Routines and behaviour

8-12 year olds

You are entering an exciting and important stage of your parent – child relationship. You are now more than just a parent, you are a role model! Your child is learning how to respond to all the ups and downs of daily life, how to respond to upsets and disappointments, how to manage conflict, and how to build healthy relationships with others - all by watching how you do it!

Your child is developing their independence, but they still need routines and boundaries to help them feel safe and secure. You are still their safe base – their “go-to” person when they need support, comfort and guidance.

When children experience positive parenting they feel important, cared for, heard, respected, valued and loved. This strengthens their character, self-esteem, confidence and feelings of self-worth: priceless attributes to carry them through life. 

Young boy doing homework

What do we mean by Positive Parenting?

This approach helps to build healthier relationships between you and your children and promotes family co-operation. It helps you to be more sensitive, responsive and consistent in the way you interact with your child, and it makes your child happier, more optimistic and more motivated to choose positive behaviours. 

When setting routines and boundaries bear in mind that your child’s behaviour is communication. It is telling you something – though it is not always easy to understand what it is saying!  Let’s look at some behaviours that are common in our 8 – 12 year olds: 

  • 8 year olds – things tend to be good or bad, with nothing in between. Your child will often want you, as a parent, to think the way they do.  We may find ourselves drawn into arguments with our child.
  • 9 year olds – your child’s friends are becoming more important to them, they are influenced by what their friends say and do.  They may be starting to push against routines and boundaries that have worked in the past. There will be times when your child is loving and silly but also times when your child is argumentative and selfish. 
    Young girl being handed biscuits by her grandmother
  • 10-11 year olds – your child is likely to push against routines and boundaries and will try to explain their behaviour through excuses and justifications.
  • 12 year olds – Your child’s image and how they are perceived by friends and peers is very important to them.  Your child may dislike going on family outings or being seen with you as their parent.  You may also see your child’s sleep pattern changing and they are likely to be going to sleep later of a night time and wanting to sleep later in the mornings. The NHS Live Well site covers teenage sleep patterns and tiredness.

If you are concerned about your child’s behaviour you don’t have to cope alone, in the first instance speak to your child’s class teacher - are they seeing the same challenges?

Setting routines and boundaries help children to feel safe, cared for and important. Let’s have a look at some top tips to support:

  • Be patient with your child. 
  • Think about your child’s age and stage of development and any additional needs they might have. 
  • Be clear and fair about what is expected from them. 
  • Explain calmly and sensitively why, for example, bedtimes and limited screen time is important for their healthy development.
  • Be willing to give your child chances, this shows you believe in them. 
  • If they make a mistake, or bad choice (which we all do at some stage!) let them know that it is the action that you are unhappy with, not them.  Often your child at this age can be very hard on themselves when they make a mistake.
  • Help your child to name how they are feeling.
  • Children are more likely to follow routines and boundaries that they help create.
  • Set some Family Rules.  The following link from the Family Nurturing programme has a plan on how to support meeting as a family and involving everyone in setting the rules 

Top Tips on Building Positive Relationships with your Children:

  •  Hold in mind how important they are to you and you to them!
  • Remind yourself, and your child, of their strengths and qualities, let them know you believe in them.
  • Show your child you are interested in what they have to say, their words and feelings are important. Everything is important to your child at this age -If you don’t listen to the little things now – they won’t tell you the big things later. 
    Boys laughing together sitting on the floor
  • Role model the behaviour you want to see from your child.
  • Spend some regular one to one time with your child, even 20 minutes per day can make a big difference to children’s behaviour, they feel valued, important and special.
  •  When things don’t go according to plan, and boundaries are stretched, routines are resented and emotions are running high….remember this is normal….believe in your ability to be a good parent, and acknowledge that maybe things didn’t go too well today and start over, we are all just human.

Further resources

The Family Links parents download page has a range of useful information that can support your parenting.

Family Lives provides advice and support with video clips of parenting advice for a range of topics and age groups 

Triple P has an on-line parenting course that aims to help your child become a confident child who can deal with challenges.

The NHS also has guidance on what to do if you are worried about your child’s emotional and mental health. When to use CAMHS

The NSPCC has information about good boundaries around IT and internet use that can be hard to set

The Family Lives Parent Website has more information on positive behavior management