My niece will be 8 in July and I'm curious if these behaviors are normal for her age group. She doesn't quite get personal space. Yesterday she wiped her sweat on a family friend (who is 14) and kept sticking her feet on her. They went to a birthday party at a pizza place with a big playarea (without my parents, my brother or I, whom are all caregivers) and the 14 year said she was running around acting like a horse and spitting. My worry is that other kids will find her weird and not want to be her friend. My cousin has girls that are 8, 10 and 14 and they have sleepovers but I worry that if she keeps up behaviors like this (I don't know how bad it is when she's with them) that they won't invite her over any longer and she'll feel more isolated. When I was growing up, I didn't act out like this and even still my cousins didn't want me around (I was rarely invited to sleep overs or outtings) and it effected me socially and I just don't want that to happen to my niece.
So my second question is, if it's not normal or something she'll outgrow before harm is done, do I point out the behaviors and potentially effect her self esteem or do I not point them out and find out later she gets bullied or harassed and it effect her self esteem anyways?
Some children do have trouble with impluse control and understanding boundaries around personal space is part of that. You are right it can affect social acceptance. It is often a maturity issue that they out grow but if allowed to continue without working on controlling this type of behavior that happen later rather than sooner. The longer the behavior goes on the more likely it can affect social acceptance. We have worked on this with our son since he was quite little. He had impluse control issues but has pretty much outgrown them. He is now 6 and he isn't anymore grabby than most other 6 year old boys.
I would suggest you talk with her parents about your observations and let them handle this.
We have issues with personal space, too. We are working on it with our 7 year old, especially. So yes, it is normal, but it is something that she probably needs help with to outgrow.
Since she is your niece, though, I would tread lightly. You mention that you are a caregiver, so you may have a bit more input. I might mention some of the things you have noticed to her parents. But, since you are not the parent, I would be careful.
Hi there. Well, for some kids, they do not naturally develop strong social skills and their parents and caregivers have to teach them to help them along.
She sounds a little immature for 8 but then again, as the mother of an 8 year old, they are still young and there is a wide range of 'normal' behavior. I do think though that you could help direct her with things like personal space.
As her aunt, it would be good to know if her mom feels as you do. That is the starting point. Have a heart to heart with mom with no judgement but just care and concern. And try to have some suggestions for her.
Here is an idea for personal space illustration. Get a hoola hoop and have her put it around herself. Then . . . try to get in with her. She'll laugh as it is obviously too close. so, she must picture that people have hoola hoops around them as their personal space. If she gets too close, it is like trying to get in their hoola hoop. People often call this a bubble as well. Bubbles touch but do not go further or they will pop. Another idea is robot arms. Stick arms out and walk like a robot. Then have her do the same and walk to her -- your arms will bump. We should always be robot arms apart from one another.
Another issue that she may have is reading facial cues. Putting feet on someone may be annoying to that person. How can she tell if they think it is funny or annoying? Help her with this by practicing facial expressions. You can play a game of making them and have her guess what emotion you are pretending to have.
These types of games will help her understand the dynamics of other people for the situation you describe.
As to what she plays, that is tough. Kids are at all levels of imaginative play at that age. I try to incorporate 'main stream' things like what I notice other kids my child's age are into while letting them do what ever comes to their own mind. So they can 'talk the talk' with their peers but still be a horse galloping across the yard. She's 8 and being goofy sometimes is part of that I think. As long as she can then fit in when she wants to as well because she is introduced to things and 'coached', she'll be fine. good luck
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