Janine Smith
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5-11 year old – challenges

As your child grows, there are lots of changes and challenges for them and for you as a parent. Going from 5 years old – when kids are cute and little – to 11 years old – when kids are growing into adolescents with hormones and the beginnings of more independence.

School is a big part of life during this time and that brings with it not just academic pressure but friendship issues and how different they may be from other kids. They are becoming aware of themselves, of other people and of the world.

The main challenges I faced were…

  • school – we had to keep an eye on any struggles with work, especially homework, and to get to know how they learn and needed to manage their work. Children can get lost in the school system so as a parent, I felt my role was to work with them and pick up on any potential problems. As an example, homework stresses were removed with one of my children when we asked them to make sure she was given written instructions and not verbal, which made her stressed because she didn’t have anything to refer to.
  • friendships – these seem to change a lot, especially with girls. Friends one minute, being left out the next and there’s not a lot we can do about it apart from cuddle and make a few suggestions and, for a while, offering a biscuit might work too.
  • mums and other kids – on the whole this was really positive for me but getting to know other kids when they come for tea or for play dates is a learning curve in itself. Different likes and dislikes and needs and getting to know other mums who could be more laidback or uptight than me. In the end, I found my tribe and I pretty much stuck with them.
  • bloody sleepovers – I hate them with a passion and I held off for as long as possible but there is an inevitability to them. I found that during sleepovers with younger children, they tended to sleep as normal but the older they got, the more wide-awake-over it became. Invest in ear-plugs – good ones!
  • playing out – this was a hard transition and it was when rules and trust really came into their own. When they wanted to start playing out in the street, we had boundaries on where they could go, who with and how often they had to pop back. I often found myself wandering around the block to see them, or I ended up with kids in and out of my house but it was nerve wracking and a sign of growing independence.


But these are fun years, when children’s personalities really start to shine, when they start to develop skills and passions, when they are still children who play and explore and the world is fun and pretty simple.

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