Children May

0 to 2

  • be increasingly alert to sights and sounds.
  • follow you with eager eyes and warm to the sight of your face.
  • smile in response to your expressions.
  • engage, disengage, then reengage with you for short periods of time.
  • begin to respond to your gestures with gestures of their own.
  • imitate interactions and look expectantly for your response.
  • express desires and wants by pointing.

2 to 3

  • engage in pretend play with others.
  • enlist your help to do pretend dramas dealing with closeness, nurturing, and care.
  • enjoy pretend play alone.
  • use words or combine gestures to express feelings.
  • communicate their desire for closeness by gesturing.
  • develop the ability to recover from anger.

3 to 4

  • at times begin to distinguish between what is real and what isn't.
  • use logical thinking.
  • make pretend play more complex so that one theme leads to another.
  • follow rules and respond to limits; feel optimistic and confident.
  • begin to reason about feelings and connect them to behaviors (for example, behaving nicely pleases you).
  • try hard to learn to do something.

4 to 5

  • enhance pretend play by adding complexity and depth to themes and roles.
  • enjoy participating in rule making and talking about what is fair and what is not.
  • talk about their own feelings and begin to understand the feelings of others.
  • feel and express empathy.

5 to 6

  • enjoy playing and working independently.
  • enjoy taking care of their own needs.
  • engage in cooperative play.
  • react to normal frustrations in constructive ways.
  • understand and accept limits and routines.
  • show an understanding of personal rights and responsibilities.

This article originally appeared in the August, 2000 issue of Early Childhood Today.