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As you and your child steer through these years together, expect some difficulties along the way. You’ll both make mistakes, but you can learn from them. Keep in mind that many “problems” of children in this age group are just a phase. They’re just a normal part of growing up.
Children in this age bracket tend to have lives that revolve around friends and school. They may be social and talkative, even when they’re not supposed to be. It may be annoying, but this type of behavior is often a brief phase. Children test the rules to find out just how far they can go. This is true whether a child’s parents go to work or not.
As they get older, children begin to get around by themselves. They may go to school and after-school programs without an adult. This can ease some of the pressure of child care for you, but it may mean new concerns. The new concerns can include dangerous strangers, traffic safety or unfriendly dogs.
Encourage your child to talk to you about their travels from place to place. Ask them to tell you about anything that has happened. Teach your child how to recognize “good” strangers (such as police officers) and “bad” strangers. Tell them to stick with groups of friends, and to obey traffic rules.
If a supervised after-school program is not available, you may worry whether your child is okay at home alone. Does the child feel scared or lonely? You and your child will feel safer if you have a set of rules and a schedule. A check-in call to you or another responsible adult each day can help, too. While each child is unique, experts generally agree that by age 11 or 12, a child may be able to stay home alone during the day for no more than three hours. This is provided the area is safe, he or she has an emergency contact and is ready to handle to responsibility.