27 December 2012

That Difficult Age: 5 Things That Make Parenting A 6-11 Year OldChallenging

I think every parent or set of parents has an age rage that is more challenging than the others. For many, this is the teenage years. Some find it the toddler time frame. For my husband and I it appears to be from about age 6 to 11.

So what is it about this age group that we find so challenging?

1.  Definite Opinions About What They Like.
Ok, so this isn't new for kids budding into this age group, but it is much more intense than it was a year or two ago. Parental opinion on what we think is spectacular isn't as relevant. Gone are the days of convincing your little angel that the super sweet dress you have had picked out for weeks is the one to wear to that special event. They may have had their own ideas about what they like in fashion, toys, and food before, but now those opinions are much stronger. Sometimes those opinions are based from the opinions of friends or older siblings, but sometimes they are totally and randomly their own. It's hard for a parent when their opinion suddenly isn't the most important or possibly doesn't matter at all to the little person that recently thought they hung the moon. It's also hard to hand over the reins of control to someone so small.

2.  Mouth Control
Mouth control is my husband's most challenging issue with any age, but between the ages of 6-11 seems to be the toughest. This age group has the brain power to come up with some serious wordage. However, they lack the knowledge to control what comes out of their mouth sometimes. That word they heard on the playground or from you while being cut off in traffic just seems to fly out. Their opinions that Aunt Sue's gravy tasts like liquid garbage or that you are being a complete jerk also come flying out. They have quick, snappy, and often mean words at this age. It's our job to teach them how to understand their feelings and have self-control. Oh, and those opinions that we talked about in issue 1, well, they just want them to be known.

3.  Puberty
At the end of this time frame, puberty is just beginning. For many the most challenging part of puberty is the beginning. The sudden change in hormone levels can make your child go from sweet and angelic to an angry monster and then to a sobbing mess in a matter of minutes seconds. There have been times in the past when John would have sworn that we needed to have our oldest (and now our second child) analyzed for being bipolar. It's scary when your normally mild mannered sweetheart is screaming at her sister from across the house then breaks down into tears. For some kids this can also bring on a large weight gain and other body changes. Adults don't deal with body change well. Billions of dollars are spent yearly to prove this. How do you think your kid is handling it? My best advice is to talk, talk, talk, and when you think they understand everything, talk some more.

4.  Not a little kid anymore... Not a teenager yet
This is the age when your kid has just outgrown all those really cool things that are designed for little kids. Those fun play areas at malls and science centers are now a thing of the past. Some of their most beloved toys are now just a bit small. However, these are the things that have defined the world of fun for them for the entirety of their life. On the other hand, they just aren't big enough to do those cool things teens do yet. Not big enough to prepare the family dinner on their own or go places by their self. As a parent this comes with constant explaining to our adolescent why they are too big, small, young, or old. Accompanying this is the fact sometimes they seem to think like a little kid and sometimes more adult. This bouncing back in forth in the thought processes is really the most challenging part of this age for me.

5.  Privacy Please!!!
Your little one that used to want to share EVERYTHING with you, now wants some space of their own. During this time you will definitely be told, "I need some alone time," even by the most social of children. That kid that was running around your house naked maybe a week ago will suddenly flip out when her little brother walks into their bedroom while they are changing clothes. At this age privacy is selective. My oldest has always been able to talk to my husband (or anyone for that matter) about her period, but one mention of a bra and she will run out of the room with a bright red face. They may have boxes of 'secret' things or start locking their bedroom or bathroom door.  Many kids start a private journal. The tricky part with all this privacy is knowing where to set the boundaries. They need and want privacy, but at times allowing them to much privacy can be dangerous.

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