Having been a huge fan of age 7, I was long fearing my son’s 8th birthday this year. After all, both parenting polls and scientists have warned me that 8-year-olds can be tough, given the hormonal, intellectual, and social transitions kids undergo at this age. But you know what doesn’t change? Eight-year-olds still love to play. Which makes the job of finding the best toys for 8-year-olds still a delightful task.
You may not have realized this, but at around age 8, most kids go through what’s called adrenarche. That’s when the adrenal gland starts gearing up to produce the hormones that will eventually cause puberty. While your adorable second- and third-graders don’t look like preteens yet, they may experience mood swings that seem to have nothing to do with external factors. That means your 8-year-old may also talk about “drama” in their social life and they may throw an elaborate tantrum over their math homework. But when they slam their door on you in a huff, they may also sit down and play with their dolls or games.
“Things are either great or awful, ugly or beautiful, right or wrong,” the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital says of 8-year-olds’ cognitive development. But the upside of that polarized thought is that they can get really into things too. They’re interested in their friends, hobbies, sports, and even collecting.
In terms of play, an article in Scholastic describes how 8-year-olds’ group play can be very imaginative, with complex rules.
“Regardless of gender, the interactions are often defined by elaborate fantasy play, interactive games, rotating leaders, and cooperative goal-setting where participants work collaboratively toward a shared outcome,” wrote child developmental expert Michelle Anthony, PhD, on the site. “For example, a group of children may run an elaborate ‘economy’ where they find items on the playground to sell for rock currency, such as grasshoppers, sticks, pieces of plastic, or even ice. There may be shopkeepers, merchants, scavengers, or even thieves who all play a part in ongoing storylines.”
At the same time, 8-year-olds also are figuring out how to be independent. That sometimes takes the form of sports, reading, or, of course, video games. (We’ll leave the video game recs for another time and place.)
Whichever way your 8-year-old’s mood is swinging these days, we think one of these toys will be right for them.
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