The Fabulous Five –Year -Old!

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  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:  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.
  • Restless
  • 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,


17 thoughts on “The Fabulous Five –Year -Old!

  1. Pingback: “Discipline For Preschoolers 3-5 Years”: “Discipline Without Distress” « The Parenting Passageway

  2. Pingback: Waldorf In The Home With The Five-Year-Old « The Parenting Passageway

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  4. Pingback: This Will Keep You Busy: Links By Age « The Parenting Passageway

  5. Hi Carrie,
    Do you have any suggestions as far as how to accomplish the rhythm you spoke of above? I am new to waldorf concepts.
    Thank you!

    • Becky, if you search “rhythm” on this blog, a million posts will come up. 🙂 . The book “Heaven On Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children” by Oppenheimer may also be helpful to you. Remember to only take what resonates with you!

      Many blessings,

  6. Thank you, Carrie. I really have enjoyed some of your posts. I am a Christian stay at home mom, and I would like to find out more about the waldorf way. I discovered this site because we have decided to homeschool my 5 year old. What is your opinion on that, with him being so young? I feel like we need to do SOMETHING but I also dont want to jump into a heavy duty curriculum that makes him want to hate school. I also have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, so I would like to include my 3 year old in some of our activities. Besides your wonderful blog, is the book you mentioned the best way to learn more? I’m having a hard time sifting through things on the internet. Thank you!

    • Becky,
      Waldorf Education does not do academics until first grade, when the child is six and a half or seven. But there are still certainly things to be done in the meantime! You can try this back post here: and here:

      I also ask, as a Christian, that you understand Rudolf Steiner, the creator of waldorf education, had a particular worldview of the child and Christ that may absolutely not resonate with you. I and many other Christians feel comfortable working with the curriculum of Waldorf and not delving into Steiner’s other works, and sort of looking at him the way you would study any other philosopher in school and bringing those elements we deem beautiful and worthy into our Christian homeschools. However, some Christians will not be comfortable with it in any shape or form. I have seen terrible and strident debates between Christians on forums over this, so I think you need to sort out how you feel.

      I hope that helps you get started. I think Waldorf Education is very healing and corresponds well to Piaget and Gesell in our times, and makes sense developmentally from those perspectives. Many of the elements are European, like form drawing and handwork in the curriculum, etc. and whilst Americans think these things originated in Waldorf Schools, they actually are done in many European schools.

      Many blessings,

  7. Yes, I kinda had the feeling that not everything was going to fit with our beliefs as a family. It is good to know that this blog is written from a Christian perspective. Your blog makes me feel comfortable and thats why I decided to post and follow you. I am drawn to the art and nature and simplicity of it all, along with the limited media exposure. I will check out the links you sent. I feel some serious pressure about schooling my son. He will be 5 at the end of August. All of his little friends from church have gone to preschool for 2 years and now they are on their way to kindergarten so I am kind of panicking because he doesnt understand why he cant go. (Not only is he different because of the fact that we are planning to homeschool, but also because he is too young and he couldnt go to a brick and mortar kindergarten because of the cut off date anyways). Your post about 5 year olds being super conscious of their ages rings so true for us. He is constantly being taunted because he is only 4 and also because he isnt going into kindergarten. It breaks my heart, you know how kids are. It seems rediculous how overly concerned I am but I just dont want to screw things up for him! In the end I know I am parenting how the Lord directs and my goal is holiness over his instant happiness, but outside influences act like I am some kind of delinquent mother who is not providing a “proper education”. Anyways, I draw inspiration from what you are doing and I will continue to tune in. Many blessings to you, my new friend! 🙂

    • Becky,
      Thank you. I appreciate your understanding of my perspective. Rockin Granola is another blog you may want to check out from a Christian, Waldorf-eclectic mama, and there are many Roman Catholic mothers also using Waldorf – Eva at Untrodden Paths comes to mind. I am drawn to Waldorf for many of the reasons I mentioned, I love art and movement and it makes sense to me to teach to these young ages and even early grades through story and biography.
      It is hard not to panic at this age of four and five when everyone is going off to school. 😦 You are doing a great job in letting development unfold and supporting what a small child needs, which is often hard to discern in today’s society…

      Many blessings, glad to have you here.

  8. I am sitting here cuddling my very out-of-sorts five and a half year old wanting to hug you for this post. Whenever I wonder about what my little ones are going through, I come here to look up your posts on their age. You always have some wisdom for what we are going through. Thank you, Carrie!

    • Emily,
      I so adore your blog… I love to see what you are doing with your sweet family..I am reading “Do Something Beautiful For God” right now, do you know that book? It made me think of you…
      Five and a half can be such a rough age for some children! I highly recommend the Gesell Institute book “Your Five Year Old” to you. There are also several Waldorf resources for dealing with the changes that occur between five and a half and seven as well.

      It takes a lot of energy on our part to be calm and steady for a five year old who is usually going through emotional ups and downs. Nourishing yourself is an important part of this time: physical nourishment in healthy food, exercise and sleep and the soul nourishment of prayer.
      Many blessings and much love

  9. How do i help my 5 1/2 year old stop biting his nails and putting his shoes on the rughtening the strap so tightly he gets red marks? Makes me feel worried he is nervous or is not cimfortable. He is such a gentle boy. Thanksxx

    • Emma,
      This sort of nervous behavior is really characteristic of five and a half and throughout early six…The five year old posts should assist you. In general, your son will need a good deal of outside time and heavy physical work – three to four hours a day is not too much. The posts regarding the changes that occur in development at six/seven may also be helpful to you, as well as the sensory posts have good information for all children, not just those dealing with sensory challenges.
      Many blessings,

  10. Pingback: Waldorf In The Home With The Five-Year-Old | Applesong

  11. Pingback: Gentle Discipline By Age–Part Three | The Parenting Passageway

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