18 Feb, 2020
10 : 00
Children in Grades Four or Five are at the period of transition from childhood to adolescence. During this period, children will have obvious psychological and physical changes. They begin to have more personal ideas, and this is also a period that they transform from being a passive learner to an active learner. However, they still have a limited ability to distinguish right from wrong due to a lack of social experience. They often encounter many difficult problems that easily cause confusion. Therefore, we have begun to carry out a series of workshops on adolescence for Fourth and Fifth Grade students, with the themes of "My body is changing", "My mind is changing", and "How to communicate with parents, teachers and peers". Through a series of courses and counselling, we actively and positively guide children to go through this critical period smoothly.
As parents, how can we help children mature during this stage? Today we invited our school counsellor to share some tips.
Ada Zhang, Primary School Counsellor
As children grow up, not only will they have growing pains, but parents will also face some confusion. Today, we invited our school's counsellor to share growing pains with our parents.
Below are four of the most common problems that we want to help parents solve.
Story 1: Why is my child not willing to communicate with me?
Mom: I made a nice meal for you.
The child is delighted: Wow, I love it!
Mom: You need to be worthy of this meal. Next time when you take the exam...
The child immediately loses their appetite: I won't eat any more. I'll do my homework instead!
Mom: Shall we have a nice talk today?
Child: Sure! I haven't talked with you for a long time.
Mom: I heard that Ms Wang’s daughter achieved the highest grade on the exam last week…
The child turns around at once: Then maybe you should get her to be your daughter!
Tip: Fourth and Fifth Grade students will begin to have independent consciousness, self-awareness and self-esteem. They want to be respected, understood, recognised and affirmed. They need psychological support and emotional comfort. It is suggested that parents create a democratic, equal and tolerant family environment at home to accommodate their growth. We shall treat him/her as an adult and tolerate his/her immature views. When children feel the love and attention of their parents, they can have a close relationship with their parents.
Story 2: My daughter told me that someone laughed at her about her hair on her arms.
Child: Mom, someone teased me about the hair on my arm.
Mom: Don’t worry, it’s a sign of growth.
Tip: First of all, parents should learn to listen with empathy to their children, to understand their children's feelings of shame and injustice being discussed by their classmates, and then patiently explain physical development to the children. For example, children at the age of nine are approaching adolescence with increasing hormone secretion. Generally, female hormone secretion leads to menstruation, breast growth, and a clearer voice. Male hormone secretion leads to growth of the Adam's apple, deepening of the voice, and increase of body hair. These are all very normal physical development. Some girls may have male hormone hypersecretion and have more body hair like boys, but as they grow up their hormones will balance out and their body hair will reduce slowly.
Tips: Parents should educate their children about their body in terms of sexual maturation, so that their children can learn about it in advance. This removes the mystery and sensitivity of the topic, and parents can relieve their emotions and guide their children to correctly understand the changes in their bodies.
Story 3: When children say they like someone else, what do we do?
Son: Dad, I like Ada in our class.
Dad: That's great. So what do you like about her?
Son: Ada has great grades and she is beautiful. Everyone likes her.
Tip: First, affirm your child. My child is fond of learning, kind, helpful, knowledgeable and ambitious. I am sure many people will like him/her. It's nice to be liked, and it's nice to like other people. On the one hand, let the child feel affirmed, and on the other hand, help them understand the implications for the standards for life.
Next, ask your child what it means to like other people. Children in this period may see examples of puppy love through various media channels, and find them novel or funny, and then blindly learn and follow the trend. So, parents should spend time to analyse and guide their children at this time.
Finally, thank your child for sharing their joy with you. Express your hope that they can share this joy with you later as well. Let the child feel that the parents can be trusted and relied on, and when there is a similar situation they can still communicate with the parents, and then parents can provide guidance.
Story 4: My child always loses his temper.
Mom: Why did you lose your temper again today?
Son: I don’t want to do homework!
The son turns around and throws the exercise book aside.
Tip: First of all, it’s ok to let children express their feelings! It is worth noting that by the age of 10, children have shifted their focus of relationships from family to school, and the relationships and friendships with classmates will become a more important factor that will affect their development.
From a psychological point of view, when facing sadness or weakness of their children, parents must not yell at them. They should let their children vent depression thoroughly. As long as the child vents enough, they will naturally restore the balance of their mood. If the child needs help from their parents, then parents should timely comfort the child, feel the child's emotion with empathy, and try to arouse the child's emotional resonance, so as to alleviate the child's bad mood. Parents should understand and acknowledge their children's emotions and allow them to express their sadness and weakness freely.
Moreover, parents should help develop their child's ability to control their emotions. During the time around Fourth or Fifth Grade, children have their own ideas, and have a clear ability to distinguish right from wrong. However, their communication skills are limited, or they do not know how to communicate with their parents, which is precisely the reason for their emotional problems. To develop children's ability to control their emotions, parents should first let their children understand this: It’s ok to have negative emotions, and they should learn to talk about it and ask for help. They need patience and guidance from parents, not blame and criticism.
Growing pains are not only a sweet burden, but also a necessary journey of life. When the school and parents work together to give encouragement, support and help, I believe the children's future will be bright!