Seven things I love about having 7 to 12-year-olds

Surprising stages: seven things I love most about having kids in this age range.
Surprising stages: seven things I love most about having kids in this age range. Photo: Getty

Pre-children, I thought kids in the age range of seven to 12 were annoying. Polite smiles around other people's kids that age, disguised my silent disdain for their lack of adorability. Babies and toddlers were cute; these primary-aged kids seemed to waft around the adults without much to contribute. At least teenagers had some colourful attitude going on.

Clearly I was a douchebag who held a collection of daft thoughts.

I now have three children who fall within the age bracket of seven to 12 and I absolutely LOVE this phase. What's changed?

As a parent, I've realised how brilliant it is to have children of an age where life is less intense; where the demands are somewhat slackened in terms of basic needs. Here are seven things I love most about having kids in this age range:

1. They are (almost) self-sufficient

Seven to 12-year-olds are quite competent at getting themselves something to eat, showering, and cleaning up. Okay, I'm dreaming on the last point. Let's say "in theory" they can meet their own essential requirements.

My kids get up and prepare their own breakfasts and make a start on their school lunches (often edited by their mother replacing three sugary snacks with a salad sandwich). They undertake chores with relative proficiency. They need to work on their ability to paint the house and clear the gutters, but otherwise are useful little gems.

2. They offer interesting conversation

I never anticipated the nuggets of information seven to 12-year-olds siphon away and reproduce in their own child-filtered version. Their view on the world is fascinating, if you stop and consider it.

They love to converse about topics that we, as adults, often gloss over. What makes a hero? What's a black hole? What can I build and then blow up in Minecraft? They tell funny, innocent jokes, like "What's brown and hairy? Brown hair."

They are genuinely excited about kid things like lollies, new movies and inviting a friend for a sleepover. Through my children's conversation, I am reminded of fun times in my own childhood.

3. Their personalities are really starting to shine

We can all agree babies show signs of strong personality traits – stubborn, docile, happy, serious etc. – from very early on. Yet it's once our child hits primary school that we get a window into the future of who they may become. They learn to overcome obstacles and adversities, how to make friends, how to manipulate their parents into more pocket money while doing fewer jobs.

Without boxing them in, you can see their preferences to lead or follow, to seek the limelight or conquer quietly. Naturally, these tendencies can change as children grow in confidence and as their interests change.

4. They're curious sponges that love to learn

From the time they're born, children soak in life around them. Constantly stimulated by the whirlwind of development and the meeting of milestones, it's the seven to 12  phase where this learning culminates.

Kids of this age are figuring out the best way to take in information. Are they a visual learner? A physical, kinesthetic learner? Do they benefit from auditory learning by listening and repeating?

They are making connections between learning-based play and life. Lessons abound about sharing and caring, winning and losing. Social interactions and physical coordination are also emerging.

5. They're yet to discover "attitude"

Some parents may disagree, but so far we've been lucky to have escaped any significant attitude in this age bracket. Sure, there's the usual suspects: occasional eye rolls, the huff, the groan and the whinge (sounds like a dance routine) but the door-slamming, "I hate you" and "life is so unfair" choruses have yet to surface in our home.

At this age you can send them to their room and they see the exclusion as punishment. If I cast my mind way back when, I believe sending a teenager to their room would be seen as a benefit.

6. Parental influence still trumps their friends' influence

Friends play an integral role in our children's lives but at this age, parents are still in charge of their kids' social lives. Yee-haw! If there is a particular child who you aren't so fond of, then it's completely viable to orchestrate a "too busy" excuse to avoid catch ups.

Once children are walking to school or catching buses, holding down part-time jobs -effectively operating somewhat independently of the home - parental opinion can take a slide in the polls.

7. They're honing their interests and skills

As children reach the higher end of the seven to 12 age bracket, their interests and skills become increasingly honed. Someone who loved kicking a football around the backyard as a six-year-old, may at 12 be football-obsessed and dreaming of a lustrous (short-lived) career as an elite sportsperson. A four-year-old's dreams of being a princess, may at 12 be redirected to fashion design or stage performance.

The beauty of this age group is that the dreams are still there, buoyant and idealistic, but the skills to realise the vision are truly starting to surface.

If there were a phase I could bottle, it would be the seven to 12-year-olds (and maybe a sweet-smelling, floppy newborn). And I'd put a cork in anyone who thinks this age group is annoying.

What do you love about seven to 12-year-olds? 

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