Help them establish boundaries and navigate changing friendships

468 weeks remaining…

In this phase, friends start to matter a lot more. Fourth graders find themselves in friend groups, cliques, and tribes. Some friends become best friends. Other friends won’t be invited to the party. Peer approval (and disapproval) is significantly motivating in this phase. Your role as an influencer in the life of your child is no longer as exclusive as it once was. It may seem like you’re losing influence, but your fourth grader needs you now more than ever.

What a kid believes about themselves in fourth grade matters. It leaves a lasting memory – one that will form long-term belief about how they see themselves.

Fourth graders are aware of the differences between themselves and others. That’s a beautiful recognition of diversity in the Kingdom of God. The difficult side is the insecurities that come with those differences. Your child may start to wonder, “Is there something wrong with me?” Unless a fourth grader hears consistent voices reaffirming their value, they may become stuck in this struggle. Now is your moment to get on their level, look them in the eye, and consistently communicate: “There is nobody like just like you, and that’s the way it should be. You are exactly the way God made you.” In this uncertain time, your fourth grader needs someone to consistently believe the best about them, no matter what.


  • Physically: They improve in their speed, force, and body control. They need physical activity and often push themselves to their physical limits. They may show early signs of puberty and need 10-11 hours of sleep at night. They typically begin to learn about sex and sexuality in educational settings.
  • Mentally: They can focus on one activity for 45 minutes. They can read silently and remember what they've read. They can collaborate on rules/consequences. They are curious about a lot but still concrete in their thinking, and struggle with abstract concepts.
  • Emotionally: Some fourth graders frequently exhibit signs of anxiety and are easily overwhelmed. They may begin to be embarrassed about their body. They enjoy puns, sarcasm, and crude jokes. They still hold to their family beliefs/values but may ask challenging questions. They may be drawn to a humanitarian cause and enjoy service opportunities. They need lots of encouragement.
  • Socially: They increasingly value peer approval. They desire personal privacy. They may be interested in or curious about opposite-sex relationships.


“Who are my friends?”

Fourth graders need to share their most authentic versions of themselves with another person. In fourth grade, your influence begins to shift as a parent; they still need you, but they begin to need other people as well.


Purchases and complete these activities with your child:

  1. Healthy Friendship Lesson & Activities. This resource is for teaching upper elementary students about healthy friendships and how to be an amazing friend. It focuses on identifying what friendship is, elements of a healthy friendship, discussing and generating examples of how to support and encourage friends, show trustworthiness, and be yourself.
  2. Friendship Boundaries Lesson & Activities. This resource is for teaching upper elementary students about friendship boundaries and solving conflict in friendships. It focuses on identifying the friendship boundaries (togetherness vs. exclusion, fun vs. mean joking, caring vs. hurtful touching, sharing ideas vs. controlling/bossing, saying negative vs. positive things about a friend) and generating examples of behaviors on the okay and not okay side of boundaries.