Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is Middle Childhood?
Middle Childhood is a time when
children are beginning to assume a larger share of responsibility for their own
behaviour in relationship to their parents, peers and others. The middle years
are extremely important for encouraging and fostering high self-esteem in
children since the development of self-esteem during this period leads to a
better-adjusted, more confident adolescence.
What are some of the important
issues in the Middle Years?
- Self–Esteem -The middle years are vital to
a child's growing sense of self-esteem. The child is getting a stronger idea of
who he or she is.
- Relationship with Parents -In terms of developing
a sense of belonging, a sense of worth and a sense of confidence, successful
interaction with parents contributes greatly to a positive sense of self.
According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, most
children have a good relationship with their parents.
- Relationships with Peers - These relationships
are also very important and the child will go to great lengths to gain a sense
of accomplishment in relation to his/her peers.
- Physical abilities - During the middle years
children gain a growing sense of competence in relation to their physical
abilities. Most children of this age have developed good motor skills and can
opportunities to successfully engage in a variety of physical pursuits.
- Cognitive and Language Development - The child
now has the ability to know what to do on a day to day basis as well as the
ability to do it.
- Siblings - The middle years is a time when
siblings will usually work together to deal with their parents and to try to
compensate for any parental inadequacies, such as a parent who is very stressed
and impatient. If the sibling relationship is rife with fights this can cause a
lot of stress to the child.
What do children of the
middle years need for healthy development?
- Play - This is vitally important to middle
childhood. Play provides the opportunity for children to test themselves, work
out feelings, experiment with roles, learn rules and expectations and develop
and practice skills for later years.
- Friendship – Children need positive
interactions with their peers since peers provide them with models of how to
behave among other children.
- Family time – as an opportunity to build
child's self-esteem. The parents need to meet basic needs, enjoy the child, be
responsive to the child, praise specifics about the child's accomplishments and
take pride in the child's achievements. It is important for the parent to
reassure the child of his or her love and to provide the opportunity for the
child to form significant relationships outside the family.
What are the challenges
for children in the middle years?
- Children may try out different roles and
personalities some of which are not positive. These might include stealing,
lying and challenging rules in the home.
- Obesity and lack of physical activity is rising
for children for a variety of reasons. Some explanations for this includes: a
lack of opportunity due to low family income being a significant barrier to
participation in sport and recreation activities, concerns of harassment and
bullying in sport and recreation, a lack of opportunities for girls and young
women and excessive television viewing.
- For other children there can be stress due to
overprogramming and excessive activities, physical or otherwise. Parents need to
take care that children have the opportunity to balance school, friends and
activities with time they need for individual relaxation.
- Maintain an atmosphere full of praise, time to
play together and opportunities for autonomy.
- Engage in positive communication.
- Provide consistent rules and boundaries with
- Provide activities for successful mastery.
- Provide opportunities for stimulation and
learning with the family through hobbies, hobbies, games, physical activities
and outings to, for example, museums, parks, or libraries.
- Stress the importance of learning.
- Stay in touch with the child's teacher.
- Monitor assignments.
- Provide a quiet place for the child to do