Americans with kids say this is the most difficult age to parent

In the midst of COVID-19 and social distancing, parenting challenges have never been more apparent.

Forget the terrible twos and prepare for the hateful eights ‒ parents have named age 8 as the most difficult age to parent, according to new research.

Eight being the troublesome year likely comes as a surprise to many parents, especially since parents polled found age 6 to be easier than they expected.

Sadly, the easy-breezy sixth year makes for the scary sevens, as respondents reported that age 7 had the worst tantrums.

A quarter of parents admitted the time period between 6 and 8 years old held the most brutal meltdowns.

The new survey asked 2,000 parents of school-age children about the ups, downs and precious moments they cherish.

The study, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Mixbook, revealed children begin to display “big kid” independence at age 6, on average.

When it came to the biggest parenting milestones, the top events were found to be the first day of kindergarten (42 percent), when their child first walked somewhere alone (37 percent) and starting first grade (35 percent).

A quarter realized their little one was growing up when their child started to help care for a younger sibling.

Big and little moments like that can have a powerful emotional impact on parents. A third admitted they were proud when their child made a move toward independence.

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) felt broadsided and didn’t see the moment coming when they realized their child was maturing.

Still, for every step forward, there are other moments that leave parents cringing. The average age a child was most likely to embarrass their parents was 6 years old.

From acting like a dog and licking food out of a bowl at a restaurant to running through a fountain at the mall, kids have a knack for creating memorable scenes.

Among the most common embarrassing moments for parents were shouting inappropriate things in public (33 percent), undressing in public (28 percent) and accidentally taking something from a store without paying for it (27 percent).

“Although memorable, these frightful or embarrassing moments, combined with key milestones along the way, can often be forgotten as time goes on,” said Leslie Albertson, Director of Marketing at Mixbook. “Capturing these moments in time in a photo book or print allows you to relive them for years to come, likely with a laugh or tear. It’s an incredibly powerful way to maintain your memories.”

The reign of terror doesn’t last forever though, as the average parent reported seeing their child as a friend by the age of 19.

Parents tend to collect the most keepsakes when their child is about 6 years old and they’ll store up a plethora of items.

The average parent stores up 15 pictures, 12 homemade cards, 16 family photos and 12 videos of major life events.

Some parents even keep some highly personal things from their children like hair and baby teeth.

Of course, parents have to find creative ways of keeping their little mementos safe. Over half keep a photo book or album while 47 percent have a display on their wall.

Forty-six percent have invested in a wall print made of canvas or metal and three in 10 turn their keepsakes into ornaments.

“As parents, we’re constantly receiving kids’ artwork and crafts. It’s impossible to keep every single piece and you can’t help but feel a little guilty just tossing them and hurting their feelings,” Albertson added. “Turning all that artwork into more lasting keepsakes like prints or adding them into a photo book are great ways to maintain those little mementos without all the clutter or the guilt. And, not only will you enjoy them but so will your kids for years to come.”

Embarrassing moments

  1. Shouting something inappropriate: 33 percent
  2. Undressing in public: 28 percent
  3. Accidentally taking something without paying for it: 27 percent
  4. Getting lost in a store: 26 percent
  5. Having a tantrum: 26 percent
  6. Messy with food: 25 percent
  7. Hitting a sibling: 23percent
  8. Fighting with a sibling: 22 percent
  9. Asking embarrassing questions: 22 percent
  10. Knocking over a store display: 21 percent
  11. Refusing to leave or get out of the car: 20 percent
  12. Pointing out something on a stranger: 19 percent
  13. Spilling: 18 percent
  14. Running away: 16 percent
  15. Child mistaking someone else for their parent: 12 percent

Top growing up milestones

  1. Starting kindergarten: 42 percent
  2. Walking somewhere alone: 37 percent
  3. Starting first grade: 35 percent
  4. Starting preschool: 30 percent
  5. Taking care of younger siblings: 24 percent
  6. Dropped off at the mall/movies alone: 19 percent
  7. Getting ready for school w/o help: 18 percent
  8. First date: 11 percent

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