What Behavior Should We Expect from a 5-Year-Old?

Oh, the joy of taking a 5-year-old out in public. Without warning, you might hear outrageous questions about strangers pop out of your angel's mouth at the top of her lungs. Although a 5-year-old child is still young, a certain amount of maturity is already occurring. As you determine what behavior you should expect from a 5-year-old, remember that your kid probably wants to please you. This should make discipline a breeze.


A 5-year-old child will begin learning more independence with self-care, according to the University of Florida Extension. This should include dressing, brushing hair, bathing himself, washing his own face and hands and brushing his own teeth. You'll need to provide instruction so your kid does the job right and then supervise regularly. You should also expect your child to need reminding and prompting to remember to wash and brush.

Social Interaction

A 5-year-old will generally have the most successful social experiences when interacting with just one other child, according to the University of Florida Extension. When necessary, however, your child should also be able to handle interacting with a group of friends, too. This might be the age when you first hear about a “best friend” as your kid chooses special friends that she prefers. Expect your 5-year-old to cooperate readily with other children and to have solid sharing skills. That said, it’s also normal if your child has times when she doesn’t feel like playing and sharing cooperatively. When this happens, try to give her other options for independent play instead.

Intellectual Maturity

Most 5-year-olds are curious about their world. It’s common for 5-year-olds to ask frequent questions as they try to learn. Be careful here -- an ill-timed question could lead to embarrassment in a grocery line. Encourage learning by always trying to answer your child’s questions. If you don’t know an answer, seize the opportunity to teach your child how to find answers and learn along with your youngster.

Emotional Maturity

As you’ve watched your 5-year-old grow, you’ve probably experienced your share of emotional instability and even meltdowns. By age 5, however, most children are developing more self-control and the ability to chill out. You can help your child become better at self-control by making sure he doesn’t get overtired and overextended. If you get a clue that your kid is on the launchpad, step in and redirect to help your little one cool off.

Discipline Techniques

Consistency is the name of the game as you discipline your 5-year-old. When your child knows your expectations, you make it easier for her to meet them. Remember that most 5-year-olds have a strong desire to please parents. This understanding should help you spot a problem if your child seems uncooperative. If a child is hungry or tired, she might have trouble obeying. Meet your child’s physical needs and she should then feel more cooperative. If a child feels ignored, she might feel emotionally hungry. Meet your child’s needs for attention and love and she should feel more cooperative. A child who has trouble paying attention may need additional training to listen carefully. When you give your child instructions,teach her to stop what she’s doing so she can concentrate on your words. Take the time to establish eye contact as you speak to your child so you know she’s listening. Ask your child to repeat what you said so you know she heard you.