What do 8 year olds struggle with?

Quick summary

Eight year olds face a variety of challenges and struggles. Some common struggles include:

  • Learning to read and write
  • Paying attention and staying focused
  • Managing emotions and behavior
  • Getting along with peers
  • Building self-confidence
  • Developing independence and responsibility

While every child develops at their own pace, these are some typical areas where 8 year olds may need extra support from parents and teachers. With patience, understanding, and the right strategies, these struggles can be overcome.

Learning to read and write

One of the biggest academic challenges for 8 year olds is developing stronger literacy skills. While most kids this age can read simple books and put sentences together, many struggle with more complex reading comprehension and writing skills.

Some common reading struggles include:

  • Decoding bigger words
  • Understanding figurative language
  • Drawing inferences from text
  • Recalling and summarizing key information

For writing, 8 year olds may have trouble with:

  • Spelling longer, irregular words correctly
  • Using proper grammar and punctuation
  • Organizing ideas logically in writing
  • Elaborating on ideas with rich details

To help improve reading skills, parents and teachers can:

  • Read aloud regularly with kids and discuss stories to build comprehension
  • Focus on phonetics and word patterns when teaching new vocabulary
  • Prompt kids to summarize sections of books in their own words
  • Ask questions that require making inferences from the text

For writing skills, useful strategies include:

  • Breaking writing into smaller steps like brainstorming, drafting, revising
  • Providing tools like graphic organizers to map out ideas
  • Teaching grammar rules explicitly and reinforcing them through practice
  • Encouraging creative writing through journaling or story prompts

With dedicated practice, encouragement, and scaffolded support, 8 year olds can make great strides in reading comprehension and writing skill development.

Staying focused and paying attention

Eight year olds are active and curious, so staying focused on schoolwork and paying attention for long periods can be challenging. Limited attention spans and difficulty concentrating are common at this age.

Some signs that attention issues may need addressing include:

  • Easily distracted by noises or other stimuli
  • Fidgeting frequently or trouble sitting still
  • Daydreaming or seeming lost in their own world
  • Forgetting directions or not completing tasks
  • Losing focus during direct instruction time

There are many techniques teachers and parents can use to help improve an 8 year old’s focus and attention:

  • Using fidget toys or exercise balls as seats to channel restless energy
  • Taking frequent movement breaks for stretching or games
  • Using timers to help kids stay on task for defined periods
  • Allowing short brain breaks between assignments or subjects
  • Seating distractible kids away from doors, windows or talkative peers
  • Giving one or two step directions and having kids repeat back
  • Providing checklists for multi-step tasks

It also helps to schedule focused learning activities when kids are most alert, and balance screen time with hands-on activities. Children with severe attention issues may need evaluation for ADD/ADHD. But implementing simple strategies tailored to an 8 year old’s needs can go a long way in strengthening focus.

Managing emotions and behavior

Eight is a pivotal age for developing self-regulation and learning to manage emotions and behavior appropriately. But many kids still struggle with:

  • Meltdowns when angry, upset or overly excited
  • Impulsiveness and difficulty thinking before acting
  • Trouble handling criticism, frustrations or disappointment
  • Overreacting in conflicts with peers or siblings
  • Displaying silliness or “class clown” behavior for attention

Parents and teachers can help equip kids with strategies for self-regulation:

  • Teaching them to recognize and name their own feelings
  • Validating big feelings but setting expectations for appropriate behavior
  • Role playing how to handle anger or disappointment calmly
  • Practicing self-soothing techniques like breathing exercises or counting
  • Using visual cues or checklists to help kids reflect before reacting
  • Allowing movement or fidget tools to ease tension
  • Rewarding positive behavior and ignoring minor misbehavior
  • Modeling apologizing and making amends after mistakes

It also helps when adults remain calm and consistent in enforcing rules. With time and guidance, kids can become more adept at managing their emotions and thinking through consequences of their actions.

Getting along with peers

Learning social skills and navigating friendships can be tricky for 8 year olds. Some common peer issues include:

  • Trouble sharing toys, space or compromise during play
  • Excluding kids from activities or forming cliques
  • Spreading rumors, gossiping or keeping secrets
  • Name-calling, teasing or engaging in bullying behavior
  • Tattling constantly about peers’ behavior

Teachers and parents can help by:

  • Role playing approaches for joining play, sharing, and dealing with peer conflicts
  • Highlighting examples of respect, kindness and inclusion
  • Enforcing anti-bullying policies and intervening in teasing or exclusion
  • Facilitating conversations to resolve social problems collaboratively
  • Monitoring peer interactions and relationships
  • Arranging play dates with positive role models
  • Teaching how to identify true friends and stand up to peer pressure

With guidance in perspective taking, empathy and problem solving, 8 year olds can learn the give-and-take that builds quality friendships.

Developing self-confidence

Eight is a critical time for developing self-confidence and belief in one’s abilities. But many kids struggle with:

  • Perfectionist tendencies and fear of failure/criticism
  • Lack of risk-taking in learning or social situations
  • Overcomparing themselves to peers
  • Undervaluing their skills and accomplishments
  • Needing constant reassurance and praise

Parents and teachers can nurture healthy self-confidence by:

  • Praising effort and strategies, not just achievement
  • Displaying their work proudly and tracking progress
  • Encouraging practice to build competence through experience
  • Exploring different learning styles and expressing creativity
  • Offering small leadership roles or responsibilities
  • Focusing comparisons on their own growth, not peers
  • Modeling self-acceptance, laugh at mistakes

Setting high but realistic expectations for kids, and fostering their unique interests also helps confidence grow. With the right affirmation, 8 year olds become more willing to take risks and recognize their skills.

Building independence and responsibility

Though still requiring significant support, 8 year olds are starting to crave more independence and seek ways to demonstrate responsibility. Difficulties include:

  • Needing constant reminders and supervision for self-care tasks
  • Struggling to keep track of schoolwork or organize belongings
  • Having poor follow-through on chores or duties
  • Looking to grown-ups to solve disputes or make minor decisions

Adults can nurture independence in age-appropriate ways by:

  • Using checklists and schedules to help kids remember daily tasks
  • Breaking big jobs into smaller steps kids can manage
  • Allowing choices on minor matters (like clothing or snacks)
  • Walking them through decision making instead of solving dilemmas
  • Praising any initiative and effort at responsibility
  • Transitioning to overseeing versus hands-on help with homework
  • Trusting them to follow rules out of sight (like playing outdoors)

It’s important to be patient and let kids make mistakes as they build skills. With steady encouragement of self-sufficiency, 8 year olds gain pride in being responsible.

The role of parents and teachers

While 8 year olds face many struggles, the elementary school years are an ideal time to master foundational skills and develop self-regulation, confidence and maturity. The role of caring adults is critical in guiding kids through challenges.

Here are key ways parents and teachers can support 8 year olds:

  • Provide instruction tailored to child’s skills and learning style
  • Establish structured daily routines and clear rules
  • Give positive reinforcement for effort and good behavior
  • Model and explicitly teach social-emotional skills
  • Listen to their concerns and validate their feelings
  • Allow opportunities for movement and hands-on learning
  • Keep communication open with each other
  • Evaluate need for special services if struggles persist

With family support and quality education, 8 year olds gain the tools needed to overcome difficulties and experience academic and personal success.


Being 8 comes with a wide range of challenges as kids navigate key developmental milestones. Common struggles include building literacy skills, focusing in class, managing emotions, getting along with peers, developing self-confidence, and gaining independence. These issues are all normal parts of growing up.

By understanding the root causes of these struggles, parents and teachers can provide the reassurance, guidance and support 8 year olds need to master new skills. With the right scaffolding from caring adults, struggles faced at 8 become manageable. Kids gain vital practice in coping when things feel hard, which serves them well as challenges arise throughout life.

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