Middle Childhood

Andrew Collins and his colleagues, in Handbook of Parenting, noted that in middle childhood (generally considered to be from ages five to ten), parents and children spend less time together and that cognitive changes on the part of children greatly expand their capacity for solving problems and gaining necessary information on their own. Other researchers have found that parental monitoring of their children's activities and whereabouts seems to be particularly important, as poor monitoring has been linked to antisocial behavior in middle childhood and adolescence. The effectiveness of monitoring depends on an attentive, responsive, warm relationship between the parent and child. Parents are more effective at monitoring when children are willing to be monitored and actively help parents know where they are and what they are doing. This occurs more often when the relationship between the parents and child is warm and close.

Attentive, responsive relationships between parents and their children in middle childhood are associated with the development of self-esteem, competence, and social responsibility in the child. Children generally perceive parents as sources of support, and children's perceptions that there are available adults with whom they can talk and discuss problems are correlated positively with prosocial behaviors and attitudes such as empathy and understanding of others. Parents' use of explanations that emphasize the impact of children's behavior on others is associated with helpful, emotionally supportive relationships toward others. These interchanges that benefit children occur within the context of involved, sensitive, and responsive relationships in which parents are willing to instruct and children are willing to receive the instruction. In contrast, parents' indifferent, unresponsive behavior toward children is associated with antisocial behavior in children. Antisocial tendencies in children place them at risk for peer rejection and school failure during middle childhood and for later involvement in antisocial behavior as adolescents and young adults.

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