Your friends’ expectations of what seven-year-olds can and cannot do may make you feel anxious about your kid. DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON busts common myths that you should discard.
Your seven-year-old has started school, probably attends lots of after-school enrichment or tuition classes as well, and has lots of friends.
In your discussions with other parents of children this age, you’ll have heard many so-called “facts” about tweens, from their behaviour to managing new issues as they grow up.
It’s natural that you may sometimes feel frustrated that your kid isn’t behaving as “expected”, but that may be because the beliefs you hold true are actually myths.
Here are 10 common misconceptions about Primary 1 kids that you should dispel.
MYTH 1 They are resilient and quickly recover from any stresses.
TRUTH Much depends on your child’s individual personality and characteristics. It’s a mistake to assume, for example, that yours will be unaffected by parental arguments or family bereavements, or that she’ll quickly get over them. She is not as resilient as you think.
MYTH 2 They need to be kept busy at all times when they are not at school.
TRUTH By all means, make sure your seven-year-old has lots of opportunities to develop her leisure interests. But don’t overdo it because she also needs free time. If you over-organise her out-of-school activities, chances are she’ll lose eventually tire of them and lose interest.
MYTH 3 They are too young to be trusted with responsibility.
TRUTH You certainly can give your primary schooler some responsibilities, as long as they are not too demanding. For example, she can be in charge of tidying her room every night, or of clearing the dishes from the table after your family’s evening meal.
MYTH 4 Their friendships are always transient and temporary.
TRUTH Not all friendships are stable at this age, and your child’s best pal today might be forgotten by her next month. Yet your kid can make peer-group relationships which will last throughout her childhood and into adulthood. Some friendships persist over the years.
MYTH 5 They are too old for hugs and kisses.
TRUTH Your child needs as much attention and affection as she did when she was younger. Of course, she may be embarrassed when you kiss and cuddle her in front of her pals, but she’ll still be happy to receive your warmth and love in private at home.
MYTH 6 They aren’t mature enough to share their toys or sweets.
TRUTH Sharing isn’t easy at any age – because it requires your child to give something away while potentially getting nothing back in return – but she does know how to share. If she resists, it’s because she simply wants to keep everything for herself.
MYTH 7 They still believe in Santa Claus.
TRUTH While a few kids this age still believe in those mythical figures, chances are that yours know they don’t exist in real life. She learns this from her older sibling or from other pupils in the playground. Yet, that doesn’t stop her asking for Christmas presents.
MYTH 8 They are not bothered or upset by teasing.
TRUTH Teasing hurts at any age. True, your child might not show any visible reaction when one of her pals makes fun of her new haircut or laughs at her because her pencil box isn’t the latest fad. However, she will hurt inside at such comments because she wants to be liked.
MYTH 9 They are too young to learn manners and politeness.
TRUTH Tweens understand the need for politeness, even though they take great delight in making rude noises from their various orifices. This is a useful time to teach your seven-year-old good manners, and to explain how politeness puts everyone at ease.
MYTH 10 They don’t understand the value of money.
TRUTH Your kid has the cognitive ability to understand that things cost money and that money is limited. Unless you give her everything she wants, she’ll learn the value of money quite quickly when she has to make choices about purchases.
"Tweens understand the need for politeness, even though they take great delight in making rude noises from their various orifices."
ILLUSTRATION CHENG PUAY KOON