7–8 years old: Emotional development

7–8 years old: Emotional development

As children grow, they learn how to manage and express their emotions. Follow your child’s emotional development from age 7 to 8.

Emotional development allows children to understand, express, and manage their emotions as they grow. Children also develop the ability to recognize and interpret the emotions of others, which helps them build relationships with those around them.

Emotional development: 7–8years old

At this age:

  • Your child can distinguish between a variety of related emotions, such as disappointment and sadness, joy and pride, and anger and jealousy.
  • They use more complex strategies to cope with emotional situations, such as looking for solutions to solve a problem, making compromises to resolve a conflict, or walking away if they feel less in control.
  • They are able to understand an emotional situation by considering it from different angles. For example, if someone is sad, your child is able to use their observations or what they know about the person or situation to understand what’s happening.
Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • Your child understands that people can have different emotional responses to the same situation. For example, they know that while some children jump for joy when they see a dog, others might be afraid and back away.
  • They understand social norms and know how best to express their emotions based on the situation they’re in. They attempt to conform to social norms in order to gain acceptance from others.
  • They understand when the adults around them can’t respond to their requests immediately. They can wait more calmly and patiently than before.
  • They want to be loved and accepted and are increasingly aware of what others think of them.
  • They have a more realistic understanding of their abilities. Thanks to their developing self-esteem, they have better control over how they react to mistakes or failures.
  • Their understanding of the notion of good and bad continues to improve. They can explain why a word or action is or is not acceptable.

Little by little, your child is beginning to do the following:

  • Assume more responsibility for their actions and feel guilty when they know they are in the wrong.
  • Mask their emotions to fit situational expectations. For example, they can hide their disappointment when their grandmother gives them a present they don’t really like, so as not to hurt her feelings.
  • Become used to the idea that they can simultaneously feel contradictory emotions toward the same person, such as feeling angry with someone they love.
  • Affirm their identity through their values, beliefs, and personality.
  • Develop their moral compass as they become more engaged with the notions of justice and injustice.
  • Worry about life events, such as the death of a loved one, being rejected by their friends, or unforeseeable situations such as war, fire, accidents, and natural disasters.

How can you help your child progress?

Your child is unique and will develop at their own pace. They have strengths and weaknesses and are becoming increasingly self-aware. You can support your child’s emotional development with these simple everyday actions:

When you tell your child what you observe about their behaviour, such as: "You’ve been avoiding me and averting your gaze since you came home from school. Did something happen?”
they see that you care about their feelings. They also become more aware of body language and how it can be used to decode other people’s emotions.
When you ask your child to describe their strengths, talents, tastes, and interests,
they develop a good sense of self-awareness. They understand that their interests are important.
When you let your child do things at their own speed—for example, when rather than forcing them to confront something they fear too quickly, you encourage them to deal with it step by step—
they learn that they don’t have to go through difficult emotional situations alone.
When you support your child when they fail, or help them become aware of their mistakes,
they gain more control over their emotions and realize that it’s possible to overcome setbacks.
When you help your child find concrete ways to accomplish something they care about,
they feel loved, see that their goals matter, and learn to persevere to achieve an objective.
When you give your child responsibilities,
they gain autonomy and become more involved in family life.
When you suggest various scenarios for dealing with a situation your child is afraid of,
they feel understood. They learn to manage stressful situations by exploring what might happen and how they could react.
When you ask your child to find an activity on their own while waiting for you to become available,
they increase their tolerance for delays and develop their creativity.
When you plan a vacation or birthday party with your child,
they learn to express their ideas and preferences, anticipate events, and look forward to them!


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Chloé Gaumont, M.Sc., psychoeducator
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: January 2022


Photo: Élisa Moar



Please note that hyperlinks to other websites are not updated regularly, and some may have changed since publication. It is therefore possible that a link may not be found. If a link is no longer valid, use search engines to find the relevant information.

  • Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. “Emotional development in childhood.” 2011. child-encyclopedia.com
  • Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. “The self-conscious emotions.” 2011. child-encyclopedia.com
  • Ferland, Francine. Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien: de 0 à 6 ans. 2nd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 264 pp.
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  • “Nos émotions.” emotion.ca
  • Passeport Santé. “L’enfant de 5 ans : qu’est-ce qui change à cet âge?” 2017. www.passeportsante.net
  • Portail Enfance et Familles. “Étapes du développement.” www.portailenfance.ca
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  • Zeanah, Charles H., Jr., editor. Handbook of Infant Mental Health. 4th ed., Guilford Press, 2018, 678 pp.