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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:

  • Physical development. In these years, a child becomes stronger and starts to look longer and leaner.
  • Cognitive development. A child this age makes great strides in being able to think and reason. In these years, children learn their letters, counting, and colors.
  • Emotional and social development. Between the ages of 2 and 5, children gradually learn how to manage their feelings. By age 5, friends become important.
  • Language. By age 2, most children can say at least 50 words. By age 5, a child may know thousands of words and be able to carry on conversations and tell stories.
  • Sensory and motor development. By age 2, most children can walk up stairs one at a time, kick a ball, and draw simple strokes with a pencil. By age 5, most can dress and undress themselves and write some lowercase and capital letters.

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:

  • Give your child a physical exam.
  • Give your child any needed shots.
  • Weigh and measure your child to see how he or she compares to other children of the same age.
  • Ask questions about your child's behavior and your family.
  • Ask about your child's favorite activities or friends.

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:

  • Is not reaching developmental milestones as expected.
  • Is not growing at a steady pace.
  • Has lost skills he or she used to have, such as talking or running.
  • Is violent or abusive.
  • Doesn't seem to be doing well, even though you can't pinpoint what makes you uneasy.

How can you help your child during these years?

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 03, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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