Six Year Visit
Six year olds are challenging, yet very rewarding. This is a period of opposite behaviors. Your child may be boastful of all his new abilities and have quite a “mouth”. “Toilet talk” is often heard at this age. They can be very sensitive to criticism and need praise and the reassurance of your love. Perfectionism is often encountered at this age. Gentle encouragement to try their best at all tasks even if it isn’t perfect is the best way to handle this. A sense of humor and lots of patience will help you manage the dawdling, bossy, impulsive behavior typical of a six year old. A child this age is eager to learn about the world and welcomes an opportunity to show you what they can do. The eagerness, curiosity and emerging independence of a six year old are delightful.
Many six year olds begin first grade. Be prepared for some tension and anxiety. The transition to a full day of school can be tiring, and your child may be irritable and cry easily at the beginning of the school year. If signs of stress do not disappear after five or six weeks, make an appointment to discuss the situation with your child’s teacher. Group activity is important at this age. There is a great drive to make friends and more time is spent playing with age mates with a preference for friends of the same sex.
There is a wide range of normal academic skills at this age. Reinforce with your child the importance of paying attention, listening well, and always to do their best.
Avoid direct clashes of will. There is a strong push for autonomy and resistance to parental control. Well-defined and reasonable limits that can be enforced are the most effective strategy. Permit your six year old to make limited decisions and the freedom to make mistakes. “I don’t like what you did” or “I love you very much but your behavior is not acceptable” are great statements to use to show you love them but you don’t love their behavior. Try to ignore silly actions, distract them from undesirable behaviors, and “race” with them to overcome dawdling.
Assigning regular chores to your child will help establish a feeling of responsibility and accomplishment. It will help them value themselves as a contributing member of the family.
Exercise is important. 60 minutes of physical activity each day is the target amount for children and adults! Encourage biking, (with a helmet), swimming, and dance. Set a good example by exercising yourself. Limit television viewing to no more than one hour per day and be selective about the programs. Reading stories while your child follows along will help reinforce learning to read in school. A six year old tires easily and requires 10-12 hours of sleep each night. Regular dental visits are important as permanent teeth erupt.
The AAP recommends vitamin D supplementation for all infants, children, and adolescents. After reviewing the literature, it certainly looks like many children may benefit from vitamin D, although not everyone necessarily needs it. Some children are more at risk for vitamin D deficiency than others. Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include dark skin (African-americans, Indians, Hispanics), time spent indoors and not out in the sunlight (particularly in the winter months), low amount of milk consumption (less than 16 oz a day), and obesity. The recommended dose is 400 IU (international units) once daily. This can be bought over the counter in either liquid, chewable, or pill form. Another option would be a multivitamin (i.e. Flintstones Gummies Complete ). Read the label carefully when dosing this to your child. Too much vitamin D can be harmful.
- continue to keep your child in a booster seat in the car, the law states children must be in a booster seat until they reach 4 feet 9 inches tall.
- bike helmets for bikes and scooters
- ski helmets for skiing and snowboarding
- household safety items such as household fire escape plans should be discussed and practiced
- stranger danger needs to be reviewed
We recommend yearly flu shots in the fall.
Enjoy your six year old, they are a lot of fun!