Middle Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Social/Emotional Development


(see full Glossary)

Children between the ages of 6 and 8 are learning how to recognize and control (to a certain extent) their emotions. They are also learning to recognize the emotions of others. Temper tantrums are less frequent as children learn how to communicate their wants and needs, as well as their dissatisfaction, with words rather than actions.


Most children at this age can:

  • have at least one best friend;
  • start to understand that others may have a different point of view;
  • enjoy taking on new activities and roles, but are still quite dependent on adults for guidance;
  • like to share toys and snacks with other children;
  • understand “privacy” (different cultures might view privacy differently);
  • ask for permission when they want to use an item that does not belong to them;
  • follow the rules, even if they do not like it;
  • are very affected by peer approval. They may do something they do not necessarily want to do, because of peer pressure;
  • share their thoughts and ideas with their peers, both inside and outside the classroom;
  • play simple card and board games (Fig. 1) with adults and peers;
  • enjoy cooperating with others and will play cooperative games where everybody’s role is important.
Board game
Figure 1. Board game


Most children at this age can:

  • understand and express their own emotions (For example: “I am happy,” “I am angry”);
  • tell how others are feeling (For example: “Lucy is sad because her toy got broken.”);
  • do many things on their own, but may need help from others ;
  • be quite self-conscious (For example, they may worry that everyone is watching and judging them.);
  • show off their work (Fig. 2) (unless not appropriate their culture to do so), and feel very proud of it;
  • exhibit some competitive and bossy behaviour;
  • receive positive feedback from others, and enjoy it;
  • have a fragile self-esteem, and may get overly upset if criticized.
Showing his work
Figure 2. Showing his work

Did you know?

  • It is very common for children aged 6 to 8 years to be afraid of the unknown such as death, failure or rejection.
  • Some children start to tell on others, in order to get adults’ attention.
  • Children at this age love to play board games. These make great gifts.
  • Children at this age are starting to be quite independent and it is important that you treat them accordingly. Make sure to give them responsibilities and chores to do at home.
  • They may not want to rest, even when they are very tired. It is important that you plan breaks for them.
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