Growth and Development, Ages 2 to 5 Years
Growth and Development, Ages 2 to 5 Years
Promoting Healthy Growth and Development
You can help your child grow by showing love and affection, by talking with and
reading to your child, and by letting your child play. It's also important to set boundaries and
- Offer plenty of opportunities for
exercise. Going to the playground, joining a
gymnastics or dance class, or simply running races in your backyard allows your
child to release excess energy and encourages new physical skills. For more information, see the topic Physical Activity for Children and Teens.
- Help your preschooler learn healthy eating habits. Although you control what, when, and where your child eats,
realize that he or she chooses whether to eat and how much. As long as you offer
nourishing foods from the
major food groups and focus on the big picture—how much is eaten throughout
the day or over a few days—your child should not have
problems. For more information, see the topic
Healthy Eating for Children.
- Encourage safe exploration. Children who explore learn to
master new skills and solve problems. Offer a variety of things to play with,
read, create, and build. Take basic measures to minimize risks. For more information about preventing
accidents and injuries, see the topic
Health and Safety, Ages 2 to 5 Years.
- Encourage a sense of security. This sense of trust
lays the foundation for learning, social skills, adaptability, and emotional
development. Your child is more
likely to feel safe and secure if you are dependable, consistent, respectful,
and responsive. Secure children also keep and strengthen their attachment to their
Emotional and social development
- Provide peer contact. Playing with other children
even 1 day a week gives children opportunities to practice and develop
important social, emotional, and language skills.
- Promote self-control. Children need guidance, clear
limits, and patient parents during this time of behavioral and emotional
struggles. Help your child by modeling and teaching proper behavior. Time-outs can help, when they are used properly
and sparingly. Encourage your child to think about the feelings of other people to develop
- Help your child build self-esteem. Parents have the greatest influence
on a child's belief about himself or herself. Let your child know that he
or she belongs, is doing well, and is contributing.
Sensory and motor development
- Provide a variety of experiences and play environments. Schedule time each day for either indoor or outdoor
physical activity, such as dancing or going to a playground. These activities improve coordination and other large muscle skills. Fine motor
skills develop through things such as art projects (like painting or using scissors) and playing musical instruments.
Nurturing your relationship with your child
Your relationship with your child will constantly change
as your child gains new skills and
develops independence. You can help your child through
each stage by looking at your relationship from time to time. Ask
- What do I like most about my child?
- What could be triggering bad behavior? Are any of these new
- What new skills has my child learned within the past 3 months?
2 months? 1 month?
- What tasks can I encourage my child to do for himself or herself?
How can I encourage him or her?
- When am I happy about how I treat my child?
- What don't I like about some of our interactions? When do these
episodes tend to occur?
If you are the parent or caregiver of children, it is also important
for you to:
- Learn and use effective
parenting and discipline techniques and avoid the use
of corporal punishment. Parenting classes are offered in
most communities. Ask your doctor or call a local hospital for more
- Learn healthy techniques to resolve conflicts and manage
stress. For more information, see the topic
- Ask for help when you need it. Call a family member or friend to
give you a break if you feel overwhelmed. Find community resources to help you with child care or other services that you need. Call a
doctor or local hospital for a place to start. Some communities have respite
care facilities for children. They provide temporary child care during times
when you need a break.
- Get help from
school programs if your child has special
- Seek help if you think you have a problem with alcohol,
depression, stress, or other issues that affect your
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
February 23, 2011
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