As children spend more time in school, with peers, and in after-school activities, they spend less time with their parents. This shift creates changes in the parent-child relationship. Less direct parental control adequately supports the continuing development of children in middle childhood—aged six to eleven—as long as parents maintain love, warmth, interest, and involvement with the children.

If your six- to eleven-year-old demonstrates that he or she can manage daily activities and responsibilities effectively, you can begin to join your child in a new form of supervision that looks like coregulation. Parents who engage in coregulation exercise a general sort of oversight while children are allowed to make more of their own moment-by-moment decisions. Parents still communicate expectations to their children when coregulating, and children still need to inform parents of their activities, whereabouts, and problems, especially if parental intervention is necessary. Coregulation allows parents to guide and monitor from a more distant stance than they could when parenting younger children.

Coregulation is an important part of parenting children aged six to eleven years old because it prepares children for adolescence, a stage of development when many important decisions are made without a parent nearby. This less direct form of parenting during middle childhood offers children support and protection as they learn how to make decisions for themselves.

To guide and monitor, stay involved with your child in these ways:

  • Talk with your child about friends, accomplishments, and challenges.
  • Get involved at your child’s school. This participation will help you get to know the people your child spends time with each day as well as the parents of other children with whom your child interacts.
  • Help your child set specific goals. What skills need to be developed to meet his or her aspirations?
  • Talk to your child about your behavior expectations for him or her, and how they should be remembered even when an adult is not around to supervise. Give your child reasons for your expectations.
  • Encourage your child to read. Ask about his or her homework.
  • Plan family activities.
  • Be affectionate and honest with your child.

More to consider: Parenting does matter . . .

Results of a large longitudinal survey showed that parents who were warm and involved, who monitored their child’s activities, and who avoided coercive discipline were more likely to have children who excelled academically and socially.