Parenting Elementary Age Children
by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN
During the ages of 6 to 12, children change in significant ways. Their thinking patterns and mental abilities go through major developments. Personality, character, and a worldview are being formed and molded for the long term. Developing responsibility and wisdom are two significant priorities at this stage. In addition to these two qualities, children often demonstrate heart quality strengths that you’ll want to encourage. Unfortunately, some of those strengths can be misused, requiring the need to develop additional heart qualities to balance things out.
For example, Jennifer, age eight, is easy-going, laid back, and tolerant. Those are great qualities that help her remain calm with her brother, comply with Mom’s requests, and make transitions easily in family life. However, Jennifer is also quite tolerant of messes, doesn’t take initiative to do chores without being prodded, and isn’t doing her best at school. Jennifer has some great heart qualities but needs additional ones such as thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail in order to be most effective.
Understanding the Heart
One of the most important biblical parenting concepts is to work with children on a heart-level. If parents rely only on behavior modification to get things done, children develop a selfishness and demandingness about life. When receiving an instruction, children want to know what’s in it for them. When being corrected, they look for ways to blame and rationalize and not take personal responsibility. A heart-based approach to parenting is different.
The language of children is activity. When you use activities to teach your children Biblical truth, you’re following what Christ modeled when He taught His disciples. He took common, easy to understand objects and stories and used them to teach His disciples about the kingdom. You can do the same thing by using activities and object lessons that capture a child’s attention.
It’s good to tell your children why they need to obey. Share with them your motivation and goals for them. Tell them that they need to learn to obey your words so that when they grow up they will know how to obey God and work with others. Poor habits and selfishness are hard to deal with in children, but the older the child, the harder it is to break these patterns. Disciplining our children effectively when they’re young will save them much pain later on in life. To learn more, visit our partners at Biblical Parenting.