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4- to 5-Year-Olds: Developmental Milestones

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4- to 5-Year-Old Development: Emotional and Social Development

Your self-centered child is now figuring out that it is not always about him or her. At this age, children are starting to understand about other people's feelings. Your 4- to 5-year-old should be better able to work through conflicts and control his or her emotions.

Emotional and social development milestones your child may achieve at this age include:

  • Enjoys playing with other children and pleasing his or her friends
  • Shares and takes turns, at least most of the time
  • Understands and obeys rules; however, your 4- to 5-year-old will still be demanding and uncooperative at times.
  • Is becoming more independent
  • Still confuses make-believe with reality
  • Expresses anger verbally, rather than physically (most of the time)

4- to 5-Year-Old Development: When to Be Concerned

All kids grow and develop at their own pace. Don't worry if your child has not reached all of these milestones at this time. But you should notice a gradual progression in growth and development as your child gets older. If you don't, or if your child has signs of possible developmental delay, as listed below, talk to your child's doctor.

Possible signs of developmental delay in 4- to 5-year-old children include:

  • Being extremely afraid, shy, or aggressive
  • Being extremely anxious when separated from a parent
  • Being easily distracted and unable to focus on one task for more than five minutes
  • Not wanting to play with other children
  • Having a limited amount of interests
  • Not making eye contact or responding to other people
  • Being unable to say his or her full name
  • Rarely pretending or fantasizing, and being unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality
  • Often seeming sad and unhappy and not expressing a wide range of emotions
  • Being unable to build a tower using more than eight blocks
  • Having trouble holding a crayon
  • Having problems eating, sleeping, or using the bathroom
  • Having trouble undressing, cannot brush his or her teeth, or wash and dry hands, without help

Also, if your child resists or struggles with doing things that he or she was once able to do, tell your child's doctor. This can be a sign of a developmental disorder. If your child does have developmental delay, there are many treatments available to help your child overcome it.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on October 28, 2014
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