Psychosocial Development of Children Between the Ages of Two to Five Years

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The preschool years is a magical time for the development of children. During this period, the children move from being entirely dependent on their parents to be independent beings. Primarily, the development of children is experienced in terms of their knowledge base and competencies in their emotional and social skills. The preschool years between the age of 2-5 years may be best described using Erik Erikson’s stages of development. In the second stage of Erikson’s psychosocial development, the autonomy vs. Shame and doubt stage, children get to learn the self-sufficient ways which include dressing, feeding, toileting and self-regulation.

The physical growth and development are usually slow between the ages of two to five years. Notably, the cognitive development, language, and motor skills often take huge strides in the development stage during this stage. A child moves from crawling to babbling as the infant runs and jumps in excitement and telling stories as a kindergartener (Cooklin et al 2014). During the physical development of children, they should visit a pediatrician regularly and have regular checkups. The toddler years have dramatic changes in five main development years which are the emotional, social, cognitive, physical, sensory, language and motor skills. Every child grows and develops at their own pace thus a pediatrician will help to take note of any delays and concerns.

The competing emotional and social development between the ages of two to five years has two main labels. Between the age of 12 to 24 months, children develop strong bonds with the people who are close to them though it is at this stage that they continue being more independent. Between the age of two to five years, a child will struggle to want to things in their own way as well as make choices which they can manage. They also get to learn more about their emotions and feelings as well start developing friendships with the other children of their age. The psychosocial development experienced in children between the ages of 2-5 years helps them to learn the differences between what is wrong and right (Kearney & Fulbrook, 2014). They look upon their parents for the rules and limits and test their potential. In most cases, when children do something wrong, they start to feel guilty of their actions. The level of understanding also increases than the speech in the language development.

The dichotomy between development and behavior is not elaborate since the behavioral issues are often uncovered in reviewing the areas of development. The behavior of a child between the age of two to five years can be interpreted in accordance with the level of development of the child. Cognition and emotions are related in a complex mechanism, which cannot be separated on the basis of causal consequence but rather through distinct domains.

Clinical Approach

The clinical experts’ approach to the psychosocial approach is different from the traditional development milestone which highlights on the celebration of the child’s accomplishments. The clinical approach is the most valuable in the study of behavioral and emotional development in children. The clinicians focus on key developmental changes that help the child avoid misinterpretations and problems (Feldman, 2015). For instance, when a baby cries due to being separated with parents, it is an achievement of the memory capacity since it is an indication of the signal, “out of sight, out of mind”. The clinical approach edifies the mothers who may construe the separation feeling distressed and guilty due to their individual return to work.

Between the ages of 2-5 years, children experience new problems which arise with possessiveness and sibling jealousy. The problem arises from the emerging self-identity of the child are a critical prerequisite for individual ambition. The clinicians help to reframe the trying behaviors in a positive perspective by asking whether the child is beginning to understand the sense of themselves by having possessive things or a having a jealous parent. The focus of the medical experts is dependent on the developmental structures that may help to minimize the emotional charge in the first attempt of deception and lying (Walle, 2016). The pediatricians help the parents to learn the ability of the child to manage the emotional expression as a normative survival skill starting from the age of two years. The psychosocial skill requires moral instructions and modeling from close people and learn the best way to use its expression.

Addressing behavior not only involves the basic developmental changes that the child attains but also reveals the way it is manifested in the tempers of the child. This is revealed in the way the child plays their awareness, taking into consideration the tendency for the approach or withdrawal in the social situations (Ball, 2014). In addition, this can be revealed by the ability to tolerate frustrations of gratification as well as how the parent manages these trends. The basic history takes a course from the complex behaviors of the child from the traditional milestones that the child perceives.

Case Study: Julie and Victoria

From the perspective of the case study of Julie, 2 years old and her mother, Victoria, the explanation of toilet training can be drawn from Erickson’s theory of psychosocial development. The age between two to five years is known as the preschool years. During these years, children change from being clumsy toddlers to young humans who explore the world. A child makes strides by being able to think and reason in terms of the cognitive development and gradually learns to manage their feelings. Each child learns and gains skills at their own pace, which is normal for all children. It is easy to spot the problem that the child faces through the help of the pediatrician or how the child is doing. For Victoria, it is right for the 2-year-old child to interact with her peers and learn to manage their emotions. Since the preschool year is also the discovery period for the child, Victoria should not worry that her child has not been trained in toilet skills.

As a way of helping the child manage in toilet learning in a relaxed environment, Victoria should first recognize that the change in behavior should be gradual. She should not stress her with the learning in case she does not want to learn. The first step would be discussing the issue with her daughter and telling her the need to learn toilet management. She can also talk to her teacher who will help Julie together with her peers learn the behavior. Victoria should demonstrate to her how to go about the behavior a couple of times and let her do it by herself. After a couple of times or days, Julie will develop the behavior as a norm (Kearney & Fulbrook, 2014). She would best learn the behavior when it is done together with her peers. Learning is a continuous process and teaching the children some skills is an important strategy for ensuring a positive psychosocial change. Taking the parenting role can help the children learn how to deal with issues, which arise.

In conclusion, the age between two to five years is known as the preschool years. During the preschool years, the development of a child is critical in terms of the behavioral change as well as the social and emotional development. The children how to manage their feelings and create bonds with people who are close to them. Each child gains skills and grows at their individual pace. The Erickson theory on the phases of development helps to understand the dynamics in the psychosocial development of a child. The second phase of development under the theory, autonomy vs shame and doubt, helps to understand the development changes accompanying the physical and behavioral change. The growth is gradual and each stage develops with the specific arrangement in gaining identity from one level to another.


Ball, H. L. (2014). Reframing what we tell parents about normal infant sleep and how we support them. Breastfeeding Review, 22(3), 11.

Cooklin, A. R., Lucas, N., Strazdins, L., Westrupp, E., Giallo, R., Canterford, L., & Nicholson, J. M. (2014). Heightened maternal separation anxiety in the postpartum: The role of socioeconomic disadvantage. Journal of Family Issues, 35(11), 1497-1519.

Feldman, R. (2015). The adaptive human parental brain: Implications for children's social development. Trends in Neurosciences, 38(6), 387-399.

Kearney, L., & Fulbrook, P. (2014). The first 18 months: Parental choices regarding their infant's health care needs. Neonatal, Paediatric & Child Health Nursing, 17(3), 17.

Walle, E. A. (2016). Infant social development across the transition from crawling to walking. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 960.

October 13, 2023

Psychology Sociology


Child Development

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