By the age of five, the child shows definite signs of becoming a reliable, stable individual. He has learned to control his behavior to the point where he is not as likely to overstep the rights of others. He is better at sharing. His language ability permits him to understand and absorb more of the lessons his parents seek to teach him.
A growing vocabulary, on the other hand, also enables him to use speech aggressively, and he may argue more. Still, this is the age in which he turns into a junior conformist, motivated by a greater than ever need to please and a desire to look and acts like others.
The typical five year old wants nothing more than to be like the other children he admires, and he gets along with him well. His play behavior is generally cooperative and peaceful, yet he also likes competitive games, which may require adult supervision to preserve order.
A child about to start in kindergarten may have secret anxieties about the strange place and routine he is encountering. Believing rules to be absolute, the youngster fears disobeying the teacher’s orders, but he has a difficult time assimilating all of them quickly and therefore may need to receive attention and reassurance at home.
As he approaches the age of six, the child makes rapid strides in his ability to distinguish between the intended and the accidental effects of his actions and those of orders. He is better able to forgive someone’s stepping on his toe. However, he is still not above, stealing and lying.
In the youngster’s mind, the bad behavior he knows these acts represent is outweighed by his need to have a prized object or to tell a story to his own satisfaction. In the course of his normal development, the five year old takes rules more seriously than ever, but has not yet fully internalized them.
He has the makings of a conscience, but he still defines actions as either right or wrong primarily to please his parents and teachers and to avoid punishment. The young child still has a long way to travel on the road to moral maturity, but he has made important progress towards becoming a good, responsible, self-regulating human being– the final goal of all behavior lessons.