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School-age children 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 seeing them from their own point of view. 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 can mask how deep, loving and wise they are inside.

School-age kids have changing feelings towards their parents. These feelings can range from feeling dependent on, resistant to, or even rebellious towards their parents. This confusing behaviour can be quite nerve-racking for parents. School-age kids might 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 criticise their parents. They no longer consider their parents to be the sole authority. This questioning is normal, and it means they are becoming critical thinkers. They might 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 can become private about their thoughts. No matter how positive a relationship a school-age child has with parents, the child might now begin to shut them out as life outside the home begins to compete with the child’s home life.

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

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 behaviour and communication style seem to change overnight. There is always a moment when you think, ‘I don’t recognise this child’, and then you realise, ‘Oh, she’s growing and changing’.
– Michael Thompson, PhD, co-author of Raising Cain
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  • Last updated or reviewed 26-05-2010
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