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The Nurturing Parent

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  1. Introduction
  2. Getting Started & Assessment
    Description and Orientation
  3. Change, Growth and Letting Go
  4. My Life Script
  5. Nurturing Parenting
    Nurturing as a Lifestyle
  6. Nurturing Skills Rating Scale
  7. Cultural Parenting Traditions
    My Cultural Portrait
  8. Developing Spirituality in Parenting
    Ways to Increase Spirituality
  9. Making Good Choices
    Smoking and My Child's Health
  10. Families & Alcohol Use
  11. Families and Alcohol Use Questionnaire
  12. 12 Steps to Keeping Children Drug Free
  13. Self-Awareness Quiz
  14. Love, Sex, STDs and AIDS
  15. Dating, Love and Rejection
  16. Touch, Personal Space, and Date Rape
  17. Possessive and Violent Relationships
  18. Growth and Development of Children
    Children's Brain Development
  19. The Male and Female Brain
  20. Ages & Stages: Appropriate Expectations
  21. Ages & Stages: Infant Development
  22. Ages & Stages: Toddler Development
  23. Ages & Stages: Preschooler Development
  24. Ages & Stages: Skills Strips
  25. Feeding Young Children Nutritious Foods
  26. Toilet Training
  27. Keeping My Children Safe
  28. The Importance of Touch
    The Importance of Parent/Child Touch
  29. Infant & Child Massage (Refer to the Nurturing Book for Babies and Children)
  30. Developing Empathy
    Developing Empathy
  31. Getting My Needs Met
  32. Myths and Facts About Spoiling Your Children
  33. Recognizing and Understanding Feelings
    Helping Children Learn How to Handle Their Feelings
  34. "Feelings" Exercise
  35. Criticism, Confrontation and Rules for "Fair Fighting"
  36. Problem Solving, Decision Making, Negotiation and Compromise
  37. Managing and Communicating Feelings
    Understanding and Handling Stress
  38. Understanding and Expressing Anger
  39. Understanding Discipline
    Improving Self-Worth
  40. Measuring My Self-Worth
  41. Children's Self-Worth
  42. Ten Ways to Improve Children's Self-Worth
  43. Developing Personal Power in Children and Adults
  44. Helping Children Manage Their Behavior
  45. Understanding Discipline
  46. Developing Family Morals and Values
  47. Developing Family Rules
  48. Child Proofing Your Home
  49. Home Safety Checklist
  50. Safety Reminders by Age
  51. Rewards and Punishments
    Using Rewards to Guide and Teach Children
  52. Using Punishments to Guide and Teach Children
  53. Praising Children and Their Behavior
  54. Time Out
  55. Punishing Children's Inappropriate Behavior
    Why Parents Spank Their Children
  56. Verbal and Physical Redirection
  57. Ignoring Inappropriate Behavior
  58. Developing Nurturing Parenting Routines
    Establishing Nurturing Parenting Routines
  59. Nurturing Diapering and Dressing Routine
  60. Nurturing Feeding Time Routine
  61. Nurturing Bath Time Routine
  62. Nurturing Bed Time Routine
  63. Prenatal Parenting
    Changes in Me and You
  64. Body Image
  65. Keeping Our Bodies and Babies Healthy
  66. Health and Nutrition
  67. Fetal Development
  68. Foster and Adoptive Parents
    Foster & Adoptive Children: Attachment, Separation, and Loss
  69. Expectations on foster and Adopted Children
  70. Worksheet for Adoptive Parents
  71. Worksheet for Foster Parents
    Parenting Resources
Lesson 23 of 72
In Progress

Ages & Stages: Preschooler Development

Hope4Families October 25, 2022

The preschool period in a child’s life is an exciting time. During this time, the child reaches out to the world beyond their home. For them, the world is an exciting place with many things to do, to touch, to experience, and to eat. Although the preschool child cannot read or write, or compute logical processes, the quest for knowledge overrides any developmental limitations. The preschool years set the stage for experiences, friends, and accomplishments obtained outside the home.

Physical Development

In comparison to earlier stages of development, the physical growth of the preschool child has slowed down considerably. Nevertheless, preschoolers usually gain two ½ to 3 inches in height each year, and 3-5 pounds in weight. The physical growth of the brain achieves about 90% of its adult size around the age of 5 years. The growth of the brain facilitates control of involuntary movements. Bold skills are refined and elaborated, and are put to new use. The basic motor abilities are present.

Large Muscle Development (Gross Motor)

  • Takes longer steps when running or walking (5 years)
  • Catches large ball (4-5 years)
  • Skips on one foot (4-5 years)
  • Hops on one foot (4-5 years)
  • Many can broad jump 28 to 35 inches (5-6 years)

Small Muscle Development (Fine Motor)

  • Children can draw, use scissors, and begin to color (4-6 years)
  • Can get close to drawing a person (5 years)
  • Can begin to read, write (5-6 years)
  • Copies shapes – can draw square and triangle, probably not a diamond (5-6 years)
  • Can paint with broad strokes (5-6 years)

Intellectual Development

Preschoolers are intellectually curious and actively seek to learn as much about their environment as they can. They learn to represent objects, persons, and perceptions with symbols. It is the beginning of functional language. They no longer are tied to what is physically present. Questions begin during the preschool years, first about the names of objects and activities, then about the purpose of routine. Increased questions, dreams, nightmares, and fantasy in play are all indications of advances in intellect.

During the preschool., children believe everything exists for a purpose, even themselves. As such, the child’s questions usually reflect such interest: “Mommy, why is there rain?” “Where do babies come from?” Answer such questions in terms of purpose or function. “It rains to make the trees and flowers grow.” “Babies come from mommies.” When children receive a response that suggests a function or purpose, they are usually satisfied.

Preschool children have limited concepts of things and only pay attention to a small number of characteristics. For example, if they see water poured from a short fat glass into a tall thin one, the child may say there is more water in the tall one, even though no water has been added. Preschoolers cannot easily understand relational terms such as “longer” or “smaller” unless the objects compared are very different.

Language Development

Preschool children are active conversationalists. As they develop intellectually, their language usage increases.

  • Vocabulary of about 900 words at three years; 2,000 words at five to six years.
  • By the age of five years, children use complete sentences strung together with conjunctions.
  • Although they speak clearly, children will have problems with pronunciation and stuttering. These problems are usually temporary and a normal part of development. 
  • They experiment with sounds, often making up rhyming words (3-6 years).
  • Uses “because” “how””why” in their efforts to interpret cause and effect (4-6 years).
  • Conversations tend to be one-sided (4-6 years).
  • Children love to giggle with “toilet talk” i.e. words such as poo-poo, pee-pee, etc. It’s not until later years that children learn to adapt conversation to suit the company.

Social/Emotional Development

Preschoolers are highly social beings. They are ready to reach out and interact with other children in a more responsive fashion. A sense of self as a person; an “I” who thinks, feels, and acts is ready to interact in a more assertive way with their environment.

Initiative vs. Guilt

The social Dimension that appears during this stage is initiative, at one pole, and guilt, at the other. Children initiate activities due mainly to their gaining Mastery of their abilities. This holds true for motor, language, and play activities. Whether the child will leave this stage with a sense of initiative or sense of guilt depends to a considerable extent on how parents respond to self initiated activities. Children who are given freedom to initiate motor, language, and play activities have their sense of initiative reinforced. On the other hand children are made to feel their motor activities are bad, questions are a nuisance, and play it’s silly or stupid, guilt over self-initiated activities will develop that could persist during later life stages. 

Play/Imaginary Friends

By H5, children can play cooperatively in a small group. When children aren’t available to play with, they invent imaginary companions to fill the void. Imaginary friends are fairly common beginning around age three. Children who have imaginary companions are often bright, creative, verbal, more cooperative, and more aggressive than children who do not. The existence of imaginary friends suggests that children generate the kinds of experiences they need for their own development that the environment cannot provide.

Sex Roles and Identify

Most preschoolers play with both boys and girls but by H6 prefer friends of their own sex. Girls imitate their mothers; boys try hard to act like men.

Nighttime Wetting

Children usually have learned to be potty trained around three years of age. However, accidents can happen and do, usually at night. Nighttime wetting is more common among boys than girls, largely due to the fact that the nervous system of boys matures more slowly. Ask the child how he thinks the problem could be solved. Some possible solutions are not drinking liquids after dinner, going to the bathroom just before bedtime, or not changing the sheets until morning. Again, the parents should remain supportive and give the child encouragement. Scolding or punishing will not solve the problem.

Excessive Masturbation

Although masturbation is a normal behavior, excessive masturbation can be a concern. Excessive masturbation may be the result of an unhappy, anxious child. Finding the sources of the unhappiness and anxiety, and correcting them, is the first step. Often excessive masturbation in children results from not being a part of a social group. Providing many opportunities for activities with peers, helping the child achieve feelings of competence, and parental support often ends the problem.


Fears are a natural part of growing up. During the preschool years, children often fear animals, dark, imaginary creatures, and natural events like storms, fires, thunder, and lightning. Parents who criticize a child for his fears, who are sarcastic, or even punish a child for having fears, are not helping to reduce the fears. These tactics only tend to decrease the self-confidence and self-esteem of the child. A model of confident, non fearful behavior, discussion of the fear, support, and understanding from the parent helps the child to understand the fear and eventually diminish the fear to a more manageable level.