Your 5 1/2-year-old

No matter how much your child is enjoying school, there's a certain amount of stress involved.

After-school stress
No matter how much your child is enjoying school, there’s a certain amount of stress involved. After all, he is learning many new skills and trying to present his “best self” for the whole day. It’s reasonable to expect an occasional meltdown after school ― it’s his indication that he needs a bit of “transition time” as he eases back into the nest. Here are a few ways to soften his landing:

• Offer a snack. Call it the cheese and crackers miracle cure.

• Plan for some down time if you can ― even just a story together on the couch or a little walk. Think about whether you need to cut back on your child’s outside activities for a while.

• Remember, just because your child has a meltdown at the end of the day doesn’t necessarily mean anything awful is going on at school. It’s natural that your child will relax and let it all out when he gets home. If it’s a continuing pattern, though, or if he seems unhappy about school, talk to his teacher about what you are seeing.

Sibling squabbles
Brothers and sisters fight sometimes. Despite all our hopes and our best efforts, it’s just that simple. It’s often something remarkably silly that sparks a squabble… and then things quickly escalate into an all-out fight. Parents don’t want to hear crying and arguing all day, and yet we don’t want to play full-time referee, either. How do you tame sibling rivalry?

Choosing chores
Unlike most teenagers, preschoolers will still cheerfully help you with jobs. Don’t overwhelm him with too many big chores, though. Choose a couple that will make him feel like he contributed to the family (even if you end up having to finish the job later), such as:

  • Putting toys away, dirty clothes in the hamper, and the towel back on the hanger
  • Setting the table or clearing and wiping the table after
  • Making his bed
  • Putting groceries away
  • Dusting the house

Is it time for an allowance?
You’re probably trying to give your five-year-old practice making simple choices ― what books he would like at the library, which shirt to wear, a favourite supper. Another way to give a child a taste of independence is to provide him with a small allowance. Many practical lessons come from having a bit of money each week. There isn’t a better way for a child to experience the natural consequence of spending: with a bit of planning, he can (eventually) have a larger amount of money to spend; if he’s impulsive with his cash, he won’t be able to do much.

An allowance also provides some real math lessons ― you can be very sure your child will be interested in adding and subtracting (with surprising accuracy) when it involves spending his own money.

Super sleepover
At five, your child loves spending time with his friends. And what could be better than a playdate? Sleeping over! It might seem like a good idea, but at this age, sleepovers often don’t go well. Kids can get over excited and end up not sleeping. Or a sudden bout of homesickness might hit him at bedtime.