Children at this age are learning about social roles by identification and imitation. “Parental identification allows children to feel that their parents are with them even when not physically present.”2 This means your child will internalize your behavior as a part of himself. If you are angry and aggressive, you will teach him to be angry and aggressive in his relationship with himself and others. As he grows into an awareness of relationships around him, model balanced, loving relationships for him to observe and be a part of.
Identification with you as parent will also give him a basis for moral behavior. Explain to him why you do certain things and refrain from others. “We’re going to take cookies to Mrs. Smith, because she’s all alone and it will make her feel better.” “See how the baby likes it when you smile at her?” “We don’t eat candy before dinner because it doesn’t leave room for the food that makes bones and muscles.”
Also, be aware that you are modeling gender behavior. Be careful not to support overly sexist or narrow interpretations of how men or women behave. Treat your boy and girl children with equal affection, responsibility, and respect. Allow your child to see a wide range of acceptable behavior. Let your daughter be aware of models of strong women. Let your son know that he won’t lose his masculinity by showing his softer feelings.
Your child is trying to understand how everything he discovers goes with everything else. The more you can explain such relationships, the more secure he will feel. “We put the puzzle away so we don’t lose the pieces.” “We put gas in the car, so it will take us where we want to go, just like food gives us energy to run around.” “Mommy has to work so she can get money to buy food.”
Routine can be very important. If routine is interrupted explain why. “We can’t go to the park today because Aunt Mary is coming to visit.”
Your child can now relate to children his own age, with supervision. If he’s not in school yet, find ways to get him together with other children. If he is in school, ask him about the other kids he interacts with. Find opportunities to foster friendships outside of school.
Your child has a solid command of language now. Help her use it. Have long discussions with her about the nature of the world. Encourage her to ask questions and take time to answer them. Ask her questions about herself, her feelings and her friends that she can talk about. Be an attentive listener.
Cognitive learning is enormous at this period. School is the major arena for learning and development of confidence. Show interest in your child’s studies. Help her with her homework. Ask questions, supply added information, share what you know. Get involved in school projects. Model good study habits. Give rewards for good performance.
Success is the greatest motivator for developing competence. Supply your child with creative opportunities for industrious expression: art supplies, musical instruments, crafts, dance classes. Model the creative thinking process by searching for new ways to do things, even if it’s something as mundane as setting the table. Teach her to use tools. Stimulate creativity with books and movies, concerts and plays.
When your child presents you with something she has created, be sure to appreciate it, even if it only looks like a silly blob. This teaches her that her creations have value, and supports her creative identity. Show the drawing to others; put it up on the refrigerator; invite grandma to the school play.
Take your child to new places. A trip to the museum, street fairs, the zoo, a traveling vacation, a campout in the mountains. Allow exposure to different ways of life and encourage her horizons to expand.
Your adolescent is now searching for his own identity. This is not a time to become controlling over details that are not of direct harm, such as hair, clothing, or harmless activities, such as listening to music. Respect his expression of individuality. Encourage his own thinking by asking questions rather than giving answers. Instead of telling him what you did when you were his age, ask what he might tell his son if he were a father.
The roles he tries on will change many times before he settles into his adult identity. Don’t worry about the ones you don’t like. To strongly oppose it strengthens the likelihood that it will last longer.
Allow your child to have more of his own life. Encourage ways he can earn his own money, take responsibility for more aspects of his life, such as buying clothes, having his own transportation, creating activities. Let him make some of his own mistakes. If he feels you believe in him, he will more likely behave responsibly.
Adolescents nevertheless must have a clear and consistent sense of limits. As they are now old enough for sophisticated reasoning, it is important to include them in the thinking behind those limits, even to the point of letting them suggest alternative ways to address these limits. My son, for example, got an F in English his first quarter of high school. He immediately lost television and computer privileges until the next grading period. Six weeks later, with four weeks left before the next report card was issued, he asked if he could resume some privileges by getting a note from his English teacher that said how much better he was doing. He took the initiative and brought home a note saying he was now doing “A” quality work. I rewarded him for the improvement by reinstating some privileges on a probationary basis.
Seventh chakra modeling actually occurs throughout childhood. By the time your son or daughter is truly at the seventh chakra stage, they are on their own and your influence will be minimal. But here’s some general principles to practice beforehand:
Ask don’t tell. If your home is a safe place to question and discuss values, your child will learn to think for herself. If she is taught to think through her own problems, with support, learning that there may be many answers to a single situation, she will be more open minded. Involving her in intellectual discussions and asking for her opinion makes her feel that her thought processes are worthwhile.
Spirituality should not be forced on your child. It is better instituted by modeling conscious behavior, and sharing what you can as there is interest. In addition to exposing your child to whatever religion you practice, you can make their spirituality even more solid by giving them some exposure to other religions as well. Explain why your family has chosen the religion you practice. Allow your child to research other cultures and styles of worship. If your religion is best for her, she will come back to it on her own, more solid in her commitment because she’s been offered choice. If she chooses another that she finds more fulfilling, it will be an informed choice, rather than a rebellious act.
Learning is the way we feed our seventh chakra and keep our operating system up-to-date. Support learning in whatever way you can, whether it’s attending local community college, weekend workshops, a trek to the Himalayas, or a self-imposed course of study. Teach your child to find the lessons in experience. Ask what she’s learning from different activities.
When it’s time for your young adult to leave home, support and celebrate their independence. It doesn’t help to hang to her on nor does it help to push her out the door. As the parent withdraws control and attachment, the young person will naturally gravitate out into her own world.
As children grow up through the chakras, they don’t immediately outgrow the needs of the previous chakra. Children need physical affection all through life, not just in the first and second chakras. They need continual approval for their self-esteem. They need to be talked to, engaged with, included in family councils and activities.
In my opinion, there is never justification for parents to inflict upon their children sexual activity, physical pain, or shaming criticism. If this occurs, find help for yourself immediately through local parent support groups or your own therapy. Break the cycle. Don’t pass on abuse.
Children need love and attention, time and approval. They need to be encouraged, not discouraged. They need to be part of adult society, and they need their individuality to reform that society in ways that are in better harmony with the body, soul, and spirit. Children are the sacred beings of the future. They are the hope of humankind.