“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss
“I am strong. I am brave. I can do this!”
The Golden Years, as we discussed last week, are a season within adolescence where slow and steady growth of the body and mind are blossoming! While the physical body is making room for continued musculoskeletal development in preparation for the final preteen and teen maturation through the early 20’s, 7-9 year old’s are also growing in their emotional and social awareness.
As children of this age group continue to grow and develop, parents often note the beginning of the shift from a constant look towards them for affirmation of when they are doing something well or deciding upon what to do. Rather, these golden years mark the start of the shift into caring about what peers and close friends think about them in addition to mirroring examples set around them by their peers.
While this can certainly be exciting to see our children spreading their wings and taking an interest in others thoughts as they find out more about who they are, it can also be a slippery slope if one is not mindful of their circle of influence.
What else is happening emotionally and socially in 7-9 year old’s that parents need to be mindful of?
Let’s take a look!
7-9 Year Olds: Emotional Development
During the years of seven to nine, children can withhold themselves from a challenge they see as outside of their skill set or ability. When fear arises from coming face to face with something that is unfamiliar, children of this age group may freeze in their steps forward saying, “It’s just too hard!”
At this stage of our children’s emotional development:
· Anxiety can begin to manifest as they face worry over failing; letting their parents and friends down.
· Some struggle with criticism and correction.
· Changes in mood can feel like a roller coaster ride at times as they become more attuned to and mindful of their shifts between their downstairs brain (emotional brain) and upstairs brain (logical thinking center).
7-9 Year Olds: Social Development
At this age and stage of development, children can become frustrated when things don’t go their way or are believed to be unfair in their eyes.
It is important to remember that given all the mental development and construction your child has undergone up until this point that they are now capable of readily identifying what is right from what is wrong.
While this is vital skill we as parents must help to nurture and support in our kids, it can lead to feelings of frustration when tattletaling arises.
In the moments of tattletaling, it is important to be mindful of how you respond to your child. Because in their minds, they have just identified on their own something that did not look or feel right. They have used their critical thinking skills to call out what is wrong in a situation independently of an adult. This in terms of brain development is HUGE and needs to be honored in working through the hurt of a given situation: “I hear and appreciate what you are saying happened in this situation. Thank you for telling me. Let’s hold space to hear the other side of the story so we can gather all the information to work together in finding a resolution.”
Knowing what we know about the emotional and social stages of development for 7-9 year old’s, how are our team of Pediatric Ninja Specialists supporting children on and beyond the mats to flourish in these areas?
1. Keep the Foundation Strong
o Though children within this age group are beginning to branch away from mom and dad, they still value the interactions they have with adults! Because of this, positive reinforcement in our on and beyond the mats interactions is critically important. The foundation of trust with a child is not built on breaking them down but rather in building them up! Yes, kids make mistakes. But so do we as grown ups! Fostering and nurturing the relationship we have with each of our students to ensure it is healthy and strong, where they feel safe and secure to not only be themselves but challenge themselves as well is of vital importance.
2. Break it Down
Because 7-9 year old’s can easily slip into overthinking given their current stage of intellectual development and fear of failing, our team of instructors takes great and mindful care of taking what might seem big and impossible and making it smaller. As with any goal, there are the baby steps we need to take in order to achieve it. When 7-9 year old’s stop in their tracks saying, “That’s too hard!” it’s our opportunity to have a teachable moment; “Yes, it is hard. Let’s break it down step-by-step. We will learn how to do this together! I am here for you!”
By supporting Ninjas in a nurturing environment where they are given the opportunity to face their fears, we are actively developing their muscle of Courage. Challenges beyond the mats are inevitable which is why we take so seriously the practice and discipline of being courageous in the face of things that test us physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. Because one day parents, our babies will be all grown up… sniff sniff. And it is a part of our job in creating their solid foundation that they are prepared to face the hard things with a strong, confident spirit, knowing how to stand for themselves and also lean in upon their tribe of support when needed.
Every part of why we do what we do is with the purposeful intention of ensuring the whole mind, body and spirit of your child is supported.
The Golden Years are so very special as they set the stage for the next and final stage of development. If however you find yourself struggling in how to best support your child through the waves of emotional or social challenges, please know that our team is here to help! You and your Ninja are never alone, we are here for you.
About the Author
Meg Klettke is the proud owner alongside her husband, Alex of Family Strong Sussex, a SKILLZ Lifetime Gold studio in Southeastern Wisconsin. With a background in traditional and alternative therapeutics, Meg is an active advocate for today’s youth. Her passion for supporting and nurturing the whole child resonates through all she does as a Proud Ninja Mom of two boys with special needs, Certified Pediatric Ninja Specialist and Content Creator for SKILLZ Worldwide.