The Challenges of Middle Childhood (page 2)

— St. Louis Children's Hospital
Updated on Jul 16, 2010

The Social Situation


Though the cognitive changes are equally as important, they may not be as clearly observable as the transforming social ties your children experience at this age. Between the ages of 6 and 12, children often become more concerned with friendships and attachments with peers and choose to play with same-sex friends.

“Around this age, a child’s peer group becomes increasingly important,” explains Dr. Plax. “Though parents still serve a vital role, friends are also starting to play a more active part in forming their opinions and perceptions.”

In addition, your children will likely show interest in activities outside of school. “Children at this age generally want to be involved in hobbies like Scouts, music, sports and church,” says Dr. Thompson. “However, parents should be careful not to overschedule their children’s time. Try to provide a mix of adult-directed, structured activities as well as unstructured free play.”

Though the complexity of social relationships can vary greatly depending on age, individual personality and possibly even gender, the impact of the changing social landscape is incredibly important for your children.

“Though it may change from day to day, try to remain in touch with your children’s moods,” says Dr. Plax. “Be sure that they have and interact well with friends and pay attention to their concerns about peers and social settings.”

Communicate with Your Child


As with other age groups, the key to helping your kids make the most of middle childhood is maintaining open communication with your children and the other adults involved in their lives. If your child seems distressed, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor about your concerns.

Want to learn more? Dr. Thompson recommends Raising a Thinking Preteen: The “I Can Problem Solve” Program for 8 to 12 Year Olds by Dr. Myrna B. Shure and The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by Dr. John Gottman. Stop by our FamilyResourceCenter or call 314.454.2350 to check out these books.

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