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Five: Your Social Child

When your child enters grade school, the social dimension becomes the focus for parenting. This natural process is speeded up by the dramatic increase in social opportunities and experiences when your children start school.

Your grade schooler must learn to relate to a much wider variety of adults, who hold expectations for her, who hold the power of reward and discipline, and each of whom interacts in a very individual manner. Your grade schooler finds herself in a world where not all adults are equally friendly, equally accepting, or equally enthusiastic about her potentials and capacities. To complicate the matter, there are new friends to make, and a large number of children to choose from when deciding with whom to play and interact. She needs to learn new social skills and activities. How does your grade schooler learn all of this? She learns through trial and error, but mostly through her effective relationship with you. Your grade schooler's relationship with you becomes a model for healthy and productive social relationships. As you relate to your children, so will they relate to others.

Challenges, dilemmas, and opportunities expand as your grade schooler becomes an adolescent. your relationship with your adolescent is even more critical. Your opportunity for direct influence is substantially reduced, while the opportunity for inappropriate and ineffective social interaction increases. your relationship with your adolescent stands as the major factor in how effectively she negotiates the world of teenagers and teenage life. As you look specifically at important parenting issues related to your child's social world, keep in mind your preschooler, grade schooler, and adolescent are multidimensional; parenting must respond to this multidimensionality.

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