Every parent knows that each age and stage of child development presents new and uncharted territory. For Eight this is a time of multiple transitions. Eight is when your child quickly seems to be well on their way to becoming a unique individual with their own social group and interests. With Eight’s curiosity in figuring things out for themselves and near-constant energy, parents can get burned out! Eight wants nothing more than to please those around them and be accepted. They will be driven by their social groups and peers and have new found interest in connecting and playing with those peers. Invitations to play dates seem like a life or death matter! Parents may feel out of the loop and confused often, however Eight still needs you so much, if not more, than they need their friends. Eight looks to you for connection right now but is also becoming aware that you have your own work/life to attend to. Parents of Eight need to stay engaged, provide outlets for that constant energy and be aware of their child’s ability to navigate the social world both in real life and online. Being able to answer those complex questions often from the back seat is expected parenting for Eight.
Eight is a social butterfly! They are curious about people and love to learn and socialize at the
same time. Eight evaluates the behaviors of others, but is most critical of their own behaviors as they are developing a sense of self esteem in comparison to those around them. Eight craves praise, encouragement, and parental approval; they want to know what others think of them and hope that their caregivers hold them in high regard. What do you say about Eight when you think they are out of earshot? Eight will fish for compliments by putting themselves or their work down in the hopes that a parent will notice them. Eight has become increasingly aware that their parents are often too busy to give Eight their full attention. Practice active listening at least once a day to give Eight your full attention and make them feel heard. Creating a ritual time, like bedtime, snack time after school, or walking after dinner as times just for Eight to connect. Eight aims to please their caregivers, which goes hand in hand with the hope that Eight will receive positive feedback for their actions. Eight is also known to be critical of their parents, and the push-pull dynamic in the parent-child relationship can be challenging for many parents.
Eight’s brain is continuing to grow and many important markers occur at this age! The auditory cortex is developing between the ages of eight and eleven, which improves their speech and sensory-motor integration. This means that as Eight’s knowledge of language has solidified over previous years, and as their speech improves, Eight may be open to reading more books and reading aloud to parents. Eight’s cognitive processing and increased motor coordination often lead to the development of new skills at this time. For example, Eight may be able to better understand the logic components to many games and have a desire to play chess with a caregiver. Eight is eager to engage in activities they feel competent in, and will become defeated and self-critical in areas where they don’t show talent or achievement is challenging. Negative self talk at this time is often distressing to hear, focus on identifying the feelings behind the statements, don’t deny/counter the statements, rather help them focus on their feelings.