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Home » Age-by-Age Insights »

School Age: Ages 6-11


Mom: Start your homework right when we get home, please. Girl: Duh.

School-Age Kids Have a New Agenda

"School-age children are much more self-directed and peer-focused than when they were preschoolers. And their behavior and communication style seem to change overnight. There is always a moment when you think, 'I don't recognize this child,' and then you realize, 'Oh, she's growing and changing.'"

Michael Thompson Ph.D.

Co-author, Raising Cain, Senior Project Advisor

How They Communicate

School-age kids begin to view the world in complex ways. At this stage, children often move from being concrete thinkers to being more reflective ones. They think more logically about world events, while still viewing them subjectively. They start to look at causes and begin asking more challenging questions.

Between the ages of 6 and 11, kids become purposeful. They think in advance about what they want and often have a plan for how to get it. Because their communication style is impulsive and driven by their desires, it may mask how deep, loving and wise they are inside.

School-age kids alternately feel dependent, resistant or even rebellious toward their parents. This confusing behavior can be quite nerve-wracking for parents. School-age kids may appear needy for days and then suddenly throw tantrums. They become insulted if their parents treat them in ways they consider babyish, even though at other times they still want to be babied.

School-age kids question, doubt and criticize their parents. They no longer consider Mom and Dad to be the sole authorities. This questioning is normal, and it means they are becoming critical thinkers. They may appear to distance themselves from, or even reject, the people they love most.

School-age kids begin to tailor their communication styles to their surroundings. Younger kids usually communicate with one style no matter where they are or who they are with. As school-age kids spend more time away from home, they often develop new patterns of speaking based on what their friends are saying or what they hear on television.

School-age kids may become private about their thoughts. No matter how positive a relationship a school-age child has with his parents, he may now begin to shut them out as his life outside the home begins to compete with his home life.

School-age kids develop a more sophisticated sense of humor. They enjoy telling jokes and puns and playing more advanced games. They can understand more grown-up media and analyze the rules and premises of the games they play.

NEXT: School Age — How You Communicate

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