Raising a Child Through the Early School Years (2y-11y)

Posted on January 24, 2013

Many theories exist today about how to be a good parent.  I like to look at the traits a child will learn based on the parenting provided.  In many cases, a parent judges how well a child minds, how polite a child is, or how well the child achieves.  But, what about parenting a child to be confident in who he or she is and making healthy decisions?  As a guideline for this type of parenting I find that Erik Erikson’s developmental stages a child must negotiate in order to be healthy and confident really hit the mark.  The stages a young child deals with are exploration and school related tasks.

When your child is between the ages of 2 and 3 exploration is key in development.  As a parent being able to support your child in exploration while still maintaining appropriate guidelines is key.  A parent should allow for exploration, but allow the child to come back if a sense of safety is needed.  By this I mean, allow your child to have a sense of power over his or her environment.  Allowing boundaries for exploring the yard, safe places to climb, make decisions, and having some limited freedom will help your child feel empowered.  There is a need for limitations for safety, but exerting overbearing limitations, such as not being allowed to leave a parent’s side or not being allowed to feed oneself, will produce a feeling of guilt within the child.  As a parent, being able to help your child (i.e. smiling and encouraging safe exploration, clapping when your child completes a task, letting your child experiment with how things work, or even some alone play time in a safe environment) will help to foster the empowered sense of self in a child.

When your child is between the ages of 6 and 11 the main milestone is school based learning.  This type of learning is not segregated to the subjects of elementary school, but also expands to cover interacting with children and teachers, learning how to manage time, and negotiating time spent away from family.  These tasks should be supported by parents in helping with homework, asking about his or her day, encouraging making new friends, and excitement over successes.  Not all of the areas are easy transitions for school children.  Extra effort may need to be spent talking over homework or modeling behaviors when interacting with peers.  Successfully completing these tasks allows your child to have a sense of competence, while failure in these tasks breeds a sense of inferiority.  As parents, supporting your child can be very beneficial to his or her success in this stage of development.

These two stages of development, when adequately handled, will help your child to have a good view of self.  In order to help your children meet and overcome these stages boundaries may have to be loosened in order for more independence to be taken on by the child.  Parenting through these stages can be quite a shift from the younger years where the child needed more help, but letting go a little can very much help the child in the future.  Being a good parent can mean a lot of different things, but parenting to help your child build confidence and self-esteem, in my book, can hardly be beat.

For more on this topic, see Raising Children Through the Infant Toddler Stage.

 

Written by Shannon Sievers, MA, LMFTA

This article was adapted from Erik Erikson’s stages of development.  For more information visit http://psychology.about.com/library/bl_psychosocial_summary.htm

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==