Five-year-olds are rather interesting to me. Many mothers lament from reading the Gesell Institute books that while the young five-year-old should be in this “golden period”, their child is decidedly not. A five-year-old closer to turning six may also be in a bit of disequilibrium as well. Five is an age that I feel deserves a closer look beyond the whole “this is a golden age” view……
Let’s take a look at typical characteristics of the young five year old, according again to our friends at The Gesell Institute:
- Typically enjoys life and looks on the sunny side.
- Wants to do everything “just right.”
- Mother is the center of the child’s world again- many five-year-olds would rather stay in the house with Mother than go out to play with friends.
- Typically loves his house, his street, his neighborhood.
- Does not especially want new and different.
- This is typically seen as one of those “golden ages” of childhood development where the child is in a state of harmony.
- If your child is a young five and not in a state of harmony, do not despair. I have found that for many children, the disequilibrium that seems to accompany four can take until a child is five and a quarter to really work out. I happily refer you to my posts regarding “Peaceful Life With a Four-Year-Old” and “Fantastic Four-Year-Old!”. They will help you sort out some things that may be helpful to your young five-year-old.
- The other thing to look at any time a child is behaving in such a way you do not love is to look to yourself and your home first. Are you feeling calm? What is going on in your life and in the life of your family? Start with centering yourself. Look at the post on this blog entitled “Peaceful Life With A Four-Year-Old” here http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/07/peaceful-life-with-a-four-year-old/ and the post before that written about the developmental characteristics of a four-year-old. The other place to look would be in the tag section and hit the tag called “Parenting Challenges” – a prime example of this type of post that may be helpful is this one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/13/smearing-peas/ and there are many,many others that may stimulate thoughts for your own personal situation.
Hang in there though, because equilibrium is coming! (At least for a little while!)
Five-and-a-half is a bit different, however. Here are some of the developmental characteristics as listed in the Gesell Institute’s “Your Five-Year-Old” regarding the five-and-a-half-year-old:
- Usually has a great readiness to go against what is asked or expected of him.
- Brash, combative.
- Can be hesitant, dawdling, indecisive or at the opposite extreme, demanding and explosive
- May be sick quite a bit – headaches, colds, stomachaches, earaches.
- May revert to toileting accidents.
- Lots of tensional outlets – these are the behaviors that parents dislike such as repeatedly biting nails, head banging, increased nose picking, fidgeting, increased masturbation.
- Difficulty grasping pencils, may lose visual orientation and reverse numbers or letters (Did I mention The Gesell Institute feels five is NOT a good age to teach reading or writing??)
- May have lots of nightmares.
Think about living with your five-year-old with these things in mind: Rhythm, Rules, and a sense of Reverence.
Rhythm – Your rhythm should carry your day. I cannot stress this enough. Unless you want to be arguing all day long with your small child, you need a rhythm where you normally do this and then do that. Think about how you want things done. If we always clean up after we play, then there is no arguing about it. If sometimes mommy cleans up, sometimes we clean up together, sometimes friends help clean up and sometimes they don’t, then we are in for some trouble. So, spend some time looking at your daily activities and what needs to happen before and after these activities to make life enjoyable for all.
Rules – Keep your rules simple – think of them as skills and behaviors that children that are trying to learn and master rather than these things where bad things happen when you cannot control your child. Think about phrasing them very simply, generally, and positively.
Reverence – Look for moments when you can instill in your child a sense of reverence for the beauty in every day; those moments where you stop and look at something outside, those moments where you can all sing together; those moments where you stop to pray or meditate or have a moment of silence before a meal. Think about the way you approach your own tasks – is it trying to get through the task as quickly as possible, or is it approaching the task that nourishes your family is undertaken with loving kindness?
Keep looking to yourself and your own habits. Review your own negative habits; do you nag, berate, command, dominate, yell, shame or punish your child when it might be helpful to find positive alternatives? Can you be calm and help your child physically follow through in a peaceful way with whatever you asked him or her to do?
Yours in Peace,