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Children usually move in natural, predictable steps as they grow and develop language, cognitive, social, and sensory and motor skills. But each child gains skills at their own pace. It's common for a child to be ahead in one area, such as language, but a little behind in another.
At routine checkups, your child's doctor will check for milestones. This is to make sure that your child is growing and developing as they should. Your doctor can help you know what milestones to watch for as your child gets older. Or you can look for sources of information and support nearby. Public health clinics, parent groups, and child development programs may help. Knowing what to expect can help you spot problems early. And it can help you feel better about how your child is doing.
Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about your child's health, growth, or behaviour. Do this even if you aren't sure what worries you.
Your relationship with your child will change as your child gains new skills and develops independence. As your child's world gets bigger, you can help your child grow in healthy ways. Here are a few things you can do. Spend time together. Be a good role model. Show your child love and affection.
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The ages from 2 to 5 are often called the preschool years. During these years, children become more coordinated and become lively explorers of their world. A child develops in these main areas:
Each child grows and gains skills at their own pace. It's common for a child to be ahead in one area, such as language, but a little behind in another.
Learning what is typical for children this age can help you spot problems early or feel better about how your child is doing.
It's common for parents to have questions about their child's sleep, safety, toilet training, and difficult emotions and behaviour.
Preschool children need about 10 to 13 hours of sleep each day. Your child may go through phases of resisting rest.
To help foster good sleep habits, you can:
To help keep your child safe, it's very important to be aware of your child's abilities and the environment, whether it is the home, a playground, or a public place. These abilities change as your child grows and gains new skills.
Most children are ready for toilet teaching when they show interest in using the toilet. It is okay to delay toilet teaching until your child is ready.
Children ages 2 to 5 have many intense emotions that they don't fully understand. As a result, expect your young child to not always listen to you. Be patient. Do your best to be consistent about setting limits to avoid some common issues. These may include:
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 limits.
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 it encourages new physical skills.
You control what, when, and where your child eats. But remember that your child chooses whether to eat and how much. As long as you offer nourishing foods and focus on the big picture—how much your child eats over a few days or more—your child should be okay.
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 steps to reduce risks.
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 parents.
Playing with other children gives children the chance to practice and develop important social, emotional, and language skills.
Children need guidance, clear limits, and patient parents during this time of behavioural and emotional struggles. Help your child by modelling and teaching proper behaviour. Time-outs can help, when they are used properly and sparingly. Encourage your child to think about how other people feel. This helps your child learn empathy.
Parents have the greatest influence on a child's self-esteem. Let your child know that your child belongs, is doing well, and is contributing.
Reading exposes your child to the sounds and rhythm of language.
Listening to and talking with other children and adults helps a child to understand and use language.
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 clay) and playing musical instruments.
If you are the parent or caregiver of children, it is also important for you to:
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 yourself:
It is a good idea to send your child to kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers know how to help young children with different skills and backgrounds. They will help your child enjoy school and get ready for grade 1. Most children start kindergarten between 4½ and 6 years old.
Kindergarten will help your child:
Call 911 or other emergency services if you become so frustrated with your child that you are afraid you might cause your child physical harm.
In general, talk to a doctor anytime your child:
Although children grow at their own pace, be aware of signs of a developmental delay. The earlier you identify a delay, the better chance you have of getting the right treatment for your child that can prevent or minimize long-term problems.
Routine checkups usually are scheduled several times during ages 2 to 5. These routine checkups are also called health checkups or well-child visits. They are important to check for problems and to make sure that your child is growing and developing as expected.
Your child will also receive preschool immunizations from a public health nurse at a well child clinic visit. To find out how to book your child’s immunization appointment, talk with your healthcare provider, call Health Link at 811, or visit ahs.ca/immunize. Like your family doctor, public health nurses can also answer questions about your family’s health, your child’s development, and other health topics like breastfeeding and nutrition, preventing injuries, adjusting to being a parent, and birth control. They can also connect you to resources in your community, like parenting classes, supports to quit smoking, and services like food banks. To find a community or public health centre near you, call Health Link at 811 or search the online service directory.
The doctor typically will:
The doctor will talk with both you and your child to get a sense of your child's mental, emotional, and social development. Questions typically cover:
Along with the above assessments, doctors usually ask questions specific to a child's age.
Caring for your child's teeth is also important for your child's health. Schedule regular dentist visits as your dentist recommends.
Routine checkups are a good time to talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about your child's health, growth, or behaviour. Between visits, write down any questions you want to ask the doctor next time.
Adaptation Date: 9/13/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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