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Your Child at 5 Years


How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are the things most children can do by a certain age. Check the milestones your child has reached by his or her 4th birthday and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.

What Most Children Do at This Age:

Social / Emotional

  • Wants to please friends
  • Wants to be like friends
  • play small buttonMore likely to agree with rules
  • play small buttonLikes to sing, dance and act
  • play small buttonIs aware of gender
  • play small buttonCan tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
  • Shows more independence (for example, may visit a next-door neighbor by himself [adult supervision is still needed])
  • Is sometimes demanding and sometimes very cooperative

Language / Communication

  • play small buttonSpeaks very clearly
  • play small buttonTells a simple story using full sentences
  • play small buttonUses future tense; for example, “Grandma will be here.”
  • Says name and address

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • play small buttonCounts 10 or more things
  • Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts
  • play small buttonCan print some letters or numbers
  • Copies a triangle and other geometric shapes
  • play small buttonKnows about things used every day, like money and food

Movement / Physical Development

  • play small buttonStands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
  • play small buttonHops; may be able to skip
  • Can do a somersault
  • Uses a fork and spoon and sometimes a table knife
  • Can use the toilet on her own
  • Swings and climbs



Act Early by Talking to Your Child’s Doctor if Your Child:



  • Doesn’t show a wide range of emotions
  • Shows extreme behavior (unusually fearful, aggressive, shy or sad)
  • Unusually withdrawn and not active
  • Is easily distracted, has trouble focusing on one activity for more than 5 minutes
  • Doesn’t respond to people, or responds only superficially
  • Can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
  • Doesn’t play a variety of games and activities
  • Can’t give first and last name
  • Doesn’t use plurals or past tense properly
  • Doesn’t talk about daily activities or experiences
  • Doesn’t draw pictures
  • Can’t brush teeth, wash and dry hands, or get undressed without help
  • Loses skills he once had

Tell your child’s doctor or nurse if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay for this age. For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/concerned or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).


Help Your Child Learn and Grow 

What You Can Do for Your 5-Year-Old

You can help your child learn and grow. Talk, read, sing and play together every day. Below are some activities to enjoy with your 5-year-old child today.


  • Continue to arrange play dates, trips to the park or play groups. Give your child more freedom to choose activities to play with friends, and let your child work out problems on her own.
  • Your child might start to talk back or use profanity (swear words) as a way to feel independent. Do not give a lot of attention to this talk, other than a brief timeout. Instead, praise your child when he asks for things nicely and calmly takes “no” for an answer.
  • This is a good time to talk to your child about safe touch. No one should touch “private parts” except doctors or nurses during an exam or parents when they are trying to keep the child clean.
  • Teach your child her address and phone number.
  • When reading to your child, ask him to predict what will happen next in the story.
  • Encourage your child to “read” by looking at the pictures and telling the story.
  • Teach your child time concepts like morning, afternoon, evening, today, tomorrow and yesterday. Start teaching the days of the week.
  • Explore your child’s interests in your community. For example, if your child loves animals, visit the zoo or petting farm. Go to the library or look on the Internet to learn about these topics.
  • Keep a handy box of crayons, paper, paint, child scissors and paste. Encourage your child to draw and make art projects with different supplies.
  • Play with toys that encourage your child to put things together.
  • Teach your child how to pump her legs back and forth on a swing.
  • Help your child climb on the monkey bars
  • Go on walks with your child; do a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood or park; help him ride a bike with training wheels (wearing a helmet).


Learn the Signs. Act Early.

Learn the Signs. Act Early.

For more resources and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call 1.800.CDC-INFO (232-4636). 

Or Visit the CDC's Website

Content provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program. The milestone checklist is not a substitute for a standardized, validated developmental screening tool.

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