Your 5 1/2-year-old: Tattletales

Your 5 1/2-year-old: Tattletales

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Your 5-year-old now

Tattling is a common impulse among 5-year-olds. Why? Your kindergartner is developing a sense of social justice — if she has to follow the rules, she thinks everybody else should, too. Kids also get a sense of power from tattling on wrongdoers, or they do it because they feel they can win points by showing you they know what's "right."

It can be hard for a young child to discern what's tattle-worthy and what's not. So give your child the benefit of the doubt before correcting her. Let her know that she should always let you know if she sees something dangerous.

If you jump right in and reprimand the child who's doing wrong, however, and the problem is more annoying than unsafe, you risk reinforcing the tattling. What's more, if you didn't see the problem happen in the first place, it's hard to be sure what happened. All you have is one child's word against the other.

Instead of rushing in, ask questions that encourage problem-solving. "What happened? What do you think should be done about it?" Or "How can we solve this problem?" Encourage your child to work it out on her own when possible.

Your life now

You're still the center of your child's world, but you may have to move over occasionally. At age 5, the idea of "best friends" begins to blossom.

Up to now, most kids haven't latched on to any particular child. They've been happy playing with a variety of pals. But at 5, they may start to prefer the company of one special friend. That person can change from week to week. The reasons for favoring a particular child usually have to do with superficial things like being in the same class or admiring her ponytail. Rest assured, you'll always be first in her heart on a deeper level.

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