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Developmental milestones: Your 6-year-old child

Knowing what to expect as your child grows can reassure you that your child is on track with his peers or alert you to potential concerns. Below are some milestones to watch for in your six-year-old.

By Joyce Destefanis, M.A. , Nancy Firchow, M.L.S.

In the early school years, you won't see dramatic changes in motor skills because this is a period of refinement, when coordination improves and fine motor skills are sharpened. But you will notice remarkable changes in social and thinking skills. Your child is now building on the base of skills developed during early childhood and moving toward greater independence, both intellectually and emotionally.

Here are some of the milestones you can expect of a 6-year-old:

Motor Development

  • may still be somewhat uncoordinated and gawky
  • able to learn to ride a bicycle
  • can move in time with music or a beat

Language & Thinking Development

  • moving toward abstract thinking
  • develops reasoning skills
  • shifts from learning through observation and experience to learning via language and logic
  • wants it all; has difficulty making choices

Social & Emotional Development

  • grows more independent, yet feels less secure
  • craves affection from parents and teachers
  • friendships are unstable; can be unkind to peers
  • needs to win and may change rules to suit herself
  • may be hurt by criticism, blame, or punishment
  • can be rigid, demanding, and unable to adapt
  • increasingly aware that others have may have different feelings

Tips for Parenting a 6-Year-Old

At 6, your child is curious, active, and becoming engrossed in school and new friendships.

  • Provide consistent structure at home to help your child adapt to the disciplined world of school.
  • Give lots of opportunity for physical activity to help develop skills.
  • Make a point of attending your child's school and sports events. It's important for her to show off her accomplishments.
  • Be patient with her selfishness; it will pass.
  • Be generous with praise.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

03/12/2012:
"very useful "
09/15/2011:
"whos the publisher? "
07/20/2011:
"Very useful information. This help me understand my 6yo what he his going through and how I could help him to cope with it. "
08/27/2009:
"I'd like to know if the above relates to both boys and girls. I'm not a parent but an uncle looking to find out how to relate to my nephew and niece. The authors only relate the experiences of girls in the examples and in the milestones highlights, there are a few specific instances mentioning the girls. What conclusion should I draw - that these particular milestones are specific to girls or that I can look for them in my nephew too? "
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