What Comes After the Toddler Stage?

The toddler stage typically ends when your child turns 3 and as hard as it may be to believe, officially becomes a preschooler. The start of the preschool years marks the end of the "terrible twos" — at least theoretically! The skills acquired as a toddler pave the way for the more sophisticated abilities 3- to 5-year-old kids will need as they prepare for preschool classes and kindergarten.

Physical Strides

Physical development in a preschooler is nothing short of mind-boggling. Walking on tip toes, galloping, running, skipping, standing on one foot and jumping horizontally are all in a day's play for a preschooler. They can ride a tricycle and catch a ball, at least more times than not. Aggressive and active best describes a preschooler's approach toward play.

Onward and Upward

A preschooler is intent on being independent and he is more capable of carrying out various tasks on his own than when he was a toddler. Thanks to their growing command of language it's easier for a preschooler to express his needs and ideas with words instead stomping his feet or throwing a fit to get a message across.

A preschooler's ability to reason is still a little rough around the edges but it's progressing. Preschoolers have a passion for learning and they often do so through play. Three- and 4-year-olds learn best by doing; they want to hear, see, taste, touch and smell everything, notes the University of Illinois Extension.


Preschoolers know how to dress themselves and enjoy unbuttoning or unzipping clothes. They take pride in lacing their own shoes. Natural chatterboxes, preschoolers want to know about everything and will ask seemingly endless "why" and "how" questions.

Kids this age get a charge out of using silly words and profanity. Instill basic rules of behavior in your preschooler so she understands what is acceptable and when to draw the line to avoid getting in trouble.

Minor Setbacks

Preschoolers may have a hard differentiating between reality and fantasy and may imagine that strange images are "monsters," explains the American Academy of Pediatrics. Separation from Mom, venturing off to new places and facing new experiences can understandably cause fear and anxiety in a preschooler. Getting along with other kids may be a problem for some 3- and 4-year-old kids while sharing can be difficult — if not out of the question at times.


Attending preschool affords your child the opportunity to mingle with other like-aged kids and learn important life lessons like following rules, taking turns and sharing. Preschool can also help get your child get used to the idea of spending time in a classroom setting that will help prepare him for kindergarten.

Going off to preschool can be emotional for you and your little one. It can be hard for you to accept the fact that your "little one" is big enough to be part of a structured learning environment with other children. The more comfortable you are about your decision the more at ease your preschooler will be.

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