Mayo Clinic Health Library

Child development: Know what's ahead

Updated: 03-09-2013

Every child grows and develops at his or her own pace. Still, child development tends to follow a fairly predictable path. Find out what language, social, cognitive and physical milestones to expect from ages 2 to 5.

Age 2

At age 2, your child might have completed these skills:

  • Language skills. Speak at least 50 words. Link two words together, such as "my cup" or "no juice". Speak clearly enough for parents to understand some of the words.
  • Social skills. Show more independence. Become defiant. Copy others. Get excited when with other children.
  • Cognitive skills. Play simple make-believe games. Begin to sort objects by shape and color. Find hidden objects.
  • Physical skills. Stand on tiptoes. Climb on furniture and begin to run. Kick a ball.

Age 3

At age 3, your child might have completed these skills:

  • Language skills. Speak 250 to 500 or more words. Speak in three-and four-word sentences. Correctly use pronouns (I, you, me, mine). State his or her first name. Speak clearly enough for strangers to understand much of the time.
  • Social skills. Take turns. Express affection openly. Easily separate from parents. Get upset with major changes in routine.
  • Cognitive skills. Turn book pages one at a time. Copy a circle. Do puzzles with three or four pieces.
  • Physical skills. Walk up and down stairs, alternating feet. Climb, run and pedal a tricycle.

Age 4

At age 4, your child might have completed these skills:

  • Language skills. Answer simple questions. Use sentences with four or more words.
  • Social skills. Cooperate with other children. Talk about likes and dislikes. Become more creative with make-believe play.
  • Cognitive skills. Print some capital letters. Draw a person with two to four body parts. Understand the idea of counting. Start to understand time.
  • Physical skills. Hop or stand on one foot for two seconds. Catch a bounced ball most of the time. Use scissors with supervision.

Age 5

At age 5, your child might have completed these skills:

  • Language skills. Understand rhyming. Use sentences that give many details. Use the future tense. State his or her full name.
  • Social skills. Want to be like his or her friends. Follow rules. Understand gender. Like to sing, act and dance.
  • Cognitive skills. Know about common items, such as food and money Correctly count 10 or more objects. Copy a triangle and other geometric patterns.
  • Physical skills. Stand on one foot for at least 10 seconds. Hop, skip, swing and do somersaults. Dress and use the toilet on his or her own.. Begin to learn to swim.

If your child's development seems to be lagging behind in certain areas, share your concerns with your child's doctor.