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Emotional Development 5-11 Years

Your child’s emotional development continues to progress once they begin school. From 5-11 children start to understand that other people’s feelings matter too.

Your child will be making and choosing their own friends. It takes time for them to learn how to cooperate with each other, and this can make friendships tricky. You can help them think about how they feel - and how their friend might feel too.

Being a good friend and having good friends are important life skills to learn.

Primary aged children are starting to get better at managing their own emotions. They can talk more easily about how they are feeling. They are more able to take on board advice and techniques to help them.

From around age 7-11 memory and concentration grows. Children can think more quickly and can remember more than one thing at a time. They are enthusiastic learners and enjoy doing things with you.

They will be developing strong opinions and will ‘argue back’ and want to do things their way! It can take practise for you both to manage this together without upsets.


  • Children often use the way they behave to show you how they feel. Behaviour is still a big part of the way children this age communicate feelings.

    If your child is behaving in a way that worries you – trying to work out how they are feeling can help you work out how best to help them.

    Helping your child find the words to describe how they feel will help them to be able to use these, rather than relying on behaviour to show you they are struggling.

    • Talk about the feelings you see in them ‘I noticed that you seem sad/ angry / frustrated’.
    • Ask them to think with you the reasons for the feeling ‘I wonder if it is because …?’
    • Help them think about how their body reacts to the feeling – like feeling anger in their head, and fists or worry in their tummy. Is their heart beating fast?
    • Encourage them to come up with ideas of what will help – walking away and shouting into a pillow when cross / doing some relaxation techniques when worried.


  • Be a good role model and talk about your own feelings and show how you cope with them. Take time to listen to your child when they try to explain to you how they feel. It takes practise to recognise and name feelings.

    Having you to listen calmly will give them confidence to open up and share.

    Keeping to boundaries and rules is important for children this age. Although they may push for more freedoms and have strong opinions they still need the security of knowing you are ‘in charge’ and will keep them safe. They will enjoy being able to make choices when possible. Give them the chance to talk about what they think and come to decisions together when you can. This way they can practising listening to another’s points of view and finding a way to move forward.

    The online ‘Online Solihull Parenting Course’ is available free to Norfolk Parents. This can help you to help the make sense of their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and give you the tools to support them. Find out more *here*.

  • Your child will be learning about the importance of friendships. The give and take of friendship are skills that take time to learn. Parents and carers can help with this;

    • Spend time letting them talk through, and come up with their own solutions when friendships are difficult.
    • Knowing when a friendship is positive and good for you, and when it is not good for you and hurtful, is important.
    • Encouraging your child to focus on the friends that are positive and to spend less time with people who cause them upset is a good habit for making future healthy relationships.

    There are good tips on supporting your child with friendships *here*.


Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support. 

Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.

Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.


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