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Health & Parenting

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Spotting Developmental Delays in Your Child: Ages 3-5

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Motor Skills: What’s Normal continued...

By 3 years, kids usually can:

  • Keep their balance and go up and down stairs
  • Work with small objects
  • Stack more than one block
  • Use both sides of their body
  • Stand on one leg for more than a few seconds

By 4 years, kids usually can:

  • Throw a ball overhead or catch a large ball
  • Jump in place or hop on one foot
  • Ride a tricycle
  • Grasp a crayon between their thumb and fingers and scribble
  • Stack four blocks

By 5 years, kids usually can:

  • Build a tower of six to eight blocks
  • Gallop or skip
  • Use a child-friendly scissors
  • Hold a crayon comfortably
  • Take off their clothing easily
  • Stand on one foot for 10 seconds
  • Walk up or down stairs alternating steps without using the handrail
  • Brush their teeth
  • Wash and dry their hands

Social and Emotional Delays

These problems can mean children have trouble getting along with adults or other children. Most of the time, the issues show up before kids start school.

One common cause of social and emotional delays is called autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. It can affect how a child expresses himself, interacts, behaves, and learns.

What you can do. Treatment for a social or emotional delay depends on the cause and how much it affects your child’s life. You’ll probably work closely with your child’s doctor and other professionals to find what helps him the most.

Medication or special types of behavioral therapy can help if your child has behavior problems from a delay. You can also work with a therapist to learn how to encourage good social and emotional skills at home. The earlier you work on these problems, the more likely your child can catch up to other kids his age.

Social or Emotional Skills: What’s Normal

By 3 years, kids usually:

  • Show interest in other children
  • Get more comfortable being apart from parents or caregivers
  • Can keep good eye contact

By 4 years, kids usually:

  • Cling or cry less often when their parents leave
  • Pay attention to other children
  • Respond to people outside of the family

By 5 years, kids usually:

  • Show a wide range of emotions
  • Can separate from their parents easily
  • Want to play with other children
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