Got an 8-year-old? Your child’s becoming increasingly independent in many areas of life—which also means a little more independence for you.
Around this age, your not-so-little one is probably starting to develop their own unique interests, whether they're obsessed with horses or football. It’s a fun time!
We’ve spoken to experts for some of the highlights, challenges and opportunities that come with parenting an 8-year old.
By the time your little one turns 8, they've probably reached the following developmental milestones:
Demonstrates a growing vocabulary
Capable of reading on their own
Strong enough fine motor skills to tie their own shoes and get themselves dressed in the morning (hurray!)
Able to help with simple chores like putting dishes in the dishwasher and folding and putting away laundry
“They’re probably drawing pictures with more details, and coordinating scissors enough to cut out things with multiple curves,” says occupational therapist Keri Ann Wilmot. “They’ve mastered the skills to do basic things and now tend to start paying attention to details for precision and creativity.”
By age 8, your kid is decidedly in the “sweet spot” of childhood: that precious pause between the intense first years of child-rearing and the teen years. Enjoy this time of increasing autonomy. They sure will.
Harness your child’s emerging independence as an opportunity to convey key money lessons. Erica Sandberg, consumer finance expert and author of Expecting Money, says, “When you’re at a café or a store, hand your kid some cash and let them pay.”
This is an easy way for your child to become familiar with financial transactions. “Have them count the change. This helps kids feel empowered, and these transactions are part of everybody’s life,” she says.
At 8, children often begin to exhibit unique interests and talents, whether it’s hip-hop dance, guitar or robotics. Another way to start teaching your child about budgeting, comparison shopping and cost-benefit trade-offs is to open up about the costs of their favorite activity—such as sports equipment or other gear.
Approach this matter-of-factly, and be sure not to turn it into a guilt session. “Even if you can afford their equipment, it’s a good lesson about frugality to shop secondhand,” suggests Sandberg.
In addition to saving money, taking this approach teaches your kids about delayed gratification. “It teaches your kids how to be smart about money. You’re teaching them the power of the pause,” she notes.
Check out Craigslist, used sporting equipment stores like Play It Again Sports and Freecycle, or see if your community has a group for families looking to sell, swap or give away gently used sports gear.
Even with their budding interests, 8-year-olds are still decidedly children who need adequate play and downtime, Wilmot reminds. Overscheduling is rampant these days, so make sure to carve out time for play and relaxation into your family’s schedule.
Some families carve out particular evenings or weekend days to simply be together, play games and catch up on housework. To help your kid—and you—unwind, consider anything from family yoga to a meditation app or a dance party.
Do you dread taking your 8-year-old shopping because of the inevitable whining for more toys? Sandberg suggests a solid solution: “My mom would tell us that we’re going to the shoe store and she was buying each of us a pair of shoes—and that was all.”
By setting the expectation ahead of time, you and your child have an established boundary to fall back on. This also models the positive behavior of planning out purchases and avoiding impulse shopping (and spares your wallet, too).
As the parent of an 8-year-old, the idea that you only have about a decade to save for college can be panic-inducing. Especially if you feel like your own financial house isn’t in order.
“Take care of your own nest first,” urges Sandberg. If you have credit card or other consumer debt, focus on paying that down before you start building a college nest egg for your child. You might also think about consolidating your credit card debts to make repayment simpler and, ideally, gets you a lower interest rate. “Debt erodes your ability to give to your child,” she says.
If your financial situation isn’t ideal but saving for college is important to you, start taking steps to improve your finances. With about ten years to go, you still have time to save, but now’s the time to get going. Consider meeting with a financial advisor to craft a plan to pay down debt, decide on a college savings goal and free up money for your child’s future.
If you haven’t recently reviewed your last will and testament, take a look and see if it needs any revisions.
Specifically, you may be due for an update if you’ve experienced any major life changes since creating your will. This could include adding another child to your family, changing your mind about your child’s guardian or shifting your marital status.
Haven’t made a will yet? You can create one with Fabric’s free online will kit.
Same goes for your life insurance policy, if you haven’t looked at it in a while. You might want to change the beneficiary you’ve chosen if something in your life has changed. You might also want to update your coverage amount if your family’s needs have changed.
If you don’t have life insurance, Fabric can help with that, too. You can apply for term life insurance online in about 10 minutes.
Even if you loathe your job, Sandberg suggests putting a positive spin on it so your kids learn to see working for a paycheck as a natural part of life. “Instead of saying that work sucks, you could say, ‘I’m off to work because it’s important for me to be able to pay the bills,’” she says. “Speaking about work in a positive way is one of the easiest ways to teach your kids about money.”
Of course, if your job is truly making you miserable, it’s OK to be open with your child and let them know you’re looking into other options.
If you love your gig, let your child know that, too. In fact, this is the ideal age to get involved with the National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, recommended for kids ages 8 to 18. The program was designed to break down gender limitations, expose children to the working world, and spark conversations about work between kids and parents.
When it comes down to it, 8 is pretty darned great. You’re no longer changing diapers but your kid might still be willing to hold your hand at the grocery store. We can attest from experience: Life doesn’t get much better than that.
What new developments will next year hold for you? 9 things to know about 9-year-olds. Or check out what you should know about your kid's development at every age.
Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.
Fabric by Gerber Life exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.
Information provided is general and educational in nature and is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, financial, legal, or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. We make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use, and disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, the information.
Fabric by Gerber Life offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want an easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.
I created the Mental Health and Wealth Challenge to engage in self-care that was meaningful, simple, and free — and only takes 13 minutes a day.
Working vs. being a stay-at-home parent is a major decision. We’ve created a framework to provide financial clarity about your best options.
We asked experts for ways to savor even the mundane time with family—whether or not we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
I’m a finance writer and I didn’t have a will. Here’s how I conquered common myths and made mine in under 30 minutes.
A new year is a fresh slate and a great time to build security into your family’s finances with an affordable life insurance policy.
Term Life Insurance Policy Series ICC22 2205-4004 WSA and Accelerated Death Benefit Rider policy series ICC22 2205-2623 WSA (and state variations where applicable) issued by Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, Cincinnati, OH which operates in DC and all states except NY, and distributed by Gerber Life Agency, LLC using Fabric Technologies. Gerber Life Agency, LLC is an affiliate of Gerber Life Insurance Company (est. 1967). All are members of Western & Southern Financial Group (Western & Southern). Issuance of coverage for Term Life Insurance is subject to underwriting review and approval. Please see a copy of the policy for the full terms, conditions and exclusions. Product provisions, availability, definitions and benefits may vary by state. Payment of benefits under the life insurance policy is the obligation of, and is guaranteed by, the issuing company. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuer. Products are backed by the full financial strength of the issuing company.
All sample pricing is based on a 30-year old F in Excellent health for the coverage amount shown and a 10-year term policy, unless otherwise stated. Gerber Life Agency, LLC (GLA) is an insurance agency licensed to sell life insurance products. GLA will receive compensation from Western-Southern Life Assurance Company for such sales. The NAIC Company Code for Western-Southern Life Assurance Company is 92622.
Western-Southern Life Assurance Company's A+ Superior A.M. Best Rating: Superior ability to meet ongoing insurance obligations (second highest of 13 ratings; rating held since June 2009). Ratings are subject to change from time to time. The ratings shown here are correct as of 09/03/2022. For more information about a particular rating or rating agency, please visit the website of the relevant agency.
Plan like a parent. is a trademark of Fabric Technologies, Inc.
Gerber Life is a registered trademark. Used under license from Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. and Gerber Products Company.
In the State of California, Gerber Life Agency, LLC is known as and does business as Gerber Life Insurance Agency, LLC.