Early childhood covers preschoolers (three to five-year-olds) and those who are school age (six to nine). Developmentally, preschoolers can usually dress and undress without assistance. They can understand others' emotions. They will begin to speak in sentences and have many words in their vocabulary.
For school-age kids, it's a time of increased motor skill development. Children can ride a bicycle without training wheels, run and kick a soccer ball, and are more adept at sports, gymnastics, dance, and art.
Q. My three-year-old daughter frequently stutters when she speaks. Should I be worried?
A. It is common for a child to go through periods of stuttering between two and five years old. I recommend letting your child finish her sentence regardless of how long it may take. Don't try to interrupt or correct her or finish the sentence for her. Stuttering at this age is often a sign that her mind is working more quickly than the words can come out. However, if the stuttering lingers or gets progressively worse by age five, discuss the issue with your pediatrician.
Q. My child started Kindergarten and has trouble leaving me to go to school. What do I do?
A. Many children experience some separation anxiety in a new situation or have trouble adjusting to change outside the home. When you drop off your child at school, be positive and understanding, but not emotional. On the way to school, talk about all the new and fun things your child has to look forward to. Although some children may cry or even throw a tantrum when you leave, teachers are adept at helping children make the transition. Inevitably, within minutes of entering a classroom, they will be interested in their friends and the exciting day ahead. When you pick them up at the end of the day, ask about how the day went and focus on the positive experiences.
Q. Why is my four-year-old starting to challenge me?
A. Although frustrating, this is a normal part of development. Your child wants to be more independent and will test limits. To counter and diffuse this behavior, set boundaries and be consistent. Pick and choose your battles wisely. Don’t challenge every issue—focus on the important ones.