Usually about the time kids reach 7, they really begin to talk and act older. Try as they might to act like a “big kid,” they still often struggle with behavioral issues. It’s important to keep your discipline in line with what your 7-year-old child needs.
Typical 7-Year-Old Behavior
When 7 year olds are successful at mastering math and reading skills, they tend to gain a lot of confidence. Those that struggle to keep up with their peers may become easily frustrated. Most 7 year olds tend to be curious and ask a lot of questions and tend to be able to develop their own opinions about things.
Most of the time, they’re still willing to be affectionate in public. Parents should enjoy holding hands and getting hugs in publicly while it lasts, because over the next few years, that’s likely to vanish.
Friends are important to kids at this age. They tend to show improved social skills and are better able to play with peers. They may however, worry that they’ll be laughed at or made fun of by other kids.
As 7 year olds try to do more tasks independently, they may struggle with frustration tolerance. It’s not uncommon for 7 year olds to lie as they try to avoid getting out of trouble.
They may become sidetracked when attempting to complete tasks. As a result, they can appear oppositional at times.
Best Discipline Strategies
Every child is different and there isn’t a single discipline strategy that works best for all 7 year olds. However, here are some discipline strategies that can be very effective at this age.
Provide Structure and Routine- Although most 7 year olds are flexible enough to deal with last minute changes, they often do better when they have a daily routine so they know what’s expected of them in terms of chores, homework and other responsibilities.
Grandma’s Rule- Grandma’s rule can be a great way to show your child that she has a choice and it’s up to her to decide what she wants to do. It can be a great motivator and can reduce a lot of arguing at this age.
Problem-Solve Together- Teach problem-solving skills and when problems arise, work together to solve them. For example, if your child makes a poor choice, sit down and discuss what she could have done instead to help her make a better decision next time.
Time Out- Use time out sparingly to keep it effective. It can be a great discipline strategy when kids need help cooling off.
Logical Consequences- If you use logical consequences consistently, 7 year olds will come to expect them. It can be a great way to help them think twice about repeating that behavior.
Praise- Praise is a great way to give 7 year olds a confidence booster. Praise their efforts to let them know you don’t demand perfection. For example, say, “I really am glad you studied and tried really hard on that spelling test,” rather than, “Great job getting every single word spelled correctly.” Otherwise, they may struggle when they do a less than perfect job.
Natural Consequences- Allow your 7-year-old some independence when it’s safe to do so and let her experience some natural consequence. Natural consequences can be a great teaching tool at this age because it reinforces to kids, that parents actually know what they’re talking about. Just make sure that any natural consequences your child experiences aren’t dangerous.
Avoid Power Struggles- As a 7-year-old’s language becomes well-developed, they can start to become expert debaters. It’s not uncommon for them to want to know why you’ve said “no” and they can often offer up lots of reasons why things aren’t fair. Take steps to avoid power struggles before they even start.