Your 8-year-old now
Ghost stories. Spooky book series like Goosebumps. Movies filled with suspense and surprises. Between 8 and 12, many children gravitate to scary themes, even when just a year or two ago they were afraid of the shadows in a dark hallway. What's happening?
Developmentally, your child is beefing up her braveness by putting herself in scary (but not really) situations. Screaming provides some emotional release. She also loves the rush of excitement.
Kids often want to experience these creepy-spooky sensations together (witness the popularity of ghost tales at camp and mystery slumber-party flicks), so there's a peer pressure element as well.
There's little need to worry about age-appropriate hair-raisers. Some sensitive kids may still be vulnerable to nightmares from them, but those kids are also less likely to show an interest in scary stories in the first place. Most kids now know the difference between fantasy and reality. They may also have a rough understanding about special effects.
You do need to keep an eye on the appropriateness of the material, however. Graphic violence or gore designed for teens on up isn't suitable for 8-year-olds. Be wary in households with older teens whose books or movies might be secretly "borrowed."
Your life now
Lots of different things can make a mom cry: financial worries, snapping at a poky child (or disagreeing mate), or having her favorite piece of china smashed by an errant baseball. Good to know, then, that crying may actually be a stress release. And it's a sign that, though you may have eyes in the back of your head, you're only human.
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