By the time children reach 8 years of age, they’re usually fairly independent. Hopefully the skills you’ve taught them through discipline in the earlier years have really taken hold and they’re practicing them regularly.
Most 8 year olds often want to be treated older than they are; however, they usually lack the skills necessary to be treated like a big kid. Discipline at this age is more important than ever as you only have a few more years to get them ready to prepare them for their teenage years.
Typical 8-Year-Old Behavior
Development of an 8-year-old can vary greatly based on the child’s temperament. While some 8 year olds flourish with reading and math, others struggle academically. A child’s success or struggle with academics can certainly impact his behavior.
Physical abilities also can become very apparent at this age. Many 8 year olds begin to recognize talents in certain sports and some of them may really begin to stand out from the crowd. Kids who are less interested in sports may develop interests in music, art or other hobbies.
Despite their desire to be independent, most 8 year olds still really depend on adults for reassurance and security. They need adults to set limits and show them that they can’t have all the privileges they want.
It’s normal for 8 year olds to be argumentative and to test the limits at times. They can be moody and may struggle to manage their frustration and anger when they don’t get what they want. They can show off sometimes and frequently crave attention from caregivers.
Best Discipline Strategies for 8 Year Olds
A combination of these discipline strategies can be very effective in helping 8 year olds manage their behavior.
Positive Attention – Providing your child with plenty of positive attention prevents attention seeking behaviors. Set aside time each day to give your child individualized attention and it can reduce a lot of behavioral issues.
Praise – Provide your child with lots of encouragement and praise to increase your child’s positive behaviors. Make sure to praise your child’s efforts. Also, make sure that praise is genuine.
Reward Systems – Most 8 year olds don’t appreciate nagging. Create a reward system that will give your child an opportunity to show you he can do things on his own without reminders.
Create a chore chart or list of daily responsibilities and allow your child an opportunity to complete the tasks on his own. Use free or low cost rewards as an incentive. Token economy systems can also be a great way to motivate an 8-year-old.
Behavior Management Contracts – Most 8 year olds will want to have new privileges and freedoms. Create a behavior management contract that clearly outlines what your child will need to do to earn a later bedtime or more freedom.
Time Out – They’re not too old for time out at this age, but it should be used sparingly. It can be a great way to teach them to calm down when they’re angry.
Taking Away Privileges – Since most kids have developed a lot of interests by this age, it can quickly become clear which privileges are most effective when they’re removed. Consider taking away electronics, time with friends or other special activities.
Problem-Solving – When your child misbehaves, problem-solving together can be very helpful. Without lecturing, ask your child what he could have done instead or how he can handle the situation next time. Make sure he knows what other choices he could make to avoid negative consequences next time.