My fourth grader used to talk to me about everything—school, friends, funny things people said. But suddenly he won’t talk to me about anything. Is this a phase, or could something be going on?
It’s not unusual for kids to share more or less information with their families at different times in their lives. Fourth grade is a time when kids start to become more involved with friends and share more with each other. That often means families hear less about what’s going on.
It’s also not uncommon for kids to share less when something is bothering them. This could be something that’s happening at home, like parents who are arguing more, a family member who’s sick, or a sibling who’s having challenges.
It’s also possible that things have changed at school and that’s why your child is sharing less with you. Fourth grade brings a lot of new challenges for kids.
For example, in second grade kids are learning subtraction. By fourth grade, they’re using subtraction to solve a word problem and then discussing their solution with a group.
Leaps like these can be very frustrating for kids whose skills aren’t as well developed. It can have a negative impact on kids’ self-esteem. As a result, they might be less likely to share about their day, especially with someone who cares a lot about how they do in school.
Social life also makes a big leap in fourth grade. Conversations are more complex. Relationships get deeper but still change quickly. It can be tricky to keep up with those changes. And it’s very hard for kids who have trouble following conversations or noticing social cues.
Because the change has been sudden, connect with your child's teacher. Talk about the change you’ve seen at home, and ask if the teacher is seeing something similar at school.
Just by having that conversation, the teacher will probably keep an eye on your child. Then in a few weeks, follow up to see how things are, and what you can do to support your child.
There’s a lot going on in fourth grade, and your child may be less talkative than before. But there are ways to approach kids to help them open up about school and other things. Even if your child doesn’t open up, let him know you’re there to help in any way you can.
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About the author
About the author
Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.