This is only an introduction, a basic guide to the characteristics of children between two and five years old. By no means all children are as described in this profile. Some take more or less time to acquire and master certain attitudes and behaviour. Please, let’s remember this as we read, so we can accept and help in the personal and unique development of every child.
* Begin to relate more to other members of the family, gradually achieving a separation of the mother-child dyad. This is possible because they can now represent what is not there, giving necessary security. This security, which allows them to open up and begin to be more autonomous, allows them to do things of their own will and build self-assurance. They start wanting to do things on their own, but still very much need the supportive presence of an adult and guide.
* Symbolic thought and games are developed, allowing them to represent various situations, experiences and feelings. The thoughts of the child are characterised by: Animism: “the table is bad because it hit me”/ Artificialism: “Mankind makes nature”/ Egocentrism: “Everything is mine”. It is difficult for them to see things from a different point of view and very difficult for them to share/ Concentration: They concentrate on only one distinctive trait of an object, and do not pay attention to details. They do not distinguish what is real from what is imaginary.
* Language: this stage is a period of rapid development in language and expression and as a result they begin to socialise. They talk more than they listen and understand more than they say. With the appearance of language, emotional and intellectual behaviour is profoundly affected. These changes will become progressively established and strengthened during the course of the kindergarten stage.
* The word “no” begins to be used. Children offer resistance, have tantrums and discover they can handle adults with their “no”. They purposefully resist and this implies an important moment in psychic development because they begin to decide and say what they like, what they want and don’t want, which is important in the construction of identity.
* Games: Symbolic games appear a lot at this age. They represent and elaborate on things that have an impact on them and play out different roles and functions. It is hard for them to share games and toys with others. They are interested in looking at and holding books, re-telling what they see in them. (Things to take into account: when a child is in the Kindergarten period they enjoy playing with parents or older children very much, and this is essential for the development of their self-esteem and the formation of a solid emotional bond. Unjustified interruption of their playtime is not good, and can lead to frustration and aggressiveness).
* Enjoy music and like to listen to their favourite songs, joining in with a few words or the final syllable.
* Enjoy exploring, recognising similarities and differences, but do not yet have a real awareness of time.
* Have better control of the body but still need help with some things. They enjoy activities that involve the body and movement. They explore and play with the body, and connect with other children using the body.
* Start using the index finger/thumb grip, although movements are still not fine-tuned, and hold a pencil in the palm.
* Sphincter control begins. They learn control; regulating, holding and releasing, which also extends to inter-personal relationships and increases self-esteem.
We recommend stimulating creativity, free play and avoiding extensive periods in front of the television or video games. If the children have access to games on Internet, make sure that they are age appropriate and always be alert to the pages that can be opened or that may appear onscreen, since they may be harmful to the child. It is advisable to have the computer in a well-used area of the house to ensure greater control.