Growth and Development, Ages 2 to 5 Years
How does a child grow and develop between the ages of 2 and 5?
The ages between 2 and 5 are often called the preschool years. During these years, children change from clumsy toddlers into lively explorers of their world. A child develops in these main areas:
Each child grows and gains skills at his or her own pace. It is common for a child to be ahead in one area, such as language, but a little behind in another.
Learning what is normal for children this age can help you spot problems early or feel better about how your child is doing.
Why are routine medical visits needed?
Routine checkups usually are scheduled several times during ages 2 to 5. These routine checkups are called well-child visits. They are important to check for problems and to make sure that your child is growing and developing as expected.
During these visits, the doctor will:
Well-child visits are a good time to talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about your child's health, growth, or behavior. Between visits, write down any questions you want to ask the doctor next time.
When should you call a doctor?
Call your doctor anytime you have a concern about your child's physical or emotional health. Be sure to call if your child:
How can you help your child during these years?
It's important to learn about some of the behaviors you can expect during these years of rapid change. Temper tantrums, thumb-sucking, and nightmares are common issues in children this age. Knowing what to expect can help you to be patient and get through the stressful moments.
The best thing you can do for your child is to show your love and affection. But there are also many other ways you can help your preschooler grow and learn.
Raising a preschooler can be challenging. What works or is right for a 2-year-old may not be right for a 5-year-old. Taking a parenting class can help you learn how to deal with issues as they arise. To find a class, ask your child's doctor or call a local hospital.
Frequently Asked Questions
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What to Expect
General development between ages 2 and 5 years
Children grow in natural, predictable steps, moving from one milestone to the next. You will see gains in five major areas.
Milestones by age
By 2 years of age , most children:
By 3 years of age , most children:
By 4 years of age , most children:
By 5 years of age , most children:
It's common for parents to have questions about their child's sleep, safety, toilet training, and difficult emotions and behavior.
Preschool children need about 11 to 13 hours of sleep each day. Your child may go through phases when he or she resists resting.
To help foster good sleep habits, you can:
To help keep a child safe, a parent or caregiver must always be aware of the child's abilities and the environment, whether it is the home, a playground, or a public place. These abilities change as the child grows and gains new skills.
For more information on safety issues, see the topic Health and Safety, Ages 2 to 5.
Children between ages 2 and 5 have many intense emotions that they do not fully understand. As a result, expect your young child to not always listen to you. Be patient, and do your best to be consistent about setting limits to avoid some common issues. These may include:
Each child learns to use the toilet at his or her own pace. Most children are ready for toilet training when they are between 22 and 30 months of age.
It can be hard to know when to start toilet training. Your child's physical and emotional readiness is the most important aspect of the timing. You and your child will likely become frustrated if you try toilet training before your child is ready.
For more information, see the topic Toilet Training.
Promoting Healthy Growth and Development
You can help your child grow by showing love and affection, by talking with and reading to your child, and by letting your child play. It's also important to set boundaries and limits.
Emotional and social development
Sensory and motor development
Nurturing your relationship with your child
Your relationship with your child will constantly change as your child gains new skills and develops independence. You can help your child through each stage by looking at your relationship from time to time. Ask yourself:
If you are the parent or caregiver of children, it is also important for you to:
When to Call a Doctor
Although your child grows at his or her own pace, be aware of signs of a developmental delay . The earlier you identify a delay, the better chance you have of getting the right treatment for your child that can prevent or minimize long-term problems.
In general, talk to a doctor anytime your child:
Routine well-child visits allow your child's doctor to keep a close eye on your child's general health and development. You also can discuss any concerns you have at these appointments. It may help you to go with a prepared list of questions (What is a PDF document?) .
The doctor typically will:
For more information, see:
Routine screening tests for hearing and vision take place during the preschool years. A specialist may do formal tests if your child's screening results are poor or if there are any developmental concerns at ages 2 to 5.
Mental and emotional health
The doctor will talk with both you and your child to get a sense of your child's mental, emotional, and social development. Questions typically cover:
In addition to the above assessments, doctors usually ask questions specific to a child's age.
Other Places To Get Help
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