If parents had been considering that teenage is the toughest period of upbringing, the changing lifestyle is here to give them a jolt. The years 8 to 12 now turn out to be strong contenders to be equally challenging, save the magnitude of the rebellion and of course, the accompanying vigor and stamina.
Most of the children in classes 4 to 7 are rearing to rub shoulders with their immediate predecessors. Till a few years ago, the scene was not this serious (read ‘ scary’’). We can comfortably throw the blame on nothing but the changing lifestyle. To be more precise –
Both parents working outside home.
Reduced number of children in the household.
Improved economic conditions.
Power of media: Television, movies and the mighty INTERNET.
Intake of rich foods and junk foods which stimulate hormones and hasten growth.
Lack of physical activities indoors and outdoors.
Consequently, forced exposure to the domestic tension/ violence, if any.
If we call 0-7 as the formative years, 8-12 are the highly impressionable years, Till age 7, the children are very receptive. And to put it in the computer parlance, they are busy ‘ uploading ‘ as much information and fruits of experience. But as they enter the next phase of their childhood, they not only start losing their teeth, but also the unquestioned admiration and acceptance of the people around them, especially the parents and teachers.
What is our special duty towards children of this age group?
Whether boys or girls, children of this age certainly need the right proportion of nutrients as they enter the growth-spurt now. Height gain is prominent which becomes evident with their dresses getting shorter and smaller.
Parents could improve the level of communication with these children, shifting their role from being a parent to being a concerned friend. They could encourage free exchange of ideas and opinions instead of commanding or punishing in a one-sided fashion.
Rather than curbing TV time and computer games, parents could work out alternatives like hobbies, games, reading, caring for a pet, running errands…
Being honest and not breaking promises (as far as possible) are two golden rules for adults that would go a long way in shaping a tension-free bonding all along.
The parents/ teachers could do well to encourage children of this age group to share their experiences instead of reprimanding or driving them away. Let us LISTEN to what they have got to say. It is time to be more tolerant and understanding rather than being judgmental .
Let us remember that the children are entering the age of puberty. This phase is nowadays hastened due to intake of rich food, rapid physical growth, premature exposure to abundant information (or misinformation) regarding sexual matters. We could even notice that the children start paying attention to their looks and to the impression that they create among peers.
Every stage of childhood is important and simply cannot be ignored. But this period –8 to 12 years– is special and important in its own way as the children feel being “empowered” to embark on to the mid-way adulthood, the teen age.
The best message we could give these children could be: “I trust you and I am there for you.”