Children (5-10 years)
Discovering the world and asserting their identity
Your child is now moving into a stage of incredible intellectual growth. At school they will be learning to read and write. They will also be learning about the world outside the relative comfort of family life, building on the experience of their early years. It is useful for parents to start thinking about giving their children more autonomy and responsibility at this stage. Teaching them how to start caring for themselves and giving them the opportunity to experiment and make mistakes in a safe environment.
Physically your child can increasingly look after her own personal hygiene (wash, brush teeth, brush hair) feed herself and prepare basic meals. Teaching autonomy in these tasks can be a bit frustrating and even confusing for parents. Generally it is useful to start slowly (one task at a time) and build up experience through success. You may need to experience some trial and error, as you gauge your child’s individual ability to perform these tasks on their own. This is a good time to introduce a reward chart to help your child recognise their own success in learning and continuing to use new skills. As she matures she will be ready to engage in more structured activities outside of school like sports, music, arts or joining group activities for example Scouts or Girl Guides. Generally parents sign their children up for classes at the beginning of the academic year (September) but there are plenty of activities that she can join up to at any time. For some activities there might be a waiting list.
It is a good idea to ask if your child can try out an activity for a few weeks before committing to a whole term or even year. Also parents need to be sensitive to their own child’s abilities and desires, as sometimes they can get a little carried away with what they want for their child as opposed to an activity being age appropriate or overly competitive. It is also important to not over schedule children with too many extra–curricular activities. As children grow older there will be more homework demands on their time outside school. Children still need time to just hang out and free play.
Intellectually he will be learning to read and write. This can be a particular challenge if he is learning in another language, especially if his parents don’t speak or write in the language at home. Parents are often anxious that their child learns to read and write in their ‘mother tongue’ too. As their child gets older parents may also feel unhappy about not being able to help their child with homework in another language. Generally children respond well to their parent’s enthusiasm, so this can create a great opportunity to learn by their side. For more on learning to read and write in another language see our Resources section.
His intellectual ability to understand the idea of self as opposed to other person will also be emerging at this stage. This is what psychologist’s call the ‘age of reason’ (around 8 years old), that is when it is possible for children to express real empathy and make decisions about what is right and wrong. Empathy is the ability to see a situation from another person point of view. However, at this stage he may still struggle with ‘black & white thinking’ that is still caught in extremes around the idea of fairness and taking things quite literally.
Language (Communication) Development
The language she is using is getting more complex and her ability to explain abstract ideas like emotion is expanding, along with her vocabulary. She may begin to read books without pictures but still enjoys going back to her favourite books from the early years. Reading with your child, encouraging her to read out loud and playing word games is still the best way to instill a love for books. Building stories together can also be a fun bedtime activity. Simply get her to fill a box with ‘treasures’ from around the house then each night take a turn in choosing 8 things from the box and make up a story that involves all the objects. You can use this to introduce ‘beginnings, middles and ends’ and the art of ‘story making’.
Communication goes way beyond language development as any parent with teenagers will tell you so now maybe the time to think about how you communicate in your family. Recently there has been some interesting research around communication in families for example it has been shown that sharing a family meal at a table, even if only once a week, can improve language development and the way we communicate in our families. It has also been suggested that as individuals we give and receive love in different ways, our own particular ‘language of love’. Parents can improve their relationship with their children if they consider the most effective way of showing them that they value and care for them. For more information about the languages of love see our Passage blog articles in Community section.
His emotional life is more influenced by the world outside the family. Peer and societal influences including the Internet (world wide web) are becoming more important, but children still need to feel a deep belonging in their family. As he grows intellectually and emotionally he needs to know that his opinion counts. Many families do this by involving their children in simple family decision making for example ‘what are we going to do this weekend?’ They find it useful to put aside some time for a family meeting once a week or whenever they can. This is an excellent parenting tool because it establishes at a young age the idea of living cooperatively and taking responsibility for your-self. Parents can introduce simple tasks or age appropriate chores for each child to do and recognise with reward charts or even pocket money. These can be given out and reviewed at these family meetings. Children of this age will really appreciate regular time set aside for these meetings especially if their ideas and opinions are valued. In our family we introduced ‘smilies’ that were given out throughout the week by all members of the family in recognition of things they appreciated about their siblings, parents and partner!
Even at this young age and certainly towards the end of this stage hormonal changes in girls and boys will start to become evident. It is never too young to start talking to your child about their bodies and sex differences. This can be difficult for parents especially if they did not receive supportive and helpful sex and relationships education themselves. It is important to find good resources that you are comfortable using with your child. For more on talking to your child about their bodies and sex differences see our Special Needs and Resources section. For more on Internet Safety see our Special Needs section.
Social Development and Sense of Self
Socially boys and girls tend to segregate themselves more clearly identifying with ‘boy’ games/toys or ‘girl’ games/toys now. They may be spending more time with friends not necessarily chosen by their family, and want to have more time alone. They are becoming aware of how other families work and have different rules and boundaries to their own. Children at this stage need to be encouraged to venture out into the world by having play-dates without parents and possibly sleepovers.
At home they still need lots of hugs and shared experiences like reading together. By talking about the characters in their books parents can help their child to learn to appreciate other people’s points of view, to recognise the everyday choices that people make, and to start to label emotions. It is also useful for a time to be put aside for talking about feelings. By actively listening to how their child’s day went at school or what they really want to do at the weekend, parents can teach them valuable lessons in problem solving, dealing with their emotions, and valuing their own and another person feelings.
Routine, Routine, Routine
Family routines, rituals and rules (principles) give structure to our children lives and a sense of wellbeing. It is never too late to introduce or review morning, after school and evening family routines. These can include expectations around waking up, getting dressed, personal hygiene, homework, screen time, meal times, preparing for the next day and getting to bed before parents flop out exhausted in front of the TV. For more on Family Routines see our Passage blog articles in the Community Section.
Time Out for Parents
It is important to recognise that as parents we also need some ‘time out’ sometimes to get our needs met physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. For more information on ‘Time Out’ for Parents see our Resources section.
Further Information: Useful Links
If you are concerned about your child or have any questions about parenting in Luxembourg you can contact the Online Parent service in English at the Kanner Jugend Telefon
Family Lives: A UK-based website with lots of articles and information about subjects to do with building a healthy family environment for children and parents alike.
Empowering Parents: An American website full of interesting and useful articles about parenting. Highly recommended reading from preparing for the first day at school to kids leaving home and coming back with their dirty laundry.
Help Guides: An American website that has more than 200 articles, videos, and other resources based on the latest research, and updated regularly by a team of mental health professionals and writers. You can search topics of interest A-Z including information about family relationships, child development and additional educational needs.
The Mindsight Institute: The mission of The Mindsight Institute is to provide a scientifically grounded, integrated view of human development for mental health practitioners, educators and parents to promote the growth of vibrant lives and healthy minds. Dr. Siegel (founder) has written several books about this and collaboratively with Tina Bryson ‘The Whole Brain Child’ & ‘No Drama Discipline’.
Raising Boys: The Steve Biddulph community for Raising Boys brings together a collection of posts, articles and useful links for anyone wanting to connect and find out move about raising loving, connected and sensitive young men.
Raising Girls: The Steve Biddulph community for Raising Girls brings together a collection of posts, articles and useful links for anyone wanting to connect and find out move about raising loving, connected and strong young women.
NSPCC UK: The NSPCC offers parents information and advice about protecting their children from abuse online and in their day-to-day life including their ‘Underwear Rule’ for younger children.
Children’s Educational Activities Sites
The Crafty Crow – crafts from around the world: Why not teach your child the history of Bretzelsonneg, or Pretzel Sunday, whilst making them together. This occurs on the 4th Sunday in Lent and on this day traditionally boys give the girl they like a pastry shaped as a pretzel. The larger the pretzel the more the boy likes the girl. If the girl feels the same way she will give the boy a decorated egg on Easter Sunday. On leap years the roles are reversed. This practice is celebrated in Luxembourg by singles and married couples.
Activity Village: is a parent run website full of activities closely related to the English primary curriculum for all the year round.
National Geographic Kids: site with animal and environmental conservation activities
Mr Maker: UK site helps young children learn about crafts, shapes and of course the infamous ‘minute maker’ great for small attention spans.
Kidsites: gives a listing of Children’s Activity (mainly American) sites on the Internet.
Language (Communication) Development
Raising Bilingual Children: This website is for parents seeking information related to questions about raising children in a bilingual environment. Multilingual Education is a challenging task requiring much creativity, continuity and dedication for those parents raising children in such an environment.
Common Sense Media: The leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families make smart media choices, by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools. Their Parent Concerns and Parent Blog sections are crammed with articles and practical advice to aid families in understanding and navigating the pitfalls and possibilities of raising children in the digital age.
Further Information: Recommended Reading
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & How to Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish (2013)
This book is the first in the set of ‘How to Talk so Kids will Listen’ series which includes How to ‘Talk to Teens…’ and ‘How to Talk so kids will Learn’ & ‘Sibling Rivalry’. These books are highly recommended and even though the original was written over 30 years ago (updated since) it is still one of the most clear and effective books about communicating with children ever published.
The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell MD (2012)
Children need to feel loved to best succeed. But if you and your children speak different love languages, your display of love might get lost in translation-affecting your child’s attitude, behavior, and development. This book will give insight into your child’s preferred love language and how best to use it.
The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Proven Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Dr Tina Payne Bryson & Dr. Daniel Siegel (2012)
Following recent advances in understanding brains and how they effect our children’s development this book introduces the idea of parenting with a whole brain approach. The book is well designed and easy to read with really good examples from both the authors.
No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. (2014)
This is the most recent book on discipline and highly recommended because it uses up to date understanding of child development and the brain. It is a follow on from the ‘Whole Brain Child’ and taking these principles shows how we can nurture our relationships with our children whilst providing clear boundaries and discipline in a loving way.
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees – A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children’ by Neale S. Godfrey (2006)
A guide for parents thinking about introducing pocket money or allowances. It gives practical ideas and advice on talking about money to children.
Developing Study Skills
Mind Maps for Kids: An Introduction to the Shortcut to Success at School by Tony Buzan (2003)
Many schools teach Mind Mapping as a useful tool for learning and revision. They are also great for creative thinking. This book is aimed at children 8 years+.
Bilingualism & Living in a Multi-lingual Environment
Growing Up with Two Languages: A Practical Guide for the Bilingual Family by Una Cunningham (2011)
Growing Up with Two Languages is aimed at the many parents and professionals who feel uncertain about the best way to go about helping children gain maximum benefit from the multilingual situation like Luxembourg. The trials and rewards of life with two languages and cultures are discussed in detail, and followed by practical advice on how to support the child’s linguistic development.
Be Bilingual – Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families by Annika Bourgogne (2013)
Be Bilingual is full of practical, creative, and fun ideas backed up by the latest research. It shows families how to make multilingualism work in their busy lives. Multilingual families from all around the world have contributed by sharing their best resources and tips on how to make growing up with two or more languages an enjoyable experience.
Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism (Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides) by Colin Baker (2014)
In this accessible guide to bilingualism in the family and the classroom, Colin Baker delivers a realistic picture of the joys and difficulties of raising bilingual children. The Q&A format of this book makes it the natural choice for the busy parent or teacher who needs an easy reference guide to the most frequently asked questions.
Article by: Lynn Frank who is a coordinator for Passage.
Last updated: Monday 15th May, 2017