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Middle Childhood (6-8 years of age)

child in soccer uniform

Developmental Milestones

Middle childhood brings many changes in a child’s life. By this time, children can dress themselves, catch a ball more easily using only their hands, and tie their shoes. Having independence from family becomes more important now. Events such as starting school bring children this age into regular contact with the larger world. Friendships become more and more important. Physical, social, and mental skills develop quickly at this time. This is a critical time for children to develop confidence in all areas of life, such as through friends, schoolwork, and sports.

Here is some information on how children develop during middle childhood:

Emotional/Social Changes

Children in this age group might:

  • Show more independence from parents and family.
  • Start to think about the future.
  • Understand more about his or her place in the world.
  • Pay more attention to friendships and teamwork.
  • Want to be liked and accepted by friends.
Thinking and Learning

Children in this age group might:

  • Show rapid development of mental skills.
  • Learn better ways to describe experiences and talk about thoughts and feelings.
  • Have less focus on one’s self and more concern for others.

Positive Parenting Tips

Following are some things you, as a parent, can do to help your child during this time:

  • Show affection for your child. Recognize her accomplishments.
  • Help your child develop a sense of responsibility—ask him to help with household tasks, such as setting the table.
  • Talk with your child about school, friends, and things she looks forward to in the future.
  • Talk with your child about respecting others. Encourage him to help people in need.
  • Help your child set her own achievable goals—she’ll learn to take pride in herself and rely less on approval or reward from others.
  • Help your child learn patience by letting others go first or by finishing a task before going out to play. Encourage him to think about possible consequences before acting.
  • Make clear rules and stick to them, such as how long your child can watch TV or when she has to go to bed. Be clear about what behavior is okay and what is not okay.
  • Do fun things together as a family, such as playing games, reading, and going to events in your community.
  • Get involved with your child’s school. Meet the teachers and staff and get to understand their learning goals and how you and the school can work together to help your child do well.
  • Continue reading to your child. As your child learns to read, take turns reading to each other.
  • Use discipline to guide and protect your child, rather than punishment to make him feel bad about himself. Follow up any discussion about what not to do with a discussion of what to do instead.
  • Praise your child for good behavior. It’s best to focus praise more on what your child does ("you worked hard to figure this out") than on traits she can’t change ("you are smart").
  • Support your child in taking on new challenges. Encourage her to solve problems, such as a disagreement with another child, on her own.
  • Encourage your child to join school and community groups, such as a team sports, or to take advantage of volunteer opportunities.

Child Safety First

More physical ability and more independence can put children at risk for injuries from falls and other accidents. Motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of death from unintentional injury among children this age.

  • Protect your child properly in the car. For detailed information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Car Seats: Information for Families.
  • Teach your child to watch out for traffic and how to be safe when walking to school, riding a bike, and playing outside.
  • Make sure your child understands water safety, and always supervise her when she’s swimming or playing near water.
  • Supervise your child when he’s engaged in risky activities, such as climbing.
  • Talk with your child about how to ask for help when she needs it.
  • Keep potentially harmful household products, tools, equipment, and firearms out of your child’s reach.

Healthy Bodies

  • Parents can help make schools healthier. Work with your child’s school to limit access to foods and drinks with added sugar, solid fat, and salt that can be purchased outside the school lunch program.
  • Make sure your child has 1 hour or more of physical activity each day.
  • Limit screen time for your child to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day of quality programming, at home, school, or afterschool care.
  • Practice healthy eating habits and physical activity early. Encourage active play, and be a role model by eating healthy at family mealtimes and having an active lifestyle.

For More Information

CDC’s "Learn the Signs. Act Early." Campaign
For more details on developmental milestones, warning signs of possible developmental delays, and information on how to help your child’s development, visit the "Learn the Signs. Act Early." campaign website.

CDC’s Parent Information (Children 0―3 years)
This site has information to help you learn how to give your child a healthy start in life.

CDC's Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers
Learn ways you can help build a safe, stable, and nurturing relationship with your child.

CDC's Breastfeeding Information.
This site has answers to frequently asked questions about breastfeeding.

CDC's Healthy Weight Information.
Tips for Parents – Ideas to help children maintain a healthy weight.

CDC's Protect the Ones You Love
CDC’s Injury Center has information on how you can protect your child from drowning and other common causes of injury.

Bright Futures
Bright Futures provides information on what to expect as your baby grows, including parenting tips. Patient/parent education handouts are available for your child’s regular check-up visit with your healthcare provider from 2-5 days of age until 18-21 years of age.

Choose My Plate- Preschoolers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information on health and nutrition for 2 through 5 years of age.

HealthyChildren.org
AAP’s Healthy Children website provides information on feeding, nutrition, and fitness for all developmental stages from infancy to young adulthood.

Just in Time Parenting (JITP)
Quality, research-based information to families at the time it can be most useful.

Let's Move - Child Care
You will find information on physical activity for young children and on ways to keep them moving.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
NHTSA has information on safety recalls and safety tips for children riding in motor vehicles, walking, biking, playing outside, waiting at school bus stops, and more.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (NICHD)
Visit NICHD to learn how to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and about safe sleep environments.

Vaccines
View the child immunization schedule and find out if your child's vaccinations are up to date.

World Health Organization information on infant nutrition
This site has information to promote proper feeding for infants and young children.

CDC’s "Learn the Signs. Act Early." Campaign
For more details on developmental milestones, warning signs of possible developmental delays, and information on how to help your child’s development, visit the "Learn the Signs. Act Early." campaign website.

CDC’s Parent Information (Children 4−11 years)
This site has information to help you guide your child in leading a healthier life.

CDC's Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers
Learn ways you can help build a safe, stable, and nurturing relationship with your child.

CDC's Healthy Weight Information.
Tips for parents – Ideas to help children maintain a healthy weight.

Bright Futures
Bright Futures provides information on what to expect as your baby grows, including parenting tips. Patient/parent education handouts are available for your child’s regular check-up visit with your healthcare provider from 2-5 days of age until 18-21 years of age.

Choose My Plate- Preschoolers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information on health and nutrition for children 2 through 5 years of age.

HealthyChildren.org
AAP's Healthy Children website provides information on feeding, nutrition, and fitness for all developmental stages from infancy to young adulthood.

Just in Time Parenting (JITP)
Quality, research-based information to families at the time it can be most useful.

Let's Move - Child Care
You will find information on physical activity for young children and on ways to keep them moving.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
NHTSA has information on safety recalls and safety tips for children riding in motor vehicles, walking, biking, playing outside, waiting at school bus stops, and more.

CDC’s Parent Information (Children 4 — 11 years)
This site has information to help you guide your child in leading a healthier life.

CDC's Healthy Weight Information.
Tips for parents – Ideas to help children maintain a healthy weight.

CDC's Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit
This site has information on how to help children be active and play.

KidsQuest
KidsQuest is a CDC website designed for students in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, to get them to think about people with disabilities and some of the issues related to daily activities, health, and accessibility.

BAM! Body and Mind
CDC’s BAM! Body and Mind is a website designed for kids 9 through 13 years of age to give them the information they need to make healthy lifestyle choices. The site focuses on topics that kids told us are important to them—such as stress and physical fitness—using kid-friendly lingo, games, quizzes, and other interactive features.

Bright Futures
Bright Futures provides information on what to expect as your baby grows, including parenting tips. Patient/parent education handouts are available for your child’s regular check-up visit with your healthcare provider from 2-5 days of age until 18-21 years of age.

Choose My Plate - Children over 5.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information on health and nutrition for children over 5 years of age.

HealthyChildren.org
AAP's Healthy Children website provides information on feeding, nutrition, and fitness for all developmental stages from infancy to young adulthood. Visit this website to learn more about emotional problems, learning disabilities and other health and development concerns.

Just in Time Parenting (JITP)
Quality, research-based information to families at the time it can be most useful.

Let's Move-Parents
Five simple steps for parents towards creating a healthy environment at home.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
NHTSA has information on safety recalls and safety tips for children riding in motor vehicles, walking, biking, playing outside, waiting at school bus stops, and more.

StopBullying.gov
StopBullying.gov provides information from various government agencies on how kids, teens, young adults, parents, educators and others in the community can prevent or stop bullying.

SAMHSA's KnowBullying app
A free app for parents to help prevent bullying, created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA).

Teens Health
Visit this site for information on healthy eating and exercise for children and teenagers, safety tips for your child at home when you can’t be there, and other important health and safety topics.

CDC’s Parent Information (Teens 12— 19)
This site has information to help you learn how to guide your teen to be safe and become a healthy and productive adult.

CDC's Healthy Weight Information.
Tips for parents – Ideas to help children maintain a healthy weight.

CDC's Pregnancy Prevention for Teens.
Tips and information especially for teens and designed with input from teens.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has many fact sheets for parents on child and adolescent health and development.

BAM! Body and Mind
CDC’s BAM! Body and Mind is a website designed for kids 9 through13 years of age, to give them the information they need to make healthy lifestyle choices. The site focuses on topics that kids told us are important to them—such as stress and physical fitness—using kid-friendly lingo, games, quizzes, and other interactive features.

Bright Futures
Bright Futures provides information on what to expect as your baby grows, including parenting tips. Patient/parent education handouts are available for your child’s regular check-up visit with your healthcare provider from 2-5 days of age until 18-21 years of age.

Choose My Plate
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information on health and nutrition.

HealthyChildren.org
AAP's Healthy Children website provides information on feeding, nutrition, and fitness for all developmental stages from infancy to young adulthood.

Just in Time Parenting (JITP)
Quality, research-based information to families at the time it can be most useful.

Let's Move-Kids
Five simple steps for kids towards growing up healthy.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
NHTSA has information on safety recalls and safety tips for children riding in motor vehicles, walking, biking, playing outside, waiting at school bus stops, and more.

National Institute of Mental Health
The National Institute of Mental Health has information on mental disorders affecting children and adolescents, including anxiety and depression.

StopBullying.gov
StopBullying.gov provides information from various government agencies on how kids, teens, young adults, parents, educators, and others in the community can prevent or stop bullying.

SAMHSA's KnowBullying app
A free app for parents to help prevent bullying, created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA).

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
SAMHSA works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and mental health services.

Teens Health
Visit this site for information on healthy eating and exercise for children and teenagers.

 

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