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Once a child reaches the age of 6, disciplining them can become more difficult.

Time-out doesn’t work anymore, and consequences such as losing a favorite toy for some time can have little if any, impact. Unfortunately, they know much more than a toddler, and they aren’t afraid to use this knowledge against you!

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So, how do you discipline a 6-year-old?

It can be not easy to know what to do, but like all ages, there are a few strategies that are tried and true:

  • Define clear and straightforward behavior expectations
  • Do not let the child push past your boundaries
  • Discuss their behavioral shortcomings with them in a positive manner

This age can be tough, and it requires consistent behavior on your part. Ensure your classroom has clearly defined rules and expectations, and don’t look the other way when a child misbehaves.

Luckily, at this age, they are more able to understand the WHY of corrective consequences, and it is easier to deal with them in a more grown-up manner as they begin to gain a deeper understanding of their behavior,

This is the age when manipulations begin

At this age, students may pretend that they don’t know what they’re doing is wrong. They will begin to use manipulation as a defense, and it is important to nip such behavior in the bud before the student thinks it can be a useful and effective strategy to get what they want.

If a student sees that you just become exasperated and let them have their way, it can cause a detrimental atmosphere for all students. Be sure to address this type of behavior every time that it occurs.

Be sure to follow through consistently

It is okay to take something away from students at this age as a consequence as long as you are clear about why they are losing their privilege. Make sure that you enforce these consequences consistently, treating all of the students in the same manner.

Consistency is key, as this is an age when students are testing boundaries and seeing what they can get away with. They may also be trying to see how you react to different behaviors to find a way to get what they want.

Discuss WHY their behavior is inappropriate

Enforcing a consequence and then discussing why such action was necessary can go a long way to help correct the misbehavior. 6-year-olds are better equipped to understand logical consequences, even better than 5-year-olds. When you may tell a younger student, “This is the way it is,” without very much explanation, for a 6-year-old, it’s rarely a successful strategy.

Discussing why they shouldn’t lie can help them realize that this behavior will only hurt them in the end.

Collaborate with parents

Be sure to keep the parents in the loop when a child is going through an especially rough period. 6-year-olds are at an interesting stage in their development, and it will be important to reinforce corrective measures at home and school. When you spot a lot of lying or manipulative behavior from a student, make a point to involve the parents before the situation worsens. There are many strategies that you can work on in tandem with the parents to reinforce improved behavioral habits.

6-year-olds may be some of the most challenging students to work with, but like all difficult endeavors, success with this cohort is especially sweet! You are helping them to become more thoughtful and aware of their behavior and how they can control their reactions to the world around them.

The key to effective discipline at this age is consistency. When you provide clear expectations, boundaries, and consequences, the students know what is expected of them and how to behave properly. They will also learn that certain actions will elicit consequences they may not like. Treating this group as a bit more grown-up than their slightly younger peers can make the difference between a well-functioning classroom and a year filled with chaos and frustration!

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