Your 8-Year-Old Child: Emotional Development

An in-depth look at your 8-year-old child's emotional development

8 year old child emotional development - boy hugging dog
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An 8-year-old child has her feet planted firmly in "Big Kid" territory, and will have her eye on the approaching middle-school years. For 8-year-old children, emotional development may be evolving at a deeper level than ever before. An 8-year-old may be capable of more sophisticated and complex emotions and interactions such as masking true emotions or telling a lie to spare someone’s feelings or occasionally working through a problem or situation independently, without the close intervention of an adult.

They'll still want to play with dolls and Legos and other favorite toys of their younger childhood, but will also be eyeing big-kid playthings like two-wheeled bicycles and more mature responsibilities like answering the telephone or helping out with younger siblings and setting an example for younger kids to follow.

Eight-year-old children may also constantly exhibit contradictory and quick-changing emotions. An 8-year-old may be very critical of others but may also be very critical of herself. She may be cooperative and cheerful in some instances and bossy or selfish and rude in others. Keeping up with the changeable nature of an 8-year-old will be anything but dull!

Independence
Eight-year-olds will be proud of the fact that they are able to do many things on their own and will increasingly express a desire for privacy. (The days of parading around the house in his birthday suit or big boy underwear will be far behind him.) At the same time, 8-year-old children will still need and want guidance and support from their parents.

Parents should make it a habit to routinely talk to their 8-year-old child about his day, any problems or interesting developments at school, or dynamics or conflicts in his friendships.

Self-Confidence
Eight-year-olds may veer between bouts of brassy over-confidence and uncertainty and doubt about their own skills.

They may compare themselves to their friends and peers (“He is better at drawing than I am” or “She is a better soccer player”).

Privacy
Your 8-year-old child may express an increased desire for privacy. She may want to shower and get dressed with the door closed. Eight-year-olds may also want to keep some thoughts private, and parents may suggest that their child keep a journal or diary to write down their thoughts.

While parents should respect their child’s request for privacy, there are some matters—such as going online or conflicts with friends—that should be handled with a parent’s guidance, monitoring, and support.

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