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Middle Childhood

There are several factors that are important to the development of children in middle childhood. Diverse families, sibling relationships, parenting styles, and identity development shape a child as they continue to grow.

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Family and Diversity

About 40%-50% of children are born to cohabiting couples. These are couples that live together, but are not married. There are more and more diverse families developing, while current traditional families are decreasing. Some types of diverse families are single parent families, grand-parenting, gay parenting, divorced or separated families, and step-families. A family is a very important factor to a child's development. Children are interdependent on family members according to the family system theory. Children learn essential social, emotional, and cognitive skills from family members.


Siblings are like peers, but the level of negativity between siblings differs due to their age difference and because the relationships aren't voluntary. Sibling relationships help children develop emotional and social skills. They are able to work on how to solve conflicts. During middle childhood, there are higher levels of conflict between siblings.

There are three interaction styles between siblings and those are: harmonious, meaning siblings can get along and care for each other; typical, where siblings have both positive and negative interactions; and finally conflicted, which is when there is a lot of hostility or alienation.


Parenting styles guide a child's behavior, so it is important to parent children in an appropriate way. There are four types of parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved. Authoritative parenting refers to high levels of control and warmth. Parents are very loving and caring to their children but have strict rules; they are child-centered. Authoritarian parenting is when parents are controlling, but have little to no warmth towards their children. Permissive parenting can be defined as having high levels of warmth but little control. Uninvolved parenting is when the parents let their children do whatever they'd like. They have little control and warmth. The best type of parenting style, based on research, is authoritative parenting. These children achieve more in school, have higher self-esteem, have less depression and anxiety, and have overall less problem behaviors.


During middle childhood, children begin to become aware of social categories and begin to consider relevance and self-awareness. They start to discover who they are and what groups they want to be a part of. They also develop this sense of belonging and group membership. Gender identity and racial identity are two other aspects that children discover. With gender, children focus on the differences, such as girls liking pink and boys playing sports. When looking at race, children look for sameness; being in a group of peers of the same race rather than of a different race. During middle childhood, children also create multiple identities depending on the different contexts. The way they act with friends will differ from the way they interact with parents and adults.

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