A 5-year-old child will experience an action-packed phase of development that affects his behavior and routines. Many children this age begin their entry into school by starting kindergarten, although some children may already be familiar with the concept and expectations of school from having attended preschool.
This expansion of their world and transition to spending more time outside the home will make the comfort of home routines more important than ever. Here is a general, overall picture of what a 5-year-old's routines and behavior might look like:
Five-year-olds may begin to really develop and assert their food preferences. Many kids who happily gobbled up vegetables as toddlers and preschoolers may suddenly decide that they only want pasta with butter and cheese -- for every meal, every day.
Children this age will increasingly be able to help with meal preparation or setting the table, and though they may not be able to sit through an entire meal, they may enjoy sitting at the table and chatting with family and friends at mealtime. This is a great age to teach a child good table manners.
Many kids stop taking naps around this age, so setting an early bedtime and good sleep habits will be an important part of a 5-year-old’s daily routine. Waking up during the night will also be less frequent at this age (one of the reasons why parents may want to avoid giving their kids anything to drink three hours before bed, to help prevent bedwetting).
Children between the ages of 5 and 10 generally need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep. That said, how much sleep a child needs will vary from one to another, which means that some children might thrive on 8 hours of sleep while others need the full 12 or more to feel alert the next day.
When it comes to sleep, the biggest challenge for school age children and their parents is the demands on a child’s time that will make early bedtime routines difficult to manage, especially in today’s 24-7 wired and fast-paced world. That’s it’s important to instill good sleep habits for kids at this age.
Behavior and Discipline
While there are as many different 5-year-old behavior problems as there are individual personalities and preferences among children, children this age are generally grappling with some major changes in their lives, which may play some role in their behavior.
For instance, many 5-year-olds are starting kindergarten, and having to adjust to a school setting for the first time. They may be experiencing separation anxiety or fears about interacting with other children and teachers. They may have trouble meeting new expectations such as quietly paying attention in class or cooperating with others.
Children this age may also be experimenting with pushing boundaries and limits, and may show defiance as they try to assert their independence. They may also feel frustration about not being able to do what they want to do because their motor skills are not as refined yet. These frustrations and anxieties can often lead to behavior problems such as defiance, back talk, dawdling, and more.
The good news is that parents can establish good communication habits with their child now to talk over problems and come up with solutions together with their child. Five-year-old children are much more verbal now than when they were younger, and are cognitively and emotionally able to discuss their own behavioral problems. For tips on understanding and addressing behavior problems, read "5-Year-Old Behavior Problems and Discipline."
While most 5-year-olds will not be able to handle complicated tasks around the house, they will certainly be able to perform simple household chores such as feeding pets, picking up his toys, or putting his dirty laundry into a basket. Giving a child household responsibilities will impart several benefits such as helping him feel more confident and instilling a sense of responsibility, which will be important for your child's development in the years to come.