Restlessness And Forgetfulness In The Eight To Ten Year Old

It is rather odd to me that so many mainstream parenting resources focus solely on the developmental stages and phases of the toddler and preschooler, and once a child becomes the age of children in the grades, no one seems to think these children are growing or changing in significant ways anymore!  Yet, parents of children between the ages of  7  to 14 will tell you this is a time of  incredibly rapid change.

To me, two of the hallmarks of development in the time between ages 8 to 10 involves restlessness and forgetfulness. 

It is literally so difficult for the 8 to 10 year old to settle down, to sit down, to focus at times.  It is unreasonable to think that a child in this age range will be able to sit and write and read all day long like an adult.   They are not adults, and they need a lot of movement and time to release energy.  Ways to do this include spending time in nature; neighborhood games; probably less organized sports than one thinks but more  family fun such as hiking, roller blading, roller skating, skiing, swimming, climbing; lots of breaks for movement during school; many chances for movement and DOING to permeate the subjects we are teaching in drawing, modeling, map making, painting, making models.

This is completely unpopular, but I believe strongly that media and screens for this age should be limited.  There are too many other things in life they need to experience with their hands and their restlessness is a sign of this need.

Another place this can be in conflict for homeschoolers is that  it can be very easy to want to really ramp up academics in this age range because the child seems so much more mature than earlier.  If one is not careful it is easy to lose sight that children of these ages are really in the heart of childhood and that rational thinking is not yet quite there.  Hang on, and keep including many concrete and doing ways of addressing your academic subjects.

Forgetfulness is something that very much annoys parents of children this age.  You can ask a child of this age to do something and they will forget within a moment or two. 

One of the ways we can work with this is through RHYTHM.  If the order of every morning is that we get up, we have breakfast, we get dressed and brush our hair and teeth and make our beds, then the child can follow that.  Do try to pick an order to things that works for your children.  For example, you may wish that everyone would get dressed and make their beds before breakfast but everyone wakes up starving, so craft a rhythm that takes that into account.

Chores are important, but you simply must figure out what you will do regarding the forgetfulness and dawdling around chores and what the consequences of this will be.   I have seen very individual approaches from family to family.

I think the last area surrounding forgetfulness that can be helpful is to think about bringing in habits – habits that will build character through practical life.  This takes time, and it is easy to want to work on everything at once.  Pick one area and really focus on that for forty days and see how it becomes ingrained in the child.  Sometimes for the child in this age range it can be something quite small, such as going back to making sure hands are washed before dinner, since acts of hygiene often slip around this age.  Maybe it is speaking politely; these are ages where many parents complain about the tone in which children speak.

To me, sometimes this age needs a bit of a carrot. Not a bribe at all, but more a bit of incentive.  Haven’t you ever had a really long and rough day and thought how you would try to persevere through it because you were getting to go out that night to something special, or you were going to eat something special for dinner, or you were going to call a special friend on the phone, and it made the day just a bit more bearable? To me, that is different than a bribe that is announced and “you must do this to earn this”.  It is just an incentive of something lovely that helps all days go just a little bit better and helps us keep on track.

I cannot tell you how often to try an incentive, or what that incentive even should be per say as I think that is so individual to each family and each situation, but it is just something to think about.

Just a few thoughts to ponder today!

Many blessings,
Carrie

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9 thoughts on “Restlessness And Forgetfulness In The Eight To Ten Year Old

  1. Great post Carrie. I have a DS 9 who fits this perfectly. Is there a book or other resources you would recommend for more information and insights? With gratitude, Sheila

    • Sheila, They are not Waldorf per se, but mesh nicely with Waldorf -The Gesell Institute Books, Your Eight Year Old, Your Nine Year Old, etc. Bates, Ames and Ilg are the authors. Also for the nine year change, “Encountering The Self”
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  2. Wonderful post! Carrie, I am in this phase of life with my children. I have 8 year old boy/girl twins. You just reiterated what I have been thinking about these past few months. I started looking at child development for the 8 to 10 year old.

    It really had not dawned on me that after the infant/toddler stages and preschooler stage I would have to work with these youngsters that are having all sorts of “growing pains” as my mom used to call it.

    I am seeing a lot of what you wrote about with the forgetfulness and always moving about. I am really trying hard not to push a lot of academics, but just the basics in small spurts throughout the day. We are trying to spend more time in nature, hiking, biking, and camping as a family.

  3. dear carrie, thank you for this thoughtful perspective! it is true that most parenting ideologies stop short after the toddler or preschool years, and that as the parent of an older child, i often feel lost when reflecting on her behavior. is this age appropriate (which is how i often frame her little sister’s behavior), is this a sign of distress in other walks of her life, is this a fluke; how do i address it?
    forgetfulness and a certain kind of flighty sloppiness have been driving me crazy with my 11-year-old. it’s been hard to put it in a wider context and it’s caused quite a bit of friction between us, and sadness as well, as we have been unable to bridge the gulf that her behavior – and my reaction – has opened up between us.
    i like your idea of the incentive (which is not really so different from a bribe, and don’t we adults ‘bribe’ ourselves all the time?) and the idea as well of braiding this into their own conceptions of timing work and pleasure. it is of a piece with delayed gratification; that there are things we want to do that we hold out for ourselves as carrots. when i’ve folded and put away all the laundry, i can go online and check my emails. i may not think this consciously, but that is sure how i do it: no turning on the computer until i finish the *** laundry!
    finally, i really appreciate the suggestion of working on one element for 40 days, instead of trying to do it all at once. i am going to give that one a whirl.
    thank you so much!
    karen

  4. We have a nine year-old, so this is very timely for us. The bit about forgetfulness particularly made me smile.
    I also read somewhere recently that self-discipline is a myth. That really when we talk about self-discipline, we are really talking about self-motivation and creating consistent habits. I think this concept ties in so well with what you have written here, Carrie.

  5. I have an 8-year old, he’ll be 9 this fall. I can really see he’s going through some changes now – especially this forgetfulness, which comes as a surprise to me, he’s always been very good at remembering things and appointments espcially. Be home by 6 – riiiiiight….. :)

    Another things I’ve noticed is that it seems like he is becoming more impatient? He actually had what I’ll label (sorry) a tantrum today, which is *completely* new and it took me by such surprise I didn’t really know what to do except let him breathe and take some time to calm down and then try talking to him (he thought his brother had gone into his room to get a book, which he hadn’t – grandma had got it and it ‘s a book they share anyways). Maybe it’s just a one-time thing but it made me think of this post and I thought maybe there’s a connection somehow.

    • Stella,
      Yes, I think little fits and tantrums are DEFINITELY part of this 9 year mark…and no mainstream parenting resources ever seem to talk about that too much. They are impatient and easily frustrated!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  6. Thank you for this post – I have a 7 year old and an 12 year old and I definately see these traits in them. I think that the restless and forgetfulness last longer than age 10 – I’m still finding it in my 12 year old. He has started high school this year and finds it so boring after his progressive primary school environment because he can’t do a lot of the things he did there to burn off his energy or use his creativity and imagination.

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