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8-year-olds are in a very interesting phase of development, one that is fraught with a lot of behaviors that are not wrong but are difficult to deal with.

These include:

  • Black and white thinking
  • Obsession with rules
  • Focusing on reality rather than childish fantasies
  • A deep desire for interpersonal and group interactions

With the strategies below you can help them to develop their own unique personalities while guiding them to be well-behaved and disciplined. It’s easy to get frustrated, but try these tips to get your 8-year-olds acting in an age-appropriate and well-mannered fashion.

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Give them something productive to do

Chores are a great way to keep 8-year-olds focused and on track. When they know that they have responsibilities that must be performed on a regular basis, it can help them to avoid misbehavior. At around age 8 is when children can begin to get fidgety and bored and look to misbehavior rather than seeking more productive ways to behave. This can be easily combated by giving your students tasks and jobs that help them to redirect this energy. Anything from helping to pass out papers, keeping the various areas of the classroom tidy, to sharpening pencils, or running to the office is a good idea.

Help them to see why their behaviors may not be ideal

Students in this age group are still developing and they may slip back into toddler-like behavior from time to time. Speak with them about their misbehaviors and help them to realize why they are less than ideal. This can help them to become less self-involved and see how their actions affect others. When you discuss with them the reason for you not wanting them to behave in a certain way, perhaps because it is disruptive to the entire class, they will begin to see the classroom as something more than just an extension of themselves.

Create swift and consistent consequences for backtalk and sassing

This can be an extremely challenging behavior for both parents and teachers. When a child is sassing be sure to help them see their errors in a calm and straightforward manner. Yelling or otherwise escalating the situation will only make it worse. This behavior often develops around age 6 or 7 and can either dissipate or get worse.

If you have a student who has followed the latter path, it’s essential to help them to correct this behavior. This is the age when they will sass or backtalk and then all you need to do is give them a look and they will say “Yes, I know” and instill the consequence themselves. This is hopefully a phase that will be over during the early part of the year, for all of your students, as it can be especially frustrating to deal with!

Help them to stay focused

A reward/behavior chart can be a great tool in accomplishing this goal. When a child behaves properly and masters a challenging situation, say they make it through an entire lesson period without talking to their neighbor, they get a star on the reward chart. Make certain privileges attainable after a certain amount of stars.

You can also remove stars for bad behavior, but be sure to explain to the student why they are losing their star. Accumulating, and also losing, privileges and rewards can help students grasp the concept of behavior consequences in a tangible way.

Don’t over-schedule their day

Students at this age are going through a lot of changes and are just figuring out how to navigate a lot of new emotions. Be sure to build in a little bit of downtime every day. Passive activities such as reading aloud to the class are a great way to help them catch their breath and regroup during the day. You can also help them to utilize breathing techniques and meditation as calming mechanisms if these procedures are approved at your school.

8-year-olds are a fun group to teach, but they aren’t without their challenges! Teaching this age group can become a balancing act between discipline and giving them enough space to discover who they are. Stay consistent, patient, and above all try to stay calm, and you’re sure to have a successful year!