Your Child at 8: Milestones

Many parents can’t help but wonder if their children are growing and developing at the right pace. Sometimes common milestones can be a helpful tool.

But remember that all children are different and special. Milestones are meant to be guidelines, not strict rules.

If you have specific questions about how your child is hitting a certain milestone associated with being 8 years old, you should consult your family doctor or your child’s pediatrician.

Keep an eye out for these kinds of milestones:

  • Language and academic
  • Development
  • Social and emotional

Language and Education

An 8-year-old child, typically in third grade, will continue to develop more complex language skills.

  • Their focus and attention span improve.
  • They will improve pronunciation and learn to follow more commands in a row than they could at age 7.
  • Reading skills become more sophisticated. Kids are reading more for content than to learn how to do it.
  • Around this age, they see that some words have more than one meaning. That helps them understand jokes and puns and start verbally expressing a sense of humor.
  • Children in early school years can show fast growth in mental ability.

By now, children:

  • Can count backwards
  • Know the date
  • Know days of the week and months, in order
  • Like to collect things
  • Like reading more
  • Understand fractions

Parents should meet with school administrators and teachers. Participate in homework assignments. If you think your 8 year old is falling behind, stay calm but be on the lookout for:

  • Difficulty reading or learning
  • Something that’s bugging your child, like bullying
  • A mental health issue or stress

Development

  • Most 8-year-old children can completely dress and groom themselves
  • They’re getting more coordinated physically -- jumping, skipping, chasing
  • Baby teeth will still be falling out to make room for permanent teeth that are coming in
  • Kids in this age group generally grow about 2.5 inches and 4 to 7 pounds a year
  • Children in early school years complain more about tummy aches, leg pains and such. That might be because they’re becoming more aware of their bodies. Still, parents should check these complaints out to make sure there’s no injury or illness.

Continued

Resist the urge to compare your child to others or to some “standard” you’ve heard about.

Your doctor should have a growth chart for each child. She will use that to decide if there might be a growth issue. If you’re concerned about early puberty, which can sometimes start around age 8, talk to your doctor to see if it has started and, if so, how to approach it.

Avoid making your kid eat more to reach what’s considered a “standard” weight.

Social and Emotional

  • Peer acceptance becomes more important to your child than in the early school years.
  • He is learning to cooperate and share.
  • Around age 8, children start to relax about the opposite sex. Boys and girls might mix more easily during playtime. They might become interested in boy-girl stuff without wanting to talk about it.
  • He likes games and competition.
  • Organized clubs can be attractive to him.
  • Lying, cheating, and stealing are to be expected somewhat in early school years. Kids are figuring out where they fit and what’s acceptable.

Safety

  • Injuries are the biggest threat to your child’s safety in the early school years.
  • By age 8, kids have become more independent and maybe disobedient, trying new things. Remember to keep him safe in cars and around water, even if he knows how to swim.
  • Make sure he wears a helmet whenever he’s riding bikes, scooters, or skateboards. And remember, he’s not old enough yet to ride alone as it starts to get dark outside.

More Ways Parents Can Help

  • Set time limits on video games, computer use, and TV. Keep screens out of kids’ bedrooms. Also, make sure screen time doesn’t cut into physical play, enough sleep, and family communication time.
  • Keep reading to your 8-year-old, and encourage him or her read to you.
  • Consider parental controls on computers and TV. That way they’re not seeing content they’re not ready for.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about tough topics like peer pressure, violence, drug use, and sexuality. Find age-appropriate ways to answer questions without adding to confusion or fear.
  • Support your child’s self-esteem, and encourage them to have fun and express themselves.
  • Consider swimming lessons and fire safety training.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on April 07, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus: “School-age children development.”

KidsHealth: “Growth and Your 6- to 12-Year-Old,” “What’s Funny to a School-Age Child?”

CDC: “Middle Childhood (6-8 years of age).”

Stanford Children’s Health: The Growing Child: School-Age (6 to 12 Years).

Mayo Clinic: Children’s Health.

Healthy Children: “Precocious Puberty: When Puberty Starts Early,” “Safety for Your Child: 8 Years.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use.”

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