How To Best Support Your Child’s Development During The Six/Seven Year Change

From about five and a half onward, the six/seven year transformation is a time of change. It is can be an overwhelming but profound period for children.  Children at this time are working out of not just imitation, but also with short, simple and clear phrases. They  need to be supported by speaking in pictures to them, not intellectually, and by setting strong boundaries.

During this time, many children often experience the need to be the boss. A “bossy” six year old is pretty typical of this age.  (Alhough I personally think if the child was spoken to as a little adult and given a myriad of choices from early on the bossiness in the six and eight year old years is probably worse than in children who were not parented that way). 

My favorite book on this subject is “You’re Not The Boss of Me: Understanding the Six/Seven Year Transformation” as edited by Ruth Ker and available through Waldorf booksellers.

Here are some ways to best support your child in this challenging phase:

  • Do your  own inner work and personal development.  Your authority and your calm response to things, whether it is door slamming or saying “I hate you, Mommy!” is really, really important.  They do not have equilibrium in this stage and you must have it for them.
  • Matter of fact responses are best:   “Teacher (Mommy) knows the lay of the land.”  “This is my job to help you.”  “You may do x” 
  • Don’t forget though, that movement and imagination and speaking in pictures still predominates – no lectures, no intellectual debates, no reasoning. 
  • Focus more on what you do want, rather than the behavior that is challenging you.  Help guide the child and cue them to what you want.
  • A strong rhythm is important, even if they are fighting against it.  You do the things in your rhythm.
  • Practical work is paramount at this time as the children are in a crisis in play.  You may need to sit down and plan longer projects, and really figure out where they can help alongside of you.  Here is a great article regarding work in the Waldorf Kindergarten written by an Atlanta colleague and friend, Karen Smith:
  • Assisting younger children is also helpful
  • Loving authority and boundaries—authority is demonstrated through knowing how to do something and through our calm and unruffled presence.
  • Manners are another way to provide form and boundaries for children.  Manners are very important to bring to the child gradually, through modeling, through treating the child respectfully.  Here is a lovely blog post from over at Christopherus pertaining to small children and manners:
  • Spending time in nature so the child can soak in quiet impressions is important.
  • Sleep, rest, warming foods are anchors for the day.
  • Love your child, be with your child, enjoy your child.

Many blessings,


7 thoughts on “How To Best Support Your Child’s Development During The Six/Seven Year Change

  1. I love your concrete suggestions and reminders for this age! I find that I need to review them often to keep a balanced perspective towards my 6 year old!

  2. This is a great reminder, and I have one son who is nine and one who is nearly six…I can see it’s going to be a year of highly conscious parenting for us!

  3. I just got Ruth Ker’s collection and have found it really wonderful! My eldest will be six in May and we have found her really needing more “helping” practical work, and more time outside, as she leans towards six. She’s also been much more emotionally sensitive, which I find at turns beautiful and difficult 🙂

  4. Carrie,
    WE’re having a terrible time differentiating between answering WHY truthfully and not getting too cerebral about it.

    For two stumped parents, how do you go about creating the word picture vs getting intellectual? Can you give an example? (of both?)

    Why is a lovely question and I realize I signed up to answer for the rest of my life, but I don’t want to give him too much info!

    Also, is there a posting on conversation topics I/we should stay away from?

    Often times I’ll have a conversation and my son will just start talking about ANYTHING that will get attention. It’s not that I try to disinclude him, or talk over him, it’s just that I find myself in the wrong focus – the conversation vs the entire company present – much of the time. (and he is increasingly using ‘potty’ talk to get attention which is *really* an effective tool for getting back at his papa! If he spends too much time at one activity instead of being ‘present’ with his family, our son will get into the fridge, strip, and other negative behaviors.)

    Another posting request is ‘how do I avoid putting EVERYTHING out of my son’s reach instead of showing him how to leave it be?’ We didn’t really baby proof because my son didn’t show much of an interest in a lot of what was there – until he realized he doesn’t have our undivided a lot of the time.

    I’m thinking this goes into the cerebral intellectual thing you are talking about if I or my husband is asking ‘do I have to put this up or can you follow directions and leave it be?’

    My son listens. He pays attention. He doesn’t always follow the directions he’s listening and paying attention to though!

    Another posting request is ‘hinting’ rather than being direct and giving him a choice whether to comply or not (would you please get x so Mama doesn’t have to stop nursing baby brother? or Darn I forgot x. )

    So many questions on this topic!

  5. Pingback: This Will Keep You Busy: Links By Age « The Parenting Passageway

  6. Just now reading this because my daughter is beginning the six year change. She has all of a sudden become bossy towards me, critiques my every move and even tells me if I’m going five miles over the speed limit. This is the exact opposite of the care free five year old I used to know. I’m glad to know that this is natural. I’m bookmarking this page.

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