Today I’m sharing a few thoughts and facts about the big changes happening to my 7 year old. If you’re currently wondering, “Why is my 7 year old so emotional?” you are not alone.
Remember when we used an App to track our pregnancy and the baby’s development? After baby was born, we downloaded a new App for mental leaps and milestone checklists. From infancy to toddlerhood, Moms and Dads watch their child’s development so closely with the help of a pediatrician.
As we enter the preschool stage we are guided by teachers on what to expect and how to help our little ones prepare for Kindergarten. But after the first year of Kindergarten… the conversations cease to exist. I never realized it until a few months ago, but once a child enters elementary school we all take a break from our close watch until they’re about to enter puberty.
My Emotional 7 Year Old
My oldest daughter, Annabelle, is 7 years old. Over the last few months, her personality has changed drastically. Once an easy going little girl, filled with curiosity and wonder, she is now moody, anxious, and unpredictable. There are some days when she is happy, carefree, thrilled and content with life. There are other days when she has little to no patience for anyone, cries at the drop of a hat, and throws tantrums (just like a toddler).
My husband and I have been concerned about Annabelle’s mood swings as they are very similar to that of a 12 year old girl. I would know… as I recall the melodramatic episodes I experienced during my prepubescent middle school years. But after speaking to my cousin whose daughter is the same age as Annabelle and a few Moms from her school, I learned she was not alone in these changes.
This week I brought the topic of her behavior to my Instagram stories in the hopes I’d find advice on how to help my seven year old. At first I worried my followers would shame me for saying my first grader is difficult, but I quickly realized I was not the only parent witnessing these behavioral changes. The number of Moms replying to my stories with the same exact concerns was mind blowing. And then a child psychologist sent me a mind altering message – Annabelle’s behavior is NORMAL for her age.
Big Changes Happen at 7 Years Old
This is what NO one tells you – some children ages 6-8 experience a surge of hormones which can cause heightened emotions. This developmental stage has a name: Adrenarche. Adrenarche is mainly a period of psychological and emotional development. The hormones coursing through your child’s body may have a significant impact on how they are feeling but are less likely to cause physical signs or symptoms like pubic and armpit hair growth or acne. (source)
I can see clearly now after reading through countless articles about Adrenarche and other changes that occur between the ages of 6-8. Did you know our children are experiencing a huge developmental milestone right now? Well they are… and here is what’s happening.
Annabelle is learning there is more to life than family – such as school, sports, friends, etc. She is beginning to rely on things she can count on, such as routines and explicitly descriptive plans for the day. She craves independence, but still needs to feel our presence and protection. Annabelle is thriving on rules and order, but tests her limits often. She often exhibits bursts of energy or halfhearted moments of activity. There are days when we believe she must have so much going on inside that she doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle anything on the outside.
The ages of 4-7 have been called the age of innocence, where magic is a reality and lies are really wishes. Then the hormones begin to change. There is a neurological shift in brain development. The 8-year-old is not as innocent as they used to be. (source)
Tips for Supporting a 7 Year Old
(all from YOU)
Give her an outlet for her emotions – journal, sketchpad, exercise, cooking.
Acknowledge her feelings – Stay consistent. Acknowledge her feelings. They have big feelings. It’s ok to have them. We all do! Give her options that are ok when she is upset. Ex: “Your body and words are showing me you’re mad. I’ll wait until you’re calm.”
Don’t engage in rehashing an argument until everyone is calm. It’s ok to be mad. We just have to manage our mad safely. Then give her examples of how to manage the feelings: take a moment alone, draw, squeeze a stuffed animal.
You can use “try again” to redirect the ‘tude of the sassy talk. Be consistent with that. It’ll set the groundwork for those later years.
Kids all need to be taught feelings are ok.
Remember this: the Pandemic has had a huge impact on our children. Give your child and yourself moments of grace.
I want us to have a strong relationship when she is older so I listen when we talk so she can be heard but also remind her what is right and wrong. Another tip I implement is I tell her there are 3 important things we do if we get into trouble 1) we talk about (because no matter how much trouble she is in we can help) 2) we fix it 3.) we move on and start fresh.
I just ordered these two workbooks based off a suggestion from a fellow Mom. Her children love the anxiety workbook!
By the end of this stage I hope my child…
I found these goals during my research on ways to help my seven year old. I’ve actually shared them with her and explained that I understand very well how hard it can be to control my own emotions from time to time. We are working on strategies to calm down when we are overwhelmed, as well as exploring reasons why we feel the way we feel.
- Can describe the causes and consequences of her emotions, such as saying, “I got mad because I really wanted to go to the park.”
- Manage her emotions better, especially in public situations.
- Start to use self-calming strategies, such as repeating phrases or taking deep breaths, when feeling distressed.
If you’re a parent who can relate to this post, but need MORE advice and guidance – do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s pediatrician. I spoke to many parents who are consulting child therapists as well! No matter what happens, always remember that you are NOT alone in this journey we call parenthood. <3