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Preschoolers: What changes can I expect as little kids grow?

Preschoolers are delightful, full of curiosity and questions. As language develops you will be bombarded with questions. Imagine, a whole world out there to discover, explore and understand! Little children are developing more physical dexterity and motor abilities and need constant challenges to their physical capabilities. We'll give you an overview of the child development milestones, but remember there is a lot of overlap, little kids take their own time for each stage.

Click here if you want information and tips on Toddler Development

The Terrific Twos

Unfortunately two year olds are often referred to, as the Terrible Twos. This is a time when little children do get frustrated as they are struggling to communicate and trying so hard to direct this tiny body. They master a huge range of tasks over the next few years. As language develops they can communicate their needs better.

Preschool Girl Playing with Toys Two year olds start to play more imaginatively, for example, using a block as a car, or pretending to read to Teddy. A preschooler will start to imitate daily activities, like feeding dolly, pretending to drink and eat from the teaset.

Little children start to understand object groupings, such as collecting all the cars together, or all the animals.

Your preschool child will try to figure things out, what is that noise?, where has the cat gone? "What doing, Mummy?" or "What's that?" will be constant questions!

Language development is really noticeable from aged two, stringing more words together and verbally expressing her needs more and more. As language develops, frustrations tend to decrease as your preschooler is able to express herself.

A two year old child starts to recognize pain location, ie sore ear, sore tummy - so helpful, starts to eliminate the guesswork!

By the end of year two most little children will have achieved toilet training, with the occasional accident when they are too busy!

Parenting Tips For preschoolers Little children at this age are often negatively classified as The Terrible Twos. Of course as Law of Attraction Parents we know better! Sure this is a time where young children can get overwhelmed. There is so much to learn and all the things they want to do NOW and sometimes their little body can't quite do it yet.

But most of the tantrums are power struggles between Parents and preschoolers, and much of these are from time constraints. You want to hurry and go out to do the shopping, your preschooler wants to put his own socks and shoes on!

Having patience and allowing little kids the time they need to do tasks themselves is probably one of your biggest challenges! It is so tempting to take over and do stuff for your child to save time, but if you want them to be confident and self sufficient later in life they have to learn to make mistakes and try again without feeling they are failing or not pleasing you!

Double the time you think it takes to get ready to go out so your little one has plenty of time to do some things for himself. Familiar routines are important, and Two year olds get very attached to doing things in the same order and can get confused or frustrated if you muck it up - hence the terrible twos!

Decisions Decisions....

Life is very busy for preschoolers and their Mums (Moms) and Dads. As the world opens up for your preschooler there will be many choices and decisions throughout her day. Many little ones get overwhelmed with choice, and I believe parents often set themselves up for difficulties when little kids are offered too many choices.

Your preschooler may have started to recognize when she is hungry but not know what she wants to eat or how to put it into words. Inviting a decision is often just confusing and you will often get the standard No! I also think parents are often dis-empowered when their two year old rules the roost - maybe that is where the terrible twos comes from!

Asking for a decision is different from offering choices. You can present a plate of various kinds of food and they can pick and choose without having to think about it. But trying to get a cognitive decision about "what do you want to eat?" is too confusing!

Parenting Tips For Little kids A really good rule of thumb for any age group is giving children decisions about their day based on their age.

So a two year old can cope with two decisions in a day. For example, "do you want to wear the blue pants or the red pants?" rather than all the clothes ending up on the floor! "Shall we play with the ball or read a story?"

As the day goes on and your preschooler gets tired, don't keep asking them to make a decision and communicate it. Offer a bowl of mixed fruit and vegetables so they can still choose but don't have to think and make a decision.

As your child gets older, they make more decisions and about more complex things, a five year old can make five decisions in a day, what to wear to school (if they don't have a uniform), what to have in his sandwiches, which friend to have home after school, whether to wash or dry the dishes, for example.

A teenager will be moving into making most of the major decisions about their day and starting to make complex decisions about their future.

Busy Times!

Preschool boy stacking blocks As preschoolers develop better hand-eye coordination they can start to put objects together and take them apart. Different sized stacking or nesting toys are great, puzzles and toys that DO something.

Little kids will squat for long periods whilst playing, and have developed intense concentration when they are intrigued by something.

Your preschooler is gaining physical confidence and will and attempt physical challenges, climbing up on chairs, going up stairs - but not with alternating feet yet. Rope nets are a great challenge for preschool children to climb. Little children gain more balance, attempting balancing, on one leg, walking on a low beam, stepping from stone to stone.

Your two year old can:
  • Can turn a handle to open a door and unscrew lids.
  • Uses feet to push along a wheeled ride-on toy.
  • By the end of year two, will probably have 20 baby teeth.
  • Learns to jump - Jumping down from steps, logs etc.
  • Learns to unbuttons large buttons, or work a zipper.

Caring And Sharing

Preschool children start to show empathy and caring, comforting a crying friend or "kissing it better". Small children love helping with chores, setting the table, putting the washing in the basket. A Two year old still plays alongside others, may offer toys but hasn't yet learned to play cooperatively. "Mine" is a common statement! He won't learn to share until around three years old.

And Now We Are Three....

A Three year old doesn't need much help eating except maybe to cut things up. At this age little kids can carefully carry cups or bowls with liquids and not spill it.

Water play is great learning at this age. Learning to control liquids, and understanding fluid measurements. For example, Half and full bottles of water; Which is more, this or this?

Small children will show increasing independence, washing hands and brushing his own teeth.

A three year old will get better control of crayons and markers, holding them properly rather than in a fist.

Physical Stuff!

Preschoolers need lots of physical activities and their little body is mastering many skills. Little Kids from about three on start to use alternating feet when going up and down stairs. Jumping is more skillful, landing on both feet or jumping up and down on the spot. Jumping and physical games and rhymes are great at this age. Three year olds usually learn to pedal a tricycle, and loves swings and slides.

A Three Year old is developing Ball skills:

  • starts to throw overarm and aim improves. (my aim never did!)
  • Can catch a large ball with both arms.
  • Your preschool child learns to kick a ball (and hopefully not the dog!)

Chit Chat and Games

Your three year old preschooler will be talking non stop, most of it understandable! He will start to use descriptive words, such as the big yellow teddy, and more complex sentences. Little kids often talk to themselves and imaginary (so called!) friends.

Socially, your three year old is friendly and eager to please. Preschool children start to play with other children, learning to co-operate and share toys. Make believe play, dress-ups and lets pretend become frequent activities.

Simple games and group activities are great fun and excellent learning. Taking turns is not always easy, and win/loose games hard to cope with.

Your three year old:

  • Enjoys building with blocks.
  • Builds a tower of eight or more blocks.
  • Enjoys playing with clay; pounds, rolls, and squeezes it
  • May begin to show hand dominance.
  • Can stack things in order of size

Your preschooler may have the occasional nightmare or get scared of the dark or monsters. He may continue to have a special blanky, or favorite toy for comfort.

Click here for tips on empowering kids with nightmares

Ask Annie Your Parenting Questions
Online Coaching with Annie - is your child having nightmares? or strange dreams? Do you have other burning questions about your preschooler? Ask a question or read click the link above and scroll to the bottom to read what other parents have asked.

Your Preschooler Heads To Kindergarten

From Preschooler to Kindergarten
This article has heaps of information and Inspiring tips for Kindergarten Kids. What is in store for your preschool children aged between four - six years as they prepare for school?

More Child Development Articles

Child Development
This page has links to other stages of Child Development, find out what to expect with school kids, or teenagers.

Young Kids Start School
Going to school heralds a major milestone in our children's life. Check out what's in store for you as a parent, lots of Tips and information.

Parenting Coach
Interested in having a Parenting Coach to empower you to be the parent you aspire to be? Check out my coaching page to see what I offer parents.
Fabulous Resource For Busy Moms

One of our wonderful Mom's wrote in to tell us about this great craft activities book for preschoolers.

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Crafts For Preschoolers


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Preschoolers learning

ABC Fun and 123

An easy-to-use, literature-rich preschool curriculum to make learning the ABC and Numeracy heaps of fun!

Weekly preschool lesson plans to use at home, printable worksheets, easy kids crafts, children’s stories, nursery rhymes and more are included.

This downloadable program is excellent, I highly recommend you grab a copy for your family.

Parenting Tips For Young Kids


If your little child is having bad dreams, teach them they have a TV set in their head, and they can turn the movie off when it is scary. They can pretend they have a little remote control in bed and CLICK off it goes.

Help them to create a good movie with their favorite teddy coming to the rescue or to ask for their little helpers to help them.

Many tiny children clearly see or communicate with their guides and helping them to strengthen that bond when they need a bit of help is a great idea. It doesn't matter whether you believe in spirit guides or think they are imaginary friends, either way you can teach your preschooler to use that as a resource to get help when they need it. If they are developing their inner resources then it is all good!

Get these gorgeous Good Fairy Wall Decals to chase those bad dreams away! They are removable, so you can change the room to suit.

Parenting Tips For Little Children Keep on reading! A Three year old will love turning the pages and will pretend to read familiar stories, often requesting the same one over and over. Stories with puzzles or questions that encourage him to interact are great. Small children start to ask questions during stories, trying to understand the bigger picture, or solve a problem. Plus reading together is a great cuddle time!
Preschooler with Family Reading

Inspiration for Managing Behavior Issues

Disciplining children.
For more ideas on how to discipline a child read my article on disciplining kids.

Do Children Misbehave?
More ideas on handling misbehaving children, and understanding their needs.


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Did you know a two year old's brain is 80% the size it will be as an adult?

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Shirleys Preschool
Shirley has loads of preschool activities on her site, you will finds heaps of ideas to keep your preschoolers occupied!

Did you know you can predict your child's adult height at aged three? Girls height at three will be 57% of their adult height and Boys 53%!

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