This document is about parenting elementary-school-aged children. It provides information and advice on caring for children during their middle-childhood years, between ages 8 and 11 years, approximately. It is part of our larger series on Child Development and Parenting. In this series, we have divided childhood into four broad periods: Infancy, Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, and Adolescence. We have created separate articles concerning parenting and child development for each of these periods, based on the idea that effective parenting technique follows from an appreciation of children's development; what they are capable of and what they continue to struggle with at specific moments in their lives.
We encourage you to read through our Middle Childhood Child Development document if you have not already done so. That document discusses important physical, cognitive, emotional, social and moral developmental milestones and achievements that most children are likely to be dealing with at this age, or will have recently dealt with. These milestones and achievements paint a vivid picture of children's general strengths and limitations at this moment of life, and how they are likely to understand and relate to their world. Understanding these milestones and achievements enables parents to adjust how they care for and support children so as to best prepare them to become successful and fulfilled adults. It will be harder to understand why we have made specific parenting recommendation without an understanding of this background information.
It may also be a good idea to review our child development and parenting material focused on younger children at the Early Childhood or Infant stages of life. The ideas and concepts presented here are cumulative; building upon one another. Understanding the developmental milestones and achievements associated with early childhood and infancy will help you appreciate how far children have come by middle childhood, and how far they still have to go.
In the current document, we cover common parenting challenges associated with middle childhood, including how best to address children's feeding and nutrition, sleep, hygiene, exercise, love and nurturing, medical, safety, and discipline needs. In a final section, we offer advice to parents on helping children with some of life's unavoidably tough topics, including death, divorce, moving, drugs and alcohol, sexuality, rivalry, bullying and prejudice.