Six-year-olds are confident and delight in showing off their talents. They start to display an increasing awareness of their own and others' emotions and begin to develop better techniques for self control. Six-year-olds enjoy sharing toys and snacks with friends, although conflicts among peers may remain quite frequent. Predictable routines are important sources of stability and security. Six-year-olds also draw emotional stability from their interactions with adults with whom they feel secure, particularly during challenging situations and circumstances.
Sense of security is reliant on relationships with close adults. Very much relies on "secure base" relationships with adults (parents, teachers) to feel secure and comfortable. Trust in these relationships is based on feeling understood and responded to in a regular and predictable way. The skills the child demonstrates in non-social areas (such as at school) often are dependent on feeling safe and secure with the adults present in that situation.
Describes self based on external characteristics, such as physical attributes, name, possessions and age (e.g., says, "I am six and I have brown hair."). Often evaluates own abilities highly (e.g., when asked if he is good at painting, he looks somewhat mystified and says, "Yes, I am a good artist."); such evaluations can be inaccurate or based on limited views. Copes poorly with failure and does not take criticism well.
Begins to show an increasing awareness of own and others' emotions. Can label what others are feeling (e.g., frustrated, excited). Begins to identify reasons for others' feelings (e.g., says, "He's feeling sad because..."), but typically offers reasons for others' feelings based on direct observations or experiences (e.g., "...he fell down." or "...he didn't get to stay up late.").
Can express needs and wants in appropriate ways, but may express self impulsively. Shows uneven ability to describe and practice techniques for self control. Enjoys routines and may become easily overwhelmed by excitement. Prefers to make transitions slowly. Finds predictable routines and activities both comforting and desirable. Experiences either "positive" or "negative" emotions, rather than mixed feelings. Expresses negative feelings less frequently with age. May cope with negative emotions by relying on direct support (e.g., physical comfort and contact) from caregivers or distraction (e.g., watching TV).
Communicates needs and emotions to others under supportive and fairly positive situations; may be explosive under stress. Demonstrates the ability to work with a partner, and can both lead and follow. In play activities, may be bossy and demand own way, as well as tease or be critical of others. Participates in simple group games and board games. Can display good sportsmanship and treat others with respect during play in non-stressful circumstances. May also change rules to achieve a desired outcome. Continues to take part in more pretend or dramatic group play, which becomes increasingly more elaborate.
Identifies close friends on the basis of proximity and frequency of interaction (e.g., neighbors, school peers). Shares food and toys with friends. Friendships at this age have little permanent status and are easily established and terminated. There is little sense of liking or disliking the stable personal traits of another child.
Is aware that other people have different perspectives, thoughts and feelings about ideas and circumstances (e.g., says, "Her brother will be mad because she took his toy.").
Has the ability to resolve conflict in socially-acceptable ways (e.g., talking things through, asking an adult for help). Wants to make up with others when there is a fight. Most conflict resolution at this age typically involves adult help or separation from peers.