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Health Facts

General Health


Toddlers & Children




Child Development 3 - 5 Years

Posture and Large Movements

Children in this age group become physically competent requiring supervision when attempting physical skills such as climbing, running, balancing and kicking. Three-year-olds are able to turn tricycle pedals with the development of turning corners and increasing speed during this year. They walk up stairs alternating feet and usually come back down with two feet together. They enjoy climbing on play equipment and can stand on one foot momentarily. Four to five-year-olds become very good climbers, not only on play equipment but also on ladders and up trees. These children are adventurous and enthusiastic and may be able to climb up, but may need assistance to get back down safely. They can hop on one foot and become quite skilled at ball games.

Between the ages of 3 to 5, weight usually increases by 3.5 to 6 kg and their height increases by 13 - 14 cms. These gains are usually lower for girls.

Vision and Fine Movements

About the age of three they can paint with a large brush. They can copy and or draw from memory a circle, a cross, and maybe a square. They are able to copy models of bridges, gates and steps using blocks. When drawing a head they will include one or two features. This is the time that they begin to learn the art of cutting with scissors and they are usually using a fork & spoon to eat with and are beginning to use a knife. They can colour match blocks; for example, four to five year olds can colour match and name four primary colours. Drawing and building are the forerunners to writing skills and children get immense pleasure in having their artwork displayed for all to appreciate.

Speech and Hearing

Three-year-olds may have up to 900 words in their vocabulary. They speak freely and ask many who, what and where questions. They speak 4 - 6 word sentences and can be non-fluent and at time still difficult to understand buy some people. They love to make believe and play out experiences with their toys. They are able to tell you their name and sex. Four to five year olds have a vocabulary of over 1500 words. They are eternally asking questions of why, when and how. They listen to and tell long stories and can confuse fact with fantasy. They are usually understood the majority of the time and mostly use correct grammatical rules by the age of five. By 5 years of age they are able to tell you their name, address, age and sex.

Feelings and Social Behaviour

Three year olds play happily by themselves or with one or two children. They enjoy conversations with adults and helping with adult activities. They begin to notice sex differences and need to be told correct names fir body parts, such as penis for a boy and vagina for a girl. They may be able to "wait a little while" but their patience will be short compared to that of an adult. They begin to show sympathy, affection and love to please you. The beginnings of sharing and taking turns may become evident, however this is more achievable at a maturity age of a five-year-old. As they approach four years of age they can become demanding, whinge and blame mother for everything. This is a stage of insecurity and imaginary fears are common. Their behaviour can be unpredictable, shy one day and showing off the next. Their feelings are easily hurt especially by failure or by being ignored.

The general disorganization of the three-year-olds gives way to the development of some organization of the four to five year olds. They become even more independent and appear confident. Because of this they may refuse to do as they are asked. They behave the way they see their parents behaving (good and bad). They can play with a group of children and because they are beginning to understand the concept of ownership, they may share and take turns. Nail biting, thumb sucking and sexual exploratory play are common at this age. They enjoy jokes and nonsense words. They confidently dress and undress themselves. Gradually children approaching 5 years of age will become more self controlled and accept the need for rules when they are with friends and with family members.


They need to be given opportunities to explore, experiment and experience a variety of play activities. They require companionship of other children. They require opportunity for vigorous outdoor play. Imaginative play is extremely important and allows children to perform role playing , domestic play and make believe play. For example being a policeman you need a hat, a box for a car, a loud voice to make a siren and maybe an imaginary friend who is your police partner.

They need companionship from adults who will provide them with consistent encouragement and approval. They need to copy good examples of behaviour and standards as seen by their role models. Their father or a male's interaction with the child is important for the child to learn about human relationships. They require careful, truthful answers to their questions. They require some freedom to learn, yet under the supervision and protection of their parents.

Children's work is their play, and it is through this play that enables them to develop physical, emotional and social skills.