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Parenting the 8-year-old

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Your wise 8-year-old

The fact that time flies is evidenced by any 8-year-old's young life. In just a handful of years, your precious, tiny baby has exploded into a verifiable little person. While this miraculous growth can be shocking from a parental perspective, this year is full of adventures and new milestones for your child. As a parent, you are best equipped to interact with your 8-year-old when you understand what is happening developmentally.

8 year old girl

Physical development

As with most of the childhood years, this year is full of growth. Kids may want to push their bedtimes a bit later, but they still need a good eight to 10 hours of sleep (even though they make think otherwise). Nutrition is extremely important, as weight gain can occur from consuming excessive sugar and/or starches.

Accordingly, this is a great time to teach your child about making wise decisions regarding food. You'll probably notice that more advanced motor skills are surfacing, such as throwing, catching and other athletic movement. Overall, it's hard to deny the fact that your bundle of joy is exploding into his own person... one who may think he knows how life works.

Social development

You can't deny the explosion of an 8-year-old's social life. She understands the difference between friendships and acquaintances and is learning how to interact with each. Her activity calender is filling up quickly, which means more time commitments for you and more opportunity to relate to the outside world for her. Your child's maturity is evidenced by his ability to express opinions on a variety of topics, control emotions and recognize the difference between an internal dialog and an outward experience.

Expert TipsParenting tips

Dr. Robyn McKay, a therapist at Arizona State University and expert in child and adolescent development, provides the following tips for parents of 8-year-olds:

  • An 8-year-old's ability to reason and make sense of abstract concepts is constantly improving. Encourage her thinking by asking questions that help her elaborate on her ideas.
  • Social networks are becoming increasingly important for children of this age. There's an added awareness of who's "in" and who's "out." This is a wonderful time for parents to model acceptance and kindness toward all children, regardless of appearance and other characteristics.
  • Focusing on strengths, talents and abilities helps strengthen an 8-year-old's self-confidence. By paying attention to what's right with their children, parents can help cultivate love and kindness in their growing child.

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