Parenting During the Elementary School Years: Preventing Misbehavior
Introduction:You and Your Child
Parenting school-age children can be very rewarding. School-age children are expressive and social, and they have a sense of humor. They are curious and like to explore their interests. Every day they are developing skills they will use as adults. Yet, even though they seem to be growing up rapidly, they need your parenting as much as when they were toddlers.
As your child grows up, your role as a parent gradually changes. When your child was a baby, you were primarily a caretaker. When your child grew into a toddler and preschooler, you were a protector and nurturer. Now, as your child is in elementary school, your primary role is encourager. You do not stop taking care of, protecting, and nurturing your child, but encouragement is especially important to your child at this age.
During the elementary school years, your child is beginning to develop a sense of who he is. Through play and work, he is developing a sense of what he likes, what he does well, and what is important to him. Your reactions to and interest in how he plays and works shape his view of himself. However, now that he has entered school, his view of himself is no longer shaped just by parents and family. Now it is increasingly shaped by peers and teachers. He defines his abilities, his popularity, and his appearance by listening to and comparing himself with his peers.
Your encouragement helps your child feel safe to explore new interests and learn new skills. It teaches him that it is okay not to do something perfectly the first time and to try again. Your encouragement and support can also help him cope with any anxiety he may feel about peer pressure and being evaluated by others. It reminds him that he is unique and he does not need to compare himself to others.
Disciplining your child might seem to be at odds with encouraging him, but it is not. In fact, effective discipline is part of your role as an encourager. Effective discipline begins with prevention. This fact sheet talks about what you can do to prevent misbehavior. All of the effort you put into preventing misbehavior is effort well spent. It is easier to prevent misbehavior than to deal with it afterwards. More important, as you use good prevention strategies, you also help your child become more self-reliant and confident.
Reprinted with the permission of the University of Florida. © 2008 University of Florida.
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