MENU

Developmental Characteristics of 8th Graders

Developmental Characteristics of 8th Graders

Every child’s development is unique. Although children develop through a generally predictable sequence of milestones, we cannot say exactly when a child will reach each and every stage. Every child has his or her own timetable. The characteristics below are offered only as a reference to give you a better understanding of your child. Feel free to contact your pediatrician and/or your child’s school if you have any questions.

The Thirteen -Year-Old

Physical Development

  • Wide differences in the rate of physical growth among individuals; girls 95% of mature height is average; boys - voice change; growth about a year behind girls
  • Skin problems emerging; hygiene a key issue
  • Eating patterns change
  • Uneven coordination
  • Worry about being normal, physically
  • Feel awkward about body
  • Most social/emotional/cognitive developments directly related to physical changes
  • Hormonal/physical demands of puberty may slow intellectual growth
  • Short term thinking may predominate over long term planning
  • Abstract reasoning and “formal operations” begin to be functional in some thirteen year olds

Social and Emotional Development

  • Concerned about physical attractiveness to others; the  mirror is their best friend and worst enemy
  • Struggle with sense of identity:
  • Increased distractions from doing homework: Sports, dress, telephone, computer, video games
  • Music becoming a major preoccupation
  • One word answers to adult questions (minimal feedback)
  • Feel unique, believing that no one has ever felt as they do,suffered so much, loved so deeply, or been so misunderstood
  • Peer relations/peer pressure (being “cool”):
  • Parent relationships:

Intellectual Development

  • Hormonal/physical demands of puberty may slow intellectual growth
  • Short term thinking may predominate over long term planning
  • Abstract reasoning and “formal operations” begin to be functional in some thirteen year olds
  • Not willing to take big learning risks (adolescent insecurity)
  • Like to challenge answers
  • Withdrawn and sensitive nature is protective of developing self-concept and intellectual ideas that are not fully formed yet
  • Tentative approach to difficult intellectual tasks; not willing to take big learning risks; this has usually caused the fears and self-consciousness of adolescence
  • Risk-taking behaviors spring from lack of cause-effect thinking; highest incidence of experimentation with drinking, drugs, smoking, etc. takes place between ages 12 and 16
  • Concerns with rules/fairness; idealistic

The Fourteen -Year-Old

Physical Development

  • High energy and need for physical exercise and snacking
  • Generally healthy; want to be able to participate with peers
  • Girls: full development is nearly complete
  • Boys:  growth spurt continues; upper body strength begins to develop in boys
  • Feel awkward about body
  • Worry about being normal

Social and Emotional Development

  • Concerned about physical attractiveness to others
  • Like to do as much as possible--cram as much into the day as they can
  • More of their own adult personality evident
  • Loud
  • Close friendships gain importance
  • Search for new people to love in addition to parents
  • Show-off qualities
  • Rules and limits are tested
  • Feel unique: No one else has ever felt as they do, suffered so much, loved so deeply, or been so misunderstood.
  • Focus on self, alternating between high expectations and poor self-concept
  • Often embarrassed to be seen with parents; critical of parental dress, habits, friends, ideas
  • Struggle with a sense of identity
  • Peer group influences interests and clothing styles
  • Striving for independence and autonomy is greatly increased
  • Complain that parents interfere with independence; rules and limits are tested
  • Resent criticism and put-downs even though they use them themselves

Intellectual Development

  • Developing formal operational thinking, but also thinks in concrete terms
  • Learn best when actively involved with ideas connected to their personal lives
  • Learn well in cooperative groups
  • Respond well to academic variety and change
  • Interested in technology and how things work
  • Easily “bored”
  • Idealistic, offering “ideal” solutions to complex problems
  • More consistent evidence of conscience
  • Often the greatest experimental, risk-taking time.  Drinking, drugs, smoking and sexual experimentation of the highest interest to those between 12 and 16 years.
  • Undeveloped understanding of cause and effect as well as feelings of omnipotence and invulnerability (“It can’thappen to me.”) may lead to the inability to link behaviors to negative consequences--drinking to auto accidents, etc.
  • Do not distinguish between what others are thinking and what they are thinking themselves;  assume every other person is as concerned with their behavior and appearance as they are
  • Want to try new things; but are often afraid because of fear and self-consciousness 
  • May question parents’ political beliefs, religious beliefs, and values
  • Have a longer attention span (up to 30 or 40 minutes) thanyounger children
  • Are better at planning than carrying out the plan

Reference: "GCISD - Curriculum Guides and Developmental Characteristics." 2002. Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. 7 Dec. 2007 .