“You don’t have to read to me anymore, Mom.” That’s what my daughter told me when she was 8 years old. Since she’s my firstborn and has always been independent, I agreed. Not a good move. Even though it’s pretty typical for an 8-year-old to want more independence, studies show it’s best to keep reading to your kids for at least 10 minutes a day all the way through fifth grade.
Knowing what kind of independence to give your 8-year-old can be confusing. Here’s how to figure it out—and our entire list of 8 things moms of 8-year-olds should do.
1. Assess their strengths and challenges.
It’s important to intervene now in any areas where your child is struggling so you can help him or her get on track. Same goes for areas in which an 8-year-old excels. Now’s a great time to explore developing those further. This “Strengths & Struggles” printable will help you zero in on areas in which children might need more guidance from you. Of course, encourage your children in all areas by letting them know you believe in their ability to succeed and make good choices.
Encourage your children in all areas by letting them know you believe in their ability to succeed and make good choices.
2. Give them a chance to shine.
An 8-year-old is developing a stronger sense of self, so it’s important that you choose your words carefully in order to build your child up and not accidentally tear him or her down. What does your 8-year-old love to do? What is he or she good at? Be on the lookout for talents and interests and give your child a chance to express those. Be careful not to pick on your child at this stage. Even if you’re just joking, be careful about teasing your child about interests.
Your 8-year-old needs nine to 11 hours of sleep a night to attain full health. And 8-year-olds also need your attention at bedtime. At the end of the day, we are spent and ready just to sit and relax, but having a bedtime routine that closes your child’s day with a loving connection is worth the effort. Even if your children are self-sufficient, make time to connect at bedtime. Tuck them in with a kiss, pray with them, and be available to listen if they want to talk.
4. Check their eyes and ears.
Now is the time to catch any vision or hearing deficiencies so they can be corrected successfully. Be sure to have their eyes and ears checked to correct any problems that could hinder them academically.
5. Teach them an emotional language.
By age 8, it’s important that your children can identify their feelings with words so they don’t have to resort to physical actions to express themselves. Teach him words for his feelings. When she’s angry, help her figure out if that anger is being caused by frustration, disappointment, or another emotion like embarrassment or fear. This “Feel Wheel” printable might seem a little young for an 8-year-old, but it’s a good place to start if your child is behind on expressing him or herself verbally. It has basic emotions you can build on as you teach your children to attune to their feelings.
6. Give them more independence.
If you want to have a responsible teenager, start developing independence in your 8-year-old now. Let him make his own breakfast, let her have regular chores, and let them make more choices on their own. This list of ways to make tweens more independent will give you an idea of what you’re shooting for.
7. Give them screen time structure.
If you want to protect your 8-year-old from growing up too fast, watch what he or she watches. Monitor Netflix, YouTube, and any other screen time use. Have a talk with your child and decide how much screen time he or she should have every day. The world of an 8-year-old should include more hours of playing without screens. And now is the time to talk to your child about pornography. Your message should be, “Sadly, there are people who put inappropriate things on the Internet. If you come across something like this accidentally, it’s not your fault. Just walk away and get me. You won’t be in trouble.” Then, later, go on to talk about the dangers of going down the pornography path.
8. Show them lots of love.
Hug your 8-year-old. Kiss your 8-year-old. Tell your 8-year-old you love him or her. Watch out for the things moms should never say to their children. Love your child by having a home filled with love. This will lay a strong foundation that will see you through the teen years when your child will need your loving support.
What other things should moms do for their 8-year-olds?