Although your child between the ages of 6 and 10 may seem very independent at times, he or she still needs your constant guidance. Being present is the most important thing you can do to help your child grow in healthy ways. Knowing that you are "around" and available provides him or her with a sense of security. Although your child's world is expanding, you remain his or her primary influence.
You can do many things to help your child grow and develop.
- Promote physical development by encouraging and modeling healthy eating habits. Also, foster a healthy body image by talking about and showing how it is important to accept people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. For more information, see the topic Healthy Habits for Kids.
- Promote cognitive development-thinking and reasoning skills-by being involved in your child's school. Volunteer if possible, cultivate good relationships with teachers and other staff members, and show your interest in what your child is learning. Also, work on skills at home, such as simple math problems, money handling, reading, and writing. Age-appropriate workbooks are widely available. But be careful not to pressure your child. Simply spending time with him or her is an important part of setting a foundation for cognitive growth.
- Promote language development by reading to your child every day. Make reading a routine, even as he or she gets older and seems to lose interest. Set aside time that you and your child can look forward to and talk about stories, words, and ideas. Visit your local library and try finding books with new subjects that you think might interest your child.
- Promote social and emotional development by being aware of sibling rivalry, which can become a problem around this age. Also help your child learn social skills, such as by showing your acceptance of others and not gossiping or saying mean things about other people.
- Promote sensory and motor skill development by encouraging exercise every day. It doesn't have to be highly structured: the main point is to move around and limit TV time and other screen time. Practicing somersaults, playing catch, going to the park, or riding a bike are all helpful in developing muscular skill and endurance. Also, encourage your child to create art projects, such as drawing, cutting with safety scissors, gluing, and stringing beads. These and similar activities help improve eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. For more information, see the topic Physical Activity for Children and Teens.
Also, you can help your child in other general ways.
- Deal with fears. Understand that your child may become extremely interested in scary subjects or images as a way to overcome fears about them. Help your child as much as you can by answering questions and providing reassurance as needed.
- Discourage physical violence and show your child ways to deal with anger without being violent. Protect your child from violent media as much as you can. Some TV programs, movies, video games, and websites show a lot of violent acts. Children who watch a lot of this violence may come to believe that such behavior is okay. This can make them more likely to act violently themselves. It can also lead to nightmares, aggression, or fears of being harmed.1 Music lyrics affect children's behavior and emotions, too.2 Monitor the type of music that your child is exposed to, and be aware of the music your child buys.
- Establish limits. Set limits for your children to show them that you love and care about them. Make sure your rules are reasonable and that your child understands them. It is important to follow through on any consequences you have established for failing to follow rules.
- Recognize and develop special talents. Help your child discover interests and practice skills. For example, kick a soccer ball around the yard with your child or help him or her practice printing letters.
- Recognize his or her curiosity about the body and sexuality. You can help your child gain basic knowledge and a healthy attitude toward these issues by showing a willingness to listen and discuss them.
- Before your child starts middle school, teach him or her how to resist using tobacco and other drugs.
You can also help your child through each stage of development by evaluating your relationship from time to time. In many ways, you have to "get to know" your child over and over again. Think about:
- What do I like most about my child?
- What could be triggering difficult behavior? Are any of these new triggers?
- What new skills has my child developed within the past year? Six months? Three months?
- What tasks can I encourage my child to do for himself or herself? How can I encourage him or her?
- When am I happy about how I treat my child?
- What don't I like about some of our interactions? When do these episodes tend to occur?
As a parent or caregiver of children, it is also important for you to:
- Learn and use effective parenting and discipline techniques and avoid the use of corporal punishment. Parenting classes are offered in most communities. Ask your doctor or call a local hospital for more information.
- Learn healthy techniques to resolve conflicts and manage stress. For more information, see the topic Stress Management.
- Ask for help when you need it. Call a family member or friend to give you a break if you feel overwhelmed. Find out about community resources that are available to help you with child care or other necessary services. Call a doctor or local hospital to find out about a place to start. Some communities have respite care facilities for children, which provide temporary child care during times when you need a break.