How to Have a Dialogue with Your Five-to-Ten-Year-Old
Your child's conscience is well-developed now, and she can use logic more easily, even several steps of it, to solve problems, make judgments, and determine the likely outcome of her or others' actions. Capitalize on her ability to think through problems during these years.
Communicating Your Values
If you want your child to grow up to be a well-rounded, balanced individual, make sure that her life and schedule reflect that. Favorite pastimes and hobbies are important, but if you only push your child in one area — say, academic performance, or piano lessons, or baseball — you risk your child losing out on the chance to develop other skills. And there may be other skills that, had she the opportunity to develop them, she might like even more than what you've already signed her up for. So don't force her to pick one sport or hobby and stick with it for life; give her the chance to mix it up from season to season. Your child is also old enough for community involvement: have her participate in a holiday food or toy drive for needy families, volunteer at an animal shelter, or help an elderly neighbor water plants or carry in groceries.
In addition, you should continue to have conversations that focus on empathy and point out that some rules aren't your rules, they're the world's rules. Now that your child is old enough to read, ask her to stop and read the signs at the airport, in the rec center, and at the movies. This makes compliance easier and your child more aware of her place in the world.
Being a Role Model
Of course, the single most important thing you can do to communicate your values to your child is to model them. As Gandhi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” You have to be the change you wish to see in your child, a much smaller, yet more powerful undertaking.
Childhood obesity is a global pandemic, with millions of children around the world — at higher rates in first-world countries — overweight or obese. Adults aren't faring much better. Obesity has lifelong health implications, including a shortened life expectancy, so help your child to take steps now to stay healthy.
For example, if you want your child to get daily exercise, stop eating junk food, and live a healthy lifestyle, you will have to take the first step. If you want your child to be polite to others and consider their feelings, you'll need to do the same. If you want your child to spend less time plugged into gizmos and consuming media, you'll need to show how important this is to you by doing so yourself. Being a strong role model and admirable force in your child's life will give your child a real-world hero, so maybe in a future conversation about heroes, you'll be the star!