Understanding normal 5-year-old development and behavior will help you know the best way to parent your child. As parents, we know that a child's birthday comes with plenty of hoopla. With each turn of the calendar there's a new guest list, a new theme and a new 'must have' toy. When they're young, another birthday also means a number of significant accomplishments.
Our 5-year-olds are enjoying a magical time in their young lives, and with all of that magic comes all sorts of changes and some unique challenges for parents.
It may be sobering to see your 5-year-old has grown from a toddler into a little person. At this age, children show us a glimpse of the adult they will one day become. While there are a number of factors that contribute to a child's development, there are some universal milestones that come with a child's fifth year.
5-year-old developmental milestones
Social skills for 5-year-olds
- knows right from wrong
- doesn't use adult logic
- plays make-believe
- likes to play with friends rather than alone
- plays with both boys and girls but prefers the same sex
- seeks praise from adults and peers
- wants to conform and may tease those who don't
Motor skills for 5-year-olds
- walks on a balance beam
- runs in an adult manner
- can jump rope and possibly skate
- bounces and catches a small- to medium-sized ball
- stands on one foot for 10 seconds without swaying
- jumps over string 10 inches off the ground using two-footed takeoff and landing
- completes three sit-ups
- kicks ball so it travels 10 feet in the air
- can lace his shoes but not tie them
- grasps a pencil in an adult manner
- cuts and pastes basic shapes, colors within lines
Language skills for 5-year-olds
- speaks fluently and uses correct pronouns and plurals
- uses the right tense most of the time
- understands opposites
- seeks out new words and knowledge
Parenting survival tips
Every parent can use some tips when it comes to raising a 5-year-old. Dr. Robyn McKay, a therapist at Arizona State University and expert in child and adolescent development, offers the following nuggets of wisdom:
- Encourage your child's curiosity (tiresome and frustrating sometimes). Ask him, "What do you think?" You'll be amazed at his creative responses!
- Keep challenging your own mind. One of the best predictors of a child's future success is his or her parents' own educational level. When you keep learning, you grow, and your child most certainly benefits. For example, learn a second language along with your child, take a creative writing class, or finish your master's degree.
- Focus on what's right with your child. Does she belt out songs from the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack? Is he already a math whiz? Celebrate your child's strengths and encourage him or her to continue focusing on what's right. The world is full of critics. Be your child's biggest fan.
Up next: More about your 5-year-old's development >>