5–6 years old: Social development

5–6 years old: Social development

As kids grow, they learn to live with others. Follow your child’s social development from age 5 to 6.

Social development allows children to build harmonious, positive relationships with others. As kids develop socially, they learn how to communicate and manage their emotions, consider other points of view before acting, resolve conflicts, cooperate, and participate in society. A child’s temperament, primarily determined by genetics, influences how they interact with others from an early age. However, they continue to develop social skills as they grow, learning from personal experiences and the people around them—namely, their parents and family members.

Social development: 5–6 years old

At this age:

Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • Your child understands social and family rules and is able to follow them.
  • They are good at decoding intense facial expressions in others and understanding the emotions they represent. This is especially true for happy expressions.
  • They are more considerate of the preferences and needs of others.
  • Your child gains a better understanding of what’s fair vs. what’s unfair.
  • They are able to judge their own actions.
  • They develop rivalries with certain peers, and conflicts happen more often.
  • They seek adult approval and are eager to please.
  • They are able to cooperate in groups, with adult encouragement.

Little by little, your child is beginning to do the following:

  • Assert themself and speak with ease in front of a group of peers.
Find out how to support your child’s social development through books.
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  • Develop a tendency to tell on other children when they don’t follow the rules adults have set.
  • Learn to work on a project with other children.
  • Become more competitive and compare themself to others when it comes to their talents, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Share more easily and make more polite requests.
  • Apologize and make amends on their own following a conflict, such as giving their friend a drawing or hug.

How can you help your child progress?

Your child is unique and will develop at their own pace. They have strengths and weaknesses and are becoming increasingly self-aware. You can help your child develop their social skills with these simple everyday actions:

When you explain the reasons for the house rules to your child,
they understand and respect them more readily.
When you ask your child to talk about something that happened in front of family or friends,
they learn to remember significant moments and to express their feelings and opinions.
When you include your child in a family or group conversation,
they develop the ability to speak in front of many people.
When you recognize your child’s successes and struggles on a daily basis,
they gain a better understanding of their abilities and things that are more challengingfor them.
When you encourage your child to find their own solutions to conflicts (link in French) with their siblings and friends,
they develop their social skills and self-confidence.
When you ask your child about their friendships, the games they like to play, and the things like to do with their friends,
they learn what they like and don’t like about their relationships with children around their age, which helps solidify the value they place on friendship.
When you play role-playing games like “school” or “grocery store” with your child,
they learn to communicate politely.
When you play building games with your child (e.g., wooden blocks),
they learn to work and solve problems as a team.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Annie Goulet, psychologist
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: September 2021


Photo : iStock.com/OJO Images



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  • Bouchard, Caroline, and Nathalie Fréchette. Le développement global de l’enfant de 0 à 5 ans en contextes éducatifs. Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2008, 488 pp.
  • Briand-Malenfant, Rachel. L’amour et l’amitié chez les enfants.Montreal, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2016, 168 pp.
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  • Lemelin, Jean-Pascal, et al. Développement social et émotionnel des enfants et des adolescents : les bases du développement. Volume 1. Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2012, 472 pp.
  • Passeport Santé. “L’enfant de 5 ans : qu’est-ce qui change à cet âge?” 2017. passeportsante.net
  • Université de Montréal. Portail enfance et familles. “Étapes du développement.” www.portailenfance.ca