Effective Discipline Techniques for 6-Year-Old Children

Behavior Management Strategies for First Graders

Disciplining 6-year-olds can be a bit of a challenge.
Carol Yepes / Moment / Getty Images

Most 6-year-olds start making incredible improvements in their ability to manage their behavior. Most kids start gaining a better understanding of how their actions lead to consequences and they begin to develop better impulse control.

But, most 6-year-olds also want to assert their independence. They insist on being more like the 'big kids' and try to gain more independence than they can handle. 

It's a great time to teach new skills and sharpen previous skills your child has already learned.

With practice and ongoing guidance, your discipline strategies will teach your child to start making better decisions for herself.

Typical 6-Year-Old Behavior

Most 6-year-olds show major improvements in their attention spans. That means they should be getting better at completing tasks, like cleaning their rooms or putting away their clothes.

They also appreciate taking on new responsibilities, like new chores. But, they often seek reassurance that they are doing things correctly. So don't be surprised when your child insists you watch her how fast she can sweep the floor. 

Most 6-year-olds relish in showing off new talents too. So you're likely to hear, "Mom, watch this!" over and over again as your child proudly shows you he can cross the monkey bars. Giving him attention and encouragement will help his confidence grow. 

They tend to enjoy sharing with peers; however, they are prone to conflict with other children as they lack the social skills to resolve many peer-related issues.

They should be gaining an increased ability to recognize their emotions and they should be able to show empathy for others.

They often tend to look to adults they trust to learn how to react during challenging situations. They can be highly emotional as they shift from happy and loving to angry and defiant.

Although most 6-year-olds start showing improved self-discipline skills, they usually like to test the limits. When told to do something, your child might refuse just to see how you're going to react. Whining, complaining, and temper tantrums are still fairly normal at this age too.

Best Discipline Strategies

The best way to deal with behavior problems is to prevent them. Teach your child to deal with uncomfortable emotions in socially appropriate ways. Boredom, anger, and sadness are often the root cause of misbehavior in 6-year-olds.

When behavior problems arise, use consistent discipline strategies to help your child learn from his mistakes. Here are the most effective ways to address behavior problems in 6-year-olds:

  • Praise – Praise positive behavior, such as compliance, playing quietly, and sharing. Catch your child being good and he'll be more motivated to keep up the good work.
  • Time-Out – Time-out teaches your child how to calm himself down. You can also refer to it as “quiet time” or a cooling off period so he’ll be more likely to use time out on his own when he’s feeling upset.
  • Rewards – Most 6-year-olds are interested in earning rewards. Create a reward system to address specific behavior problems or consider a token economy system to encourage good behavior.
  • Logical Consequences – Logical consequences are a great way to help your child learn from his mistakes. By this age, kids understand the direct link between their behavior and the consequence.
  • Natural Consequences – Since a lot of 6-year-olds want to be able to make some decisions on their own, allowing them to face natural consequences can be a great learning experience, as long as it is safe to do so.

Continue Reading