According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a child’s middle childhood is between the ages of 6 to 8 years old. And it is during this period where you’ll see a lot of milestones that separates them from babies and toddlers. Of course, you will start doing your research and compare if your child is developing in the right place. However, always remember that the timeline of these milestones will vary for each child.
You can consider these growth and development guidelines to help your child achieve their best. Use these milestones in choosing which activities and lessons you should teach your child. Or you can also look at them as a sign of what’s to come and get prepared. Nonetheless, they are no way a box that you should force your child to fit into.
Once your child reaches the age of 6, you might find yourself looking for activities that you can include in your daily schedule. Perhaps you’ve even graduated your little one from rear-facing and bought the best car seat for 6 years old. Basically, you want to turn everything from the house to the car compatible with a 6-year-old. But besides the environment, what else can you do to help your child through middle childhood?
What Milestones Should My Child Be Reaching?
First, we should discuss the milestones that 6-year olds typically achieve. Then we’d go from there on how you can help in guiding your little one towards achieving them.
Language and Communication
- Speak simple sentences with 5 to 7 words
- Understand different meanings of words
- Follow at least 3 commands in a row
- Read age-appropriate books
- Write short paragraphs
Learning and Thinking
- Sound out unfamiliar words
- Understand numbers/ repeat three numbers backward
- Focus on a school task for at least 15 minutes
- Differentiate day and night or tell time
- Differentiate left and right
- Follow game rules
How You Can Help
Join your child when he/she is doing homework. You can also communicate with his/her teachers, so you have an idea on which area your little one needs additional guidance. At the same time, take advantage of these learning moments as a chance to strengthen your bond. But remember, always stay calm and avoid being frustrated if your child seems falling behind.
- Grows in height (about 2.5 inches per year) and weight (4 to 7 pounds per year)
- Falling out of baby teeth
- Awareness of body image (e.g., your child might complain about illness symptoms)
- Locomotor skills or athleticism (e.g., playing catch, running, jumping)
- Lots of energy to burn
- Motor coordination (e.g., writing/drawing neater, accuracy on physical tasks such as shoelace tying)
How You Can Help
Like with mental stimulation, you can start doing physical activities or games with your kids. Try something simple such as a game of catch or a trip to the park where he/she can run on the obstacles. And as you can see, 6-year olds tend to move a lot and have excess energy. Therefore, make sure that every place from your house to the car is childproofed (e.g., removable gates near stairs and car seats.)
Emotional and Social Development
- Recognizes right and wrong
- Better self-control/emotional stability
- Misunderstandings with friends
- Sense of independence
- Understands cooperating and sharing
- Boys usually play with boys; girls usually play with girls
- Describing what they feel and think
- Emotional awareness (e.g., understanding not to say bad things to someone because it will hurt their feelings)
- Seeks peer acceptance
How You Can Help
Because children at this age seek acceptance with added emotional awareness, misunderstanding between friends is common. You can advise your child by saying things like, “How do you think your friend feels when you say that?” and let him/her figure it out.
Independence is also common, which then leads your child to do adventurous things that might be unsafe. Try guiding your little one by letting his/her do things his/her way (e.g., choose your own clothes) and then suggest a more fitting action. For example, if your child wants to wear her favorite shirt everyday, settle to compromise like he/she can but only every Wednesday.
Since 6-year-olds typically seek peer acceptance, help your child to establish bonds with friends. You can regularly set playdates or extracurricular activities so that they can build relationships with peers. These friendships will help them navigate through unfamiliar experiences and keep them supported. And know that they will eventually have a sense of security from those who are close to them.
Another reminder is, don’t forget stranger-danger talks. You should also support them when they open up about something that they might be scared to tell you. Encouragement is important for your child’s self-esteem, and this includes proper self-expression.
It is also better that you give your child a gist about topics like sexuality and violence, so they’ll know if they are experiencing something wrong. Just make sure to answer their questions with age-appropriate answers to avoid scaring or confusing them.
When to Be Concerned
As we have mentioned earlier, some children might take a longer time to reach these milestones. Never pressure your child to reach them (i.e., weight), especially with the ones we listed about physical development.
You might also notice delays in learning development. The last thing you want to do is to compare your child’s attention span and vocabulary to another 6-year old. Consider that it might be their first time to follow strict rules and focus for long periods.
However, here are some signs that you should look out for and might mean underlying conditions:
- Difficulty in following simple directions/two-part directions (e.g., Go upstairs and get my pen.)
- No interest in writing own name
- No interest in interacting with others
- Difficulty in being away from you
- Withdrawn/depressed behavior
At the end of the day, you know your child best. Do not be too strict and set your standards using a list of milestones and a calendar. However, acting early when you feel that something doesn’t feel right can also help your child in the long run. Overall, we advise you to check with your child’s doctor to know what’s the best steps to do as your child grows. It’s always a reliable move, and you will feel more at ease when you talk to his/her doctor.