Parenting: Discipline and Limit Setting

6 to 10 Years Old

Children in this age group act much more mature. Their intellectual, emotional and social abilities are expanding by leaps and bounds. The fact that they often look and act like little grown-ups often masks the reality that they are still very young. Though school-aged children have a greater awareness of how to behave appropriately in situations, their behavior will fluctuate. Sometimes your 8-year-old will be capable of sitting quietly in a restaurant and using perfect manners, but when she is tired, bored or stressed, she will revert to more immature behavior.

School-aged children have better impulse control than they did when they were younger. When his younger brother scribbles on his homework, your 9-year-old son will be more capable of telling you he's angry than to retaliate and hurt his brother. At this point, children know how to verbalize their desires and can negotiate solutions in a more sophisticated way. For instance, when your child wants a new Game Boy cartridge and you tell him it is too expensive, he might suggest that he contribute some money from his allowance. His ability to accept disappointment has also improved, but do not be surprised if he still whines, throws tantrums or kicks the dog when he does not get what he wants.

At this stage, children have more highly developed social skills. They have a greater capacity for sharing and showing empathy. However, they still have a lot of trouble accepting defeat when they lose a game. School-aged children face many new social challenges for which they are unprepared. They are often excluded, bullied or overwhelmed by peer pressure and lack the skills to assert themselves. It is not uncommon for children to take out their social frustrations by being aggressive or oppositional at home.

One of the most powerful developmental issues for this age group is the need to assert their independence. Even though your 10-year-old knows that she must come straight home after school, and has internalized many other rules, she will ignore them at times to prove that she can make her own decisions. She will constantly push the envelope and pressure you for more privileges. She will lobby to stay home alone, go to sleep later or see a movie with her friends. Your child is speeding toward adolescence.