Your Blooming
5-Year-Old

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.

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What's happening physically?

Your child continues to grow, but this is a crucial time for gross and fine motor skill development. Dr. McKay says, "If you have not done so already, this is a great time to start training in dance, gymnastics, swimming and soccer — activities that encourage a child's awareness of her body, help improve focus and concentration, and engage her in collaborative relationships with other children."

What's happening neurologically?

"The brain is incredibly plastic, which means that children at this age love to memorize facts, song lyrics, and can readily learn new languages."

A 5-year-old's brain is almost the size of an adult's, but will continue to develop for the next 20 years. "The language centers of the brain are maturing and a child's speech is becoming increasingly like the adults around her," says McKay. This is also a perfect time to start teaching your child a new language or instrument.

"The brain is incredibly plastic, which means that children at this age love to memorize facts, song lyrics, and can readily learn new languages," says McKay. "Learning a second (or even third) language during early childhood improves processing speed and cognitive flexibility — two key aspects of intelligence and creativity."

What's happening socially and emotionally?

At 5, many kids are becoming aware of their individuality and learn the concept of self-confidence. While some are beginning to understand other people's moods and feelings, most are not too interested in relationships, as we understand them. "For those children who are sensitive and intuitive, this can be a difficult time," says McKay.

"Hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and even bullying and victimization can begin to shape social relationships. The good news is that many 5-year-olds are more interested in learning about dinosaurs, insects, and human anatomy than they are about navigating social relationships."

With a little patience, your child's fifth year can be an adventure... for both you and your little one.

What's up for next year? Read about your 6-year-old's development >>

More on child development

The benefits of developing early reading skills
How different styles of play encourage child development
Calming foods for hyperactive kids

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Comments on "Your 5-year-old: Development, behavior and parenting tips"

UberMom February 04, 2014 | 7:50 AM

I have to agree with Ella, Gracie that is deeply worrysome. One thing I have learned in my life is that kids do what they see, they are a presentation of the environment they live in, trust me I am still struggling with some things that I subconsiously am doing that my dad used to do, but when it comes to my little girl I would take the world down to make sure she is brought up right. However, basic things go a long way. make sure that the enviroment she's in is not abusive verbally, as kids pick up on that stuff like no one. TV is another thing, if she watches TV unattended, the slip in commercial that are not kids appropriate. However, I believe you need to talk to her more and make sure that it comes from heart, because kids feel everything...no matter what you tell them, they feel more than they listen to what you have to tell them. Good luck, but I would try spending more time with her, reading stories, playing...etc...that is what brings kids together making them feel safe, important, etc...I am not sure what to say, but again I will repeat, kids are pure presentation of the environment they live in. They will behave in the way that are surrounded by, not by what you tell them to do.

Ella January 30, 2014 | 3:12 PM

In response to "Gracie"'s comment- This is a DEEPLY and disturbing- very upsetting to read, especially due to the fact you are seeking advice on the internet versus IMMEDIATELY consulting a doctor or professional. As a pediatrician myself, I absolutely hate to jump to conclusions, but the behavior you have mentioned, as well as the things she is saying, are textbook signs of forms ual abuse or molestation. I do not know your situation personally, and as we know, 5 year olds can sometimes say odd things. But the fact she is asking to put fingers inside other people's vaginas (something very few five year olds even know about or comprehend) and using jargon, coupled with the behavior problems and being extremely critical of herself could very well indicate something is going on you are not aware of. You need to speak to a healthcare professional immediately, as well as get her into counseling. I would also call a meeting with the school IMMEDIATELY to address your concerns and figure out if something could be going on there. Statistically, children are most likely to be ually abused by a family member- and as upsetting as it is, often the mother will have no idea. You can obviously use the internet, so look up resources on how to speak to a child. As a mother, it is your job to keep a child safe. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE-instead of seeking advice on a website, get help immediately, as these formative years and experiences are what will mold your child's life and personality forever. Do not wait on this, do not blame yourself, DO NOT blame your child or berate her in any way (in these cases punishment will backfire- you need to make her feel safe and trusted so she can open up to you and openly speak with her about private areas being private, and no one can touch them but you, as well as ask if anyone has touched hers. The key is to make the convo seem very normal, not like anything is wrong, because that will scare her into not opening up), instead take action, for the sake of your innocent, precious daughter. This is not your fault, but please do not turn a blind eye these disturbing warning signs. :(

Mayra January 30, 2014 | 4:54 AM

I would recommend hugging and kissing your children and telling them you love them and how much they mean to you. Having moments alone and asking them how they feel and what they think. I do this with my son when I remember to, he's 5. His dad doesn't do this and he doesn't listen to his dad.

Janice January 19, 2014 | 12:16 PM

My son is five and he still defecates and sometimes urinates on himself, what should i do? help!!!!!

Jennifer January 05, 2014 | 8:51 PM

My 5 year old son feeds on chicken nuggets, fish fingers, cheese sandwiches, sometimes soup and cereal since he turned 3. I was hoping that he would grow out of it and still waiting for this to happen. The Dr says it is behavioural. Need helpppppp

cindy January 04, 2014 | 2:43 PM

@Gracie ... Your daughter needs to see a Dr. (therapist) something is happening with her she is not talking about ... the signs are there, do something about it.

savi November 26, 2013 | 7:27 AM

my 5yr old is so stubborn he just wont listen.At first I thought was it was because of my recent pregnancies but its been more than a year.Taking away his likes isn't helping.Any suggestions?

Amarjit August 27, 2013 | 7:18 PM

My son 5years old he do talk a lot but sum words not so fluent wat to do to make his word fluent.he doesn't express his fillings too!plz help me

Bharati August 24, 2013 | 3:07 AM

Hi Mary! Mine is also five year old and he also biting his nail all the time. Someone suggested me to put some spices on his finger which he not like n smell whole day . I m going to try this.

Pablo August 17, 2013 | 5:21 PM

My son is five going on thirty, he stills wears pul-ups at night and recently does number two on himself, he won't go to the bathroom, and when I ask him why he didn't go he doesn't answer me.

Gracie August 04, 2013 | 1:28 PM

My 5yr old daughter is a twin, her brother has his moments with his door slamming when can't have something but I can usually resolve his issues, but my daughter is a lot harder, you can't blackmail or bribe her she is rude, copies everything I say, and has a pre-occupation with her private parts. She will tap her own bits and say things like' do you want to put my fingers in your Mary', (which is what we call it) she says 'piss' a lot I have no idea where she gets it from but she is not the type of kid that conforms at school either and I know she is very stubborn. She won't do anything unless she can do it 100%. I feel that I spend all my time chastising her but taking toys off her and stopping her doing her hobbies but I don't think she even cares. On the other hand she can be so sweet, king and thoughtful. I have no idea where we are going wrong or what to do to make it better.....any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

Audrey June 28, 2013 | 7:45 AM

Hi my 5yr old son...is bigger then most 5 yr olds and by that I mean height..but he allows other kids to hurt him without speaking up...what can I do I keep telling him to stand up for himself...i won't always be there and its very concerning help!

Nadine Zerafa May 22, 2013 | 4:35 AM

My son is five and he keeps biting his hands. How do i stop him for doing that please?

lacey rae May 11, 2013 | 2:42 PM

My son is perfect!

Sarah Brooks April 27, 2013 | 12:52 AM

My 5 year old daughter is using words like poop and poopy a lot out in restaurants. It is driving me nuts and worse she is making her 7 year old sister laugh. It seems really immature to me. Is this appropriate for her age? Seems like something she would have gotten out of her system earlier in life. A lot of the time she seems to act like a 3 year old instead of a 5 year old. Throwing temper tantrums in McDonald's when she doesn't get what she wants...then they give it to her for free anyway! Ugh...what to do?

Nivi March 19, 2013 | 11:38 PM

My 41/2 yr son is start crying if anythings happened which he doesn't want. Whatever I say his answer is No. He doesn't show his emotion. How deal with him please suggest.

Jennifer W February 27, 2013 | 8:14 PM

Hi Yazmine. It sounds like you and your son are both having a hard time. I feel your pain! That much crying plus social anxiety seems unusual for a 5 year old. I would talk to your family doctor about what you're seeing. Good luck!

Yazmine February 25, 2013 | 6:22 PM

My son is 5 years old.he is extremely sensitive. He cries for everything and anything. He doesn't like to leave the house. Even when I force him to go to the park he will not play with other kids, he will roam around alone and smile at other kids having fun. At home, he cries and cries all day. I'm frustrated and my head is about to explode. Any suggestions? Please

mary February 14, 2013 | 12:00 AM

My son is five and byting his nails. How to stop that

Leigh January 10, 2013 | 5:30 PM

My 5 year old said she likes to hurt herself at school , I asked if she likes to do this at home she said no. She asked me to keep this a secret and not tell daddy or anybody else, I am a little worried she said she likes to fall down on purpose and then cry. Her class at school has 26 children junior and senior kindergarten mix. Could it be overwhelming for her

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