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Developmental Milestones: Your 8-Year-Old Child

Knowing what to expect as your child grows can reassure you that your child is on track with his peers or alert you to potential concerns. Below are some milestones to watch for in your eight-year-old.

By Joyce Destefanis, M.A. , Nancy Firchow, M.L.S.

During grades 1 through 3, you won't see dramatic changes in your child's motor skills because this is a period of refinement, when coordination improves and fine motor skills are sharpened. But you will notice remarkable changes in social and thinking skills. Your child is now building on the base of skills developed during early childhood and moving toward greater independence, both intellectually and emotionally.

Here are some of the milestones you can expect of your 8-year-old:

Motor Development

  • finger control is quite refined
  • stamina increases; can run and swim further

Language and Thinking Development

  • can converse at an almost adult level
  • reading may be a major interest
  • seeks to understand the reasons for things
  • begins to feel competent in skills and have preferences for some activities and subjects
  • thinking is organized and logical
  • begins to recognize concept of reversibility (4+2=6 and 6-2=4)

Social and Emotional Development

  • has strong need for love and understanding, especially from mother
  • can be helpful, cheerful, and pleasant as well as rude, bossy, and selfish
  • may be quite sensitive and overly dramatic
  • emotions change quickly
  • impatient; finds waiting for special events torturous
  • makes friends easily; develops close friends of same sex
  • favors group play, clubs, and team sports; wants to feel part of a group
  • more influenced by peer pressure
  • can be obsessed with, and motivated by money

Tips for Parenting an 8-Year-Old

At 8, your child has a strong need to "belong."

  • Talk to your child about peer pressure.
  • Listen and discuss his concerns about friends and school performance.
  • Take advantage of his interest in money to teach about costs and the importance of saving toward a goal.
  • Develop moral why some things are right or wrong.
  • Recognize your child's need for privacy and secrets. Give him a locking drawer or box.

And Finally...

Remember that although the milestones mentioned here are typical, children pass through these stages at their own pace. Some will be earlier, some a little later. Discuss any concerns you may have about your child's development with her pediatrician or teacher.

Comments from readers

"Our 8 year old granddaughter watched a scary movie with her Mom. She is scared to go to bed at nights and cry's for some one to lay with her. She goes to bed at 8:30. We have always told her a story and then she would go to sleep. Now she don't go to sleep until mid night. How can we help her to over come this. Thank you "
"I am finding it a lot more that I have to repeat myself many many times when asking my daughter to do something. Like home work getting ready to head out so on so on. Well almost about everything..I am not sure how to deal with this. She over talks an just acts like she doesn't hear..But she does...This is really becoming a problem..She is 8.... "
"Read this "
"I agree w/ 2-17-2010, my daughter seems more emotionally secure with my husband... I don't mind, it's just how it is.... "
"Thanks a lot Great article."
"The line 'has strong need for love and understanding, especially from mother' seems quite sexist. Please give us a reference to some kind of study and/or academic literature to support this. I am a father and primary caregiver of children (both a boy and a girl) in this age range. They both certainly desire love and understanding, but I have seen no indication that they desire it more or less from one of us. Quite honestly, they get more love and compassion from me, the father, because I am around them more. (I find the most important type of understanding for them is compassion for the imaginary pains of growing up that is often all too real to them in childhood. Sharing the good times, on the other hand is easy.) They would be much worse off without their mother in their daily lives before and after work and weekends. But I feel fully capable of providing for their emotional needs. So to imply that children need more 'love and understanding' from a mother makes me question the entirety of this article. I urge you to correct that line by removing the reference to the mother."
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