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Normal Growth and Development of Preschoolers

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is the normal growth and development of preschoolers?

Normal growth and development is how your preschooler grows physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. A preschooler is 2 to 5 years old.

What physical changes happen?

  • Your child may gain about 4 to 6 pounds each year. Boys may weigh about 29 to 40 pounds during this time. They may be 35 to 42 inches tall. Girls may weigh 27 to 39 pounds. They may be 34 to 42 inches tall.
  • Your child's balance will continue to improve. He or she will be able to stand on one foot. He or she will also learn to walk up and down the stairs alternating his feet. He or she may also be able to skip and throw a ball. During these years he learns to dress and feed himself or herself and to use the toilet on his own.
  • Your child will improve his fine motor skills. He or she will learn to hold a book and turn the pages. He or she will learn to hold a pen and write his name.

What emotional and social changes happen?

You have the biggest influence on your child's emotional and social development. Your child will become more independent. He or she will start to be interested in playing with other children. Simple tasks, such as dressing himself or herself, will help boost his self-confidence. He or she will learn how to handle his emotions better and the frustration and temper tantrums will improve.

What mental changes happen?

  • Your child has a very active imagination. He or she may be afraid of the dark and may fear monsters or ghosts. He or she may pretend to be another character when he plays. He or she will learn his colors and letters. He or she will start to learn the idea of time. He or she will be able to retell familiar stories and follow complex directions.
  • Your child's vocabulary increases. He or she may use 4 or more words to make sentences. He or she may use basic rules of grammar, such as talking in the past tense.

How can I help my preschooler?

  • Help your child get enough sleep. He needs 11 to 13 hours each day, including 1 or 2 naps. Set up a routine at bedtime. Make sure his room is cool and dark.
  • Give your child a variety of healthy foods each day. This includes fruit, vegetables, and protein, such as chicken, fish, and beans. Preschoolers can be picky about what they eat. Do not force your child to eat. Give him or her water to drink. Have your child sit with the family at mealtime, even if he does not want to eat.
    Healthy Foods
  • Let your child have play time. Play time helps him or her learn and develops his imagination. Play time also improves his skills and gives him or her self-confidence.
  • Read with your child to help develop his language and reading skills. Ask your child simple questions about the story to develop learning and memory. Place books that are appropriate for his age within his reach.
    Read with Your Child
  • Set clear rules and be consistent. Set limits for your child. Praise and reward him or her when he does something positive. Do not criticize or show disapproval when your child has done something wrong. Instead, explain what you would like him or her to do and tell him or her why.
  • Listen when your child speaks. Be patient and use short, clear sentences to help him or her learn to communicate clearly.

What are some safety tips?

  • Do not give your child small objects that can fit in his mouth and cause him or her to choke. Choose safe toys without small parts.
  • Do not give your child toys with sharp edges. Do not let him or her play with plastic bags, rope, or cords.
  • Clean your child's toys regularly and store them safely. Make sure your child's toys are made of nontoxic material.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.