I. Family relationships
The average 3-year-old child can separate easily from parents.
Fears and fantasies
Early fantasy, may be indistinguishable from reality. By the age of 4, children frequently have frightening dreams that they can state.
These are characteristic of 2-year-olds,but they should be infrequent by age 5, although there is another peak at 6 years in response to the stresses of schooling.
Preschool children comply with adult requests about 50% of the time. Parents who are authoritative and firm but also warm, encouraging, and rational are more likely to have children who are self-reliant and self-controlled. A system of discipline should include positive reinforcementfor desired behaviors; consequences for undesired behaviors; and interactions that promote the parent-child relationship.
Factors associated with greater sibling rivalry, include opposite gender, difficult temperament, insecure pattern of attachment, family discord, and corporal punishment.
Preschool children often “regress” when a newbaby is born, exhibiting increased naughtiness, thumb sucking, and altered toileting.
II. Peer relationships
Most play is parallel at the age of 2 years. By the age of 3, children should have mastered aggression and should be able to initiate play with a peer, have joint goals in their playtogether, and take turns.
Pretend friends are very common in children up to the age of 4. Mastery of aggressive impulses should improve after 2½ years of age.
The 2-year-old will have a vocabulary of many words. They often mimic what others say (echolalia) up to age 2.5 years.
The 3-year-old baby speaks in simple sentences of three or four words. Sentence length increases by one or two words annually throughout the preschool period. The typical 3-year-old baby can count three items, and a 4-year-old baby can count four items. A 4-year-old who cannot converse with familiar people with sentences averaging three words should be evaluated.
A 5-year-old should use complete sentences containing five words. The 5-year-old can count ten objects or more and should understand “before,” “after,” and “until”; “if, then.” Preschool children who have expressive language disorders tend to speak less often and conveyless information than their peers.
Strangers should be able to understand 25% to 50% of what the 2-year-old child says. By 3 years of age, strangers should be able to understand the child 75% of the time. By the age of 4, strangers can understand the child 100% of the time.
Dysfluency, which is the aberration of speech rate and rhythm occurs transiently between about 2.5 and 4 years of age. Persistent and worsening stuttering beyond the age of 4 should be evaluated.