What Are Appropriate Behaviors for a Five-Year-Old?

appropriate behaviors for a five-year-old

Behavior Patterns of a Five-Year-Old:

While every child is different and there are no hard-and-fast rules about when certain developmental milestones occur, there are general timelines for when we expect to see certain accomplishments. Relatedly, some children may be advanced in one area and slightly behind in another. The behaviors listed below are those that are typically achieved during the 5-year-old year and are shared merely as a guideline. As parents, we may wish to help our children play to their strengths and consider interventions to support and strengthen their weaker areas; consulting with professionals can help determine appropriate paths for intervention.

Motor Skills

  • Balance and gross motor skills – can jump, hop, go up steps with alternating feet, and ride a tricycle or a bicycle with training wheels; may be able to skip, turn somersaults, and catch balls thrown from close distances
  • Fine motor skills — reproduces many shapes and letters, may begin to color within the lines; cuts on the line with scissors, but not perfectly
  • Hand dominance is fairly well established

appropriate behaviors for children and five-year-old behaviorsCognitive

  • Understands concepts like “smallest”, “shortest”, “more than”, etc. and can sort objects by size, shape, color, etc.
  • Easily rote counts to 20 and above; some children can count to 100. Recognizes numerals from 1 to 10
  • Knows what a calendar is for; most can name the days of the weeks in order
  • Some children can tell time on the hour: five o’clock, two o’clock.
  • Many children know the alphabet and names of upper- and lowercase letters.
  • Asks innumerable questions, especially “why?”
  • Eager to learn new things. Curious and inquisitive


  • Defines simple words by function (e.g., a ball is to bounce, a bed is to sleep in, etc.)
  • Recognizes the humor in simple jokes; makes up jokes and riddles
  • Easily produces sentences with five to seven words; much longer sentences are not unusual
  • Can answer questions about personal information (e.g., birthday, name of hometown, parents’ names, etc.)
  • Speech is almost entirely grammatically correct; uses past-tense inflection to mark regular verbs (e.g., jumped, washed, etc.) and often uses past tense of irregular verbs consistently (e.g., went, caught, swam, etc.)

early child development with five-year-olds and the behavior patterns of a five-year-oldSocial-Emotional

  • Enjoys and often has one or two focus friendships
  • Participates in group play and shared activities with other children; generally plays cooperatively, takes turns, shares toys, and suggests imaginative play ideas
  • Shows affection for and caring towards others
  • Generally subservient to parent or caregiver requests
  • Becoming more independent, but still, needs comfort and reassurance from adults
  • Has better self-control over emotions


Want to read more on appropriate behaviors for children? Check out “What Are Appropriate Behaviors for a Four-Year-Old?”

Click here to read more content from Barrie Morganstein, Ph.D! 

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