Children ages six to twelve are developing their identity from family reflections and are not yet evaluating themselves for distinct adolescent or puberty changes. The middle years are an extension of the first six, but focus more intently on autonomy, mastery, and defining who they are from relationships outside the family, such as playmates. Overall acceptance from their playmates and mastery of physical and social skills add to a child’s increasing sense of self. Children ages eight to ten need to be exposed to an adult role model of the same sex. For girls, this is usually easier because most divorced mothers have primary custody and women, such as elementary school teachers generally surround children more. In divorced families there may be fewer options for boys and it is rare that a distant relative may fulfill this role. If role models are not readily available, children may seek out a scout leader, television hero, or same-sex sibling, but it is important to seek out a substitute so the child has an adult model to follow.

The middle years are a time for developing physical, social and academic competence. Parents should become familiar with their child’s activities at school and help them with their homework. Parents should encourage their children to interact socially with other children their age and join activity groups that interest them. Allow children to invite their friends into your home and make them feel welcome. Refrain from assigning too many chores or responsibilities to your child, allowing time for him to spend time with friends and allow his sense of self to grow.

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