Mental Developmental Milestones - Ages 2 to 5

Your preschooler will be growing in leaps and bounds before you know it, picking up new skills and abilities to become an increasingly capable and independent child. Like babies and toddlers, each preschooler tends to develop at their own pace, but there are general developmental milestones that you can expect to witness around each age. Learn which language, cognitive, physical and social skills you can expect your child to begin to master between the ages of 2 and 5.

Remember: while you shouldn’t fall into the trap of comparing your preschooler’s development with that of other children, feel free to discuss your concerns with your pediatrician if you feel that your child is noticeably lagging behind in certain areas.

Milestones at Age 2

  • Language Skills: By your child’s 2nd year, they will be able to link two words together and speak clearly enough for you and your spouse to understand half the words they say. Your little one will also learn to use some adjectives such as “big” or “happy”, and on average should be able to speak 50 words.

  • Cognitive Skills: Your 2-year-old’s imagination will begin to blossom, enabling them to play make-believe games. They will also be able to sort objects by shape and color, understand certain spatial concepts such as “in” and “on”, find hidden objects, and make scribbles on paper.

  • Social Skills: By this age your child will be more aware of themselves as an individual, may become defiant as they attempt to assert their individuality and growing independence, will grow more interested in playing with other children, and should begin to get over their separation anxiety.

Milestones at Age 3

  • Language Skills: This year your growing child might be able to verbally identify a range of common objects, say their first name and give their age, use pronouns such as “I”, “you”, “we” and so on, and answer simple questions.

  • Cognitive Skills: As your child’s imagination continues to develop, your preschooler will start engaging in more creative make-believe games. They will also be able to sort objects into shape and color with more confidence, master more spatial concepts such as “over” and “under”, understand the concept of “two”, and successfully copy a circle.

  •  Skills: Preschoolers around this age will become increasingly adept at socializing with others, and will be able to take turns, openly express affection, imitate the behavior of parents and playmates, and spend time away from parents without too much of a fuss.

Milestones at Age 4

  • Language Skills: As your child’s vocabulary improves they will be more adept at describing the uses of common objects, speak clearly enough for strangers to understand what they are saying, use words that end with “ing” as well as words in past tense such as “ate” and “fell”, and tell simple stories.

  • Cognitive Skills: Your preschooler’s imaginary games will become more complex, and your child might be able to write or trace certain letters, name a few colors, understand more complex spatial concepts such as “next to” and “behind”, draw a person with 2-4 body parts, and understand the concept of “same” and “different”.

  • Social Skills: 4-year-olds are better at playing and cooperating with others, will attempt to solve problems on their own, show interest in new experiences, and will grow increasingly independent as their overall physical, cognitive and language skills improve.

Milestones at Age 5

  • Language Skills: Your preschooler will now be able to use compound and complex sentences, give their full name and general address, use future tense, and understand rhyming.

  • Cognitive Skills: Your child’s imagination should be active enough for them to be able to make up stories, and they will be able to correctly name more than 4 colors, count at least 10 objects, understand the concepts of time and sequential order, copy simple geometric patterns like triangles, and distinguish between fantasy and reality.

  • Social Skills: By this stage your preschooler will be better at following rules, understanding the concept of and difference between genders, want to assert their independence by doing things on their own, and want to initiate and develop friendships with others.