Supporting children this age means actively listening to their goals and remaining on their side as they achieve them, while simultaneously maintaining necessary limits and boundaries. They are better able to select and adapt coping strategies to the variety of situations they now find themselves in. It is through these social routines and rituals that children learn to enter the play, establish group membership, and then direct the interactions. Eight- to ten-year-old children are still in what researcher Erik Erikson calls the age of Industry vs Inferiority. On the flip side of the close bonds and friendships that form among this age group comes the increase in social cruelty and bullying. Regardless of gender, the interactions are often defined by elaborate fantasy play, interactive games, rotating leaders, and cooperative goal-setting where participants work collaboratively toward a shared outcome. As they struggle to find the means to appropriately individuate, they can, at times, seem willful or defiant. Getting your child talking about the kinds of play he witnesses or partakes in is the first step.
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