Episode 21: Ba Luvmour On Parenting 8-12 Year-Olds [The Amiel Show]

When you’re with 8-12 year-olds, ask yourself, ‘Am I building trust in this moment?’

–Ba Luvmour, headmaster of Summa Academy in Portland, OR   Tweet this quote

[Update: in July 2017, Ba’s school, Summa Academy, suddenly closed. It was a shock to our family and others.  The way Ba and the other administrators handled the ending fell short of what we wanted and expected given the closeness of our relationship the prior four years. It hurt. Still—and this is the main point I want to make—our family continues using the parenting practices we learned at Summa and continue to see positive results from them. There’s good stuff in here!]

Leadership is about your life as a human being. It encompasses all of you. That’s why I’ve chosen this week to focus the podcast on parenting.

In particular, parenting 8-12 year-olds.

This is a crucial stage in children’s lives, yet almost nobody talks about it with wisdom and rigor.

That’s why I reached out to Ba Luvmour. A pioneering educator and author, Ba is a man of big ideas and enormous practical experience. He talks a big game–and delivers. I know this because our older son is a student at Summa Academy, an independent school in Portland, Oregon for kids ages 4-14 where Ba serves as headmaster.



One big reason we chose Summa Academy is that it knows children’s interpersonal lives inside and out. To give a simple example, what do you do when your child refuses to do something you ask? According to Ba, it’s not helpful to answer that question in a vacuum. First, you ask: what stage of development is this child in the midst of–and what are the nourishments and toxins of this stage?In two years, our older son will turn 8.

So I asked Ba to give me a sneak preview of what to expect at this stage, which Ba calls FeelingBeing. What’s specific challenges do kids this age face socially and emotionally? What kind of relationship do they need with you to thrive? What mistakes do many parents make–and how can you avoid them?

Ba bring enormous enthusiasm, wisdom, and love to this interview. He offers specific tips for handling common situations–what I call conversational practices.

I promise that you will learn something new from this conversation. And I hope you’ll share it with friends.


  • 4:15 What a camping trip can do for an 8-12 year old’s social bonds and feelings of adventure
  • 14:00 How to help an 8-12 year old identify what they think is unfair and understand why
  • 20:00 What to say–and not say–about divorce to children at this age
  • 23:00 Why losing friendships at this age can produce grief and loneliness–and how to work with this
  • 27:00 Why it’s not helpful to tell a child, “Hey, it’s OK. You’ll make new friends.”
  • 33:00 The long term cost of using rewards and punishments
  • 42:00 Stop talking about winning and losing. Start asking kids to describe their experiences in detail
  • 46:45 How watching Star Wars can subvert a 5-year-old’s imagination

Listen to the Podcast

Tweet a Quote

When 8-12 year-olds change schools, they can feel grief. You have to talk with them about it.

—Ba Luvmour, headmaster of Summa Academy in Portland, OR Tweet this quote

Explore Additional Resources

  • Body Being 0-7 years
  • Feeling Being 8-12 years **focus of this interview
  • Ideal Being 13-18 years
  • Reasonable Being 18-23 years

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