Children’s development is divided into different areas, namely physical, cognitive, social and emotional. Although all children develop at their own pace, there are some commonalities about what to expect at a particular age. The focus of today’s blog will be on what is typically going on in the mind of a 5-year-old. 

Cognitive Milestones

By the time children are 5 years old, their language skills have developed significantly. They have a vast vocabulary to be able to comprehend others and communicate their thoughts. Children can hold a conversation with another child or an adult and typically start being quite inquisitive. This is when they might start asking a lot of questions and keep asking “why” for every single statement that you make. Allowing them to channel their inquisitive side is positive as children learn a lot by asking. However, if they start to ask one question after the other without stopping, it is also okay to set boundaries and let them know that you are having a time out from questions. Their attention span is now longer which helps in the learning aspect but also day to day activities such as listening for instructions. 

Social Milestones

At the age of 5, children’s pretend play is more complex and they can use fantasy to create imaginary situations including an ‘imaginary friend’. Their social skills are also continuing to develop and they might be more open to negotiating what games to play and may also want to play together to achieve a common goal e.g. building a house with blocks. Children also improve their sharing and turn-taking skills and therefore may start to play games that require them to follow certain rules such as board games. Nonetheless, they may still struggle to share their favourite toy or accept a loss in a game. When they are 5, kids realise that they prefer to play with other children rather than playing alone and the concept of having a best friend may start to form. 

Emotional Milestones

Children are better able to express their emotions and therefore you may also see a reduction in tantrums as they can tell you what is happening to them. Sometimes they may need some guidance to identify their feeling and why especially when certain negative emotions are involved. Thus, you may want to help them acquire vocabulary to be able to find the right word to express how they feel. A 5-year-old may also be able to perform certain actions to be liked such as, helping you out with some chores because they know this will make you happy. They can also understand better what is right and wrong and therefore may get upset when they experience something as being unfair. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on or call us on 79291817.