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Developmental milestones in children, part two

What does your toddler do?
What does your toddler do?
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Parents often wonder if their child is demonstrating the proper developmental skill level as other children the same age. In this second article, developmental milestones are discussed for those children ages four and five. Every child is different but it is important to observe these patterns in order to determine if the child might have some delays which require remediation. By watching for developmental milestones, interventions can be initiated in order to help each child reach their full potential.

Children reach these milestones at different times in the area of physical development, mental development, speech and language development as well as emotional development but this is a general guideline. If your child is not demonstrating the age appropriate skills in one or more of these areas, then talk to your child’s doctor. Referrals for assessments through public preschool may be required.

At four years of age your child should be able to:
Social and emotional
• Enjoys doing new things
• Plays “Mom” and “Dad”
• Is more and more creative with make-believe play
• Would rather play with other children than by himself/herself
• Cooperates with other children
• Often can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
• Talks about what he/she likes and what he/she is interested in

• Knows some basic rules of grammar, such as correctly using “he “or “she”
• Sings a song or says a poem from memory such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “The Wheels on the Bus”
• Tells stories.
• Can say first and last name

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
• Names some colors and some numbers
• Understands the idea of counting
• Starts to understand time
• Remembers parts of a story
• Understands the idea of “same” and “different”
• Draws a person with 2 to 4 body parts
• Uses scissors
• Starts to copy some capital letters
• Plays board or card games
• Tells you what he/she thinks is going to happen next in a book

Movement/Physical Development
• Hop and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds
• Catches a bounced ball most of the time
• Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food

Act early by talking to your child’s doctor if your child:
• Cannot jump in place
• Has trouble scribbling
• Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe
• Ignores other children or does not respond to people outside the family
• Resists dressing, sleeping and using the toilet
• Cannot retell a favorite story
• Does not follow 3 part commands
• Does not understand “same” and “different”
• Does not use “me” and “you” correctly
• Speaks unclearly
• Loses skills he/she once had

At five years of age, your child should be able to do the following:

Social and Emotional
• Wants to please friends
• Wants to be like friends
• More likely to agree with rules
• Likes to sing, dance and act
• Shows concern and sympathy for others
• Is aware of gender
• Can tell what is real and what is make-believe
• Shows more independence (for example, may visit next door neighbor by self). Adult supervision is still needed.
• Is sometimes demanding and sometimes very cooperative

• Speaks very clearly
• Tells a simple story using full sentences
• Uses future tense: for example “Grandma will be here.
• Says name and address

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
• Counts 10 or more things
• Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts
• Can print some letters or numbers
• Copies a triangle and other geometric shapes
• Knows about things used every day, like money or food

Movement/Physical Development
• Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
• Hops; may be able to skip
• Can do a somersault
• Uses a fork or spoon and sometimes a table knife
• Can use the toilet on his/her own
• Swings and climbs

Act early by talking to your child’s doctor if your child has any of these concerns:
• Does not show a wide range of emotions
• Shows extreme behavior (unusually fearful, aggressive, shy or sad)
• Unusually withdrawn and not active
• Is easily distracted, has trouble focusing on one activity for more than 5 minutes
• Does not respond to people or responds only superficially
• Can’t tell what is real and what is make-believe
• Does not play a variety of games and activities
• Cannot give first and last name
• Does not use plurals or past tense properly
• Does not talk about daily activities or experiences
• Does not draw pictures
• Cannot brush teeth, wash and dry hands, or get undressed without help
• Loses skills he/she once had.

Keep a journal if you are concerned and speak to your child’s doctor or other health care worker for assistance.

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