Having good relationship skills is simply the ability to make and keep rewarding relationships with friends, family, and others from a wide range of backgrounds. During the late elementary school years, your child is not only discovering more about herself and her emotions, but also learning how to deal with relationships and peer pressure. Through each new friendship, she is learning how to use her communication and social skills to interact with others and to work together toward collective goals. Some children experience physical and emotional changes as they approach their teen years, and these can have a dramatic effect on the way that your child deals with her relationships and her interactions. Remember that every child develops at a different pace, and as your child discovers more about herself, her feelings, and her capabilities, she is learning how best to interact with a growing group of friends and peers. Practicing these skills with your child can help her understand the intricacies of social interactions and provide her with the confidence she needs to use the skills more independently.
The late elementary years are a time of great personal and social growth. As children grow older, they become better at making decisions, solving problems, and working in groups. Early adolescence begins around the age of 11, and this brings along its own challenges. As children’s bodies begin to change their emotions can seem to change at a moment’s notice. Developing your child’s social and emotional skills can help him manage his emotions and behavior and make responsible choices. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
During the late elementary years, your child is becoming more perceptive about the world around them and learning how to use their social skills to establish and maintain positive relationships. They are also discovering the importance of listening actively, respecting diverse perspectives, and resolving conflicts effectively. During this phase, your child may have just a few friends, or even a single best friend.
Children of this age can often be hard on themselves if they make mistakes, and they may shift blame when there is a conflict so as not to appear directly responsible. The increased interest in peer relationships, while a natural part of growing up and a positive expansion of your child’s world, can also have negative consequences, including greater opportunities for exclusion, bullying, and conflict.
At this age, children may be loyal and considerate to their friends, but may question the rules at home. The child who is asking questions at home and requires extra reasoning is actually testing newfound skills and understandings in what they feel is a safe setting. You can use your influence to help guide them through these years and provide them with the support your child needs to further-develop their people skills. Often, just making sure that your child knows that your child can talk to you is enough for children of this age.
Keep in mind every child develops at his own pace, both physically and emotionally. If you have concerns about your adolescent’s development, please contact your health care provider or your child’s teacher or school counselor.
Learn more about how to support your child with our third-grade relationship skills tips page.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Maurice Elias, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids; and Anne Morrison, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, Lycée Français de New York.