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Five-year-olds can manage feelings and social situations with greater independence. Your child will have improved skills for forming and maintaining friendships with adults and other children. Being accepted by ‘the group’ is becoming more and more important to him.

Emotional development

At this age, your child is continuing to expand her circle of trusted adults. At the same time, she’ll maintain a closeness to a few special people. For example, she might say, ‘I love my teacher, Mrs Benotti!’

He’ll gain self-esteem from feeling capable and demonstrating new skills – for example, ‘I know how to read this!’ He’s also increasingly aware of his own characteristics and skills.

She’ll use more complex language to express her understanding of feelings and their causes – for example, ‘I sort of want to try riding on that, but I’m sort of scared, too’.

Your child will use physical, imaginative and cognitive resources to comfort himself. For example, he might go to his room voluntarily when he’s upset and to control how he expresses his emotions. But he’ll still need your help with this sometimes.

Social development

Your child now enjoys interacting with other children and adults. She’s developed a broader repertoire of social entry skills. For example, she might suggest something to do together with other children, join in an existing activity or share a snack with others.

He’ll engage in more complex and sustained cooperative play, including pretend play and simple games with rules. He might say things like ‘How about if we play snakes and ladders? I’ll give out the pieces’.

She’ll continue to establish and maintain her friendships with other children, particularly her school friends. She’ll seek others’ acceptance and friendship – for example, asking another child ‘We're friends, right?’. She might also join a group to exclude others.

Your child now uses a wider array of words or actions to demonstrate awareness, understanding and concern for what others are feeling. For example, he might go to a child whose block building has fallen down and say, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll help you build it again’.

She uses a broader repertoire of strategies, including negotiation and compromise, to resolve conflicts before seeking adult help. For example, ‘I have a great idea, Henry! You be the bear, and I’ll be the lion. Then we can swap!’ But she’ll still have trouble with this, and might need your help to smooth things over at times.

    Differences in social and emotional development result from a child’s inborn temperament, cultural influences, disabilities, behaviour modelled by adults, the level of security felt in a child’s relationships with adults, and the opportunities provided for social interaction.
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    • Last Updated 09-03-2011
    • Last Reviewed 19-03-2012
    • Acknowledgements

      © 2002-2006 Public Broadcasting Service.  Reprinted from with permission of the Public Broadcasting Service.