This age range is generally considered the time when a child starts to become an individual. Your child may establish and express strong preferences about clothing, toys, friends, and more. Self-esteem skyrockets during these years, meaning your child won’t pause to argue if they think you’re wrong! This newfound confidence supports curiosity and exploration, but it can also lead to undesirable behaviors like bragging, stubbornness, competitiveness, and even intimidating others. That being said, children of this age are more dependent on approval. They have a strong desire to succeed and make people proud. They’ll revel in praise and take criticism very personally.
In this age of arguments, it’s easy to get exhausted. Try to stay calm. Modeling impatience and anger will make your child think these are acceptable responses. Be polite, but firm and direct. Suggest postponing the discussion, or offer a small reward for completing tasks and chores without arguing. Establish house rules and shut down arguments by referring to and consistently enforcing these rules. Finally, choose your battles! Letting your child do something silly but harmless from time to time is unlikely to damage your authority.
Improved concentration and memory allows cognitive skills to bloom. Though time is still a difficult, abstract concept, this age sees children sometimes using more advanced labels such as ‘yesterday’, ’today’, and ‘tomorrow’.
Your child may still not be able to confidently think abstractly, so enhance their understanding of time by using specific examples that apply to their lives e.g. “You went to the dentist yesterday”, or “You’re going to the playground tomorrow”. Simple, easy-to-read calendars also help. Introduce your child to the concepts of past, present, and future. For example, discuss the past with them by learning about dinosaurs, or expose them to the future by discussing the weather forecast.
By this age, reading skills get stronger and writing skills develop. Children begin learning words by recognizing combinations of letters and words, as opposed to simple memorization or visual association. They have an expanding vocabulary, can better understand the rules of conversation, and can also use language for different purposes, such as persuasion or telling stories. Stories become clearer and more interesting as children start to utilize more descriptive words and grasp the subtleties of language e.g. homographs versus homonyms.