The Ages 3-6 years: Stages of Development of Children

A Guide to Developmental Considerations at Various Ages and Stages of Development of Children.

Part Five: Three to Six Years 

Child’s Developmental Considerations

  • Using play to explore feelings, ideas, and interests.

  • Learning to manage feelings.

  • Expressing feelings in a physical way such as hitting, biting, and throwing things.

  • Being fearful about new experiences, such as the start of school.

  • Having difficulty managing fears, such as monsters under the bed.

  • Being curious, observant, and asking questions, such as “why.”

  • Imitating their parents and other important people in their lives.

  • Beginning to develop relationships with other children.

  • Developing a sense of right and wrong and the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie.

  • Beginning to understand other people’s feelings.

  • Beginning to learn reading, writing, and math.

  • Tending to be literal in their thinking, such as a child saying “I was home alone,” when the child was alone in a room while the parent was in another part of the home.

  • Beginning to understand time concepts, and using words like “hour,” “day,” or “week” without knowing what they mean.

  • Saying what they believe each parent wants to hear.

  • Stating preferences without understanding the meaning or impact. For example, a child may say they want more time with one parent without understanding that will result in less time with the other parent.

Parenting Time Considerations

  • Children need patient, consistent, loving and supportive care by creating an environment with clear structure and consistent, predictable routines.

  • Some children will do better with longer blocks of parenting time and fewer transitions, while other children will do better with shorter blocks of time and more frequent transitions. When stressed, child may return to using behaviors from an earlier age or be unable to learn new skills. For example, a child who is toilet trained begins having accidents.

  • Children at older end of this age group may say what they believe each parent wants to hear and may be saying something different to each parent.

  • Moving between parents’ homes may be difficult for some children at this age, and they may become upset. This does not necessarily mean that the other parent isn’t a good parent or that the child doesn’t want to be with the other parent.