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Developmental milestones: Your 6-year-old child

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

"Snapshot" of a 6-Year-Old

Jenny's story illustrates the range of skills, interests, and abilities considered typical development for this age. Marilyn laughed and thought of her daughter, Jenny, as she finished the last lines of a poem by A. A. Milne:

    "But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.

So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever."


The imagination of a 6-year-old is amazing. Marilyn thought about Jenny's clever and creative thinking to explain the unexplainable. When a frog appeared in our backyard pond, we wondered how he got there. Jenny had no problem explaining it this way:

    The frog, desperate for water, asked Mr. Jack Rabbit, who is a really fast runner, "Please take me to a place with water."

Being a good friend, Mr. Jack Rabbit said, "Of course. Just jump on my back, and I'll take you to this nice pond."
So the frog jumped onto the rabbit's back, and the rabbit brought him to our pond.
"He really likes it here, and he'll be Jack Rabbit's friend forever," said Jenny.

Her father praised Jenny for her great story but said he didn't think it really happened that way. "You know animals can't talk," he said.

"Yes, they can! We may not be able to hear them, but they really can!" Jenny said. "Remember all the animals in the Just So Stories? They can talk. The Indians know they can talk."

Dad wanted Jenny to understand the difference between what's real and what's pretend without taking away the magic and mystery of childhood beliefs, so a long talk followed. Jenny knows that Santa Claus may not be able to come down the chimney, but she's positive he exists. And she very aggressively defends her ideas.


Like all six-year-olds, Jenny is dedicated to fairness and makes sure everyone follows the rules. Since she learned to read in first grade this year, she reads all the road signs and informs drivers about whether they're following the rules. The other day she told her dad that if he didn't obey the law to go 25 miles an hour, he probably would not be able to live at home. "People who don't obey the law are bad, and bad people can't live with good people." explained Jenny. "Not that you're bad, Daddy. But people might think you're bad if you don't obey the law." Jenny wanted him to follow the rules, but she didn't want to hurt his feelings. She's very sensitive about other people's feelings. She was probably a little nervous and fearful that something terrible might happen to her dad if he didn't obey the law. In relaying what she knows about rules, she sometimes gets information confused. Marilyn smiled and a warm feeling spread through her as she thought about her daughter. What a delight she is - always trying to understand and explain her world.

Comments from readers

"very useful "
"whos the publisher? "
"Very useful information. This help me understand my 6yo what he his going through and how I could help him to cope with it. "
"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? "