to your child strengthens the parent-child bond. Keep the doors of communication open even when you are annoyed.
  • Make clear rules to follow. Remember discipline is always better than punishment.
  • Invest your time in family play times.

Middle childhood is a fun filled, gradual phase in a child’s life. Changes are manageable if handled with care and correct approach. Make the most of this phase and strengthen your relationship with your pre-teener before adolescence begins.


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