4- to 5-Year-Olds: Developmental Milestones

Your child is growing up. Have you noticed that your 4- to 5-year-old is becoming more independent and self-confident? If not, you will in the coming year.

Most children this age begin to develop greater independence, self-control, and creativity. They are content to play with their toys for longer periods of time, are eager to try new things, and when they get frustrated, are better able to express their emotions.

Although children grow and develop at their own pace, your child will likely achieve most of the following developmental milestones before he or she turns 6 years old.

4- to 5-Year-Old Development: Language and Cognitive Milestones

Your curious and inquisitive child is better able to carry on a conversation. In addition, your child's vocabulary is growing -- as is his or her thought process. Not only is your child able to answer simple questions easily and logically, but he or she should be able to express feelings better.

Most children at this age enjoy singing, rhyming, and making up words. They are energetic, silly, and, at times, rowdy and obnoxious.

Other language and cognitive milestones your child may achieve in the coming year include being able to:

  • Speak clearly using more complex sentences
  • Count ten or more objects
  • Correctly name at least four colors and three shapes
  • Recognize some letters and possibly write his or her name
  • Better understand the concept of time and the order of daily activities, like breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and dinner at night
  • Have a greater attention span
  • Follow two- to three-part commands. For example, "Put your book away, brush your teeth, and then get in bed."
  • Recognize familiar words, such as "STOP"
  • Know his or her address and phone number, if taught

4- to 5-Year-Old Development: Movement Milestones and Hand and Finger Skills

Children learn through play, and that is what your 4- to 5-year-old should be doing. At this age, your child should be running, hopping, throwing and kicking balls, climbing, and swinging with ease.

Other movement milestones and hand and finger skills your child may achieve in the coming year include being able to:

  • Stand on one foot for more than 9 seconds
  • Do a somersault and hop
  • Walk up and down stairs without help
  • Walk forward and backwards easily
  • Peddle a tricycle
  • Copy a triangle, circle, square, and other shapes
  • Draw a person with a body
  • Stack 10 or more blocks
  • Use a fork and spoon
  • Dress and undress, brush teeth, and take care of other personal needs without much help

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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

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Developmental Milestones: 4 to 5 years old."

National Network of Childcare: "Ages & Stages Four-Year-Olds."

The Mayo Clinic: "Child Development Chart: Preschool Milestones."

CDC: "Important Milestones: By the End of Four Years (48 Months)."

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