Developmental Stages of Toddlers & Preschoolers

Written by annabeth kaine
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Developmental Stages of Toddlers & Preschoolers
By 18 months, she knows the word ball and can locate the word in a book. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Toddlers and preschoolers need limited "electronic" time and plenty of time for peer, individual and adult play, according to the Child Development Institute. Children pass through stages in their development at their own pace, but many kids hit milestones around the same time. The four main areas of development are social, intellectual, physical and emotional. During the toddler and preschool years, children learn and grow rapidly.

Physical Stages

From 14 months until age 3, children learn how to walk, throw a ball, run well and build towers using blocks. They are also learning how to use the toilet independently and draw using circular patterns. By age 4, kids dress themselves, cut using scissors and throw a ball overhanded. Kicking a ball well comes around 2 years old, and hopping on one foot successfully appears around the child's fourth birthday. At age 2, your child uses a utensil without difficulty, and age 3 ushers in the ability to button or unbutton clothing.

Emotional Stages

A 1-year-old has difficulty making choices and begins throwing temper tantrums due to frustration; his fears are increasing although he wants independence. By age 2, children like to mimic the adults around them and are often extremely self-centered. Fantasy-based play is more focused at age 2. By age 3, many kids have a greater sense of self and understand rules. Age 4 brings the desire for small amounts of responsibility and some self-criticism.

Social Stages

Routines are important for toddlers, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Between the ages of 2 to 3, children enjoy playing "next to" other children, but often do not understand the concept of playing together. Three-year-old children like to play along briefly in group activities and know their own gender. Four-year-old kids are capable of interactive play with other children and enjoy group games. At this age, many preschoolers become very social.

Intellectual Stages

Most 1-year-old children form basic two-word sentences and use the pronouns "me" and "mine." They point to objects they want and use materials for the "intended" purpose. By age 2, children have a vocabulary around 272 words and speak in short phrases. Most 2-year-old kids understand and follow basic directions. By 3 years old, the vocabulary jumps to 896 words; many this age tell simple stories. Around age 4, the vocabulary increases to 1,540 words. Four-year-old children use complete sentences and are learning to generalise the environment around them.

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