Tiny turned five this year and thus far, I am been basking in the glow of it! Five has been a beautiful age. This once baby of mine has suddenly blossomed into this PERSON! Still a child, obviously, but in some ways so much more mature in her thinking than she was just a few months ago. It practically happened over night.
Age 5 is often referred to as the “Golden Period.” I used to work with five-year-olds and in some ways I agree. But in a lot of ways I completely disagree. Five is also a season of overexuberance, chaos, and general quirkiness.
Being a life-long student of child development from all schools of thought, I have compiled a list of characteristics and behaviors that are common in five-year-olds. Yes, there are variances and some children are more/less mature than peers their age. In general, this is what being five is all about.
- Are typically optimistic about life and look on the bright side
- Develop perfectionist tendencies
- Swing between being hesitant and indecisive to being demanding and explosive
- Are less frustrated and fearful
- Push against boundaries; do the opposite of what is asked
- Develop “selective hearing”
- Seeks praise and reassurance
- Wants to conform and be like his/her friends
- Say exactly what is on their mind which can often come across as cruel or intentionally mean
- Have ample energy and a need to keep moving
- Extremely imaginative
- Often are restless and “bored”
- Develop a stronger sense of empathy and are often very generous
- Enjoy time with friends but also feel a strong pull towards their primary caregiver (which can look like separation anxiety all over again)
- Feel rooted to his/her home, neighborhood, and general surroundings
- Start to notice gender roles as defined by society
- Prefer routine and the expected and can easily become disgruntled over change
- Are very aware of who is older and younger and becomes fixated on friends being the same age as he/she is
- Are at the height of the nightmare cycle (which may continue until age 8)
- May develop what appears to be a voracious appetite
- Have fewer tantrums but the one he or she has will be massive and drawn out
- Begin to understand values
- Take notice of time and space but do not fully understand either
- Enjoy a lot of potty humor and are inquisitive about the human body and its functions
5 Ways Parents Can Support Their Five-Year-Old:
- Including your child and making him or her a contributing member of the family is important. Five-year-olds are trying to find their place in the family. The have a strong need to know their role and contribute to the family. So allow them to be a part of the family and not just a child along for the ride. Let them work!
- Keep your child MOVING! Five year olds need a lot of movement and physical activity in a safe yet unstructured environment. Lots of walks/runs in nature, bike rides, and the like. Organized sports are not necessarily the best idea at this age as the five-year-old pushes against boundaries and rules.
- Tell your child lots of stories especially about you when you were his/her age. Use stories to illustrate appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Use stories to share values and morals. Children at this age devour stories and learn and absorb the message at a deeper level than if you were to simply tell them the same thing.
- Continue to instill boundaries and reinforce their importance. Your child will push, push, push at this age. Once you open the door, your child will run through and it will be difficult to bring him/her back in!
- Afford your child the opportunity of a lot of hands on experiences in the home. Instead of telling, let your child learn by doing.
Do you have a five-year-old? Do these typical characteristics and behaviors ring true? Any advice for parents in this stage of life?