AGE FIVE: Often referred to as a “Golden Age” in development with five-and-a-Continuing on with our look at realistic expectations for the ages three through eight, we are up to age five. Age five and a half is a traditional time of developmental disequilibrium according to most childhood development texts.
REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FIVE-YEAR-OLD:
Five is the average age to be able to:
- Carry an open container without spilling
- Go to the toilet by themselves with no accidents
- Use a towel to dry themselves after a bath
- May be able to wash their own hair
- Able to get dressed with reminders
- May know left and right
- Can cut out pictures following outlines
- Will recognize missing or incongruous elements in pictures
- Can walk down stairs carrying an object (no railing)
- Can complete one sit-up and one push-up
- Can adjust behavior to fit rules and routines of different situations
- Can sacrifice immediate desires for a delayed reward
- Act in accordance to social rules
- Typically can control temper fairly well
- Can play and work without disrupting others
- Will comfort those in distress
- Can cooperative in simple group games
- Will protect other children and animals
- Will offer to help
- Will say “excuse me” when interrupting
- Can wait to be acknowledged before speaking
- Can answer telephone and carry on conversation
- Can wait until designated time to leave table
- Attends to task without supervision for 15 minutes
- Can sing whole songs
Five year olds are in general need of protection. Because they are so capable of doing many new things, it is easy to forget your five year old is only five. Do not treat a five year old like a fourteen year old. Five year olds do not need choices as to routine things; use your strong rhythm to carry things and keep balance in terms of how much you are home and when you are out. Sleep and eating are still really, really important.
AGE SIX: Here are some pointers for age six:
- Six-year-olds are DOERS. They are not deep thinkers. They do not need a lot of words. With something you need done, it helps to walk them physically through what you need with movement and imagination. Get the child moving before you speak, writes Nancy Blanning, a well-known Waldorf teacher.
- Remember, a six-year-old can also have direct words to help them – but very short, to the point and POSITIVE. Again, think of these “rules” as skills they are learning, not just something they must do or if they don’t do it they will fail and need to be punished. Change your framework.
- A six-year-old may be picky about what they asked to do, not wanting an activity that is “for babies”. Think about what you are asking your child to do before you ask them and how your child might respond.
- Go back to your rhythm. Six-year-olds need a strong rhythm. They need to know the home for things, that every thing does have a place, so they can put things away for themselves.
- Do not offer choices if there is really no choice. If it is time to leave or go to the bathroom, it is time to leave or go to the bathroom. Maybe the choice is they can hold your hand to leave or hop like a bunny to leave, but it is still time to leave.
- Use stories to help your child do things, and help your child physically along as you tell that story.
- Nancy Blanning also writes that from a Waldorf perspective, “Each adult responsibility you take care of for your child allows his or her energy to be available for growing. We do a child a great service by pre-thinking and pre-planning how things will happen – by creating a “form”- which will support both the child and ourselves, so there is order and predictability.” My personal note to this is: This does not in any way mean the child shouldn’t have to do things for themselves or help the family or help around the house, but it does mean that you, as the parent, have thought through how, when and where the child will take over their own routine or chore or whatever they are being asked to do, and that you have shown them step-by-step how it needs to happen.
- Pick your battles. The minute you engage in a struggle with your child, your battle is lost. Help your child, and come up with ways both of you can win if it is possible. Use matter-of –fact phrases and say what you need, and wait.
- Think about warmth; how can you show your child warmth? This is important when you are in one of those stages where you just are not liking your child’s behavior most of the time. Try and find something you can say that they did that you actually did like, no matter how small. Find time for smiles, hugs, kisses, being present to play a game, walks in an unhurried manner and just be there. It will pay off in your relationship with your child!
- Give as few direct commands as possible; this goes back to picking your battles and letting your rhythm and order carry things. Think to yourself, if I ask them this, and they say, “NO!” do I have the time, the energy, the patience, to see this through at this moment and do I want to pick this as my focus today? If it is very important to guiding your child’s life and future development as an adult, then by all means, go ahead.
- A six-year-old will take things that are not theirs and will often not tell the whole truth. Help them. Ask them how something happened, not if they did that. Put away those things that are tempting to them to take. Remember that a six-year-old is restless, can be destructive, often can be at the height of sexual play and may need a bit more oversight than they did before if they are like that. This is a developmental phase that will not last forever, and as a parent, it is still your job to keep your child safe and your property safe as well!
- You may consider limiting time with friends, super long play dates and certainly the size and activities of a birthday party. Six-year-olds are aggressive with friends, belligerent, go wild quickly and have strong emotions that often ends up with the child in tears. Keep things easy, small and short.
- Do not carry around baggage about your child saying “I hate you!” at this age or acting as if you are the most unfair mother in the whole world. A six-year-old will do this, a six-year-old will take out things on their Mother, and it is not up to them to fill your cup. Do things outside of your child to fill your own cup. Be fair, be calm, hold the space and try to think compassionately even when they are not being nice. You are the adult.
- Do not get into verbal games – “You don’t love me, Mommy.” Give them a hug and a smile and move on. Likewise, you can listen to the drama of a six-year-old for so long, and then give them a hug and say.”I have heard you. I am going to do the dishes now, and I know how sad you are. I can listen more to you later. Come and have a snack.” Be calm and limit your words!If your six year old is rather angry and aggressive, do try this back post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/09/12/the-angry-aggressive-six-year-old/
Keep your ho-hum on, and keep your expectations realistic. Rhythm and having boundaries are really important.