Your son is now seven and showing improvements in his physical, cognitive and social development. It might be tempting to think he’ll get most of the support he needs at school, and he is practicing and developing vital skills there, but you still have an important role in helping him progress. So how can you do this?
He’s enthusiastic about physical activity; it may be an obsession with a particular sport or just running around. Thanks to practice, he’s proficient at riding a bike, swimming or gymnastics and can master more complex moves like running and kicking a ball. His balance and co-ordination is better. He’s more prone to risk-taking, especially when he’s out of your sight, so now is a good time to drill some basic safety precautions into him. His appetite can vary daily as he goes through growth spurts.
His fine motor skills have developed and he’s more accurate when drawing and writing; this is especially noticeable if he’s had plenty of practice.
He might be thinking of the future and have ideas about what he wants to be when he grows up. He understands more about the world and his place in it and may grasp the concept of community and neighborhood. It’s about this age that he realizes Santa isn’t real, if he hasn’t already.
His cognitive skills are developing rapidly as he becomes more creative in his problem-solving strategies and he enjoys sharing his new knowledge and understanding with others. You’ll notice his communication skills have improved; his vocabulary has increased, he’s better able to explain himself and his confidence in his reading ability will lead to him picking up books for pleasure. His written stories are more complex and engaging. His numeracy skills have improved to the point he can add, subtract, measure things, make estimations and even tell the time. Don’t be surprised if he develops an obsession, particularly with collecting things, though he may move on from sticks or stones to more mature subjects.
Socially, he’s better at talking about his feelings, controlling his emotions and showing an empathy and respect towards others. He has a strong need to be liked and accepted by his friends and is more able to work through interpersonal conflicts to make his relationships successful. He may develop adult relationships outside the family, for example with teachers; you can make this a more positive and safer experience by supporting him and arming him with the knowledge and strategies to identify and respond to inappropriate behavior from an adult. You need to keep steering him away from making assumptions that lead to stereotyping, especially about gender.
He’s more independent and it’s a good time to give him some extra responsibility to channel that independence in a positive way. He needs boundaries and a consistent approach to discipline to help him learn to judge appropriate behavior in himself and others, so knowing why as well as what’s wrong is important, as is ensuring fair play. Peer pressure is a powerful influence and he needs good self-esteem to enable him to make the right choices, so it’s important to help build his confidence and self-image.
There are other ways you can help your son; you can encourage him to set goals, praising effort, persistence and patience rather than just achievement; give him the opportunity to help those less fortunate, enabling him to learn a sense of citizenship; and foster a sense of curiosity about the world and his place in it.
You have a valuable role to play in helping your son on his way to becoming a well-rounded adult equipped with the skills he’ll need in later life and it’s more than just helping him with his homework. Fortunately, this is simple when you know what you need to do.