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Making school transitions positive

young girl at nursery school

How Behavior Changes During the Transition to School, Ages 5-6

Rose Allen, University of Minnesota Extension Educator — Family Resource Management

Revised July 2013 by Kathleen A. Olson, Program Director — Partnering for school success

As children grow, they show many changes in their abilities and behavior. Here is what you can expect during the transition to school, ages 5 to 6.5 years.

What's New

How to Handle Challenging Behavior

Parents with school-age children need to remember not to criticize, because it often makes the behavior worse. When your child refuses to do something or acts defiant, give him another chance. For example, say, "I asked you to get your shoes on. Maybe you didn’t hear me. Let’s see how fast you can do it."

Try to avoid direct commands. Instead, give your child a challenge, such as completing a task before you count to ten.

It may be necessary to re-examine rules. If you seem to have conflict over and over about an issue, ask yourself if the rule is still reasonable. If it doesn’t make a big difference anymore, let go of the rule.

Discipline Methods

Discipline methods that work for younger school-age children include natural and logical consequences, loss of privilege and restitution (making something right), and time out.

You are your child's most important teacher. Your child needs you to set limits and most importantly, let her know when she behaves well.

Related resources

Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten? — Questions to help determine if your child is ready for school.

Starting SchoolAmerican Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry — Learn about what parents can do to help their child transition to school, and steps to take if the transition does not go smoothly.

Using “Time Out” as a Discipline Tool — Time out is a way of correcting behavior by placing a misbehaving child in a quiet place alone for a few minutes and then talking about the problem.

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