There’s an up-side and a flip-side to pretty much every change you can expect with your 6-12 year old. Let’s start with the most obvious of changes: the ones you can physically see.
Your child is less likely to fall sick at this stage, their immunity is at its best. But. Thanks to baby chub being replaced by long, lanky limbs, you start hearing comments about how thin they’re getting. It doesn’t help that they rarely have the time/interest to sit & eat any more. Poster children for babyled weaning, all of a sudden, decide they like precisely one vegetable. It can be worrisome and start playing with your head. Don’t let it. If you have scales at home, check them once a month, and be reassured your child is growing vertically, and the scales show the same weight as ever. Their baby teeth are falling out, their hair is coarser, their head size starts catching up with the rest of their bodies: there’s bound to be a bit of an awkward looking phase there, but it’s all normal.
Those lanky limbs are strong, and children take pride in their stamina. This is especially thrilling if you have a child who used to be risk-averse. But. The common sense & survival instinct they had as toddlers seems to have left the building. In fact, they challenge each other to do more daring things, and proudly compare who didn’t cry. This also means suddenly having to tell them things which you’d think would be blatantly obvious after 6 years on the planet (eg: don’t jump off the top of a tree. Do NOT cut yourself because your friend did, just to compare notes on how painful it was/wasn’t. I wish I didn’t speak from personal experience, but I do). Another thing to keep in mind: they tend to overlook injuries. Even when they brush something off as not a big deal, take a closer look.
What does this mean for children cooped up at home during a pandemic? Immense frustration. They want to be able to get out there and expend all that energy. Their ideal outlet at this stage would be hiking, camping, taking up sports. Obviously, none of that is possible. Even basic movements have been restricted! It’s easy to understand why they may seem angry, or listless, or hyper. All of it is a response to a bodily need not being met.
While the situation isn’t ideal, here are 3 things I’d do to encourage the movement which children need at this stage of their development:
- Give your second plane child big tasks around the house. Washing the car, unloading heavy sacks of rice, anything that tests their physical limits is appreciated.
- Clear as much furniture as is possible so that they don’t hurt themselves, because they are going to move indoors. For instance, G taught herself to use a hula hoop & is now working on her football skills. @chirpytales sent over a balance board that’s a life saver. A safety-tested rope ladder or swing can keep them happily engaged for hours. I’ve linked to a couple on my Nestery storefront, if you’re interested.
- Since children this age like challenges that are mental as well as physical, games which need them to do one thing while you say the opposite (eg: freeze when you say go), or which need them to move a certain body part in a particular way (eg: rotate your right hand while waving your left hand up and down) can be super exciting. Bendy yogasanas & fast zumba are an everyday affair here.
Needless to say, these are interim measures. Nothing beats giving children wide open spaces. If you can drive out safely to a secluded lake or park, that would be ideal. The exercise of waking up early & making up a picnic basket gives them the sense of purpose which they absolutely crave at this stage!