6 signs your child has outgrown toddlerhood

If junior is becoming more independent and outspoken, it might be time to say ta-ta to the toddler years!

When Faith Leong’s daughters ― now aged 4 and 5 ― not only started speaking in full sentences, but also ditched their diapers, she knew her girls had left their toddler years behind.

On realising this, she had mixed emotions. While she was happy that her children could communicate better and she didn’t have to fork out any more money for diapers, she also missed their toddler stage.

Leong says, “Sometimes, when I look back at photos in my phone or on Facebook, I do miss the earlier years. I also have snapshots in my mind of various memories like their first smile or first steps.  It helps as a reminder that the years pass very fast and to make the most of their childhood.”

Like Leong, you’ve probably felt the same sentiments about your child growing up so quickly. Learn the signs that your little one has outgrown their toddler years, as well as find out what developmental milestones you can look forward to in your now-older kid.

1. They speak correctly and are more articulate

“After years of communicating with his peers and adults, your child’s vocabulary will widen and he will begin adhering to basic rules of grammar,” notes Pooja Vishindas, Nurture Education Group’s chief curriculum officer. “As such, he will be able to articulate his likes, dislikes and interests.”

Agreeing, Leong says that her daughters are now better able to express themselves. “They have started telling me what they want or don’t want to do. They are able to speak in sentences that have several parts, too, and use connecting words including ‘such as’, ‘because’ and ‘then’.”

Pooja notes that you should also expect your child to challenge people around them constantly, since they are now able to converse more fluently, as well as ask you lots of questions. 

Whilst this might be frustrating, do be patient with them and engage them as much as possible. They’re still learning and developing, and have an innate sense of curiosity that needs to be satisfied.

“My kids show a preference for the food that my husband and I eat, so we don’t have to cook baby food separately for them anymore.”

2. They start to eat your food

Another sign your mini-me isn’t so little anymore is their desire to eat “normal” food, as opposed to diced or mashed food. They may also refuse to drink from a sippy cup, and demand to drink from a normal cup or mug.

“My kids show a preference for the food that my husband and I eat, so we don’t have to cook baby food separately for them anymore,” says Leong.

The fact that your child can now eat “grown-up” meals will come as a relief to you, since you no longer have to spend so much time on food prep. However, do still ensure that their diet is nutritious, and that you continue to instil healthy eating habits in them.  

3. They can express their emotions better

Once your child has outgrown their toddler years, they will start to understand their emotions better, and learn to express them in various ways, Pooja notes.

Expect them to express their feelings through words, actions, sounds or body language. They will likely experience more complex feelings as well, such as being embarrassed.

“My daughters definitely display their emotions more clearly now, and can regulate emotions with fewer meltdowns,” says Leong. “Their characters have also become more evident for example being cheerful, shy or difficult to deal with.”

Once your child’s emotions start developing further, help them nurture healthy emotions. Teach them how to regulate their emotions, and label their feelings for them, so they feel validated and understood.

 

Kid cycling

4. They are able to carry out simple practical tasks

Have junior’s motor skills become more advanced, and he’s now able to pull up his socks or even brush his teeth unassisted? That’s a sure sign that his early years are flying by!

Pooja observes, “When your child reaches the age of 4, he will start to show independence and want to do almost everything on his own. He will be able to carry out simple practical tasks and actions like buttoning, scooping, pouring, throwing, catching, hopping and even pedalling a bicycle.”

When you notice your child developing a wider range of movements, use this as an opportunity for doing more fun activities together, such as playing ball or hopscotch.

But don’t panic if your little one is unable to carry out all of the tasks mentioned, Pooja reassures. “Every child develops and grows at a different pace, so do not be alarmed if he or she has not achieved some of these milestones yet.”

When your child reaches the age of 4, he will start to show independence and want to do almost everything on his own. He will be able to carry out simple practical tasks and actions like buttoning, scooping, pouring, throwing, catching, hopping and even pedalling a bicycle.”

5. You won't have to deal with diapers anymore

If you’ve never been a fan of changing diapers, you’ll be happy to know that you can kiss the nappies goodbye one day.

Given how expensive diapers are, cutting this items from your household expenses is another plus. Of course, the fact that junior no longer needs nappies means that the challenging process of toilet training has now begun.

Leong notes, “Some children are more on the ball than others with regard to toilet training. Once my daughters were able to use the toilet on their own and I didn’t have to bring a diaper bag out, I knew that they were indeed becoming “big girls”.

6. They become more sociable

This does depend on your child’s personality, of course, and some kids are naturally more introverted than others. Nevertheless, you should notice junior becoming more comfortable with social interactions in general.

Leong’s daughters have started to enjoy playing with their friends, Leong says. “Therefore, my evenings after school and weekends have become packed with playdates, including outings to parks, playgrounds and other kid-centered places. It can get tiring, but I can’t let the years pass by without giving them experiences that help them grow.”

“Your child will also become more confident in speaking to adults,” Pooja adds. “They would want to please people around them, and aspire to be like their peers.”

Enrolling them in playgroups during their toddler stage should boost your child’s social development. This will help them gain the confidence they need to form healthy social relationships with friends they meet in kindergarten and beyond.

Developmental milestones to expect in your 4- to 5-year-old child

Now that your child is no longer a toddler, you can expect these general developmental milestones in your older child.  At 4 to 5 years of age, they would be able to:

* Name a handful of colours and numbers.

* Categorize and compartmentalise things that are the same and/or different.

* Follow step-by-step instructions (up to three-step instructions).

* Speak adequately well and understand when being reasoned with.

* Be able to dress themselves.

* Know letters, sounds and numbers.

* Start showing an ability to read and write.

* Engage in dramatic play with friends.

* Display positive and negative emotions.

Pooja also urges parents not to worry if your child isn’t hitting all of these milestones.

She says, “What is most important is for you to understand your child’s needs. Also, work closely with your child’s teachers in their childcare centre or kindergarten, as parents should always be a partner-in-education when it comes to their kid’s developmental years.”

Photos: iStock

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