6 Year Old Developmental Milestones for Boys and Girls

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Just like any other developmental phase of the early age of any child, the period of 6-year-old development is filled with contradictions. However, at this age, your child will have a more firm foot in the “big kid” years than they did in the previous years, but at the same time, they will still have some insecurities right because they are stepping into this big wide world. Now, they are spending more time in school, at playdates, birthday parties, and many other activities without their parents, and they may require even more attention and comfort at home. However, let’s take a more detailed look at the 6-year-old developmental milestones.

Physical Development

It may seem that this happened overnight, but your sweet little toddler girls and boys have transformed into a lanky grade-schooler and they just keep growing every day. During the 6th year of age, and during middle school, children can grow around 2 to 2.5 inches per year. 

What is more, at this age, your child will start to exhibit a wide range of different and new physical skills. Some children will show natural athleticism, while other kids will work on their more simple skills, such as throwing and catching a ball. Also, not to be surprised, but there will be variations in growth rates. Some kids will grow fast and start to shoot up, while other ones will grow at a slower rate. But you shouldn’t worry, because not all kids grow at the same pace. 

What is for sure, is that your 6-year-old will have plenty of energy and they will need to spend some time outdoors in order to burn it off. At this age, physical activity becomes even more important because your little one will now spend a lot of time in the classroom, sitting. Plus, a bit more exercise will benefit their cognitive functions. Not to mention how their motor coordination and skills will continue to steadily develop. They will become more adept at writing letters, and their pictures and stories will be more legible and recognizable. The tools, such as scissors, will not be so troublesome to them anymore, and they will master their shoelace tying skills. 

The key 6-year-old milestones to expect here are improved locomotor skills, such as running, skipping and jumping. Also, your little one will now show stronger hand-eye coordination, and they will be more able to follow the rules of games and sports (like soccer or tennis), so those will become more meaningful to them.

Your role as a parent here is to engage them more in physical games and activities. Throw balls, jump the rope or climb over some obstacles, because your little one will benefit from physical activity and you will want them to burn out some of their excess energy. Plus, you will help your kid sharpen their coordination skills and that will help them become more confident in themselves.

Emotional Development

Emotional development is filled with beautiful 6-year-old milestones. They will now become more aware of their emotions, and they will be able to recognize and acknowledge the emotions of others. They may even understand sophisticated concepts, such as that it’s not okay to hurt someone’s feelings, and that they shouldn’t say something critical about them directly into the person’s face. 

What is more, they will show increasing interest and desire to choose their own clothes, wash on their own and take care of their hygiene. As a parent, you should and can encourage this desire to be independent and offer them some guidance. You can let them wash on their own, and help them by suggesting a certain sweater to wear if it’s too cold outside, for example. 

They will also start to make friends at school and other social relationships with their peers. The adults will now seem more complex to them as they are now becoming more aware of the world they’re in and what their place and the role are in it. 

Some of the key 6-year-old developmental milestones here are their newfound love to show off their talents. Also, their self-control skills will drastically improve and they will now exhibit better emotional stability. You should now start establishing predictable routines, such as after-school activities, nighttime rituals, and regularly scheduled playdates. These activities and relationships will provide much-needed stability to them as they will be encountering unfamiliar challenges and experiences almost every day now.

Image of two girls and boy drawing on floor

Social Development

As far as social development milestones are concerned, your 6-year-old will become more adept at navigating their relationships with friends and family members. Also, such relationships will make them feel safe and comfortable and they will like having their friends and family close. 

Also, your little one will enjoy sharing their snacks, boys and girls will enjoy their their 6-year-old toys in their own ways and other things with friends at school and at home. However, some rivalry and rows over favorite toys will occur, but the conflicts will pass fast and your 6-year-old will gain the much important social skill to one day settle differences on their own, without having an adult to intervene. This is the best time to observe how both girls and boys play with their toys for 6-year-olds and how they interact with others during the playtime.

The key 6-year-old milestones in social development basically include paying more attention to friendships and teamwork. Also, your kids will want to be liked and accepted by their peers, and they will start to show more independence from family. In order to encourage them to keep developing these skills, you should help them better understand what other people feel. So you can ask them something like “How do you think your friend feels when you told him he couldn’t play with him?”. This will make them think about their feelings and feelings of others, and how to better understand them and resolve any disputes.

Cognitive Development

At the age of 6, your kid will become even more aware of what is right and wrong, and they even might “tell on” their peers who they consider didn’t do the right thing. It’s no wonder then that flare-ups may occur among close friends, but they typically fade quickly, especially due to loving guidance from parents and teachers. 

Additionally, occurring 6-year-old developmental milestones include the development of longer attention spans. Also, they will now be more able to handle more complicated projects and tasks at home and in class. At this age, their ability to have more complex thoughts really starts to develop and show, and their curiosity about the world around them will only increase exponentially. 

Another thing that is interesting about this age is that their language and speech skills are starting to develop more. They will now start or continue to develop their reading skills and they even might enjoy writing stories. Also, your little one will now be able to write a short paragraph about what they did over the summer or a weekend for example.  In addition to that, they will be able to break words into sounds and their vocabulary will only continue to increase. Punctuation, capitalization, and spelling of letters will also improve or they will gain these skills. 

As far as play is concerned, they will now start to better understand the difference between real and imaginary play. Also, they might even become more interested in real things, such as photography or making food with you and bake things and prepare lunches and dinners. 

Some of the key 6-year-old milestones here include their willingness to participate more in simple group activities or to play board games. They will also learn how to tell time and will able to copy complex shapes, such as a diamond.

Other Milestones

What often occurs with 6-year-olds is that they now want to do things perfectly. However, this may be hard for them if they don’t perform tasks as good as they would like to. So, when they lose a game or can’t draw a picture as well as they would like, they might feel frustrated, but you should be there to support them and explain that they don’t have to stress about that as much. 

Also, they might look at things as black and white and they will express strong feelings and opinions about things. They may often see something as good and something else as bad, and they may struggle with seeing and finding the middle ground.

Lastly, they may start to express a desire for more privacy when they are dressing and undressing. However, they will still enjoy bath time with a parent present or close by.

When to Worry

At this age, probably the biggest milestone is that your little one will start going to kindergarten or first grade. This is probably also the first time it is asked of them to spend more time with classmates and to follow strict school rules. Plus, they will have to spend more time focusing on schoolwork. As a result, this is the time when some developmental differences or delays start to show. So, it’s important to talk to your kids’ pediatrician if you notice any of the following issues:

  • They are withdrawn, depressed or worried a lot
  • They find it very difficult to separate from you
  • They don’t interact with others, peers or adults
  • They have some difficulties with following two-part directions, such as for example “Put away your bag and bring me your uniform.”
  • They are exhibiting plenty of challenging behavior and
  • They show little or no interest in at least trying to write their own names.

You should keep in mind that all children develop at their own pace and they are not all the same. However, if you notice any of these issues, you should consult with a professional in order to avoid developing any learning difficulties or bad social skills and interaction.

Your little one is certainly growing up fast and it will only continue. But as soon as they hit the age of 6, you should know what to expect. Thus, this detailed 6-year-old developmental milestones list.

Author: Stan Marsh
Author: Stan Marsh

Hi all, I’m a toy reviewer, a father, programmer and an occasional sketch artist from Washington D.C where i live with my wife and wonderful 4-year-old daughter. Although i have a bachelor’s degree in Child’s Psychology, i didn’t pursue a career in that direction. Nonetheless, the experience and knowledge i gathered during my studies helped my tremendously with life challenges.

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