(This is an excerpt 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?”
They need to know you see their efforts, their ideas, their accomplishments, and 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.
In these early years of elementary school, your 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.
You are probably doing more than you realize to show your child just how much you love them. Make a list of the ways you already show up consistently to engage your child’s interests.