Elementary School Age (6–12 years)
Children ages 6–12 experience an amazing period of learning new skills and consolidating that learning in many areas of their lives—academic, athletic, artistic, and interpersonal. It is wonderful when a child finds something he loves doing and discovers that through his own ability and practice, he enjoys the pride in his improved skills. Rules and fairness matter to a child at this age. They are reassured by knowing that parents have a good treatment plan for the parent’s cancer and a plan for how the family will be organized to make this treatment possible.
The comfort of friends
Relationships with individual peers and status in the peer group become more important. Children want to be valued for their skills within the peer group and may feel uncomfortable if challenges at home or with family are made public at school or in afterschool settings. Ideally, a child establishes a best friend during these years, which allows him to enjoy the feeling of having a soul mate and offers the self-esteem boost of knowing he is someone’s first-choice friend before experiencing the added complexity of dating that comes with adolescence.
The number of relationships a child has with adults outside the family expands, as does the child’s ability to talk about why some are favorites and others are disliked. This is a great opportunity to engage in shaping a child’s view of what characteristics are present in caring adults.
Dealing with difficulty
During these years children will experience the full range of emotions, including all the hard-to-bear ones such as anger, disappointment, embarrassment, and sadness. They will need to learn to manage those difficult feelings without hurting themselves or others, without destroying their own belongings or those of others, and to continue in spite of these feelings to maintain important relationships within the family and in the outside world. This requires learning how to let off steam in healthy ways, how to repair relationships, and how to forgive others and themselves.
© 2013 Marjorie E. Korff PACT Program/PACT Boston • • Back to top