(This information is taken from the Phase Guides by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner)
Parenting is hard. Just when you think you understand your child, everything changes. And then you have to get re-acquainted and figure out a new way to parent. It might be helpful to know that every kid at every phase is asking a unique and fundamental question. How you answer that question for your child will communicate the one thing they need most: LOVE.
Your Elementary-Aged Child is Asking “Do I” Questions
In kindergarten and first grade, kids are adjusting to lots of changes and trying many things for the first time, like going to school, riding the bus, joining a team. With all the increased opportunities in these early years, your kindergartner or first grader is asking one major question:
“DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION?”
In this phase, your child needs to know you see their efforts, their ides, their failures.
In second and third grade, kids are becoming increasingly self-aware, and they begin to compare themselves to others. They are asking this fundamental question:
“DO I HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?”
They want to know they have what it takes to make the team, to get the grade, and to measure up to their own (and your) standards.
Your fourth or fifth grader can understand different points of view, empathize with others, and negotiate like a champ. That means one thing: Your influence is shifting. Your kid still needs you, but they are beginning to need you in a different way.
4th and 5th graders are asking one major question:
“DO I HAVE FRIENDS?”
Sure, everyone needs a friend. But research shows there’s extraordinary value in having a best friend in the fourth and fifth grade. Kids need to share their most authentic version of themselves with another person.
In elementary school, you can give your child the love they need when you do one thing:
ENGAGE THEIR INTERESTS.
When you engage their interests, you . . .
communicate that their ideas have value,
show curiosity about their activities
establish that their efforts are significant,
demonstrate that they are worth loving,
help them push through set-backs,
communicate their relationships have value.
So pay attention to what they like and who they like. Who and what do they seem to enjoy the most right now in this phase?