If you are the parent of a newborn, you may think that the newborn stage is the hardest you’ll experience. There’s so little sleep, so many needs to be met, and the laundry pile only seems to grow. It can be a hard adjustment to figure out how this new precious bundle fits into your family life and routine.
But if you have older children, you know the saying “bigger children, bigger problems” is shockingly accurate. True, your children are more independent and you have time to do other things, but this blessing can actually be a challenge as you are less and less in control of your child’s decisions and behavior.
This begs the question: what is the hardest year to take care of a child?
According to a survey conducted by OnePoll and sponsored by Mixbook, the majority of parents agree that age eight is the hardest year to parent.
Why Is Age Eight the Hardest Year to Parent?
Eight may seem like an odd year to find challenging, but many childhood developments happen during the eighth year.
For instance, eight-year-olds consider themselves to be “big kids.” They’ve been in school for a few years, can handle their homework load independently because of their reading skills, and generally have a strong friend group and established interests.
At eight, children’s personalities are exploding. They begin to feel autonomous but still want your physical affection. Their attitudes are beginning to be influenced by their peers–for better or worse.
Not to mention, children are getting phones and social media accounts at younger and younger ages. These days, it’s not uncommon for eight-year-olds to have social media accounts or messaging apps. Unfortunately, phones and social media can drastically alter a child’s brain and can lead to premature anxiety and depression.
Additionally, children’s bodies begin to prep the hormones needed for puberty beginning at eight years old.
How to Parent a Challenging Age
Parenting struggles happen at every age. Just when your child has outgrown one thing, a new one pops up. This is just the nature of parenting! Here are a few tips to help you gain perspective during a parenting difficulty:
Listen Much, Talk Less
Above all else, you want to keep communication open with your child. This starts at a young age by lending a listening ear as much as possible. Oftentimes, children don’t want your advice, they just want someone to listen to them. So turn off the tech, make eye contact, and engage them in conversation!
Stay Calm and Compassionate
Your child will make plenty of mistakes in life–just as we all have. Learn to have a poker face when it comes to hearing about your child’s mishaps and social faux pas. Responding in a harsh, condescending, critical, or incredulous way is not only damaging to your relationship but also to your child’s personhood and self-esteem. Instead, a minimal response (emphasizing your listening) will help your child feel secure in sharing their mistakes and embarrassing moments.
Remember How it Feels to Be Their Age
Adults generally have a better perspective on life and what’s important than children do. But–remember how it feels to be their age! Take some time to reflect on your interests, fears, and joys were at your child’s present age. For instance, losing a toy may seem trivial to an adult, but remembering how it felt to lose your toy can give you compassion for your child.
Stick With a Structure
Children feel secure with a structure. While most older children are in a school with an established routine, you can continue this security by enrolling your child in after-school care at DAYCARE instead of having a child stay at home by themselves or with a babysitter.
If you’re looking to give your child a head start in school, contact Children’s Academy Childcare and Preschool today!