At 8 years old, children generally begin to become more independent, more talkative and fluent with language and better able to solve complex problems. Children also gain more experience in the world near this age, as they are in school full time and might participate in extracurricular activities. Greater independence can lead to some conflicts and behavior issues, and having clear rules helps parents encourage positive behavior in their children.
Create clear boundaries for your child. For example, set up a "no dessert until after dinner" rule or a "no video games until homework is finished" rule, and be strict about enforcing it. Grade-school-age children need to know what the limits are.
Recognize signs of good behavior when you see it. Give your child a star on a chart when he sets the table or helps his younger sibling put on his shoes, for example. Offer verbal praise if he figures out a difficult homework question on his own or folds a pile of napkins neatly.
Make time for your child daily. Set up a regular routine, such as having dinner together each evening, reading a book together before bed or having a 15-minute chat together at the end of the day. Ask your child about her day at school, her activities and anything else of note. Pay attention to her to avoid making her act in a negative way to get your attention.
Discipline your child as needed, but have the punishment fit the crime and be a logical result of the negative behavior. For example, if your child is fighting with his sibling over the television, don't let either watch television for the day. Have your child sit in timeout for eight minutes if he is having a tantrum or meltdown.
Participate in activities with your child that let you model positive behavior. For example, you can sign up to volunteer at a soup kitchen together so your child learns the benefits and importance of helping those in need. Encourage her to explore her interests by having her sign up for sports teams or other activities.
- If you say you will discipline your 8-year-old, follow through on your promise. Threatening punishment without actually doing it makes you less effective as a parent.
- Avoid using violence, such as spanking, to punish your child. Spanking and other forms of violence suggest to children that it's OK to hit or hurt others, according to the HealthyChildren.org.
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