5 - 6 years social and emotional development
The biggest event on your five-year old’s calendar, is starting school. By this age your child will have developed enough independence and understanding to enable her to cope with being away from her home and her family.
The family is still the centre of the world at this age. While she may be branching out and making new friends, all the important emotional and social interactions happen at home.
- School can come as a big shock to your child, and her desire to fit in and be a ‘good’ student may make her very tired and irritable at home. Try to be tolerant if she lets it all hang out every afternoon; this is her way of dealing with the stress of school.
- She is now capable of sharing and feeling empathy. She notices everything and will surprise you with the accuracy of her observations.
- There should be only very few tantrums at this age.
- She will have very strong ideas about fair play and will expect everyone to follow the same rules of a game.
- She will often ask to have a friend over to play with – this is because now she gets more enjoyment out of playing with others than on her own.
- You can now reason with your five-year old – which can, of course, brings its own challenges!
What can I do to encourage her social and emotional development?
- Offer all your support and encouragement, particularly when she begins school. She will notice what she can do and can't do in comparison with other children and, if it’s important to her, may want your help to improve her skills.
- You can boost your child’s confidence by concentrating on her special strengths.
- Give her some small tasks to do around the house, so that she can enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a job.
- Give her the space to be ‘little’ every now and then; it is hard work being ‘big’ all the time.
- Once she’s started school, make sure that you still spend some one-on-one time with her each day. She will miss your company and her new friendships won’t initially fill that gap.
- School-aged boys need to spend some time in the company of men, ideally their father or other close relative. At this age, boys need to communicate with male role-models to understand how they feel and how they articulate their emotions.
- At this age, your child will love making up plays and shows, so provide her with all the props she needs to encourage imaginative and expressive play.
- Take the time to talk with your child’s teacher to find out how she’s coping at school.
There may be a developmental problem if:
- Your child is wetting or soiling her pants during the day
- Your child doesn’t seem to be going forwards, or is resisting being a ‘big’ girl.
- Separation anxiety is still an issue for your child after the first few weeks of school. She is having difficulty learning at school.
Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your child's development. It’s always helpful to identify and address potential problems early – and chances are, there won’t be a problem at all.
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