Behavioral Development of a 7-Year-Old Child

How Reliance and Independence Shape the Child's Behavior

7 year old child development - kids doing dishes
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For parents of a seven-year-old child, parenting is defined more by guidance and reminders than by constant, hands-on supervision. Seven-year-old children are at an age where they are more adept at taking care of themselves, handling day-to-day tasks like bathing, dressing, or even getting themselves a bowl of cereal in the morning.

Moreover, with school now a regular part of their lives, seven-year-old children will be eager to make independent choices for themselves.

This will include expressing preferences as to what they like and dislike. As a result, there may some level of negotiation when it comes to dealing with issues like diet, bedtime, chores, and extracurricular activities.

It is this constant balancing act between reliance and independence that will shape the behavior of your seven-year-old and determine the most appropriate response when faced with challenges or misbehaviors.

Diet and Eating Habits

Eating patterns can fluctuate wildly for a seven-year-old. On one day, the child may eat like a professional linebacker and barely nibble on a few crackers the next.

While many parents will worry that their child is not getting enough nutrition, the focus should be placed on the overall picture rather than the peculiarities of an individual meal. As long as the child is consuming a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat, calcium-rich dairy products, the chances are good that the child's nutritional needs are being met.

With that being said, it is important to establish healthy eating habits. You can do this by having your child help with the food preparations. Whether it be selecting fruits at the market or helping you dish out food, the simple act of participating can increase a child's investment in mealtimes and the foods they eat.

Sleep Habits

Seven-year-olds will often find it difficult to get to bed because their free time (to watch TV or play games) is suddenly being cut short by everything from homework to preparations for the next day's activities. This can lead to whining or other misbehaviors mainly because the child is still unaccustomed to these newly found stresses.

But, now more than ever, it is important to keep to a set routine and establish good sleep habits by ensuring your child gets a solid 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night. You can do this by setting a strict time by which all electronics and video games are to be turned off and by sitting with your child for a half hour or so before he or she goes to bed.

This ritual is especially important since seven-year-olds tend to develop obsessions—with toys, games, and TV shows—and find it hard to "switch off" without some period of unwinding. By giving your child 30 minutes of your undivided attention (to talk, prepare for school, etc.), you can avoid unnecessary upset or frustration.

Chores and Responsibilities

Seven-year-olds take great pride in being “big kids” who can handle more responsibilities. Chores are integral to this. By providing your child age-appropriate chores (such as setting the table, sorting laundry, or feeding pets), you can make them feel like they are actively contributing as a member of the family.

The great thing about seven-year-olds is that they won't need as much supervision to handle their chores. If anything, you can help them with by offering reminders like a daily calendar with a list of chores they can cross off. This not only provides them a visual record of their achievements, it can set habits they can expand upon as they get older.

Behavior and Discipline

By the age of seven, a child will be better equipped to handle transitions and setbacks and will have developed manners (such as saying "thank you" or "please") that will be further reinforced at school. Discipline at this stage will be more focused on guidance and less on consequences for bad behavior.

With that being said, a growing sense of independence may lead a seven-year-old to test certain boundaries. They may do so be lying, talking back, or being defiant. And, while tantrums will be largely behind them by the age of seven, they may still occasionally whine or pout whenever they are denied something.

Setting boundaries, using "quiet time," and working out mutual decisions are just some of the more appropriate forms of discipline for a seven-year-old.