30 Mar Secrets of Parenthood: Grade-Schoolers
Here’s Part 2 of our three-part series on the secrets of parenthood! (If you missed Part 1, click here.) In this stage of childhood, kids have a bit more autonomy. They’re spending a chunk of their day in school, away from their family, and they’re learning to be more independent.
Let Them Be Accountable
Part of the growing process is learning how to figure things out for yourself. As we make our own decisions, we’re bound to make some mistakes, and kids are no exception. When you let your child take accountability for their actions (their successes and their mistakes), it helps them develop as a person. Trust me—it is so much easier to teach kids about accountability at this age than waiting until they’re teenagers.
Still Be an Active Participant
Healthychildren.org says, “Once children enter school, parents spend less than half as much time with them as they did before. Parents thus need to be more efficient, more vigilant, and still very much involved in their children’s lives in order to monitor, guide, and support them effectively.” Even if you may not be spending as much time with your child as you did before they were in school, it’s still important to be involved. But how much involvement is too much (or too little) involvement? That’s a harder line to draw. When it comes to your child’s friends, healthychildren.org suggests that you “monitor your child’s choice of friends and supervise, but do not interfere with, their play activities.” With school, supervise their homework and encourage them to share what they’re learning with you.
Figure Out When to Have “the Talk”
The right age for this may differ depending on the child and gender, but think about talking to your kids around age 10 or 11 about puberty, if not sooner. “The talk” is not just about the birds and the bees—it’s also about body changes, the emotions of being in an amorous relationship, privacy, consent, and, of course, sex itself. Some parents are hesitant to have the talk this early, but this conversation involves topics that you’ll probably want your kids to hear from you instead of from their friends or the internet. We’re not downplaying that this is a difficult conversation to have, but it is an important one. Don’t assume that the health education classes at school will cover these topics for you. Let your child know that you’re there to answer their questions and that they can come and talk to you about anything they need. When your child does approach you with questions, do your best to listen without being reactive (if your child sees that they’re able to ask you difficult questions and that you can handle it, they’re more likely to keep coming to you). For more guidance on having the talk with your child, check out this article.
For more information on the web, visit healthychildren.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your child’s health, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.