I haven't met today's author in person, but she makes me laugh often and is a breath of fresh air on my weary parenting days through her podcast Surviving Sarah. I have been so encouraged by her sharing about praying for her daughters. Her post will encourage you if you have an upper elementary age child!
The upper elementary years can be so enjoyable. For the most part, kids that age are all about fun experiences, friends, and competition. They are happy to race you in Mario Cart or go with you to the zoo. Your kids still want to talk to you and spend quality time with you—which is blessing as you are on the brink of the teenage years.
I don’t know about you, but my memories of early elementary are few and far between. But I do remember a lot from third grade forward. In fact, some significant moments happened to me while I was in upper elementary school. We moved to a new city and I went to three different elementary schools in one school year. Making friends was difficult. There was an already established group of girls in school and church so breaking into that was hard. And it was in fourth grade that I was called fat for the first time. As I consider those memories, it adds weight to the age that my oldest is. Significant, pivotal moments happened that altered my thinking of the world and of myself.
Remembering my own experiences have shaped how I pray for my daughters. What I’m praying for my upper elementary age daughter centers around identity/worth, confidence and wisdom.
Not only do I pray about these things during my own prayer time, but I try to pray about one of those things each day as I put my daughter to bed. Trying to teach a 9 year old how to take every negative, untrue thought captive is difficult. For my daughter, faith is harder to grasp. She believes that Jesus died for her sins, but understanding the process of sanctification is a whole other ballgame. Because of that, I hope that modeling how to pray about those things will help her to one day understand it for herself.
Just like how I believed lies about my worth and identity because someone called me fat, I can recognize the lies that come out of my daughters mouth about herself. “I’m the worst kid.” “I just can’t do anything right.” “I mess up all the time.” “No one likes me.” “I’m not good enough.”
Doesn’t it break your heart to hear your child voice the lies that swirl around in their head? “Father, thank you for making her wonderfully unique, there is no one else like her. You made her on purpose for a purpose. Thank you for giving her the ability to feel strong emotions. Use that one day in order to help others. You gave her a fun-loving personality and the ability to notice other people. Thank for making her so unique.” (Psalm 139)
I’ve noticed since second grade a level of insecurity in my daughter. I’ve watched her realize that she isn’t great at everything. That realization has led her to not want to try different activities. She allows insecurity to direct her steps. This year, I’m praying for her confidence. That she will discover something that she enjoys doing and that her confidence will build. I want her confidence to be strong before going into middle school. Another way of praying about confidence is praying that she will understand that God can make her capable. I bet you know this to be true for you, too. You don’t feel capable when you look at others and compare yourself. But no matter who you are, God can make you capable and confident for whatever lies before you. “Father, help her find something that she enjoys doing and let that build her confidence. Make her strong and courageous knowing that You will never leave her. Give her a confidence that comes from you.” (Joshua 1:1-2, 5-6)
I feel like this phase before the teenage years is a time when you as the parent must start coaching your child to recognize wise versus unwise choices. That’s because you still have some control over them plus they still want to be around you. When my daughter gets in trouble for her sass, I talk to her about making a wise choice with her words. Or when she wants to treat her sister poorly, ask “What is the wise thing to do?” I’m trying to help her see that it comes down to wisdom. Wisdom to know how to respond to someone who has hurt you. Wisdom to know what to say in response to something critical. These years are our practice years before becoming a teenager so when she is faced with much bigger obstacles, maybe there will be a loud voice in her head asking, “What is the wise thing to do?” “Father, will you grow her in wisdom and stature. Help her make wise choices when it comes to her words and actions.” (Luke 2:52)
I heard once that children determine their worldview—the way they see the world—by the age of 9. If that is true, these upper elementary years are crucial. I want my daughters to know that their worth is based on what God says is true, that God makes them capable and confident and that if you ask for it, God will give you wisdom.
What about you? What are you praying for when it comes to your upper elementary age child?
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