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Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)

Dealing with Life's Tough Topics

Angela Oswalt Morelli , MSW

Sad goalieimage by Kelley Boone (lic)The expansion and growth of children's understanding of the world and their place within it that occurs as they develop brings with it a series of often unpleasant realizations. For the first time, children in middle-childhood have to cope with some or all of the following experiences that leave them feeling vulnerable and force them to understand that they are not entirely in control of their lives when it counts the most:

  • the realization that childhood fantasies aren't "real";
  • the death of a beloved pet or family member;
  • parents' divorce and remarriage;
  • romantic feelings and "crushes" for peers which may be unrequited;
  • moving, separation from friends, difficulties making new friends;
  • sibling rivalry;
  • bullying;
  • prejudice;
  • encounters with cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs;
  • other peer pressure situations

In an important sense, these difficult experiences assist children with their maturation process. It is through the experience of successfully coping with such challenging crises that children learn about themselves, gain coping experience, and revise their self-esteem and self-efficacy expectations. It would not be useful to protect children from these crises even if that were even possible to accomplish. However, children do need the love and support of their parents and caregivers as they struggle with these life crises in order to understand how to cope and to come to terms with the meaning of these events.

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