Pre-launch stage between young children and teens

Parenting the middle age child, ages 7 through 12.

There seems to be a wealth of information on parenting young children as well as parenting teens, and for good reason. Both these age groups see major changes physically and developmentally, so extra information is needed. However, what about in between? Michigan State University Extension suggests some ways parents can help build some life skills to better prepare those middle age children for teen life and subsequently, adult life.

We hear some people refer to the teen years as a time when parents are working on launching children into adulthood. There are some life skills that children ranging ages 7 through 12 are very capable of learning which can help in pre-launching. It may help to have a basic understanding of what children this age are going through developmentally that separates them from their younger and older counterparts.

According to the Search Institute, cognitively this age range are gaining skills above early childhood, learning to include reasoning and understanding that they have both negative and positive personal components. They are beginning to be able to take the perspective of others, compare themselves to their friends and are more able to reflect on achievements and frustrations. They are better able to plan and carry out their own activities. They are more able to function socially in an ever expanding cadre of peers and adults outside of the family. This expansion of interaction helps them build a better understanding of their own social skills like problem solving, how to get along with others and how to work well in groups.

Now that you know this age range is developmentally more capable than you might have thought, here are some things you can do to help your child begin to build some critical life skills or begin working on the pre-launch:

  • Get them an alarm clock and have them start using it to wake up in the morning. Help them learn how to get up early enough on their own to have a good breakfast, be prepared for the day and be on time to school. Their prospect of getting and keeping a job will increase with this skill!
  • Have them fill out forms for camps, afterschool clubs, field trip forms and medical forms (proof reading may be required). Our lives are filled with form filling. The earlier they can start to master this skill the better. That college application or job application won’t seem so overwhelming when the time comes.
  • Finding information empowers people – so teach them how to look up a word in an actual dictionary, how to check out a book at the library, how to find a phone number in a telephone book, and how to read a real map.
  • A month or two before their birthday, have them call the doctor to make an appointment for their annual physical. Be there so they can work on coordinating it with your schedule, if you will be providing the transportation. Before the appointment, help them make a list of questions to ask the doctor including – finding out their BMI, cholesterol, blood type and blood pressure.

Speaking of health knowledge, it isn’t too early to start sharing family medical history with them. Does your family have a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, etc.? All preventable conditions that they can start working on when they are young by learning healthy eating and exercise habits will benefit them in the future.

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