Middle Childhood - Ages 8 to 10

Developmental Milestones

  • Spend increasing amount of time with peers
  • Form friendships with others in school and other activities
  • Begin to formulate identity independently of their role within the family
  • Choose to play or socialize in smaller groups (for Girls)
  • Gravitate toward socializing with larger groups (for Boys)
  • Evolve a moral standard that moves from seeking rewards and avoiding punishments to a more sophisticated understanding of what’s right and wrong and how their own behaviors affect others

What's on their Mind

  • Begin to compare their progress in appearance, school, and sports performance to others
  • Realize that rules can be altered if it is mutually agreed
  • Compose social groups (e.g., wonder who they will sit with at lunch)
  • Share secrets with friends
  • Resolve how to end a fight or disagreement with a peer using words

Building Child-Parent Relationships

  • Support child's emerging individuality
  • Set clearly defined limits that reinforce child's strengths
  • Spend significant time with child in activities; let them direct the play
  • Avoid comparing child's performance to that of others
  • Ask specific, open-ended questions about your child’s peers, activities in school, and life outside the home

Maximizing the Camp Experience

  • Share some aspects of the camp selection process (e.g., what kind of camp, how long to stay, whether to go with a friend or not)
  • Identify goals of camp with child and fit the camp to these goals (i.e., work together to find a camp that matches your child’s interests and abilities)
  • Allow child to assume responsibility for camp preparation (e.g., help to shop for necessities, help to pack, help to complete registration forms)
  • Consider a camp that offers special programs for a specific strength you have identified in your child (see above)
  • Reserve a family time for activities and conversation about the camp, about coping with homesickness, about keeping in touch through letter writing