Preschoolers: 3-5 year olds

Lots of learning takes place at this stage, and the questions preschoolers ask seem endless. It’s important to answer as well as you can in short simple sentences, and to remember that they need to have time and space to be active. Fears, showing off and using "bad words" are typical during this phase.

  • Simple wooden puzzles, blocks, fat crayons and large paper will help develop fine-motor skills and prepare for school.
  • Night lights and stuffed animals to cuddle help with night fears, which are normal as their imaginations start to develop.
  • Let your child help with simple household jobs and praise what she is able to do.
  • Ignore "bad words." Work hard at not overreacting, laughing or giving any attention to this behavior.

As your parenting skills are developing, so are your children’s social skills. Try a Mother’s Morning Out program at a local church, parent/child or family center to give both of you a break. What to expect from a preschool child Parents naturally compare their kid with other kids. We’re always wondering if our child is "normal." Well, in a study of 555 average children of preschool age, the following behaviors were observed:

Most 2, 3 and 4-year olds…

  • Pay no attention to what they are asked to do
  • Cry easily, sulk
  • Say "no," refuse to do what is expected or asked
  • Pick nose, play with fingers
  • Are pokey, waste time eating, dressing and washing
  • Stay close to adults
  • Leave tasks undone, start but don’t finish
  • Seek attention by showing off, look for praise
  • Wiggle around, don’t sit still
  • Go to adults with criticisms of others; boss others
  • Laugh, squeal and jump around most of the time
  • Stay awake at nap time; don’t want to rest; refuse food
  • Grab toys, shove, hit, scratch others
  • Refuse to share with other children
  • Speak indistinctly
  • Ask for unnecessary help
  • Are hard to reason with

One-third to one-half of all 2-, 3- and 4-year olds…

  • Tell fanciful stories as real or untrue
  • Won’t play with others
  • Grumble, whine
  • Chew objects, suck thumb, lisp, twist hair
  • Are shy, fear strangers
  • Are jealous

More than one-fourth of all 2-, 3- and 4-year olds…

  • Bite nails, twitch, handle genitals
  • Break toys, tear books, mark walls or furniture
  • Have temper tantrums
  • Wet their pants during the day
  • Fear animals and loud noises
  • Secretly take things that belong to others