6-Year-Old Child Development Milestones

Your child’s growth and development at age 6

Parenting a 6-year-old can be a rewarding and fun experience. Your child is still young enough to want to hang out with you and still needs a lot of your attention and support. At the same time, they are blossoming into their own person. They are adjusting to school and valuing their friendships in more meaningful ways. They are also learning new skills faster than you can keep up with, and growing both physically and emotionally.

Let’s take a look at what to expect when it comes to 6-year-old development, milestones, growth, wellness, and safety—and what to do if you have concerns about any of these aspects.

6 year old development milestones
Illustration by Emily Roberts, Verywell

6-Year-Old Language and Cognitive Milestones

If you are noticing that your 6-year-old is talking up a storm, and has something to say about, well…everything, you are not alone.

“Six-year-olds are so much fun to spend time with,” says Tiffany Kimbrough, MD, associate professor and pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. “They really broaden their ability to describe and articulate their thoughts, feelings and experiences.”

At this age, your child should also be able to recount a favorite story or the plot of a favorite TV show. For the most part, they should be able to speak with correct grammar and be easily understood by others.

You will also notice that your child’s cognitive abilities have matured, and they are able to understand more complex ideas. They can understand cause and effect relationships, for example, and they are able to understand the difference between imagination and reality.

Additionally, says Jessica Madden, MD, pediatrician, neonatologist, IBCLC, and Medical Director at Aeroflow Breastpumps, they are starting to develop “higher order” thinking. “They can tell the difference between the past and the present, understand that things that are similar can be grouped together, and the basic math concepts of ‘more’ or ‘less,’” Dr. Madden explains.

Language and Cognitive Checklist

  • Understands the concept of “10” and can count out 10 items
  • Can concentrate on a task for at least 15 minutes
  • Can follow a series of at least three commands
  • Is starting to be able to read sight words and write letters and words

6-Year-Old Movement, Hand, and Finger Milestones

Six-year-olds are active little beings, always moving and exploring their new physical skills. At this age, your child should be able to do more with their body than ever before, and should also be able to control and coordinate their movements better.

“Six-year-olds are building on the skills they have mastered and experimenting with their growing confidence,” says Molly O'Shea, MD, official pediatrician of Goldfish Swim School. “Most can navigate the playground equipment with ease, catch and throw a ball, and if given the opportunity, can learn to ride a two-wheeled bike.”

You will also notice your child’s agility and hand-eye coordination begin to get even more defined, says Dr. O’Shea. “Fine motor skills have matured as well, allowing six-year-olds to write their names, draw pictures of people with body parts, button their shirts, and brush their own teeth pretty well.”

Physical Milestones Checklist

  • Are developing the ability to skip
  • Is able to jump rope
  • Is able to write their name, as well as most letters and numbers
  • Can draw a picture of a person with at least eight body parts

6-Year-Old Emotional and Social Milestones

Entering school was a major milestone for your child, and it’s normal if they are still adjusting. They are learning to separate and individuate from you, but some children still have separation anxiety at this age.

Even if your child has moments of seeming very attached to you, this age is marked by a time of self-assertion, and trying to figure out one’s place in the world. This often also means that they are developing deeper and more meaningful friendships, says Dr. Kimbrough.

In doing so, they are learning about empathy and making a greater effort to understand the feelings of others. “They shift their focus off of themselves and start to have increased awareness and concern for others,” Dr. Kimbrough describes.

Other Milestones for Your 6-Year-Old

Although kids this age usually have more developed self-regulation skills, don’t be surprised if your child still has to process their “big feelings,” says Dr. O’Shea. “Temper tantrums and meltdowns are largely over at this age, but managing emotions still takes some support and guidance,” she suggests.

You may also notice that your child has trouble processing frustrating moments, such as when they are having difficulty mastering a new skill in school, or when they lose a board game. Six-year-olds may also be prone to jealousy, including sibling and friend rivalry.

Understanding that these are all common behaviors for this age and part of your child’s learning can help you to be more empathetic with your child, and guide them toward more mature reactions to challenging feelings and conflicts.

How to Help Your 6-Year-Old Learn and Grow

As your child develops in new ways, cognitively, emotionally, and socially, there are many things you can do as a parent to support them.

Learning sight words and deepening early reading skills is something that is emphasized at school for 6-year-olds. This is also something you can hone at home. Develop the habit of reading to your child before bed. Consider setting up a cozy “reading nook” in your home with pillows, blankets, and a bookshelf of enticing books. Reading is also a wonderful way for your child to relax and unwind.

Friendships and socializing become pivotal at this age, and there are many ways you can support this. Set up playdates for your child, and encourage them to join activities like sports clubs or art classes. Talk to your children about their friendships, and understand that they have bumpy moments as they learn to play fairly and understand interpersonal boundaries.

How to Keep Your 6-Year-Old Safe

Six-year-olds don’t grow quite as quickly as babies and toddlers, but they still do a fair amount of growing. You should expect your child to grow 2-2.5 inches this year and gain 4-7 pounds. Your child may start to have thoughts and feelings about their body, and may start to compare themselves to others. It’s important to be body positive with your child and remind them that normal bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

Being mindful of your child’s general health and wellness is important at this age, especially as they become busier with school and other activities. Your child should be getting enough sleep—anywhere between nine to 12 hours is normal for this age. You should also focus on offering your child a varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and make sure they are physically active for at least one hour per day.

When to Be Concerned About Your 6-Year-Old

All children are different when it comes to growth and development and if your child hasn’t reached every milestone expected of a 6-year-old, that isn’t usually a problem, especially if they are progressing toward it. That said, there are certain “red flags” that might indicate that your child could use some extra support.

Quiara Smith, MOT, OTR/L, a pediatric occupational therapist at Aloha Integrative Therapy, says that there are certain skills and behaviors she looks for when deciding if a child might need interventions.

“I look at the child's sensory system and how it is affecting the child's everyday functional skills, such as eating, sleeping, playing, and learning,” says Smith. She says she would be concerned if a child was eating fewer than 20 foods, covering their ears more than their peers when hearing loud sounds, spinning in place frequently, or not interacting with peers.

The truth is, any time you have a concern about your child’s growth or development, you should discuss this with their pediatrician. They can let you know if what you are observing is within the realm of normal, or if an assessment by a developmental specialist is necessary.

A Word From Verywell

For many of us, parenting gets a little easier by the time our kids turn 6. They are in school and don’t need as much hands-on, constant care as they used to. That being said, there are certainly parenting challenges at this age. It’s common for children to struggle as they adjust to school, and to their expanding social lives.

As a parent, you may be unsure what your role should be—how much you should step back, and how much you should step in to help. Remember that your child still needs you in many ways at this age, and you know your child best in terms of what types of support they need based on their personality and temperament.

If you have any concerns about your child’s development, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to their teachers, or check in with their pediatrician.

Originally written by
Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin

Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

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7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Mott Children’s Hospital. Milestones for 6-Year-Olds.

  3. National Library of Medicine. School-age children development.

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  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. Middle Childhood Visits. Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Middle Childhood (6-8 years of age).

  7. Children’s Health of Orange County. Growth & Development: 6 to 12 Years (School Age).

Additional Reading