Right around now, your child is probably doing quite a bit of boasting about what she can do and what she knows. Good for her! She’s accomplished a lot this year. She may have strong opinions about how to do something “right,” and she probably doesn’t like to be told what to do all the time. Most 5- and 6-year-olds are ready to show how independent and capable they are. This new attitude may be annoying at times, but it’s important to support her because she’s building the confidence needed for the challenges ahead. Some ways you might do that:
- Offer options. What are appropriate decisions for your 5- or 6-year-old to make? You can certainly feel comfortable about inviting her to pick out her outfit or to help choose dinner, but you wouldn’t want her to make choices about crossing the street. A good way to deal with decision-making at this stage is to offer choices that are all acceptable to you. Your child will feel empowered, and you’ll feel safe knowing she can’t go wrong. The more opportunities you provide her to make decisions, the more she’ll rise to the occasion.
- Set some household rules together. Kids this age like to feel “in charge.” Involving your child in figuring out how to keep the house running smoothly will reinforce mature behavior. Call the family together to talk about rules. Children tend to be better at following them if they’ve had a part in creating them. This can be particularly useful when there’s been a problem. For example, you might want to have a discussion about messy rooms. Invite your child to suggest what can be done to make things better for everyone. Your willingness to allow her to participate says that you accept her as a capable individual.
- Allow shyness. Not all kids are confident in asserting themselves. Let your child know that her ideas are important and that you’re curious what she thinks. When setting family rules, for example, you might invite her to listen first and “vote.” Eventually she will offer her own ideas . . . particularly when she realizes she doesn’t like any of the other choices.