Second Grade Emotional Development

Second graders are rapidly maturing and establishing identities for themselves. They are learning to think smarter, be more social and take care of themselves, but they're still young kids with kid-like emotions, and you're still a parent who should know what to do. Learn what's happening with your child's emotions, and take a few of our tips.

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They want to be independent.

The drive for independence really ramps up in second grade. Children this age are immersed in their school life, becoming more social, withdrawing from adults, and have improved logic and reasoning to help guide them. They are starting to build an identity, which is a long, complex process.

What you should do: Be supportive and open-minded. Your child wants to create his own identity, not one that you create for him.

They evaluate themselves and care what others think of them.

Second graders might accept that they’ve done something wrong or made a mistake, but they’re afraid of being judged as bad or stupid for it. They are aware of general characteristics such as smart and dumb, ugly and cute, and they may complain that “nobody likes me.”

What you should do: Look for opportunities to give compliments and build self-esteem. If your child doesn’t have good friendships, try setting up a playdate. It’s not too late to help your child make new friends.

Boys and girls handle their feelings differently.

Second graders are emotional creatures and they want to talk about their feelings, but they still have trouble expressing themselves. Boys refuse help and try not to cry. Girls cry more and look for emotional help from others.

What you should do: Try to get your child to speak openly about his feelings, and be sympathetic. Remember that what seems silly to you might be the center of your child’s world.

They have physical reactions to stress.

Although second graders are experiencing amazing growth in body and mind, they are still prone to nausea, thumb-sucking and pants-wetting when they are stressed out. Because of their growth, they put pressure on themselves to act more mature and do better in school.

What you should do: Find out what your child is stressed out about, and help him through it. If he has an embarrassing episode, don’t make a big deal about it, and help him move on.

They have a sense of justice.

Although it’s common for kids to complain that something’s unfair or someone’s cheating, kids this age may start showing a legitimate understanding of fair and unfair.

What you should do: When your kid complains, ask questions. Give him a chance to articulate his opinion. Who knows? He might actually be right!

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They begin to empathize.

Not all second graders, but some, show signs of empathy. If he sees a classmate hurt himself on the playground, he may wince in pain. If he sees someone being picked on, he’ll feel sorry him. And if he sees someone laughing or showing great pleasure, he’ll feel happy.

What you should do: Smile. Your little one is growing up. Kids who empathize generally make strong friendships and are well-liked by peers.

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