Emotions & Self-Awareness Helping Your Eight-Year-Old Develop Independence and Self-Confidence

From taking their first steps to learning how to read, children gain self-confidence as they master new skills. This gives them the courage to continue to explore and expand their abilities. Eight-year-olds can set goals and make a plan for mastering new academic and physical skills. As you encourage their interests and independence, you may also need to help them talk through their frustrations and fears. They may become discouraged when a new skill doesn’t come easily to them or when a classmate or sibling seems "better than me" at a task.

Encourage your child to be confident:

Zoom In

Kids may encounter intense feelings of self-doubt when they are overwhelmed by a task or situation. For example, instead of remembering that they already knows how to dribble when joining a basketball team, a child might take in the whole scene — the hoop, the other kids, the fast movement, the size of the court -- and become lost in self-doubt. Teach your child to "zoom in" on both strengths and challenges. Instead of looking through the wide-angle lens and assuming they can't do something, they can zoom in on what they can do and what they cannot yet do — and make a plan for improving specific skills. (For example: "I know how to dribble a ball, so that will help me play," "I don't know how to do a layup yet, but I can ask my coach for help with that.")

Cat Beanie

You can help build your elementary-aged child's self-confidence and early math skills by sewing this adorable cat beanie.

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Reframe Negative Self-Talk

Some children this age can sabotage themselves with negative self-talk. This often sounds like, "I can't _______," or "I'm bad at _______." Teach kids to reframe their thoughts by countering negative self-talk with self-talk that is both positive and realistic. For example, instead of saying, "I'm terrible at math," they can reframe the challenge as, "I'm working really hard to understand my math homework." That's more realistic and valuable than having them say, "I will get 100 percent on my next math quiz," because it focuses on their effort, not on an outcome. 

Definition of Cool

Brainstorming a list of talents and attributes can help your child build self-esteem and discover that being cool means feeling good about your actions and yourself.

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Never Do for a Child What a Child Can Do for Themselves

Identify what tasks your children are capable of handling and let them do them — such as getting themselves ready for school, keeping track of their belongings and tackling challenging academic tasks. Resist the urge to step in and make the process quicker. Instead, try to provide time for them to complete the tasks.

Help Your Child Manage Emotions with Arthur

Whether facing down a bully, worrying about a new teacher or being the very last person on earth to lose his baby teeth, Arthur and his friends manage to solve their crises with imagination, kindness and a lot of humor.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Eight-Year-Old

Explore our Age-by-Age Guide: