This is the third and final installment of “Day Number 10” of our series “Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother”. I just wanted to briefly cover the seven and eight year olds. These are ages that are often seen as “older” in our society, and I am here to tell you these ages still need protection and also require appropriate developmental expectations that may be a bit different than the earlier years.
Here is a prior post to ponder: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/08/the-seven-and-eight-year-old-still-a-need-for-protection/
Realistic Expectations for the Seven-Year-Old:
- EXPECT a seven-year-old still needs PROTECTION of their senses and of how much they are doing in any one day. A seven-year-old wants to do everything and anything, but as the Gesell Institute points out, a hallmark of the seven-year-old is fatigue. They need you to establish good bedtimes (7:30 is not too early for a busy seven-year-old!) and they need you to help them limit their activities.
- EXPECT physical movement to still be REALLY important, and I am not talking about organized sports. I am talking about PLAYING and being outside in nature where they create the games themselves. Seven-year-olds should still be playing! The Gesell Institute mentions that adult supervision is still important when they play because sevens become excited and wild which can often end in “destruction of material or personal altercation.” Also, be aware many seven-year-olds are not too compassionate of those they deem “different” and while they thrive on group praise per Gesell Institute, most sevens also do not seem to “need” friends the way they did when they were six.
- EXPECT a seven-year-olds to be more contained and quiet than at six, but also expect that they tend to cry easily “at any, every, or even no provocation.” Be careful becoming irritable or critical of the people a seven-year-old says is picking on them or hates them….Some seven year olds, not all of course, can seem like they are in a rather gloomy and complaining phase. Try not to take it too seriously, unless you really do think it is a bullying issue at school or something else more serious. However, not taking it too seriously does not mean you do not treat the complaints that no one likes me, etc, etc as if they are real. The feelings are real to your child! So, don’t get dragged too far into it all, but also acknowledge how your child feels.
- EXPECT a seven-year-old to think about death, dying, killing, violence. This is why the archetypal fairy tales found in the Waldorf curriculum are wonderful for this age. Take all the wild talk calmly! You can sometimes say something to the effect that children think these things, but add in that, “Of course we wouldn’t do that here in our house.”
- EXPECT the fear stages that go with many seven-year-olds. A seven-year-old is likely to be fearful of many things; again, these feelings are real to the child so you can be sympathetic and compassionate without being completely dragged into it all. Don’t YOU be frightened of your child’s fears; that provides the child no sense of security at all! You can say things like, “I am sure you will be ready to do that soon,” and move on to something else.
- EXPECT that a seven-year-old still will most likely touch, manipulate and play with anything that catches their eye.
- EXPECT most sevens to be procrastinators, have short memory spans per Gesell (which makes perfect sense to we Waldorf people that memory is forming and being placed into play as something important now); and expect that they have a tendency to get very distracted easily. Sevens also try to be perfect and need reminding that no one is perfect or should be perfect.
- EXPECT your seven-year-old to argue with you in a sense, asking “Why?” “Why?” over and over, more almost as a stalling technique for whatever you asked them to do. Do NOT overtalk to them! If you need help, see my post entitled, “Stop Talking! (”http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/14/stop-talking/) But do make sure your child has heard you- sometimes they really don’t physcially hear you!
- It is very, very important to NOT weight seven year olds down with choosing what food to eat or what clothes to wear, and to not overtalk them to death. Seven is in between the early years and the years where a child truly enters into the heart of childhood (ages 8-12), so whilst the protection is important, it is also important to look at the heart of your specific child. Where does this child need balancing? Compared to peers, is my child more of a risk taker or not? What would give this child confidence? What would help this child settle down more if they need that? The foundation you set in these years of seven and eight, before the nine year change, is really, really important. What are the rules in your home? What responsibility does my child have outside him or herself? What is my child’s role in community? Does my child feel loved and accepted by not only family, but other adults and peers? Is my child respectful to other children and other adults?
Realistic Expectations for the Eight-Year-Old:
- EXPECT your eight-year-old to be expansive, outgoing, high energy, speedy! He or she may completely overestimate his or her own abilities.
- EXPECT your eight-year-old to be hard on themselves for mistakes (May say, “I never get anything right!” “I always do things wrong!”) – At age 7, the child measures himself against his own demands, but at 8, he measures himself against what he perceives the adult demands are. (Although here, I have to say, I see many children who measure themselves against adult expectations from the get go, and are extremely perfectionistic from the beginning!)
- EXPECT your eight-year-old to love to talk! May also boast quite a bit (remember back to age 4, there are similarities!)
- EXPECT fairness to be a big issue. The eight-year-old may dramatize sibling fights, love to argue and pick up on mistakes.
- EXPECT your eight-year-old to be more interested in religious or spiritual aspects of life, even if there is no specific religious or spiritual leanings in your household.
- EXPECT your eight-year-old to start thinking in terms of right and wrong, not just good and bad. This is where the curriculum for Waldorf Second Grade is so wonderful and fits in so beautifully.
- EXPECT your eight-year-old to blame others for consequences his own actions have produced
- EXPECT to still have to do chores and such WITH your eight-year-old as opposed to just asking them to do something.
- EXPECT your eight-year-old to be clinging to Mother, demanding of Mother, doesn’t like to let Mother out of sight.
- EXPECT questions regarding sexuality, intercourse, and menstruation from eight-year-old girls.