No child is the same, especially when it comes to developmental stages. Some children mature more quickly than others, especially in the area of social and emotional development. The following is a guide for parents to the social and emotional development of five- and six-year-olds.
Five and Six-year-olds:
- Tend to prefer playmates of the same sex
- Play well in groups, but may need some time to play alone
- Don't like criticism or failure. Children should compete against themselves, not other children
- Often tell on each other to get an adult's attention and to help understand the rules
- Can be helpful with small chores
- May enjoy 'taking care of' and playing with younger children
- Have a strong need for love and attention from parents and providers
- Are starting to develop a moral sense, such as understanding honesty
- 'Good' and 'bad' are what adults approve or disapprove of
- May become upset when their behavior or school work is criticized or ignored
- Are beginning to care about the feelings and needs of others
- Are beginning to develop a sense of humor and may enjoy nonsense rhymes, songs, and riddles.
Activities for five- and six-year-olds
- Encourage children to talk about their feelings while working on a project or playing together
- Plan games where children can play together. If necessary, change the rules so everyone gets a chance to win
- Encourage children to dramatize stories
- Give children things for make-believe and pretend play. Use clothes, small plastic cars, people, and animals.
Article written by Marilyn Lopes, Extension Specialist, Family Life Education, Cape Cod Extension, University of Massachusetts.
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. (1994). Social and emotional development of five- and six-year-olds. In M.Lopes (Ed.) CareGiver News (September, p.1). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension.