The journey of parenthood is filled with highs and lows, but for many, the age of 7 stands out as a particularly challenging milestone.
As parents, my spouse and I found ourselves navigating uncharted waters, grappling with the unique struggles that seemed to surface at this tender age.
Among the highs and lows were behavior challenges, manners, teaching her to take responsibility for her actions, and helping her deal with her range of emotions. Age 7 has been difficult for our child and us, but I’ll share the strategies that helped us overcome these challenges.
Understanding the Challenges of Age 7:
Age 7 is often characterized by a whirlwind of emotional, cognitive, and social changes in children. Our once carefree and easygoing child suddenly exhibited signs of increased independence coupled with a heightened sensitivity to criticism.
Tantrums and mood swings became more frequent, leaving us bewildered as we tried to comprehend the shifts in behavior. The pressure to excel academically and socially at school added an extra layer of stress for our child, leading to frustration and occasional outbursts. Not to mention how much the pandemic affected young children, especially in the social aspect.
Additionally, the quest for autonomy clashed with our parental instincts to protect and guide. It became apparent that finding a delicate balance between fostering independence and providing a secure foundation was crucial. The communication gap widened as our child grappled with expressing complex emotions, making it challenging for us to decipher her needs and concerns.
Our child was having so much trouble in a private school and that school, unfortunately, did not have the proper resources to help children through personal challenges and through the pandemic. The expectations were too high for such a young age.
We transitioned her to a public school, where they have counselors and therapist to help kids adapt socially. This specific school district encourages positive reinforcement rather than critiquing, which we love for our daughter. She now attends a great public school, and actually one of the best elementary school districts in the nation.
Overcoming the Challenges of Age 7:
Establishing open lines of communication became paramount. We initiated regular family meetings where everyone had a chance to express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. I did what we call “safe talk.”
For example, we encouraged our daughter to openly tell us about something she might have gotten in trouble for without mom or dad getting overly upset and criticizing her. This allowed us to gain insight into our child’s perspective and concerns, fostering a sense of trust and understanding on both sides. This also helped her with not fibbing about things.
I found my daughter would often fib or not tell us the full story, in fear of getting into big trouble. As parents, we learned to listen more, without judgement, and not yell as much. Doing this safe talk method helped both our child and us as parents greatly.
Setting Realistic Expectations:
We reassessed our expectations, realizing that our child was navigating a pivotal developmental stage. By acknowledging and accepting her struggles, we were better equipped to provide the support and patience they needed.
We were constantly changing the way we disciplined her because of feeling stuck. We could tell our daughter was not improving on a lot of her behaviors.
However, once we set realistic expectations for her and for ourselves, things changing in unexpected ways. This shift in perspective alleviated some of the tension in our household.
We actively encouraged our child’s newfound sense of independence by involving her in decision-making processes and allowing her to take on age-appropriate responsibilities. This was difficult for me as a mother, to allow my child to be more independent.
My daughter struggles still socially and I always worry about her unintentionally not being nice to another child. Instead, I set my own fear aside and allowed her to have the independence with playing time with other kids.
This forced her to learn from her mistakes and adapt as needed. This not only boosted her confidence but also provided a sense of control in a world that often felt overwhelming.
Creating a Safe Space:
Establishing a safe and non-judgmental environment allowed our child to express themselves freely. This involved actively listening to her concerns, refraining from harsh criticism, and offering constructive feedback.
I have done this from the day she was born. I always make sure she feels safe at home and that she feel comfortable to talk to mom and dad whenever needed. As a result, our child felt more secure in sharing her thoughts and emotions.
Seeking Professional Guidance:
Recognizing that every child is unique, seeking guidance from a child psychologist can help navigate specific challenges a child might be facing.
Professional insight can provide parents with valuable tools to address behavioral issues and foster a positive environment at home. So many parents I know think this route means something is wrong with their child, but that could not be more false.
Just as mental health therapy benefits adults, the same goes for children. If so many of us sought help as adults during the pandemic, surely there are many children who may need help as well. The difference is that they may not realize they need help or know how to express it.
A Catalyst for Growth
In retrospect, the challenges of age 7 served as a catalyst for growth, both for our child and us as parents. By embracing the complexities of this developmental stage and adopting proactive strategies, we were able to weather the storm and emerge with a stronger, more connected family.
The beginning of this year started out rough. We changed schools for our daughter which was the best thing for her and for us. She is doing so much better socially and is learning everyday. She still faces challenges every day, however, she is navigating through it so much better.
Each day, we remind her of making good choices and consequences if she does not. One day, it will all click for her. She is turning 8 very soon and we look forward to what’s ahead. As we continue to support our child’s journey through adolescence, the lessons learned during the challenging age of 7 remain invaluable, reminding us of the resilience and adaptability inherent in the parenting journey.
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