Summer is quickly approaching. Along with the change of season comes an amassment of new neighbors during the day time hours. We will notice them riding bikes, playing games in parks, and chasing ice cream vendors. You guessed it, school aged children and adolescents.
Even if you are not a parent you will encounter our community’s youngest generation the months of June through August. I’ll hear adults complain about the noise, the laughter, and the overall frustration of these young people infiltrating our community. To have a better understanding of this age group we must first educate ourselves on how young people develop differently by age.
5 year olds are just starting school. They are optimistic and resilient in perceiving the bright side of life. They want to please and are eager to be involved and learn new things. They don’t think of future consequences. Around parks and residential neighborhoods drive slowly and accommodate for their absent awareness of their surroundings.
10 year olds are finishing primary school. In their world they are the top of the social hierarchy. They are more confident when they feel respected and safe. They love to talk. At this age they are more active with peers and like to be in groups. The group socialization is helpful in their development of boundaries and social norms. We want kids in our community who learn to play together. They become adults who are welcoming and agreeable neighbors.
High school aged children are more autonomous and less dependent on family. They are testing the world to see how they fit in. They are also starting their first jobs. We are likely to see these young people bagging groceries, busing tables, or working in retail. They looks like young adults but still have the better part of a decade left in brain development. The human brain is considered fully developed around age 25. This means they are still learning how to process and cope with adult stress and emotions. They may come across as moody, apathetic, or overly eager. With this age group it is important not to judge or criticize harshly. Give them helpful feedback and encourage them for their effort.
Young people are part of our team. We want them to feel safe and valued in the community. They may have behaviors that are obnoxious at times but we must be mindful of where the individual is on their path of development. Children who feel valued by their community grow into adults who are active members of your home.