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Effective Discipline Techniques for 6-Year-Old Children

Behavior Management Strategies for First Graders


Young boy in corner
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The year between ages 6 and 7 can be a tumultuous yet exciting time for many children. A lot of gains are made during this year and as far as behavior and discipline are concerned, it can sometimes feel like a wild ride for parents. However, 6 can be a great age where children make huge gains in their emotional, education, motor, and social development and it is a great time to reinforce the new skills they are learning.

Typical 6-Year-Old Behavior

Most 6 year olds show a big improvement in their attention span which means they should be getting better at completing tasks such as cleaning their room. They also seem to appreciate taking on new responsibilities, but often seek reassurance that they are doing things correctly. They usually relish showing off any new talents and might show some new found confidence in their skills. They tend to enjoy sharing with peers; however, they are prone to conflict with other children as they don’t yet have the social skills to resolve a lot of peer-related issues. They should be gaining an increased ability to recognize their own emotions, as well as other people’s emotions. They often tend to look to adults they trust to learn how to react during challenging situations. They can be exhibit frequent shifts in their mood and be highly emotional at times as they shift from happy and loving to angry and defiant. Although they should be showing improved self-discipline skills, they usually like to test the limits often. When told to do something, they might tend to refuse, simply to see how a caregiver is going to react. They may be prone to whining and complaining at this age as well.

Best Discipline Strategies

The best way to deal with behavior problems is to prevent them. Teach your child about feelings and teach problem-solving skills and it will prevent a lot of behavior problems. However, when behavior problems arise, it’s important to use consistent discipline to deter them from being repeated.

Provide Routine and Structure – 6 year olds often thrive in well-structured environments. Provide a consistent routine and a lot of structure to your child’s day in regards to homework, chores and morning and bedtime routines. Establish clear household rules to help your child understand your expectations.

Ignore Mild Misbehavior – Ignoring is an effective behavior modification technique that can reduce attention-seeking behaviors such as whining, complaining or mild temper tantrums.

Praise – Praise the positive behaviors as soon as you see them and they’re likely to be repeated. This can reinforce a 6 year olds confidence and it ensures them that you are noticing when they are trying to follow the rules.

Time Out – Time out can be a great tool to teach 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 – 6 year olds are often very interested in earning money or rewards. Create a reward system to address specific behavior problems or consider a token economy system to encourage good behavior.

Modeling – Most 6 year olds are very interested in learning how to behave in social situations and how to manage their feelings. Role modeling appropriate behavior is one of the best ways to teach them how to manage their emotions.

Logical Consequences – Logical consequences are a great way to help your child learn from his mistakes. Most 6 year olds are able to see the direct link between their behavior and the consequence which can prevent them from repeating the behavior next time.

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.

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