Obedience in Three to Six-Year-Olds

Are you struggling with your children and obedience issues? In this article, we'll give you some tips on setting rules for three to six-year-olds.
Obedience in Three to Six-Year-Olds

Last update: 02 June, 2021

Young children, up to three years old, are relatively compliant when it comes to establishing rules. And due to their evolutionary development, they tend to be more obedient than between the ages of three to six years old. That’s because, from around the age of three, little ones are more reluctant to comply with rules. So, what’s the obedience level for three to six-year-olds?

If we want our children to obey us, we must establish clear rules and limits for them. In this article, you’ll find some tips on how to achieve it.

Obedience for three to six-year-olds

At this age, children’s language has undergone significant development and they begin to lay the foundations of their identity. So, tantrums start to appear, they respond to our orders with, “I don’t like it!” “I don’t want it!” And even worse!

They also begin to have greater social development, as they start going to school. Therefore, rules are no longer limited to the home environment, but should also focus on the social sphere.

A father feeling frustrated because his children won't obey. Three to six-year-olds

For example, some rules that you’ll already be familiar with are as follows:
  • “No running around when waiting to see the doctor!”
  • “We eat sitting down and don’t get up until we’ve finished eating!”
  • “You can’t shout when you’re in the library!”

You’ll always explain what the consequences will be if they don’t follow these rules and, if they follow them, you’ll offer praise and reinforcement in a positive way.

More about the obedience of three to six-year-olds

Although their reasoning isn’t yet fully developed, they understand that if they don’t follow these rules, they’ll face a negative consequence (loss of a reinforcer, or a scolding, etc.) When setting the rules, we have to keep two things in mind:

  • Teach them the rules.
  • Be congruent and coherent. That’s to say, we must always apply the established consequence if they don’t obey the rules. And, in addition, we must do so whenever the circumstance arises so that the child internalizes them.

Children between these ages only take into account their own point of view. This is what’s known as infant egocentrism. Therefore, they won’t take into account any point other than their own.

It’ll always be the parents who have to guide them and establish social norms that they must comply with when you go to any public place. You’ll guide their behaviors and conduct by giving them explanations and indications about what they should or shouldn’t do.

Tips for ensuring three to six-year-olds listen and obey

Children start to misbehave when they become bored, which is something that all parents have noticed. You have to be prepared for this stage because it’s when tantrums start to appear. You mustn’t give in to their wishes and you have to explain to them why they can’t do what they want. Above all, you do have to be firm.

Therefore, it’s important that you take into account certain factors to get children to obey:

A three-year-old sitting at a table in a library.
  • Always be coherent and firm; Apply reinforcements and consequences to their behaviors.
  • Begin to establish social norms so that they know how to behave in public places.
  • Parents must set an example, as children also learn from our behaviors.
  • You must be patient. Sometimes it’s complicated, but you have to be patient because children are developing, but they still have some time left before they reach full maturity.
  • Repeat several times what you want them to do, as needed.
  • When the child has positive behavior and behaves well, you must always congratulate them and tell them how proud you are of them.
  • Don’t yell at them. Things should be said in a firm and confident tone but without shouting.
  • You must be careful with your language; you shouldn’t constantly say, “No!” Or speak in an imperative tone.
  • Whenever you explain how to behave, you should do so while looking them in the eyes and getting down on their level.

Key takeaways regarding obedience

The obedience of children from three to six years old is different from that of later ages because, as children grow, their obedience changes. So, at this stage, we must take into account that we should be firm and, above all, establish and apply the social rules. How they should behave in places such as the doctor’s office, restaurants, stores, the library.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.