A preschool child's body takes on a more mature, lean look, replacing the 2-year-old's protruding belly and more babyish proportions. Actual physical growth during this period is slower than the rapid growth seen in the first 2 years of life, but the outward changes can be dramatic.
Muscular development continues as coordination increases and advanced preschool skills—such as hopping, kicking, and throwing—are learned. Preschoolers also develop the specialized coordination needed to hold a pencil in writing position, use buttons and zippers, and brush their teeth.
Cognitive development is the process by which the brain develops the abilities to think, learn, and remember. Although preschool children rapidly develop cognitive skills, parents sometimes overestimate and expect too much from their children. Even at age 5, most children are at an early cognitive stage that is based on egocentric and magical thinking.
This perspective limits children's ability to see other points of view—they tend to see everything that happens as directly related to themselves. It is not selfishness but rather a developmental phase where the concepts of cause and effect are just beginning to form.
Emotional & Social Development
Preschool children's emotional development is like a roller-coaster ride.
They swing from close, sometimes clinging dependence on their caregivers to the opposite extreme of defiant and exuberant independence. They also begin to develop social skills, such as self-control, sharing, and cooperating with others. A sense of empathy can start to develop, if encouraged by parents.
As these children develop a "sense of self," a consciousness of being an individual, they also gradually realize that others have views or feelings that are different from their own.
An explosion of speech and language development takes place between ages 2 and 5. Your child's vocabulary expands from around 150 words at 24 months to around 14,000 words at 5 years. In addition, preschool children learn many language concepts, such as different names for the same object or person and the concepts of past, present, and future.