Normal Growth And Development Of Preschoolers


  • Preschoolers are children who are 2 to 5 years of age. This time period is a stage of continuing growth and development for your young child. Your child's motor (movement) skills improve. He learns to skip, walk up and down the stairs on alternating feet, and throw a ball. He learns to dress and feed himself, and use the toilet on his own. He has better control of his hands and fingers, and can turn paper pages and write. Your child's ability to talk and to understand thoughts also improve. He can retell simple stories and follow complex directions. Your child's imagination also plays a big role in how he perceives things during the preschool years.

  • The parents or family have the greatest influence on a preschooler's emotional development. During this time, your child starts to mingle with other people. He may want to do more things on his own, and this may lead to frustration and temper outbursts. Later, your child may be able to handle his emotions better. He learns to accept limits and gains freedom by doing and mastering self-help skills.


Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.

Helping your child:

  • Help your child get enough sleep: Make sure your child gets enough sleep (about 11 to 13 hours) everyday. Schedule his night sleep with the same bed time and wake time. Bedtime routines are also helpful for your child. Keep the room cool and quiet. Avoid giving your child food or drinks with caffeine, especially after lunchtime. Caffeine, which may be found in chocolate, tea, and cola, may delay his sleep.

  • Read with your child: Reading books together helps improve your child's language and reading skills. Asking your child about the story will help develop learning and memory. Ask him what he thinks will happen in the story to practice his creativity and imagination.

  • Set clear rules that do not change: Time out may be used as a way to discipline your child. This lets him quiet down and think about what he did. It also gives you time to calm down and stay in control. Set limits for your child. Praise and reward your child when it is suitable. Do not criticize or show disapproval when he has done something wrong. Explain what you would like him to do instead, and tell him why.


  • Give your child a variety of healthy food each day. A balanced diet should include fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and protein (such as chicken, fish, and beans). Limit the amount of sweets and fats. Meals prepared at home may be more nutritious for your child. It is important to be sure that what your child eats and drinks is healthy.

  • Do not give your child too much juice or milk. Drinking too much juice or milk may decrease your child's appetite. Juice given each day should only be 4 to 6 ounces. Whole milk should not be more than 16 to 24 ounces.

  • Have your child sit with the family at mealtime even if he does not want to eat. This way, he will still see different foods and develop his taste at his own pace. Do not force your child to eat.

  • Ask your child's caregiver if your child should be on a special diet.


Play time helps his learning, improves his skills, and boosts his self-confidence. It helps your child develop physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

  • Games and toys:

    • Computer and video games should only be used with an adult. These should be used for 1 to 2 hours a day or less.

    • Give your child toys that let him use his imagination. Make sure your child's toys or games are fit for his age.

    • Let your child play with other children. Do not get involved with their play if possible. Children who play on their own learn to make decisions, work in groups, and solve problems.

    • Play with your child. This helps you know your child and lets you see what he can already do.

  • Safe play:

    • Do not give your child toys with loose string, rope, ribbons, or a cord.

    • Do not let your child play with toys that have sharp edges.

    • Clean your child's toys regularly.

    • Keep away small objects that may fit in your child's mouth and cause choking. Make sure his toys are safe for his age without small parts that may easily be removed or taken apart.

    • Make sure your child's toys are made of nontoxic (not poisonous) material.

    • Make sure your child's toys are stored safely when not in use. Do not store toys in boxes with lids.

Road safety:

Use approved car seats correctly. There are many types of car safety seats. Before you choose a safety seat for your child, check the age and weight limits for the seat. Do not put your child in a safety seat that is not right for his age or size. Never put your child in the front seat of a car with a safety airbag. Ask caregivers for more information on the different types of car seats and how to use them. You may also contact:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington , DC 20590
    Phone: 1- 888 - 327-4236
    Web Address:


  • Your child does not want to eat.

  • Your child has trouble sleeping.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's growth and development, such as the following:

    • Your child cannot follow two-step commands without using actions.

    • Your child is four years of age and cannot recite nursery rhymes.

    • Your child is five years of age and cannot recognize words that rhyme.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.