Solving Behavior Problems for Junior Primary (ages 4-7)

The purpose of teaching children in this age group is for them to learn that by following Jesus Christ’s example:

  • they can choose the right,
  • be baptized, and
  • become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Source: Primary 1, Helps for the Teacher, Purpose, vii

The Four-Year Old

Characteristics at this AgeSuggestions for Parents and Teachers
Is very active. Moves quickly. Likes to skip, jump, race, climb, and throw.Alternate between quiet and lively activities. Help the child learn to control and be responsible for his or her actions. Teach appropriate ways to express emotions.
Enjoys talking and learning new words. Asks many questions. Is able to reason a little, but still has many misconceptions. Has trouble separating fact from fantasy. Has a short attention span. Uses artwork to express feelings. Enjoys pretending and role playing.Use discussions and activities that will encourage thinking, such as simple riddles and guessing games. Clarify misunderstandings. Use pictures, objects, and actual experiences. Introduce new words. Have the child draw pictures that relate to lessons. Accept and encourage the child’s creative efforts. Allow the child to explore his or her surroundings. Use role-playing activities.
Plays more cooperatively with others. Is sometimes physically aggressive, bossy, impolite, and stubborn, but can also be friendly. Is learning to share, accept rules, and take turns. Responds to sincere praise.Provide opportunities for the child to play and work cooperatively with others. Teach kindness, patience, and politeness. Help the child follow simple rules such as taking turns. Help the child learn positive social behavior without punishing or scolding him or her.
Often tests people’s limits. Is boastful, especially about self and family. May be agreeable one moment and quarrelsome the next. Has more self-confidence. May have fears and feelings of insecurity.Establish and firmly follow limits. Allow the child to talk about self and family. Teach the child that he or she is special to Heavenly Father and Jesus. Express the love you and the child’s parents have for him or her.
Is becoming aware of right and wrong, and usually desires to do right. Blames others for his or her wrongdoing. Has a natural love and respect for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and asks many questions about Them. Likes to pray, and wants to be good. Is becoming more interested in gospel principles.Help the child be responsible for his or her own behavior, and teach the importance of making good choices. Teach that Heavenly Father loves His children and that we can communicate with Him through prayer. Help the child discover how to be reverent at church. Teach basic gospel principles.

The Five-Year Old

Characteristics at this AgeSuggestions for Parents and Teachers
Is very active. Has a good sense of balance, and is becoming more coordinated. Can kick a ball, walk in a straight line, hop, skip, and march. Enjoys drawing, coloring, and participating in activities and games. Is learning to lace and tie shoes and button and zip clothing.Engage the child in physical activities. Use simple games and other activities. Allow the child to cut and paste and to put puzzles together. Allow for independence. Express confidence in the child. Accept and encourage the child’s efforts.
Recognizes some letters, numbers, and words. Likes to pretend to read and write. May be learning to read. Is talkative. Asks questions, makes comments, and gives answers that show increased understanding. Is good at problem solving. Is curious and eager for facts. Is beginning to distinguish truth from fantasy. Has a short but increasing attention span. Likes definite tasks. Enjoys jokes and tricks, but cannot laugh at himself or herself. Likes stories, singing, poetry, and dramatizations.Allow the child to talk and ask questions. Allow him or her to read simple words and phrases. Use wordstrips for simple words. Assign simple tasks and responsibilities. Use drawing activities, true-to-life stories, and visual materials. Vary activities, using pictures, games, songs, and discussions. Use problem-solving activities such as riddles and discussion questions. Allow the child to pretend, dramatize, and use puppets. Laugh with the child.
Is friendly and eager to please and cooperate. Is beginning to prefer being in small groups of children, but may prefer a best friend. Creates less conflict in group play. Is beginning to want to conform, and is critical of those who do not. Is beginning to understand rules, but often tries to change them for his or her benefit.Be sensitive to the child’s need for your approval. Encourage friendship, and try to help the child if it seems that he or she does not have close friendships or does not belong to a group. Talk about how others feel when people are kind or unkind. Discuss the importance of loving others and expressing gratitude, and show the child how to do this. Help the child learn the value of individual differences.
Centers interests on home and family. Is affectionate toward adults, and wants to please them. Gets embarrassed easily, especially by his or her own mistakes.Frequently teach the value and importance of the family. Give the child an opportunity to share feelings about his or her family. Express your love, and show affection. Give specific praise for positive behavior. Avoid activities or expressions that might embarrass the child.
Wants to be good. Is learning the difference between right and wrong. Sometimes tells untruths or blames others for his or her own wrongdoings because of an intense desire to please adults and do what is right. Is ready to be taught spiritual principles.Teach appropriate behavior. Do not be shocked if the child says something that is untrue or inappropriate, but still teach the importance of accepting responsibility for one’s own actions. Strengthen the child’s testimony by sharing your own testimony. Share stories and ideas that will strengthen the child’s love for and faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and Their teachings.

The Six-Year Old

Characteristics at this AgeSuggestions for Parents and Teachers
Is very active. Is often noisy, restless, and exuberant. Likes to participate in activities and perform small tasks, though they still may be difficult to do. Dislikes being a spectator.Be patient with the child’s abundant energy and restlessness. Use activities such as writing, coloring, cutting, pasting, and molding clay. Use games that allow the child to use his or her energy.
Needs concepts taught in concrete ways. Has improving memory. Is talkative, and asks many questions. Is learning to make decisions, but often is indecisive. Has an increasing attention span. Likes reading, writing, singing, hearing stories, and pretending.Use problem-solving activities such as riddles, reviews, and open-ended stories. Use pictures, flannel cutouts, and other visual materials. Introduce new words. Ask questions. Allow the child to make decisions. Discuss the importance of choosing the right, and allow the child to practice making decisions with limited choices. Provide opportunities for reading, writing, singing, hearing stories, and role playing. Plan lessons with the child’s interests in mind.
Is more interested in group activities and interacting with playmates, but is still self-centered. Is sometimes bossy, aggressive, and unkind to peers. Has unstable friendships. Is concerned with how others treat him or her. Is eager for social approval.Encourage sharing and participation with others. Give many opportunities for group activities. Give specific praise and approval. Focus lessons on showing love by helping others and being sensitive to others’ needs. Encourage the child to participate in games and other activities.
Is boastful. Exaggerates and criticizes. Is easily excited, silly, and giggly. Can be generous, affectionate, and compatible, but mood can change easily.Praise the child’s specific efforts so he or she feels less need to boast. Praise honesty. Do not criticize. Laugh with him or her, but do not laugh at him or her. Encourage positive moods. By your example, teach the child calm, stable behavior.
Is concerned with good and bad behavior, particularly as it affects family and friends. Sometimes blames others for wrongdoings. Likes scripture stories, especially those about Jesus.Teach the child to be concerned with and responsible for his or her own behavior and how to improve it. Assure the child that everyone makes mistakes. Teach simple repentance. Use the scriptures to teach basic gospel principles. Help the child understand and apply the scriptures.

The Seven-Year Old

Characteristics at this AgeSuggestions for Parents and Teachers
Has better muscular control. Is developing interest and skills in certain games, hobbies, and activities. Gets restless and fidgety. Has nervous habits, and sometimes assumes awkward positions. Is full of energy, but tires easily.Use activities that allow the child to use his or her energy. Allow the child to share his or her special skills. Be patient with annoyances and restlessness, and do not draw attention to awkwardness. Use varied techniques to help maintain the child’s interest and prevent misbehavior. Compliment good behavior.
Is eager to learn. Thinks seriously and more logically. Is able to solve problems that are more complex. Likes to be challenged, work hard, and take time completing a task. Has a good attention span. Enjoys hobbies and using skills. Likes to collect things and talk about personal projects and accomplishments.Ask thought-provoking questions. Use open-ended stories, riddles, thinking games, and discussions to stimulate thinking. Allow the child to make decisions. Give him or her plenty of time to accomplish tasks. Encourage the child to pursue hobbies and interests. Provide opportunities to read scriptures, wordstrips, and stories. Use stories and situations that deal with reality rather than fiction.
Often plays in groups, but sometimes likes to be alone and play quietly. Interacts little with the opposite sex. Is eager to be like peers and have their approval. Is less domineering and less determined to have his or her own way. Likes more responsibility and independence. Is often worried about not doing well.Use activities that require group play, such as games and dramatizations, but respect the child’s desire to work alone occasionally. Do not force interaction with the opposite sex. Praise him or her for positive behavior such as taking turns and sharing. Give the child responsibilities and tasks that he or she can carry out, and then praise efforts and accomplishments.
Dislikes criticism. Is more sensitive to his or her own feelings and those of other people. Is often a perfectionist, and tends to be self-critical. Is inhibited and cautious. Is less impulsive and self-centered than at earlier stages.Encourage concern for others. Build confidence. Instead of criticizing, look for opportunities to show approval and affection. Accept moods and aloofness. Encourage the child to express his or her feelings.
Is aware of right and wrong. Enjoys learning about and practicing gospel principles such as prayer and tithe paying. Understands aspects of the gospel such as the sacrament, faith, repentance, missionary work, the Holy Ghost, and temple work. Wants to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.Provide opportunities for the child to practice making right choices. Help the child understand the consequences of his or her choices. Teach gospel principles in simple, concrete ways, and encourage the child to practice them in daily life. Teach from the scriptures. Prepare the child for baptism and confirmation by helping him or her understand the covenants that he or she will .make

The Eight-Year Old

Characteristics at this AgeSuggestions for Parents and Teachers
Is becoming more coordinated. Wiggles and squirms. Has nervous habits. Plays organized games that require physical skill. Has a good attention span. Wants to be included.Use activities that require coordination and allow the child to use his or her energy. Be patient with clumsiness, unpleasant habits, and squirming. Alternate quiet and active periods. Praise good behavior.
Wants to know the reasons for things. Is anxious to share his or her knowledge. Thinks he or she knows much, but is beginning to recognize that others may know even more. Is judgmental. Has heroes. Enjoys writing, reading, and pretending.Use games, stories, pictures, and problem-solving activities to encourage learning. Use reading, writing, and role playing. Help the child set realistic goals. Encourage the child to be more concerned about his or her own behavior than that of others. Provide the child with appropriate heroes such as Church leaders and other good members of the Church.
Enjoys group play with simple rules. Prefers to be with own gender in group play. Is more cooperative and less insistent on having his or her own way. Wants to have a best friend. Has a strong need for independence, but also relies on adults for guidance and security.Provide opportunities for group interaction, cooperation, and sharing. Supervise activities closely. Recognize that his or her friendships can be intense. Help the child become part of the group if he or she does not have close friends. Praise the child for positive behavior. Let the child work with other children and with you to make class rules and other decisions. Allow him or her to work independently.
Is usually affectionate, helpful, cheerful, outgoing, and curious, but can also be rude, selfish, bossy, and demanding. Is sensitive to criticism. Criticizes self and others. Is sometimes giggly and silly. Experiences guilt and shame.Help the child recognize and deal constructively with negative emotions. Show interest and enthusiasm. Praise and build self-confidence; do not criticize or compare the child with other children. Recognize the child’s efforts and accomplishments. Let the child enjoy humor when appropriate, and be patient with giggling. Teach him or her that others make mistakes.
Is receptive to gospel teachings, but may have questions about them. Is proud of Church membership. Likes living gospel principles. Learns the gospel through concrete examples and participation.Express personal faith and testimony often. Help the child appreciate his or her Church membership and the responsibilities it brings. Challenge the child to live gospel principles. Share personal experiences, scriptures, and stories. Use activities in which the child can participate.

Source: Teaching, No Greater Call, C: Teaching Different Age-Groups, 2: Age Characteristics of Children, p. 110

Use the above information to help you with behavior problems in junior primary.

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