In the elementary years, a child develops skills and competencies that equip their future. The way a child resolves the “Do I have” questions of these phases provides them with critical knowledge and resources. It shapes their perception of personal ability, comparative value, and resilience. Through these phases, kids shift from wanting to be seen by adults to wanting to be seen by adults and peers. The best way to resolve a kid’s relational questions is to engage their interests. However, it’s difficult to engage, when you don’t know what questions they’re asking.
Here are three questions that all elementary-aged children are asking:
1. Do I Have Your Attention?
In Kindergarten and first grade, a child craves adult attention and approval. When adults demonstrate interest in a kid’s progress, kids Improve Abilities.
2. Do I Have What It Takes?
In second and third grade, a kid wants to know how their abilities compare with peers. When adults praise a kid’s persistence and efforts, kids Broaden Competence.
3. Do I Have Friends?
In fourth and fifth grade, a kid begins to prioritize friends in a new way. When adults make introductions and include peers, kids Develop Friendships.
Relationships create a safe place to resolve who we are. Relationships bring clarity. When kids see themselves the way a loving adult sees them, it changes how they see themselves.
That’s why kids and teenagers need adults who will discover their world. They need adults who understand and respond accordingly to the crisis of every phase. When you respond with relationships that meet a kid’s most basic needs, you give kids a healthy foundation for future relationships.