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Your 8 Year Old Child: Social Development

An overview of an 8-year-old child's social development

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Four girls (8-10) at slumber party, two girls singing into microphone
Thomas Northcut/The Image Bank/Getty Images

You may begin to see a newfound sense of self-confidence in your 8-year-old child as she expresses her opinions about people and things around her. She may pay more attention to news events, and want to share her thoughts on current event topics.

At home and at school, 8-year-old children will enjoy friendships and thrive in sports teams and other social groups. Eight-year-old children will generally enjoy going to school and will want to engage in the social world of friends and classmates. Parents should be on the lookout for any problems such as school refusal, which may indicate a problem at school such as being bullied or learning difficulties.

Friends
Eight-year-old children have a strong natural desire to be part of a group, whether it’s a social group of friends or a sports team. But this desire to belong and fit in can have a downside: peer pressure.

Be sure to talk to your 8-year-old about the negative aspects of peer pressure and the importance of trusting her own instincts and doing what she feels is right in any given situation.

Eight-year-olds may also gravitate primarily toward friendships with friends of the same gender. They may use stereotypes to describe peers of the opposite sex and refer to certain activities as being "for girls" or "for boys." (This is an opportunity for parents to step in and dispel myths such as "math is for boys" or "girls cannot play sports").

Eight-year-olds may begin to ask for sleepovers, although parents should not be surprised if some children want to go back home and do not make it through the entire night at a friend’s house. At age 8, many children are still attached to mom, dad, and home and may not yet be emotionally ready to handle sleeping at a friend’s, even though they may feel peer pressure to participate in sleepovers.

Morals and Rules
Many 8-year-old children will have a desire to adhere strictly to rules and be "fair," which can sometimes lead to conflicts during organized group play. Eight-year-old children are still developing an understanding of what is "wrong" or "right," and lying or other behavior requiring child discipline may need to be corrected.

Giving, Sharing and Empathy
Eight-year-old children may increasingly begin to understand how someone else feels in a given situation, and will be more capable of placing themselves in another person’s shoes.

You may also see a wide spectrum of social skills in your child as he seems selfish and rude in one minute and generous, giving, and supportive in another when interacting with friends and family. With guidance and good child discipline, parents can set positive examples and help steer their 8-year-old children toward good behavior and the development of strong morals.

More About Your Eight-Year-Old Child's Development

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