What Child Care Providers Can Expect in the Social and Emotional Development of 6 – 8 Year Olds

Girls sitting together

The early elementary years are an important time for social and emotional development. During the early school years, having friends, whether they are special friends or best friends, is very important. Children at this age level want to be able to fit in with their peers and may prefer to play with their own gender for awhile. This is also a time where children begin to show interest in the rules and whether or not something is done “right.” The following list includes some common social and emotional milestones in 6- to 8-year-olds.

Between the ages of 6 and 8, most children:

  • May be more self-conscious and self-critical than they were when they were younger
  • Tend to appreciate their own strengths and devalue things they’re not good at
  • Are better at understanding and regulating their own emotions
  • Prefer being with friends
  • Are choosy in picking their friends and may have specific best friends
  • Often prefer to play with same-sex friends
  • Place more importance on what their peers think of them than what adults think
  • Are better at seeing things from another child’s point of view but can still be self-centered sometimes
  • Learn from their peers as well as adults
  • Are concerned with doing things right
  • May compare themselves with others
  • May find criticism or failure difficult to handle
  • Are interested in rules and expect them to be followed exactly
  • See the world as black and white, right or wrong, wonderful or terrible, and have a hard time recognizing any middle ground
  • Are usually skilled at negotiation and compromise, especially with other children
  • Can learn skills to handle stress but still have trouble dealing with extreme stresses
  • Seek a sense of security in groups and clubs
  • May enjoy caring for and playing with younger children

For More Information

To learn more about the development of school-age children, and to find activities and materials that support their development, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles:

If you are looking for specific activities to use with school-age children, check out the Hands-on Activities for Child Care and Story-Stretching Ideas for Child Care searchable databases.