School Age (age 5-9 years)
How did this happen? Your preschooler has somehow become a full-fledged elementary school student. It's easier in some ways -- they have so much more self control. They're more cooperative and affectionate.
But this is where things get complicated. You're just living your life, trying to hold a busy household together and get dinner on the table, while your child is shaping into the person he or she will become.
It may seem like you just finished toilet-training, but the tween years are right around the corner. Take advantage of these sweet, reasonable, elementary years while you still have so much influence on your child to build a close relationship, and help your child develop emotional intelligence and terrific self-management habits.
In This Section
How did your baby become a real kid, with her own life? These are the years when your child lays the foundation for school success, peer friendships, and her own character. Here's your gameplan for staying connected and helping her blossom.
There's no such thing as parenting perfectly. We're all doing the best we can with the resources we have in that moment. True, if we use a positive parenting approach when our children are toddlers, they're easier when they're older. But you can start peaceful parenting any time, and you'll see a difference in your child's behavior very quickly.
So she’s off to school every morning now, like a big kid. But instead of the exuberance you expected, you find many days – especially Monday -- starting with tears, or maybe a tummy-ache. Don’t worry, it’s not unusual for kids to need a little extra help adjusting to the start of school. What can you do?
The last weeks of summer are already upon us, and the new school year is right around the corner. Whether you can’t wait till your kids are back in school or dread the more regimented days ahead, there’s one thing you can count on: Back to School is always a big transition for the whole family.
It seems crazy that parents should even have to think about getting kids ready for kindergarten, academically speaking. Of course you'll want to prepare your child emotionally.
It's a big world out there. When your child was a baby or toddler, you were always there, or you left your child in the care of a trusted, nurturing adult. But as your child gets older, you'll be holding his hand less and less. You're bound to worry a bit about his or her safety. And when kids begin to navigate the sidewalks or even public transit themselves, it can be positively nerve-wracking. That's the bad news. The good news is, most of the tragedies we read about are rare. The even better news for parents is, most of them can be prevented.
Bullying begins in preschool and gains momentum as kids grow. Depending on which survey you read, between 40 and 80 percent of middle schoolers admit to bullying behavior. Not only is bullying pervasive, it has become increasingly dangerous, so that children are committing suicide or being beaten to death by their bulliers. That's the bad news. The good news is that bullying is preventable, and you can bully-proof your child -- and keep him from becoming a bully.
What can you do to prevent your child from developing an eating disorder? Help your child develop a healthy body AND a healthy body image.
Parents are the most important influence on whether kids drink alcohol, and the earlier you start these conversations, the better. Kids whose parents teach them the risks of using drugs and alcohol are half as likely to use them. Don't wait until your kids are teens before you have these conversations. This is a topic you'll want to revisit over the years as your child reaches new levels of understanding -- and temptation.
The only leverage we ever really have with our children is their love for us. It's never too late to build a great relationship with your child. Want some secrets for staying close?
Much of the same advice applies that was true when she was a toddler: Reconnect every day, and don't wait when you see there's repair work to be done.
Because I say so!" won't work much longer. Are you unwittingly making your child more contrary by using power-based discipline methods? Your best strategy is a strong relationship, clear expectations, and lots of empathy.
Even if you could hover over your child and help her navigate every obstacle, it wouldn't be good for her. Here's how to help your child develop her own judgment and learn to draw on her own internal resources.
The more frequently kids eat dinner with their families the better they do in school, the happier they say they are, and the less likely they are to get involved with drugs, alcohol, sex, or vandalism as tweens and teens. Get in the habit now and you'll find it's the best part of everyone's day! Dinner is one strong glue for holding families together.
Good grades are important, but emotional and social intelligence contribute more to your child's success and happiness in life than intellectual smarts. Every day you have hundreds of chances to help your child develop emotional intelligence -- in fact, every time your child expresses an emotion.
Your child lives in a complicated social world, and now is when the groundwork is laid for peer relationships that support (rather than undermine) your child. Six strategies every parent can use to help your child learn to make friends and get along with peers.
Click here to watch Dr. Laura's videos "How to Handle An Elementary School Kid's Meltdown" and "How To Handle A Big-Kid Meltdown in Public."
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