The fifth birthday represents an important landmark in a child's development. He is now ready to start full-time primary school, and we no longer speak of a baby or a little child; instead, we refer to the boy or the girl. Over the next five years, as his horizons become wider and his experiences outside the home increase exponentially, he seems to become more reserved; more difficult to approach and share things with. Sometimes, ordinary questions are ignored or responded to with some apparently unrelated answer. Occasionally, the child will move away even while someone is speaking to him. This is a child trying to make sense of his new experiences, adapting to new people and places, while preserving his link to his earlier environment.Adults can feel frustrated by this behaviour and impatient, but when moved to protest, tend to use words of exasperation rather than plain anger. There exists an unspoken understanding that the child needs time to adjust to his new pattern of life. However, not all over-fives are like this and we do find some who seem to blend into the new pattern of life and carry on with their home life as if no major change had taken place.

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