3 and 4 Year Olds

Dealing with a whiny three year old? Wondering why your 4 year old keeps hitting people? You’re at the right place!

My work documents the age-related “stages” children go through. It is times when children fall apart for some time but after have a burst of new ability. My work starts at 18 months. See the toddler milestones at the main page of this website. This page is dedicated to 3 and 4 year olds. See “Milestones” at the top for all current milestones–a growing work in progress. The quick links for frequent users are after the age calculator.

Misbehavior is Growth: Three Year Olds

The e-book pre-order for Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to Three Year Olds is NOW AVAILABLE!!

Three Year Old Milestones

Feel free to copy and share this table

Printable Summaries

A PDF of the 3 year old milestones, as found below, such that they can be printed out and read at your leisure, can be found at Misbehavior is Growth: 3 Year Olds!

Four Year Old Milestones

A table and printout of 4 year old milestones coming soon!

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Quick Links

Three Year Old Milestone 1: 3.0.0
Three Year Old Milestone 2: 3.0.2
Three Year Old Milestone 3: 3.1.0
Three Year Old Milestone 4A: 3.1.3
Three Year Old Milestone 4B: 3.2.0
Three Year Old Milestone 5: 3.2.2
Three Year Old Milestone 6A: 3.3.0
Three Year Old Milestone 6B: 3.3.2
Three Year Old Milestone 7: 3.3.3
Three Year Old Milestone 8A: 3.4.1
Three Year Old Milestone 8b: 3.5.0
Three Year Old Milestone 8c: 3.5.3
[from here is again currently under construction 8/7/20]
Three Year Old Milestone 8A: 3 years, 6 months, 2 weeks
Three Year Old Milestone 8B: 3 years, 7 months
Three Year Old Milestone 9a: 3 years, 7 months, 2 weeks
Three Year Old Milestone 9b: 3 years, 8 months
Three Year Milestone 9C: 3 years, 9 months
[numbering is currently under construction]
Preschool Milestone 13: 3 years, 10 months
Preschool Milestone 14: 4 years, 2 weeks
Preschool Milestone 15: 4 years, 3 months
Preschool Milestone 16: 4 years, 4 months
Preschool Milestone 17: 4 years, 6 months
Preschool Milestone 18: 4 years, 8 months
Preschool Milestone 19: 4 years, 10 months

Bookmark this page to come back for more! I update these summaries often. This page was last updated on August 7, 2020.

Come join the discussion, Misbehavior is Growth: The Discussion.

Variability

People often ask me how children will hit the milestones differently, i.e., the variability. This is my first attempt at bringing some mathematical precision to this. I compared both the behavior and head shape of my 3 children to better identify on what exact day each hit the milestones. Below is a chart I made about it. These are the first 3 year old milestones:

“Boy” is listed but it’s actually 2 boys. Both of my sons hit the milestones identically. The “girl” is my daughter, who got off. I don’t intend this to be authoritative on how it works on boys versus girls. But the differentiation for now made it easier to compare two fundamentally different children.

What I found is that the milestones hit bang on for the first 3 milestones–basically. And then at 4A they start to get off. For the most part, my daughter hit them later, and then sometimes later yet. But sometimes the gap between one and another was smaller for her, bringing her slightly into more alignment with the boy. Not terribly significantly, however, as the “offset” column shows.

Not, that is, until Milestone 8A/8B. At 8B during the intense period, there is a very abrupt re-aligning of the milestones. Although my daughter had been hitting them later, she now hit it at the same time as the boys: all hit the intense period of 8B at 3.5.1. And while I could differentiate 8A and 8B for my sons, I could not for her. I can’t help but conclude that she hit 8A and 8B at the same time. And, boy. I can tell you. That period was rough with her.

I strongly recommend you use the due date to start the milestones with.

How Understanding Childhood Developmental Cycles Helps YOU!

Understanding the cycles can help you

  1. Stay patient as a parent
  2. Know that the behavior passes
  3. Know that you are are not a bad parent nor do you have a bad kid
  4. Know that your child is not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time

This is the #1 comment I get about this work: It helps parents stay patient.

Surviving then Thriving

The surviving section has links to deal with the difficult behaviors and situations–meltdowns, defiance, and such. The tools are meant to give food for thought and to be pattern breakers for where you might get sucked into the negativity that the developmental cycles sometimes bring. Above all else in my surviving section, I assume the child is not bad and that we work around the normal age-related behavior. All tools are non-punitive.

The surviving and thriving sections show off what I want to show with this work: that you can use this information to your great advantage for you as a parent and for your child’s development. These cycles are times of turmoil. Past advice usually has one punishing or correcting it or, for the more enlightened, ignoring it to “not feed the attention.” I want to show that these cycles are more like a giant sign–a Bat signal in the air–that our children are begging us to come to them at developmentally critical times. Children literally cling to their parents or evoke their attention in other ways. Go to them with love and comfort.

I hope to get more conversation and more solutions for dealing with children’s “misbehavior.” It affects issues like discipline in school or how caregivers treat your child. Instead of seeing children as naughty or disrespectful, I want more to normal age-related behavior as normal, as something that adults need to handle playfully, and in fact more than that: it’s growth! See my short article here, “Let’s Talk to Each Other about Children’s Misbehavior.”  Please share this article and this page with others who you might want to have this conversation with.

Further, if you can handle these times with gentleness, guidance, and wisdom–and invest in them as the teaching opportunities that they are– you will see that on the other side is a child who has an outstanding and robust new skill set. Ideas like “ignoring” the stages prevent us from understanding them. You can unleash an enormous potential by understanding the cycles. It can have a deep impact on parenting and education. Let’s break down these barriers between us and our children and fully understand them as to use them to everyone’s advantage. This is the idea behind my book about this: Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to the Toddler Years.

See my more expanded thoughts here:

About the Author

Hi! It’s me! Amber (“The Observant Mom”)

I have an Industrial Engineering degree from Penn State. I worked in software as a test and integration engineer for 10 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom who homeschools my 3 children. I am very well read on child development. I hope most of all that you find my work useful to you in your parenting journey. Drop me a line if you want, helloamber@gmail.com.

Find this page useful? Want more to understand these cycles–and stop blaming you as being a bad parent? Know a struggling parent who might benefit by knowing what they are going through is normal? Throw me a bone by recommending this work to friends and family. Help spread the word about developmental stages by directing people to this work. It’s not misbehavior: it’s growth! Your understanding and comforting presence in children’s lives helps and makes everything go better.

How to Use the Milestones

I strongly recommend starting with the due date to line up with at first. Then adjust slightly from there. Many parents have confirmed much of the timeline below and others say they see the milestones float by about 1-3 weeks. Occasionally it seems like the birth date can affect the onset of a milestone. Mini-milestones are milestones that last only one day. I only describe them as such.

The skills are listed at the earliest they have ever been seen. If you don’t see skills in the milestone you are in, perhaps look back a milestone or two. The drive to list the skills at the earliest possible is the main purpose of this work. Feedback is happily worked in. There is now a Feedback Form if you want to contribute to this. Validating or critical comments are welcomed! If you wish, you can be quoted in my upcoming books about this.

Please don’t compare your child to the list. This is a cumulative set of skills from many parents. Please also don’t swallow the milestones whole: You wont be dealing with all of them whole. Take each milestone one at a time. I purposely do not include potty accidents or night terrors in the irritable period–these things may require a doctor’s attention.

Please respect my hard work by respecting the copyright protection that this has. Please send people who are interested here to this link.

Preschool Developmental Milestones

My results for preschool milestones, ages 3 – 5, are not complete yet. I do have rough notes for the entire age range, but it’s still a work in progress. I asked if people would like my rough notes anyway, and many said they did. So, here they are. I appreciate your understanding that this is a work in progress.

Three Year Old Milestone 1—Speculation and Mental Sorting
Starts
: 2 years, 11 months, 3 weeks
Most Intense: Grows in intensity over a few days
Ends: 3 years
Irritable Period Summary
• Wants to be picked up or carried often (but usually only for a brief amount of time)
• Refuses to do things they previously did, e.g., put their cup on the sink
• Irritable
• Might be highly demanding to get their own way, e.g., a specific color of something
• Sincerely confused: calls you the wrong name, e.g., calls mom, “Dad.” It is purely accidental
• Or might grab you, pull you, get confused, and walk in circles
• May have nightmares at night
• Doesn’t want to go to bed
• High fear of abandonment if primary caregiver leaves unexpectedly
Most intense
• Wants to be held occasionally, irritable, demanding of your time
New Abilities Summary
• They put more things into mental sequences and make better educated guesses about what is going on.
Makes Educated Guesses (Speculation)
• They could draw conclusions from limited proof such as understanding Dad is home when the garage door opens at previous ages. Now they make yet more conclusions and educated guessed about what is going on. When they see clouds, they might say, “A storm is coming!” Or if Daddy just walked in, they say, “I can smell Daddy!” Or if you are about to see some swans at a park, they say, “Oh, we could feed them!” Or they might see a cake and say it’s a “party,” as opposed to a mere cake. These all make a next step in the mental guess of what is going on.
• They anticipate better how others might feel, “I’m so excited for him!” “I am so scared for him!”
• They solve jigsaw puzzles with more reasoning instead of trial and error. They actively look for, say, the piece with the funnel to go on top of the train they just put together
• They understand now that if they are dressed up as a character, they are not the character but simply dressed up. This represents the first big break between everything in their life being seemingly “permanent”/tethered and understanding that some things are more fluid.
• They similarly playfully admit they are “just joking” now. Mostly they understand that it’s they who or pretending or joking, not as much that others are.
• Interested in where things “disappear” to, such as where the sun goes at nighttime, where the sun goes as you drive around in the van, or where the garbage goes
• If they hear funny sounds, like ice shifting in the freezer, they really want to know what is going on
• May want to make the room dark. Perhaps so they can hear the sounds, etc., and make guesses about what is going on.
• Interesting note about their perspective: if you put two stuffed animals facing each other and ask if A can see B and then turn them such that they are NOT facing each other and ask if A can see B, they are apt to get the answers wrong. They don’t quite understand yet that something has to be facing something to see it. This comes a few milestones from now.
• Asks about things more, such as asking why or asking pointed questions
• Love mystery stories such as “The Great Pie Robbery” by Richard Scarry, i.e., books in which you have to think about “who done it,” i.e., an educated guess
• Says they have an “idea”
Mental Sorting
• Sorts items based on an abstract principle, e.g., all race cars go on one side and cars that are not race cars (tow trucks, etc.) go in another (this is a more abstract principle than sorting by say, trucks and cars)
• Sorts loose items into logical patterns, such as in rows of one color and then another, e.g., sorts Magnet toys or Connect 4 discs in patterns
• May want to create something beautiful or functional, like flowers arranged in a vase or a tunnel in their train/car play
• May love to put printed or moveable numbers and letters in numerical or alphabetical order
• Spontaneous and strong interest in adding objects
• Mentally handles numbers: from memory counts something, remembers something had a pattern of white, white, red, white, or can understand that “8 is greater than 5”
• Can put two loose triangles together to make a square
• Can better read or identify the last letter in a word. Before, they may have confused say “mat” and “map.” Now they differentiate them. Or perhaps, completely on their own, while you are sounding out words with them, they identify the “g” in “frog.” (Please DO NOT compare your child’s reading skills to this list. Some children just prefer to read at later ages.)
• Notices similarities about patterns of things not in sight. “Dad saving me from drowning is just like [from a story] the truck that saved the other truck in the mud.”
• May act out a real life situation, such as a past holiday or somewhere you go (probably of something you do routinely or made a big impression on them)
• Notices patterns in clouds
• Understands social hierarchies and relationships (moms, dads, grandparents, uncles, etc.)
• Identifies relationships among people, e.g., One character loves a particular dog and another loves a different animal
Applies the social principles they learned in the last milestone at the appropriate time
• Applies fair rules to govern relationships, e.g., lets their sibling take turns with them, e.g. what one course of action going forward is right?
• Initiates ideal behavior, such as cleaning something that is dirty without being asked to.
• Or, on their own, they say “Bye, friends!” when leaving somewhere, as they recognize the social principle, specifically in a situation where they previously did not do this.
• They MIGHT put their own shoes on or change their own clothes in the morning.
• May learn how to use social principles to their advantage, such as by lying
• More consistently reasonable about in-the-moment things, e.g., they see they are in the way of something that you need and move out of the way or take a bath because they recognize they are dirty. It pertains only to one step forward, such that there aren’t any competing ways of doing things.
Longer mental attention span
• Noticeably longer attention span, stays with something for an hour or longer
• Much longer imaginative and creative play (several hours)
Dramatic Increase in Gross Motor and Other Skills
• Better gross motor skill, especially with their legs and feet e.g., better at kicking a soccer ball or run noticeably faster
• Better at combing gross motor and fine motor skills, such as hitting a ball with a small club or brush
• Notices smells more, might express displeasure about the smells
• Notices sounds more and may love to sing and dance

Head Shape

What I find so interesting about the photos, which are all candids, is that at about the same age the children often have the same facial expression, temperament about them, and are even doing the same thing. In the first picture, both boys are looking down, focused, By the last, they are more light, bright, and looking up. Physically, in the first, they have puffier cheeks. In the last, their ears elongate. In the middle, there is a bulge in head shape.

Surviving

Thriving

It’s more than “just” play; it’s beginning science: pretend you are animals
Practice Safety by Building a Model Neighborhood

Three Year Old Milestone 2—Recollection
Starts
: 3.0.1
Most Intense: 3.0.2 until 3.0.3
Ends: 3.0.3, give or take a few days
Irritable Period Summary
Bossy, Demanding, Whiny
• Depends on the temperament of the child and how they channel their creativity and energy. They may be mellow or they may be whiny, bossy, or demanding of your time.
• Wants their own way, mad if you take something from them (e.g your own phone)
• They want to be the one to do things and as as long as they want, such as give you more and more vitamins, when you only want 1. They do not just yet have a reliable sense of “stop.”
• Incredibly pick/bossy about how things should be done: who can get them milk at all, then who is allowed to put the lid on, etc.
• May be highly sensitive when someone does something rather minor to them, say, hits them with a balloon
Doesn’t Handle Disappointment Well
• As it gets more intense, they want things done/resolved immediately (“now!”). These meltdowns can be resolved easily if you can guess what they want—but that’s sometimes difficult
• Doesn’t handle disappointment well.
• You might play a game with them and have no control over what happens next. For instance, on a tablet, a type of something comes up to be counted and they specifically want to see one thing, say peppermints, but something else keeps coming up. They are distraught they can’t control this. They might look wildly confused about it (though, in fairness, tablets are artificial and wildly confusing to children designed for a slower moving, more reliable world)
• However, similarly, doesn’t handle the disappoint well if, say, a doctor’s appointment is cancelled.
• Or they get really upset if you throw away old food in front of them.
• I believe this inability to handle disappointment is because they can make educated guesses about what is going to happen, such that they fully anticipate something like a doctor’s appointment, but they don’t have flexibility yet in handling it if it doesn’t happen—this new awareness comes soon
• Their bossiness, if they are bossy, is more about in-the-moment things that affect them and wanting them to go a certain way. In the next milestones, it becomes much more about making sure people follow the “rules.”
Most Intense
• Bossy about how things should be done. They might want to do things but can’t do what they want well yet. They might cry a lot for seeming no reason. Look of disbelief or otherwise some type of confusion often, which may or may not coincide with major meltdowns (depends on how the child vents frustration). Or they might demand you sit right next to them all day.
New Abilities Summary
• Recollection: they can remember things that happened in the past day with better detail and about the meaning and nuances of what happened.
• It’s as if how they learn about the world is like building a play to watch. In the toddler years, up until about now, they can understand everything about the stage of the play, the background. They noticed things across time that are persistent: their routines, people, events that happened from a long time ago that continue to burn in their mind. Now they see the actors on that stage, which move around and fluidly. With a bit of prodding at this one, they can remember details and nuance of what happened back about to one day.
Strong Recollection
• A better recollection, specifically with a better sense of time, to about one day in the past: When asked what their happy part of the day is, they will now answer with something that did happen that day. Before their answer was always the same: something that happened two months ago, e.g., they were sad on a train ride once. However, the answer they now give is usually about something you just talked about
• Very perceptive at not just recalling what happened in the past day but also of the emotions and meaning of things that happened, e.g., who was grumpy and why in the past, remembers exact conversations—but usually only recalls this, again, if you were just talking about it
• Perceptive about the quirky things that define other’s personalities, e.g., distinctive things their mom or dad says, such as how their dad says “fucken hell” (whoops!)
• If you present a relatively new story to them, they can understand it and retell it, over and over, pretty well (again, if this is their thing)
• May love mystery stories such as “The Great Pie Robbery” by Richard Scarry, i.e., books in which you have to think about “who done it,” i.e., an educated guess
• Able to recall some dreams such as “I dreamed about pepperoni pizza.”
• Has clear thoughts in their head (in the day) as they think about or work through something. You might ask them about what they are thinking about. The answers are fun.
• Might let out what they are thinking about. After they mutter and mutter, clearly working something out, they might burst out, “STEAMING DINOSAURS!” and laugh uproariously. Because it’s funny.
• Interested in finding out if something is true or not, e.g., someone says the baby is sleeping—is he really? In the last milestones they thought about where things “disappeared” to. Now they are going and finding out.
• More capable of asking them to find [x] in another room. Please find the red toy, bring me back 4 blocks, etc. They can remember their task longer as they go do it.
• Handles disappointment well: resigned about it but accepting. Perhaps because they have more information in their mind about the situation, they accept the logic of what is happening better
• More persistently follow some rules, such as take your shoes off when you get in the house
• The speculation of the last milestone and the role playing of the next one combine together here. With just a little bit of information about something, they can draw a conclusion. So if they see a hat with a skull and crossbones, they might put it on and say “Arr.” Because they are a pirate. They need less information to make a decision, and they apply it to who they are pretending to be. They become much more deliberate in the kind of roles they pick. It’s as if they think, “Oh! I CAN do that!”
• When talking about mental ideas, they insist that these ideas be linked. For instance, if your sad part was falling off of a bike that day, your happy part must have been riding the bike. They might get upset if you say anything that doesn’t link things like this, as if it’s not even a possibility

Head Shape

Roughly 3.0.2

I marvel at the near identical facial expressions in the first and last photos. In the first, both boys are light and bright. In the last, both are focused, intense, almost scowling. In the middle, there is a bulge in head shape. Irritable behavior came AFTER this in this case.

Surviving

Three Year Old Milestone 3 – Role Playing
Starts
: 3.1.0, or a few days shy
Most Intense: Varies among children between 3.1.0 and 3.1.2
Ends: 3.1.2
Irritable Period Summary
Rules Enforcer
• Their rudeness develops more into making sure everyone follows the “rules.”
• Rude to others, e.g., tells them to “Go away.”
• Might chase children away from places they aren’t supposed to be, such as mom’s bed.
• Orders other kids not to fight
Irritable, Demanding, Clingy
• Possessive of stuff
• Doesn’t want to leave primary caregiver (fear of abandonment)
• Becomes very scared of any other adult that is not the primary caregiver
• Falls asleep at weird times of the day
• Grumpy at certain parts of the day but not others, e.g., morning or night
• May wake up at night upset
• Might start chewing or smacking their lips, rocking hard on a non-rocking chair, or other activities suggesting they are anxious
“Irrational” Imaginations
• Sees things that aren’t there as they make up stories in their mind, like there are sharks in the floor or dogs on the ceiling
• Puts their hands on their eyes as if they are scared to see what they are seeing
• Thinks they can magically bring large things to themselves, such as an entire room in the house
• Says that things that are merely out of sight have “disappeared” (This may be interpreted by some as a lie)
• Is sincerely worried that things keep going forever, such as the van will run into something on the side of the road or someone running towards them will never stop.
• Given their worry about things going forever, they may, as such, get overwhelmed in a situation where things move a lot, such as older kids playing basketball in a gym
• The stories they make up in their mind, as they just sit and think, are longer
Most intense
• Possessive, rude, wants a particular caregiver. This one in addition is marked more by wanting others to follow the rules: stop fighting, get off mommy’s bed
New Abilities Summary
• Role playing: they deliberately choose various “roles” to play, e.g., pretend to be a bear, a particular character, etc.
• They can be involved in short term planning, such as making a grocery list
Role Playing
• In the last milestones, they show they really understand the deeper significance of characters, e.g., a particular car isn’t just a car—it’s a race car—or someone is someone else’s mother—and these things matter. Now it’s as if they want to try on these roles for themselves.
• They are much more deliberate in which one role they pick, whereas before in their mid-2s, they pretended to be whomever was fun and right in front of them
• May say they are a particular character from a favorite story and carries on in elaborate imaginative play as that character
• May pretend they are a particular animal and starts to walk like that animal, e.g., frog or bear
• May use their personal charm to get their way, e.g., may act like a cute puppy
• May walk around like they are “the man”
• May want to play around with their physical looks or outfits, e.g., may want to cut their hair to look like their brother. They are likely to want to dress up as the person they admire the most
• Might tell you that you are “cute”
Involved in Short Term Planning
• They are starting to notice how things keep moving better. They are noticing how things can keep going—and which direction they can take. They insert themselves into such decisions now, can understand such decisions, and can be involved in such decisions.
• Orders you to follow the rules, e.g. stop at a Stop sign. They sincerely seem to think that things go to total anarchy unless they insert themselves to follow such rules, e.g., Mom wasn’t going to stop and you were going to fly into the road.
• They can be persuaded by the logic of something now, e.g., they may indeed usually have their diaper changed at night. But it’s not dirty so we don’t have to change it. Before they would have insisted it be changed, based on the nightly routine. Now they can recall more facts about the situation and agree to the different course of action.
• Better able to understand the idea of “one more fun thing” and then we are doing something. But at this one, it needs to be specific. Like “one more of the exact thing you are doing right now,” e.g., dumping dirt from a dump truck, and then we are leaving.
• Can understand, “If you clean your room, you’ll get a lollipop.”
• Can be involved in simple planning such as putting items on a grocery list. Or they ask to put something on the grocery list, as they know you are going
• Can similarly change other things for what’s going on, e.g., might tailor songs to the social situation, e.g., “Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you? At work, at work, how do you do?”
• They might put on an impromptu play of something that just happened. You ask them to go to bed. They have two figurines, one wants to go to bed and the other doesn’t. The one who doesn’t want to go to bed valiantly knocks over the one who does.
• Evaluates if a solution that they come up with is good or bad, such as if a solution they thought up to prevent their younger sibling from getting out of an area worked or not
• Announces they have a “great idea!” of how to solve things, e.g., they get you scissors to help open a package you were fighting with
• Very much wants to help others figure out how to do things, such as offering to help teach someone who can’t read to read
• They might read a beginner book of about 4 pages with a few words on each page. This is only if language is their thing at this age.
• Very polite. May ask permission before doing anything (the opposite of rude)
• That they can actually plan different courses of actions and defy normal routines sets them up greatly for the next milestone in which they become flexible in how principles and procedures can be applied, trying their hand at inventive new solutions—and how.

Head Shape

The first strip is of my third son; the second of my first. My third showed much more noticeable changes in head shape. You can see how his head bulged in the middle photo. Typically during calm periods, I find my children’s head shape elongates, as is seen in the first and last photo of each boy. The top of their head seems flatter in the first photo; bulges/curves in the second; and elongates backwards in what I call an “egg shape” in the last. Their foreheads are more broad by the last photo. There is only 1 week difference in age.

Surviving

Three Year Old Milestone 4A– Flexible Application of Principles
Starts
: Hits like a mack truck at somewhere just before 3.1.3 and 3.1.4, though it builds before this
Most Intense: The beginning is intense and throughout. Very noticeable change in their head shape should help you see when and why they are irritable, confused, or pushy. See head shape pictures after 4B.
Ends: 7 days after it starts
Irritable Period Summary
• This hits like a mack truck somewhere between just shy of 3.1.3 and 3.1.4. They might become distraught, wildly confused, defiant, or insert themselves unexpectedly into something. Before this, they might be very snuggly or fall asleep more often or other mild behaviors
• A very noticeable change in head shape at the beginning. This is a major milestone.
• These milestones over the next few weeks come rapidly and are hard to pin down. I include pictures of head shape to show how undeniably rapidly brain growth is happening. Hopefully the pictures help you identify the new brain growth better in your child.
Unconventional Ways of Doing Things
• This one is very much marked by a child that does things in unconventional ways and absolutely insists on doing things in this new, unconventional way—or who is highly perceptive and sensitive to when things are done in unconventional ways. It’s as if they have more ideas in their mind and they can play around with them, as if they are playing the violin
• Very upset when a previously established rule they knew to be true is broken, e.g., you take longer than normal to start going after stopping at a Stop sign.
• May insert themselves in an attempt to help, but it might not go well. They might push their sibling in their carseat off of a table—which can be terrible. They sincerely thought they were helping get her into the van.
• Does things in a new way on purpose. They may do something like insist on putting on their own pants, but they do it purposely wrong by putting both legs in one pant leg. They see if they can walk like this
• Has a meltdown as they try to do something the right way but can’t, such as wash their feet, but they have difficulty putting soap on their feet, which is harder to do than put soap on their hands
• Upset if someone does something a way that is unfamiliar to them, such as cleans a toilet bowl differently than they saw it done before
• Asks “Why?” a lot, especially when people or characters behave in an odd way
• Might get around the rules. If you say, “no pushing,” they kick.
• Might take a serious spill after tripping. They sincerely seem confused.
Belligerent—Until They’re Not
• Very defiant in obeying requests. But when they decide to be cooperative, after being defiant, they are fully cooperative. It’s as if it needs to be done on their timeline. You may as well pad some extra time to get out the door.
• Demanding that you do things in a particular way, e.g., come upstairs right now or hold something in a particular hand
Conflicts and Sensitivity
• Shows intentional spite, such as getting angry that someone hurt them, pausing to think, then purposely acts out by throwing something of the other child’s
• Cries in a way that it seems like the world isn’t fair to them. They are, after all, trying out highly unconventional ways of doing things. The world doesn’t quite get them yet.
• Gives deliberate, playful insults to others, e.g., the baby is “Poopies,” in which they laugh a bit nervously at themselves, because they know this might be wrong (the very first subtle sign that they feel authentic, self-initiated shame)
• Very sensitive, easily has meltdowns
Dreams
• Very intense dreams where they laugh a lot or act out something (like flying),
• Dreams where they seem to recite entire movies or TV shows in their sleep
Most intense
• Does unexpected and unconventional things; may cry in a way that they feel the world is unfair to them; tries to do things they can’t quite do but they still persist at them; confused and upset when people do something the “wrong” way; demands you come to them
New Abilities Summary
• Marked by a great ability do things in flexible and unconventional ways
• It is also marked by a greater self-awareness: they realize they are cute, they apologize more for their own behavior
• A better merging of fantasy play to the current reality of what is going on
Flexible application of principles
• Tries out unconventional things for the sake of it.
• This reveals your child’s personality greatly. What boundary are they pushing?
• Are asking to “fly” in the air in a way such that you are stunned by how much danger they are willing to take on?
• Are they trying to wash their hands AND feet, because they are very clean and organized?
• Are they trying to help get their siblings out the door because they are so very responsible over other people?
• Take a picture of whatever it is, no matter how troublesome it is. This is a coming of 3 year old age thing.
• Less rote and more involved in social interactions, e.g., may say “thank you for noticing” after you tell them “good job,” which is not something that they’ve ever said before or that they’ve been exposed to (that you know of)
• Can do routines out of order or backwards
• Can count backwards; not because they, for instance, memorized the countdown before a space rocket launch, but because they can count forwards, and now they can count backwards
• Can understand a slightly more nuanced moral theme, such as “Cinderella is treated bad but she is not bad.”
• Better at conflict resolution in which something happens and instead of getting immediately mad, they compose themselves and put together a reasonable way to handle something.
• For instance, they state their feelings in a diplomatic way, “Mommy, I’m sad you destroyed my creation” (you thought they were done!)
• Or they confront their sibling by saying, politely, “No hitting,”
• Or maybe after a high intense conflict, they say afterwards, “Don’t hit me, and sorry I yelled!”
• Generously helps others and shares their food.
• A much greater self-awareness. They show they are aware they are cute, for instance.
Fantasy and Imaginative Play Applies to Current Situation Better
• This likely blends from the last milestone and into the next one, but they become more “practical” in their fantasy play. In the last one, their fantasy play became much more deliberate, but it was still just for fun. Now, it’s more applicable to what is going on in the current situation, yet still quite cheeky.
• For instance, they pretend to put magic binoculars on to show you they found a missing toy
• As they are cleaning, they might start singing like they are the mice in Cinderella helping her clean, “We can do it!”
• If you hand them a Hubble Telescope and a globe, they might know it takes pictures of the earth and pretend to do this
• They might love to know how to apply some principle to a situation and do it in a fun, playful way. They might love that they know to say “cheese!” when a camera is aimed at them. They could say cheese before; it’s that they enjoy knowing that they know to do it now.
• They love to be part of certain rituals, such as saying “cheers!” before drinking or giving good night kisses
• Much more confident in executing routines, such as “Put your backpack in the bin and come join the class” and they do without any help
• Loves to make decisions about how to act, such as knowing which bathroom to pick (Men or Women): a truly important decision indeed.
• May understand more complex road signs and what they mean, e.g., curvy roads ahead
• May spontaneously write letters

Surviving

Three Year Old Milestone 4B– Persistent Application of Principles
Starts
: 15 days after 4A started: somewhere around 3.2.0 or 3.2.1
Most Intense: It starts subtle and gets intense 3 days in. Noticeable change in head shape alerts you to the intense period
Ends: About a week after it starts
Irritable Period Summary
A “rules enforcer” or a comforter:
• Meltdowns when things don’t go the way they think they “should” be done
• Wants other children to follow the “rules” and gets mad when they don’t. For instance if another child doesn’t have their seatbelt buckled
• Enforcer of the rules but breaks those very rules in enforcing them, such as yells at others to “be quiet” while being loud
• Or perhaps opposite of being rude and aggressive, they enforce what is “right” by taking on the role of comforter and negotiator, going around taking care of “sick” stuffed animals
Most Intense Period
• Gets sad or cries easily, doesn’t want you to leave them, demanding of your time, demands others follow the “rules”
New Abilities Summary
• This one is marked by an ability to persistently apply abstract knowledge or principles to real life situations. They get more aggressive and serious about it at this one. It is still largely observational at this one with some attempts to get others to follow the “rules.” The ability to do this richens and lengthens in the next milestone.
Applies the Abstract to the Current Situation
• The abstract idea absolutely has to match the current reality now. If you make a “Three waffle sandwich,” they now expect it to have three waffles.
• Use symbolic objects the correct way at all times. If they see a toy crown, they are guaranteed to try to put it on your head
• At the last milestone, their fantasy play started to merge with reality. But now it gets that much more serious. The abstract and reality MUST match. And they MUST make their ideas a reality.
• That they expect persistent application of rules explains why they might get so upset during the irritable period when their brother isn’t buckled properly in a grocery cart
Can persistently apply abstract knowledge to life situations
• The abstract MUST match the reality starting at this one. They are thus willing to work towards that. From my notes about my first, “What I have noticed is a genuine desire to do what is right. If I ask him to do something, he is focused on it, clearly trying to work towards the end of what I asked him to do, even if difficult. “
• Won’t let you help them with things, such as putting on their seatbelt
• They might take a more aggressive role in conflict resolution. They might adorably “karate chop” someone who won’t stop fighting someone else. Or they might be bossy. Every child is different.
• Comforts other people on their own initiative; may go around giving everyone a drink, takes care of their “sick” stuffed animals. Or they might comfort their baby sister, “I know, baby, I know.” Or they might try to make people laugh to cheer them up.
• They are very likely to apologize quickly when they see they hurt someone.
• They can do more physical things. They might have an easier time floating in the water, for instance, riding a tricycle, or doing a somersault.
They use abstract information/rules and attempt to apply it
• Can read a map such as to find a real spot based on the map
• Understands how to play a card or board game such as Richard Scarry’s Busytown
• Willingly submits to how things are meant to be done, even if it goes against what they might think is fun. For instance, they tear apart a gingerbread house to eat it after it’s made, as this is the purpose of building it (whereas before they wouldn’t have wanted to destroy their creation)
• Obeys requests better, such as “no hitting”
• May wash themselves in the bathtub
• Persistently stays in character to get what they want. Perhaps cheekily “low crawls” up to where you are eating and steals your food or stays in character longer, bokking like a chicken, to make people laugh

Head Shape

My attempt to show how bumpy these milestones around 3 years, 2 months are. These are the head shape differences in my third (the boy) and my second (the girl) over about 3 weeks time. The top left photo marks a very sudden, dramatic time that indicated each started a difficult milestone. Behaviorally, both came totally distraught. I believe their head shape and temperament line up such that it’s the same type of brain growth happening, even though it’s about 1 week difference. First, for the boy, draw your attention to the top left photo and the bottom right. You see a difference right? It’s clear a lot happened. I offset the days in the text. They spin off of the first photo. From +2 days up until +6.5, milestone 4A, the head is bulged. The top of their head is almost a perfect circle. Then it elongates. In the top right photo of my son, just that MORNING his head was still bulged and by the afternoon, it elongated. From about +7 until +15, their head elongates and they seem chipper and even smoothly confident in behavior. Then my son clearly goes through dramatic brain growth again, milestone 4B, as seen in the middle lower photo. It’s more difficult to tell with my daughter, as she has more hair. But look at those piercing eyes in both +16/+17. Then we are again back to an elongated head with a happy child. There are clearly 2 major times of brain growth in this 3 week time.

Three Year Old Milestone 5 – Intentional Imagination
Starts
: 23 days from start of 4A, which is around 3.2.2 or 3.2.3
Most Intense: Several throughout. At the beginning and again a week or two into it is notable. The latter is marked by nightmares at night or seeing bad guys in their room
Ends: 3.3.0 or just shy of it
Irritable Period Summary
• The first head shape change, if there is a noticeable one, is likely to take place a few days before the listed start age, and then again throughout. Irritable behavior tends to come after the head shape change.
Conflicts
• Conflicts with other children and now they are over what rule itself should apply, e.g., they insist that a toy should be “shared” while another sibling tells them “no taking”
Need to see things/For things to make sense:
• Doesn’t like when they can’t see something, such as they are in the car and something is blocking their view
• May be overwhelmed by something overly fantastical, such as a person dressed up as a character (more likely of sensitive children, I would guess)
Sleep disturbances
• May fall asleep during the day at random times
• Fear of bad guys or monsters at night. May wonder if monsters are in their closet.
• May have nightmares of something they saw and think it’s there in their room, e.g., they saw a bad guy kidnap a child in a movie. Please avoid scary movies at this one (and before). They have or are soon to have a very vivid, persistent memory. They easily “see the unseen” and remember these scary images.
• Screaming at night or waking up distraught. (Or just waking up if you cosleep and are there to immediately comfort them)
• Can describe the dreams they had vividly
• Stalls at bedtime (bedtime may be up to 2 hours) or simply stays up late
Defiant
• This really depends on the child’s temperament
• Sad for seeming no reason, Rude demands, Whiny, Clingy, Won’t eat
• May be defiant over many things such as getting in the bath, putting shoes on, or going to bed.
• Fickle about food, asks for food then doesn’t eat it; doesn’t eat, only drinks
“Lies”
• Purposely gives the wrong answer or thing, e.g., asks you what of two options you want and gives you the opposite of what you asked for
• Likes to tell “lies” about what happens in a story, making up new plots for the fun of it, such as “Te Fiti [in Moana] turns into Elsa” (as opposed to Te Ka).
Lost in their Thoughts
• Stares into space for a noticeably long time
• Wants to linger on something and watch it intently: maybe something at a store, a water fountain, or how milk swirls on a lid of a cup
Most Intense Period
• Possible major conflicts but this time over what rule itself should apply. Or maybe they just sleep a lot. However, this one is definitively marked by nightmares.
New Abilities Summary
• Intentional Imagination: They can point to nothing at all and say it’s something
• I believe this Intentional Imagination aids in many other skills, such as short term memory, making up new plot twists to stories, and noticing mismatches between theory and reality. Hence, I centered the milestone around it.
• Their short term memory, in which they remember new information presented on the spot, gets longer, to about one day
Intentional Imagination: Deliberately Conjures up Images of Things when Nothing is There
• Intentional Imagination: they can point to nothing at all and say it’s something.
• In the plays they make up, they imagine things that aren’t there. Before, if they made a “rockslide,” something acted as the rocks, such as blocks. Now they can point to nothing and say it is a “rockslide.”
• Makes up stories about things that are not visible, e.g., hands you nothing and says it’s a particular character
Persistent Observation
• They notice what is going on around them in a persistent way
• They “eavesdrop” constantly now. They understand what others are talking about and contribute.
• They remember what was said and use it later as well
• You might say “lets teach [the child] to use their tricycle tomorrow,” and they see the tricycle later and get it.
• Or you talk about how two children need to stop fighting and they insert themselves.
• Or you talk about how cute their baby brother is and they mimic said baby brother, to get that attention for being cute.
• They notice what other people do. They might notice “Mommy is BEAUTIFUL!” when you put on a dress.
• Wants to linger and watch things, such as a water fountain—as they size up everything about how it works
• May want to watch something simple with great interest, such as liquid swirling around on the lid of a cup
• A more persistent memory: they may do “5 little monkeys jumping on a bed; one fell off and bumped his head,” which then leads to 4 monkeys, etc., but they start at 19. It isn’t that they can tailor the song or sing it; it’s that they stick with 19, all the way down to 0 that is impressive. It’s a much longer, more persistent memory
Richer Noticing of Details of the Present
• They notice yet more complex details of what is around them
• Narrates everything that his happening while they read a book, watch a show, or walk through a store: “oooh, look, a chair! A desk! A bed!” “This is happening, that is happening!”
• Loves to talk about their favorite story from start to end, noting nuanced details.
• Follows along with a story better. Might fill in the details as you read it or act out part of it.
• Loves to put on plays of known favorite stories, filling in many details.
• May endlessly make up new plays, with new endings from the standard ones they have been told
• May act out the characters in their plays with incredible detail, such as collapsing, “and then the Prince fell into DESPAIR.”
• You might use this as a tactic when they are in meltdown mode or your need their cooperation: offer to tell their favorite story from start to end. This is a great reading comprehension builder
• Greater ability to know their way around. When at a new restaurant, if they go to the bathroom twice, they might know how to get back to the table by the second time. This greatly grows in the next milestones
• More impressive drawings. As they notice more, it gets put into their work
• May, as such, spontaneously write letters
• Loves, loves, loves to count everything
• Becomes pleasant and cooperative
Evaluates current life situations as compared to the abstract, notices irony, etc., about mismatches
• They are constantly thinking, looking, and evaluating now. They take what is being said (the abstract discussion) and sees how it is applied to the real-life situation. If something is mismatched between discussion and reality, they notice.
• They will, on their own, identify mistakes clearly, and ones that can be highly nuanced. For instance, if you say, “Your bedroom is right next to the bathroom,” they might get big, astonished eyes and ask, “Mommy, what did you just do!?” This is because their sibling’s bedroom is closer to the bathroom. This is thus the one “right next to” the bathroom. You just made a mistake.
• Understanding that people can joke and pretend may explains why they may have been interested in telling lies in the irritable period. It’s fun and funny to them that they can now do this, in this way.
• The skill however grows into maturity. They now grow in appreciation of mismatches in the abstract and reality, such as they now know when someone is “just joking.”
• Acutely aware if a family member or favorite toy is missing. They have great emotion wrapped up in the missing person, e.g., sad their “sweet Monkey” is not with them.
• They might point to a building on a map that you frequent often, say a community pool, and say the address. And they’re right.
• May come up with insightful life observations like, “Mommy, Daddy, and my brother make me happy when I am sad.”
• Considerably greater self-awareness of their own behavior, e.g., realizes that when saying “Be quiet” they should also be quiet
• Asks what others are thinking about or reading about
• That they “see” things when they aren’t there may be why they can see mismatches and mistakes easier. They can mentally hold on to the “right” way of doing things and simultaneously compare it to the current reality
Wants to Create the Outer Reality to Their Liking
• They may try to arrange things the way they want them. They might demand you put on a dress “so you can be beautiful.”
• Truly, their views on if the outer world is safe, comfortable, or even beautiful are forming.
Picks which Rule Should Apply to the Current Situation
• More arguments about what very rule should apply in what situation
• Can understand the idea of “I will only do this for you if you do this,” e.g., “I’m not getting you a new banana until you throw the peel of the old banana away.” They can weigh which course of action they want: to throw the banana peel away or not. Before, you had to string them along in such a decision a bit more.
• May be particular about the rule, e.g., “Give me a hug but just a small hug, ok?”
• Or instead of telling you to “shut up,” they tell you, “be quiet for a little bit.”
• They evaluate good courses of action handily. So if you try to convince them that monsters or bad guys can’t get to them because the door is locked or whatever, they handily argue with you. Of course a bad guy can ram right through the door. This approach is entirely futile.
Holds Onto New Information Across Time
• They grow in how long they can hold on to new information, without any prompting
• They can hold on to abstract ideas, imagination, principles, and information and its relevance across about one day’s time.
• They might notice that it was raining yesterday and now it is not. It is entirely on their own that they notice it.
• This milestone has many little intense periods over it. It’s as if their persistence in applying principles over time and in complexity expands throughout the milestone with each intense period.
A particular interest in the “unseen”
• Keep asking “where did something go?” even though they can plainly see it, such as something on a board game you are playing, perhaps because they want to linger and look at it longer
• Upset they can’t see a person in a car driving in front of you, if you are following someone in a car. They recognize it is a logistical problem though: you are in the way of their sight
• May like to hide from you or behind you: you can’t see me mom!
• This suggests they can now understand that to see something, another person’s eyes have to be looking in a certain direction.

Head Shape

Behavior is intense at the beginning of this milestone. The head shape of both my son and daughter in the first photo are similar and behavior was intense, hence I aligned them as the start of Milestone 5. The head shape elongates (which usually coincides with more chipper behavior) until about 7 days in. And then again the forehead becomes more broad and the forehead then bulges. The last photo of each shows when each had major sleep disruptions at night, suggesting nightmares.

Surviving

Three Year Old Milestone 6A – Interested in Moving or Bringing Objects Together
Starts
: 3.3.0 or 3.3.1. It remains offset from 4A
Most Intense: 3.3.1 or 3.3.2
Ends: A few days after the intense period
Irritable Period Summary
• Major meltdowns often while out and about something like where they want to go, such as wanting to go to a cookie store when you say no
• Grabs you to come see the stuff they are doing a lot
• May want you to be right next to them all day.
• You were supposed to sit THERE not here. You were supposed to push the train BACKWARDS not forwards.
• You might be able to tell this one is starting when they start thinking about how to magically move things out of the way, such as the cars in the traffic in front of you need to magically “boom away” so your car can drive again
• Their head shape might change noticeably, which precedes the irritable behavior
• Orders others to be quiet, stop talking, or go away
• Very sensitive and may cry easily over something small, e.g., over a book dropping on the floor or stepping on a toy. Or they just get sad; it depends on the child.
• Falls asleep at weird times in the day
Most Intense Period
• It gets bad at the beginning and gets increasingly worse until a week in, at 3.3.1 or 3.3.2, depending on when it started. During this time, they might frustratingly stall at bedtime for hours, become defiant about doing things (e.g., getting a bath or brushing their teeth), have major meltdowns perhaps about where they want to go while out, may boss you around quite a bit, demand you be by them often, and might cry or get sad easily, such as if they simply stepped on a toy.
New Abilities Summary
Brings Things Closer to Them
• Separating when new abilities in these milestones that come one after the other is difficult. But this one in particular seems marked by an incredible awareness of how things are related in spatial relation to each other and how you can get them closer to each other across any theoretical 2-D line. They might:
• Demand your whole family go to the cookie store. In looking at the behavioral patterns, I don’t think this is so much because they want the cookie. I think it’s because they want to figure out how to make that happen. How do you move all these people over to this fun place? Do you walk? Does the cookie store come to you? Do you bend spacetime?
• They are especially interested in bringing things close together, such as two trains on train tracks. The trains are likely to crash into each other. Or they keep making the track longer and longer and longer, like the only thing they care about is making it as long as possible
• They physically bring YOU to them a lot.
• May love, love, love to bring two figurines, toys, stuffed animals, etc. together for a kiss
• May take an unusual interest in giving “introductions” when two people who were separated for a while come back together
• If you say you are going to “beat the storm home,” they notice who won the “race”: you or the storm?
• A big imagination about things that are far away but could be closer. They might pretend to steer a boat and they crashed it into a shore
• Although I think it shows up in the last milestone, in this milestone they definitely know that to see something, a character’s eyes have to be looking at it. They might have their stuffed animal look through toy binoculars. Or they might line up characters in a play to watch other characters do something, e.g. some characters watch a couple dancing or kissing.
• This heightened concern over how to move objects together or further apart, is, I think, a foundational skill for the next milestone, in which they develop strategic (and navigational) thinking. In the next milestone they might, for instance, walk all around a building trying to figure out the best way to get somewhere. Hence, I grouped these milestones 6A and 6B together.
Projects Things Across a Continuum of Time
• They’ve been growing in what they notice across time. Now they notice it with much richer, more reliable detail and about things that span a greater length of time, to about a few days.
• Shows they have strong knowledge of what happened that day and what will happen in the future. For instance, they say a prayer in which they remember everything that happened that day and ask for help with future events
• Notices things that changed from a few days ago, such as a bathtub has been drained that you were previously playing boats in
• Makes educated guesses about what will happen next in a story, e.g., “And now the characters are going to go home,”—as they were just out on an adventure
• Loves the idea of getting better: maybe that weights make them strong or that their dad does things at work that “makes people better”
Bigger, More Powerful Wild Imaginations
• In the past milestones, the child became wildly imaginative. They saw things that don’t even seem to be there, such as a dog on the ceiling or sharks in the rug. This gradually becomes somewhat more realistic. They see a “ghost,” but it is because a tree looks like a ghost.
• Then they saw what isn’t even there. They imagined a “rockslide” when there is nothing there at all to represent one.
• In this milestone now, the wild imaginations are still there—and they are big—but the child grows in how much they control them and what they think they can do.
• They see the cars ahead of you on the road and think you can move them by pushing them all out of the way. Or they think they can “boom hurricanes away!”
• Their imaginations are still a bit unrealistic (they think they can pick up entire cars) but they are growing very confident and feel they are very powerful in what can be done. It’s still magical, however. THEY don’t move the cars. The cars just boom away.
Growing physical attributes
• More nimble, e.g., does somersaults quickly

Three Year Old Milestone 6B – Strategic Thinking
Starts
: Between 3.3.2 and 3.3.4
Most Intense: It is intense and stays intense for 4 or 5 days after it starts
Ends: A week later
Irritable Period Summary
• Note: Different children express themselves differently. Some are very verbal, some want greater connection. Firstborns are likely to be “easier” simply because they have less to compete with
“Misbehavior” Related to Making Choices
• A delayed reaction (up to 20 seconds) in how to respond to being hurt before they start screaming, and it is as if they are contemplating how to respond, suggesting they have greater control and choice in responding
• Purposely goes the wrong way when walking around; such choices interest them intensely now
• Mentally zones out
Confusion Over What They Caused or Can Cause to Happen
• Confusion over what they do and do not have control. For instance, they might say they are sorry for things they did not cause, such as if a baby is crying they say “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
• Some children (I suspect more often empaths: people who seem to directly feel other people’s pain) may show guilt, remorse, or shame quickly, such as pouting and bowing their head in shame after being yelled at or confronted by someone for doing something wrong, even if you are very gentle in doing this
Wants Their Own Way
• May scream, cry, whine, or otherwise persist intensely when they don’t get their own way
• For instance, they scream if they can’t have something, such as a phone or their primary caregiver’s attention but can’t have it (say because mom is talking to a doctor)
• Hits and gets aggressive when upset with others; may especially pick on younger siblings
• Might evoke some kind of adorable character, such as a cute puppy or pity to get help, e.g., pretends to be mute or soft-spoken to get you to help them
• Might want your attention all day long, bringing you over to them to see what they are doing
Most Intense Period
• Very demanding or has many meltdowns for about 4 or 5 days. It greatly dissipates after the most intense period listed but irritable behavior is still noticeably seen until the end on and off.
New Abilities Summary
• They don’t just pick the right tool for the job at this one, which they did in the late twos. They now pick a strategy. They are still a bit like a rat in a maze in these early-3 milestones, though one growing in its own independence and intelligence. In the last milestones, they really started to fuse abstract knowledge to real life situations, but it was usually only one singular thing that got fused, e.g., if they are asking someone to be quiet, perhaps they should be quiet now. Now they can pick from several different strategies as to how to solve a problem as related as how to move around or what is about to happen next.
• They also have remarkable situational awareness at this one, and in particular over things that routinely happen. Their sense of patterns over time is growing.
Situational Awareness: Heightened Awareness of What Everyone Has Been, is Doing and What’s About to Happen Next
• They’ve been growing in what they remember, from a day ago, then several days ago. Now they persistently notice patterns over about one week time.
• Very aware of weekly rituals that the family does, say you go to a particular restaurant every week. They happily delight in the knowledge that this is what’s going on
• They may cautiously make sure you actually go to said place that you go to weekly. “Oh! You DID make it to [the restaurant].” Good job, Mom or Dad. You know what’s up, too.
• They might get bossy about going to the right place that they now undeniably know is where you are going. If they see the place you are going to from the highway, they might order you to stop the vehicle right then and there, while on the highway. Afterall, you’re basically there. (Becoming specific about moving in a large-ish 3-D space is Milestone 7.)
• Understands what happened a few days ago really well. They can recall events of the past entirely on their own. For instance, when you ask what their happiest part of the day was, they might say something not discussed between the two of you yet. They remembered an event from the day before, maybe you went to the store together or some other odd event. It’s that they remember it entirely on their own that’s impressive.
• They understand the bigger situation better now, but it seems as if their understanding of their role in it is still murky. They might apologize for things they have no control over. Or they might think they can bring ceiling fans close to them. They are very much in the “driver’s seat” in this one, but they are overly ambitious in what they think they can do
Can Make On-the-Spot Strategic Decisions Better
• You may have gone somewhere for the first time ever and they understand the layout of the place, what goes on there, etc., even though they just encountered all of it for the first time.
• They may understand about this new place what is going on there better, “Yeah, let’s go back to that thing we saw when we first walked in!”
• They may want to try their hand in finding their way around somewhere even though it’s the first time they’ve ever been there. They may literally take your hand and start wandering all over to try to do this
• Can accept advice about on-the-spot strategic decisions, such as “Walking this way is better than another way to get somewhere.”
• Figures out complicates tools on the spot. Sticks with it until they do, such as figuring out what to do at an exhibit at a traveling science show
• They might verbalize this strategic thinking, like walking around saying, “What if? WHAT if …?”
• They no longer have a huge meltdown if you are far away from them. They may put their new strategic thinking to use. “I need to figure out how to get powers to get mommy to me!”
• Love to make up nonsense words or type out nonsense words. Who says letters in words have to follow prescribed, standard order!? They are in the driver’s seat now and words do what they want.
Solves Future Problems
• Much more methodical in solving a problem, e.g., tries to figure out what is the next [whatever] in a series
• Takes their time to make a choice, as if they want to make sure it is an intelligent and educated choice, such as going into deep thought as they think about what to order for dinner
• Says they want to “solve” something
• Understands tasks can be put off until later
• Greater interest in and ability to put steps in a process in order, such as washing something first and then drying it
• Very interested in what might happen next in science experiments, such as what colors mixed together will make what other color

Head Shape

Milestone 6: Strategic Thinking. The top left photo shows before intense behavior begins. The middle top shows intense behavior. The top right shows again chipper behavior. The bottom strip of photos shows 6B. The behavior is intense over the whole strip, about 4 or 5 days. You can see how the head shape becomes more square in the lower left photo. The forehead then becomes more broad, then bulges, which suggests the next brain growth is already on its way

Surviving

Three Year Old Milestone 7 – Specific Thought
Starts
: Between 3.3.3 and 3.4.2
Most Intense: Very intense for the first 3 days at the beginning
Ends: On and off demanding behavior lasts until about 10 days
Irritable Period Summary
Intense Period that Kicks Off the Milestone:
• The first part of this milestone is very difficult
• They might be up on and off throughout the night
• Nightmares, maybe of something like a dinosaur took one of their siblings and they need to find them
• Their head shape clearly changes. It may look outright painful for them
• More prone to illness or may have a runny nose with no other symptoms
• Might have a meltdown even though it seems like they have everything they could ever want
• May become paralyzed, e.g., might cry that a door is not opened and won’t open it even though they can open a door
• May be frustrated they can’t do something which they have never been taught to do, like read
• May want to be by you all day or they do whatever your child does when they are really irritated during a milestone
Demanding
• After the initial difficult period, they might:
• Demand you throughout the day, to see what they are doing
• Or have a reliable meltdown at least once per day
Fears
• Irrational fears, such as that they or a large toy will go down a bathtub drain
• Fear of “monsters chasing them” or an unusually heightened fear of cars hitting them
Most Intense Period
• Sudden meltdown over seeming nothing, paralyzed to act, or may just be really demanding of your time.
New Ability Summary
Fantastical 3-D Spatial Awareness
• At the beginning, there is a sudden perception that large things can fit into small spaces (when they can’t)
• For instance, they might think a large stuffed animal can fit into a teeny tiny toy train. This new perceptual awareness becomes scary when they, for instance, think they can go down a bathtub drain.
• They might show this in other ways. If you say they are “sharp,” they might think you are saying they are a knife. Objects can magically change into other objects in their mind right now
• They might adorably put ear plugs in and think YOU now can’t hear THEM when it is in fact they who can’t hear you.
Spatial Relation
• This one seems marked by an interest in spatial relation.
• They get very specific about spatial awareness: they are on the sixth step or a door is at a certain angle. This also roughly marks the start of children in the mid and late threes fascination with racing and being the best.
• They get more practical about bridging the space between objects. Before, they thought they could magically bring entire rooms to them. Now they use string to try to rope things and bring things to them.
Specific About Spatial and Other Awareness
• Very specific in categorizing things, e.g., octopus have EIGHT legs and crabs have SIX
• Very specific in labeling what they are doing, e.g., “I’m on the SIXTH step!”
• Insistent on getting a specific type of something, such as a particular character from a vitamin jar
• Describes things in very stark terms, e.g., “That bird is DEAD.”
• May be REALLY good at something like leveling spices in a dry measuring cup then executing all the steps necessary in a recipe
Mentally Holds Onto Patterns
• They hold categorizations in their mind handily and use them. From my notes about my second, “She was [in another room] and yelled over to me about a book we were reading, “Look at the next page! See how two of the trolls are sleeping!” She counts and groups everything. And then she remembers this grouping to make decisions.”
• Uses the categorizations that they are familiar with to make decisions, e.g., A page in a book has TWO trolls on it so they ask “Mommy let’s find the one with two trolls.”
• They use their mental patterns to help them. They may have sized something up as having 2 of this or that and they use it later when describing something to you or asking you to get something
• They might no longer need pictures in books when reading; they might sit far away from you and just listen. You can attempt some chapter books now. Their ability to persistently notice what is going on, conjure up images, categorize what is said and follow along in their mind has greatly grown in the last milestones.
Builds Creative Mental Patterns
• Can build more creative and exact patterns, such as putting colors in rainbow order
• Very good at adding, e.g., five toes on one foot and the other make TEN!!!
• Much higher mental creativity, may make up a creative pattern, e.g., may make up a poem of their own that rhymes, based on something they just saw, such as “Pigs were on the hill and they fell, fell, fell!”
• Might purposely come up with jokes to entertain their sibling
• They can make up a brand new play about something on the spot and they execute now more like they are the director rather than in the moment, such that they think it up, then execute it
• Very deliberately and specifically build a flower arrangement, “The FIRST flower is going to be. The SECOND flower is going to be.”
• This ability to build mental patterns and handle many mental variables, especially as combined with the desire to be the best/race, is what will blossom in the next milestones
Practical ability to bridge space between objects
• In the last milestones, they became much more aware of the distance between objects. They had a gross misunderstanding of how to get things to them (the first wild mental awareness) or what can fit in what (the second wild mental awareness). Now, they get (slightly) more practical about this.
• It’s almost as if nature gives them an overabundance of a skill that they then learn to refine. In this case, they learn that they can bridge things across space, but at first they are wildly off about it: a large stuffed animal can fit into a toy train. Now they see the actual shades of this.
• They might build a “hose” to bring water “close” to a “fire”
• They might become interested in string. They use it to build “bridges” between things
• They might handily figure out to get stools or chairs to get themselves higher to reach things
• They become mindful, even fearful of their safety when walking around in a parking lot. This is ultimately a positive development. They make sure to keep a safe distance from potential moving cars to stay safe. Their situational awareness and better understanding of distance/size is becoming useful and practical.
• Banging things together of course may be fun
• You of course are their favorite object. They might physically bring you to them or move your head to see them.
• They might become curious about how things work or how things move in a large(ish) 3-D space. For instance, where do fish go to the potty? They are surrounded by water. How does that work?
• This understanding of distance also starts their love of racing. They want to be the first to the van, the first to get their seatbelt buckled, etc.
• I suspect this is also when they get specific about time on a more macro scale: they get more realistic and specific in understanding something was X days or Y weeks ago.
On the Spot Problem Solving Continues to Blossom
• Can negotiate with you to solve a short-term problem, e.g., you want them to get out of the van but they feel unsafe so they offer to wait in another (specific) part of the van while you get their sibling out
• They persist at finding a very specific thing, such as “F” on a keyboard or anything else very specific and exact according to their current ability level
• More socially independent, may make friends spontaneously with children they don’t know

Head Shape

Milestone 7: Specific Thought. The first day of this is especially difficult. And look at how scrunched up his head looks! The head shape stays pretty bulged throughout the entire thing. Demanding behavior is seen on and off throughout these 10 or so days.

I include the following side by side of my third and second 6 days into this milestone. Both of their heads had a kind of elliptical shape around the top.

A protruding forehead and elongation towards the back making a kind of elliptical towards the top portion of the head.

Surviving
Emotional Responsibility: Staying Patient as a Parent (and a Person)
Trick for Cooperation Starting at Preschool Milestone 5: Tell Them a Story

Three Year Old Milestone 8A—Integrates Sets of Knowledge
Starts
: ~14-15 days from 7. Starts somewhere between 3.4.1 and 3.4.3. Note: If children have been hitting the milestones later, there is a possibility they will go through 8A and 8B at the same time.
Most Intense: 4 to 8 days into it can be really, really intense.
Ends: Just after the intense period. At the next milestone (8B), the milestones become aligned again. Children hit 8B pretty reliably around age 3.5.0, no matter what. It is no longer offset from Milestone 4A. So this one might bleed right into the next one or you might have a gap. If the child has been hitting the milestones later, it will bleed—and it’s probably going to be rough. If the child has been hitting them earlier, there will be a gap.
Irritable Period Summary
Demanding of you
• Gets mad at you a lot. Maybe because you can’t reach up and get an airplane for them.
• Gets mad when you walk away.
• Demands your attention, to do things with them or watch them do things
• Wants their lovey (a blanket or stuffed animal used for comfort)
• Does not want to separate from primary caregiver, such as if you leave them with a babysitter or walk away
Wild Imaginations
• They still think they or their favorite stuffed animals can magically shrink into tiny places or that you can reach up and grab an airplane for them
• Might still be overly worried that cars will hit them
Most Intense Period
• An intense, possibly constant need to be near you, in which you do exactly what they say or sit exactly where they want. You may very well get to your wit’s end.
New Abilities Summary
• In the last one, they were grouping what they know into categories and using it to make decisions. Now they compare such sets of integrated knowledge to each other.
• This one is marked by comparing and integrating sets of knowledge. Coinciding with this is a large propensity to compare themselves to other children. It slides into the next milestone (8B) in which they don’t just compare themselves to things but insert themselves into those things
Compares Knowledge
• Notices patterns of behavior on their own. For instance, “Mommy, bats sleep too!” if they see it on TV or at an exhibit. Humans sleep. And bats sleep. Neat.
• Connects the relationship between two things that they learned. If they see a flamingo video on your phone, they might call up an app on their tablet to show you another flamingo video. It’s not just that they made the connection, but they’ll go get the resource to compare the two things.
• Another example: They may learn to read a word such as “pig” then find another book with “pig” in it
• Or they make a craft and realize, after they made it, that it looks like their favorite toy. They then hide said craft. It is probably near said toy.
• Drawings become more realistic, such as drawing a “dragon’s teeth.” Perhaps they are more interested making the pictorial representation match the real life (or visionary) example
• They might like the task of inspecting things, such as seeing if the eggs in a carton are cracked or not. There is the standard—the ideal egg—compared to the reality, the current carton of eggs in front of them
• Loves “science experiments” where you mix things, make things explode, or cut things
• Loves comparing outcomes, such as racing two toy cars down a track
• Their first sense of “forever” shows up. If you ask them not to go up the stairs, because you are cleaning, they might think they can never, ever, go up the stairs again. Big, heavy stuff when you are 3.
• That they compare entire sets of knowledge is a great bridge between this and future milestones. Before, they were learning how to get around in 3-D spaces. Now they are comparing entire 3-D spaces to each other. In a few months, they will realize they don’t have to do everything in a rinse, wash, repeat way within the space they’ve learned to move around in. That they notice different patterns of things likely greatly stirs this kind of “outside the box” thinking, engendering better if/then logic
Integrates Knowledge
• Makes up logical rules that unite two sets of knowledge such as “Red is 1, Orange is 2, Yellow is 3” as they assign the colors of the rainbow a number, thus integrating together the idea of numerical and rainbow order together
• Makes up logical rules to govern relationships but which are inaccurate, such as “1 + 0 makes 10.”
• They might start to get very “meta” about the knowledge they are integrating. For instance, they notice “water is wet!” And this is funny to them, because the very definition of “wet” is “something with liquid,” which, for nearly every wet thing, means water.
• They come up with creative ideas by mashing two different ideas/things together. They might get a toy cash register they happen to have to be a “bank” as you play a separate game, such as Monopoly Jr.
• Or you teach them how to play Go Fish and they make up a new game where something other than cards are matched together, say the color of blocks. As such, they have essentially made a totally new game.
• Puts two separate skills together into a more masterful skill, such as applying their knowledge of functional reading and the mechanics of reading together, e.g., they know the bathroom sign says “Women” and they sound out each letter, verifying for themselves that it says “Women”
• They might put together knowledge of how to draw small shapes to draw a bigger picture.
• Or they use small parts to build something bigger, such as bubbles in a bathtub to make a “dog.”
• Or they use the parts from a science kit to build something bigger, such as a “boat.” That small parts make the whole will also blossom in the next milestones.
• I suspect that this interest in taking small things and building with them is when the toys they play with become smaller, such as how young children very famously play with the bigger “Mega Bloks,” and then at older ages prefer smaller LEGO bricks.
Compares Themselves to Others
• They now get into “racing” big time. They might race two cars or race other children to your car or van
• How they compare themselves to other children may take various forms. They may be competitive with others, become a cheerleader, or happily curl up to learn something from an older child. But they are very interested in how other children are and where they are in relation.
• They might start to prefer movies with real people instead of cartoons
• Pretends to be someone other than they are, such as they are Jesse the cowgirl from Toy Story when they have boots on, or they are their best friend
• If they hadn’t been previously, may start to bring doll or stuffed animal around with them
• As they start to compare sets of knowledge and themselves to others, they start to insert themselves in more things, which is where 8A starts to bleed into 8B. They might start doing things they didn’t before, like opening window blinds or playing games that their older siblings are playing. This grows greatly in the next milestone—in potentially destructive ways!
Deductive Reasoning
• Basic deductive reasoning but about things immediately seen and which require a few mental gymnastics, such as “Let’s not get the big one.” “Oh, OK, then we are getting the small one.”
• Or they conclude that if a person has a window down they might have wanted fresh air. They have more data sets to compare to and draw conclusions at this one.

Head Shape

Milestone 8A: Integrates Knowledge. The first photo shows the beginning of the milestone with mild behavior. The middle shows when intense behavior started. Then the last photo is the end of the milestone.

In the middle photo for both boys, the forehead height is shorter and the head more circular (as opposed to squared off or egg-shaped). I again marvel that the facial expression on the same day in the photos captured is very often the exact same. Here, in the middle photo, the expression is one that is simultaneously focused and excited. In the first and last photos, the head is elongating.

Surviving

Three Year Old Milestone 8B — Highly Inquisitive and Evaluative
Starts
: I believe this one starts around 3.4.4 no matter how the milestones have been operating for children so far. Therefore, if a child has been hitting them earlier than later, you’ll see a gap between the start of 8A and the start of 8B of up to 15 days. If a child has been hitting the milestones later than earlier, you won’t see any gap between 8A and 8B at all, as they abruptly re-align now. In fact, I think for some children 8A and 8B happen at about the same time. If this happens, the behavior is likely to be much more intense.
Most Intense: The intense period of this is highly noticeable and no longer offset from previous milestones. It assuredly shows up just shy of 3.5.1 and lasts a few days
Ends: Between 3.5.2 and 3.5.3
Irritable Period Summary
Bossy, Controlling, Aggressive
• May whine and whine when they don’t get something they want instantly, even after reassurances and consoling. This is worse in some children than others and can be very, very trying.
• Might throw all of their toys over a balcony
• Upset when they really want control over something but don’t have it, such as who gets to turn the lights on or off in a room, how a movie should end, or which box of waffles you get out to make waffles
• Very bossy and aggressive towards other children but if you press harder you might see it’s because they are concerned for the safety of the other child (more likely of empaths)
• Or might get aggressive towards you at times, if you don’t do what they want. You might get actively punched for the first time ever
• Or they kick things and throw things (probably more likely of boys). Playfully wrestling with them helps
• Might push back on you. For instance, when you playfully “mess” with them, which they previously liked, they now stop you rather forcefully (by nearly punching you) to get you to stop. Or you might get unexpectedly punched in the eye (when you were lying down) when they don’t get their own way.
Defiant
• Refuses to put their own shoes or clothes on, demands you do it or wants some amount of cuddle/connection time before putting their clothes/shoes on
• Defiant to do things like get in the bath or put their shoes on (may coincide with an increase in wanting to do this on their own)
• Decision paralysis: they want a very particular TV show or movie but just won’t pick which one
“Irrational” Imaginations
• Still has irrational ideas and fears of what might happen to them, such as they might go down the drain of the bathtub or that other people can turn into things spontaneously, e.g. their brother will turn into a “bad guy.”
• These fears may make them scared to do things like go down the stairs or get into the bathtub.
• First sense of “forever.” They think edicts are forever. If you ask them not to go on the stairs, say because you are cleaning them, they might later burst into tears. They want to go upstairs, but they think they never can do that again.
Physical Accidents
• In the intense period, you can somewhat expect some big accident where they fall or slip on something. It’s as if their desire to try out their new skill overrides their footing and causes problems. They might fall off stairs or kick out stools from under them, accidentally.
• Highly repetitive. They might keep doing the thing that previously hurt them over and over. Or they keep asking the same question, despite it being answered.
Physical Changes
• Coinciding with this increase in insertion and aggression is likely growth of their feet, hands, muscles, and lung power. Also: they can really, really wail now.
• They may spit a lot or become very drooly
• Seems to have a larger need for sleep, might seem very sleepy and tired yet won’t sleep
Most Intense Period
• Ear splitting screams, intense whining, or perhaps a constant need to be near you or aggression. This one is INTENSE. A loss of their footing as in a way to take a major spill is almost assured—and for them to not really learn from it
New Abilities Summary
Highly Inquisitive and Evaluative. They throw themselves into situations more:
• They insert themselves into things more. They’ll play the game their older siblings are playing or throw themselves into the play other children are making up.
• May encourage you to teach their sibling “all the things”
• Likes to hide things and make you find them
• Strongly interested in animals, such as pigeons in the park, likely to chase them
• Very interested in and evaluates others or things on a deeper, almost moral level: So and so is their best friend (or is not their best friend), mommy is a great cook, their house is “amazing,” their sibling is doing something ALL WRONG
• Can take a noticeably greater interest in art, especially of children
• Very realistic in pretend play, such as reenacting how a mommy is pregnant then births a baby by putting the baby in her shirt then “delivering” it
• More realistic about fears: might know they won’t go down the bathroom drain but think some of their smaller toys will (when they won’t)
• The first age at which they might remember something from long ago, such as picking up grandma at the airport last holiday or something you did at a restaurant two months ago
• Their first sense of taking something deeply personal shows up here. They might ask you to do something and you say “not now,” and the tone of your voice suggests you are irritated, and they run away, “I asked mommy to play a game! And she doesn’t want to be with me!” This sense of deep shame in response to others grows greatly in the next milestone
• They can be a sincere burst of sunshine in through these ages. They might stomp around in boots, lavishing in the attention of others. They might gush about being able to be friends with someone. They might be so happy you gave them lunch and you are eating together.

Head Shape

Milestone 8B: Highly Inquisitive: The first photo of the first boy shows the start of demanding behavior. The second photo at 1244/1245 is similar in both boys: each have a taller forehead. I marvel that children very often have the same facial expression in the random photo I got of them on the same day of development: in this second photo of both boys, a look of calm maturity.
The third photo at 3.5.0 of the first boy slightly precedes when very, very intense behavior was seen. The bulging forehead is obvious.
The last photo for the first boy and girl marks a particular day when both had intense behavior in which they took a big spill, hurting themselves
The behaviors now line up by age again without being offset from previous milestones. 3.5.0 to 3.5.1 is a difficult age. It seems my daughter went through milestone 8A and 8B at the same time—and it was an especially difficult time with her. 

Three Year Old Milestone 8C — Highly Inquisitive—With Personal Reflection
Starts
: Between 3.5.3 and 3.5.4
Most Intense: At the beginning
Ends: 3.6.0
Irritable Period Summary
• Mostly more demanding of your time
• Becomes a “mini tornado”: might take movies out of their cases, throw toys (or their socks) over the balcony or off a high bed, unroll rolls of toilet paper, opens the mini-blinds, take heads off their dolls, or opens all of the cabinet doors. (Prepare your house and heart for this! It can be maddening—or cute—just depends on the situation.)
• Still has irrational ideas and fears of what might happen to them, which continues to make them fearful of things like new, scary stair sets
• Alternatively, a more thrill-seeking child might purposely go towards the danger, such as waiting last minute to jump away from a bike coming at them
• The very first recognition of authentic shame appears (if they are at all prone to shame). They realize they DID do something harmful. They might quietly whisper to you that they did something so you can help them fix it.
New Abilities Summary
• This shows mostly a strengthening of the skills on 8B but with a few more. They throw themselves into the middle of more situations and figure things out on the spot well, as they did in 8B. But now they also take on more personal responsibility about how they handle themselves in the situations. They grow to be more cautious yet also more ingenious, cheeky, and responsible.
Strengthening Ability to Be in Middle of a Situation
• Their bigger feet, lung power, etc, makes their presence that much more known and their actions that much bolder. They have a hearty laugh now or a gigantic wail.
• They easily and sturdily persist in trying new activities, perhaps learning how to use a swing or how to make it twist then releasing themselves.
• Very much understand what other children are doing and may ask to do exactly that. For instance, you are doing an activity that requires you to be with a child every X hours, as you make a sun dial, and they stay with it and want to do it
• They continue to integrate what they know. They might see a character with goggles on and go get their own. But now they really ham it up big time.
• They might mix and match many sets of toys as they integrate their sets of knowledge about them. They might make up more games about them, such as playing hide and seek with a set of toy animals
More Personal Reflection and Responsibility
• They start to become much more mindful of their surroundings and actions. If they see you are sleeping, they might say “oh mommy is sleeping” and leave the bedroom as quietly as they can.
• They might take a big interest in helping other, younger children. They might come up with a clever solution to do this, like, “Everyone calm down! Mommy will be here to help us by teaching us a lesson!”
• The realization of shame, specifically as tied to their actions, starts to show up in subtle form now. If they broke something of another child’s, they might whisper it to you, so you can handle it quietly.
• Or they might become overwhelmed with sadness over something that happened to you. They might be sad you had to, for instance, stay at the hospital. Their new sense of “forever” probably negatively impacts this.
• Likely to want to watch you do something first, such as color, rather than do it themselves
• They transfer risk. Instead of looking over a high place, they might ask a stuffed animal to first.
• Asks curious questions such as “What do zombies eat?”

Surviving

Three Year Old Milestone 8A — Deductive Reasoning Across Time
Starts
: Between 3 years, 6 months, 1 and 2 weeks
Most Intense: The very beginning
Ends: 3 years, 7 months
Irritable Period Summary
High Propensity for Shame
• Note: This one shows a high propensity for shame. Children will differ. Some internalize and some externalize. A child who internalizes is more likely to show shame. A child who externalizes is more likely to show aggression. As always, each child is different. Some are more empathetic than others, etc., thus may or may not show as much concern for others.
• In the last one, they realized they can be responsible for a situation going poorly, and, thus, developed the potential for shame. This shows up in a big way now.
• Very upset to the point of screaming when they are made aware that they hurt someone
• They might fall to the ground in frustration when they realized they caused something bad to happen, such as perhaps they are the ones who moved the remote yesterday, which is why it is lost today
• Very upset when something doesn’t go the right way, for instance if they fall off a chair, you forget to get them something, or another child escapes outside on accident
• Highly protective of loved ones, very fearful for siblings for example
• Very upset when they can’t be the one to help someone
More Aggressive
• Might rearrange BIG things now, like the garbage can or sheets
• Higher propensity to hit
Fear of Abandonment
• Screams or has meltdown when they can’t have their primary caregiver or any other loved one near them or loved one/PC moves away suddenly
“Irrational” Fears Get Longer
• Has a persistent semi-rational fear such as that there is a snake in the house or tigers are chasing them, which they worry about day after day (i.e. across time)
Sweet Moments
• Weaved in through this highly sensitive and easily irritable behavior are some really sweet moments!
• Likes to be physically close to primary caregiver often, perhaps laying on them or on their lap
• Wants primary caregiver at bedtime
• More likely to bring their lovey or blanket around the house with them
Sleep Issues
• Sleep disruptions: might unexpectedly fall asleep in the middle of the day or get up at night
New Abilities Summary
Deductive reasoning as ACROSS TIME
• Very good deductive reasoning as now applied across time (past and future), e.g., may see a puddle and conclude “It rained yesterday” (which would have happened previously).
• This comes in handy when you, say, tell them that you are currently out of milk and much later they happily offer, on their own remembering you were out of milk, “Can I have juice then?”
• They can think into the future, such as thinking about what they want from Santa
• Understands upcoming events, such as a holiday is on X day
Verbal and Mental Thinking Skills:
• They start to learn and say new words, such as “kangaroo,” on the spot, easily. They might start copying what everyone says
• Mental math skills develop in a more precise way. They might be good at certain skills like adding, can better recognize that 1 + 0 is 1, not 10, they might know the clock is at a certain number, or they might think about math problems mentally, such as they know they have 4 of something and you are about to buy 2 more, and they say, “Oh, I’ll have 6!”
• Compares sets of ideas now, in a challenging way. Dad might say “Diesel [the gas] dropped in price,” and they challenge you, “No, Diesel [from Thomas the Train] dropped jobi logs!”
Gets more technically proficient
• Strong desire to be taught and receive lessons. Very receptive to learning proper way to handle things, such as how to hold a DVD properly or how to throw a frisbee (use this to your advantage!)
• Very good at doing something like picking out a movie, opening the Blu Ray player, putting the movie in, and operating a few buttons on the remote
• Might want to make their own toast or spread their own butter
• Likely wants to put on their own seatbelt.
• They start to design things. Their crafts might start to take on a distinct design, like make a new star shape or add a stripe or two—instead of randomness or everything is all one color or the same shape they’ve always made, or they design pillows all around them to make a “throne”
• Sets up their own play: might set up some legoes as a house to act out a scene of you and them drinking coffee. Or they go and get all the pencils and paper necessary to color.
• More focused on new and more complex activities such as coloring and gluing.
• Better use of their hands, e.g., better able to catch a ball
• They might dramatically carry in the heavy grocery bags to the kitchen and announce they are a “Big strong man!!”

Three Year Old Milestone 8B — Enormous, Realistic 3-D Imagination
Starts
: Bleeds from the last one
Most Intense: Around 3 years 7 months
Ends: 3 years, 7 months, 1 week
Irritable Period Summary
• This is meant to mark a few especially demanding days
• Highly possessive of toys and primary caregiver. If a toy is out and just happens to be “theirs,” no one is allowed to even touch it.
• May cry easily
• May have nightmares
• They might refuse to do something they are usually very agreeable about (like taking a bath). They are stubborn and upset, but not terribly communicative as to why
• They might want something outright impossible, such as you have to sit at the end of a bench while simultaneously next to both them and their sibling
• May have a slight fever
New Abilities Summary
Can imagine a bigger 3-D space and across time with accuracy:
• Can create a vivid realistic 3-D picture in their mind, e.g., can understand the idea of outer space or earth
• They may like to hear highly imaginative stories (creating a 3-D picture with words) as a way of learning, such as a story about how a plane takes off, with many details, or how a child is born (depends on their personality: a highly rational and pattern seeking child will listen to the details of an airplane taking off)
• They might create new stories with this 3-D awareness, such as hearing someone needs to go to outer space, so they urgently offer to make a “rocket” out of wood blocks
• Depending on their personality, they may want to be involved in everything and they have a very specific process to do it. They have to open the refrigerator door, you get the milk, you pour it, they smell the milk, you put the milk back, and they close the refrigerator door. And it’s always like this without deviation (more likely of highly “present” children, who tend to be S on the Myers Briggs, as opposed to N, which is pattern seeking)
• A renewed interest in building 3D shapes out of various objects, such as magnet shapes or wooden blocks
Awareness of themselves as a person in situations: a full, robust personality
• They easily and very rapidly respond to in-the-moment situations now and with full, fluid personality. You might get a “no way!” from them now—after saying something totally mundane. Or they admonish you, whispering, “Be quiet! Be as quiet as a mouse!” Or they see, the Pixar movie Cars for the first time in a while and cheekily run around and throw their butt out exclaiming, “kachow!”
• Aware of how they are, e.g., “I lay down on bed to calm down and not be an angry brother”
• Very accommodating of you. If they are too heavy to carry, they understand, and let you just hold their hand instead. If you don’t like when they sit on you, they might brush your hair, knowing it sweetens you up as to let them stay there
• If they had a lovey that was attached to them since a young age, they may start to give it up now, leaving it for an entire day, which, if you have a child like this, you know is a really long time to go without a very beloved lovie. Perhaps this is because they are more confident in themselves and how they respond to the environment.
Focused and Committed
• Everything is “I do it!”
• Whereas before they were cautious to color, now they are highly focused in their coloring (or gluing, cutting, etc.) They might take note of how very careful they are being and they might surprise you with how long they stick with it
• They are willing to be by themselves longer and may even actively leave the room you are in, for another one, for a good long while
• They obey requests better and in a more long-term way. You might ask them to play in a particular room, and they do. Or you ask them “no hitting,” and they actually don’t, for the rest of the afternoon or evening.
Other
• All of a sudden remembers things from several months ago, e.g., they used to have a stuffed animal but now it is lost or remembers a nightmare from a while ago (may have shown up in the previous milestone)
• Very interested in specific smells, such as of milk or human sweat

Surviving

Thriving

A child with a vivid realistic 3-D imagination will love to visit a museum, cave, aquarium, historic site, etc.

Three Year Old Milestone 9A— Enormous, Detailed Knowledge with If/Then Logic
Starts
: 3 years, 7 months, 2 weeks, give or take a few days
Most Intense: 3 years, 7 months, 3 weeks
Ends: 3 years, 8 months
Irritable Period Summary
• Wants you by them often and very upset if you leave
• Wants you near them at bed, might physically grab you so you don’t leave
• Jumps on others and lays on others
• Highly sensitive when they have been hurt or perceive they were wronged (more likely of empaths)
• Changes their mind constantly as to how they want to do something, such as where they want to put their shoes on at
• Similar to the last one, they may want something contradictory. They want a TV show on and then get mad when you do turn it on. I believe some nuance of what they want is hard for them to communicate, such as, “put it on but skip the introduction” or something similar
• Similarly might want something, say a “waffle,” and you offer everything you can think of, but nothing satisfies them. As it turns out, they wanted their sibling’s waffle, as such, sitting on their sibling’s plate
New Abilities Summary
Absorbs and Applies New Knowledge Quickly
• Understands new and advanced words immediately and says them accurately such as “aquarium,” “Riverwalk,” or “blister.” It is highly reliable that they will understand any new word taught on the spot, say it, and start to use it.
• Highly interested in reading words. They might call the words “interesting,” declare they are reading a “treasure map,” or otherwise just want to read. I believe it makes them feel big and important to read
• Can learn new sight words quickly
• Very handily remembers information told to them, day after day
• They can apply what they know to real world situations handily. They might exclaim, “The sky is awake! So I’m awake!” upon waking up, which is from the movie Disney’s Frozen
• “Eavesdrops” on adults and understands exactly what they are talking about
• Understand and participates in adult conversations better
Breaks Traditional Routines
• If you do something day after day, they now challenge if it has to keep going that same way
• They might want a different breakfast than normal. They normally had X but now they want Y—probably something they saw someone else have
• They might playfully refuse to do something the family does every week. Nope. They are not going to the restaurant. They are staying home tonight. Mom.
• They may do something thoughtfully different than usual. For instance, they may set the table every day for the family, but they realize now that they might do it differently based on the circumstance. Is dad at work today? Because if not, they won’t set a plate for him anymore (whereas before they always set it, even if dad was at work)
If/Then Logic
• More advanced if/then logic as applied to real life, e.g., indeed set a breakfast plate out for dad if he’s home but not if he’s not home
• Can infer conclusions from observed facts, e.g., a garbage can is on the driveway but dad already put one away, so this one on the driveway must be a neighbor’s garbage
• Recognizes the very path it takes to find a solution, which requires if/then decisions, e.g., after a scuff up says “I’m sorry I made you angry but we worked together to find a solution.”
• This ability to apply if/then logic, and break established routines, may be why they are so fickle in the irritable period, trying one thing, then changing their mind, over and over
Big, realistic imagination
• Highly imaginative about what they might like to do and in a big but fairly realistic way, e.g., build a new road somewhere to relieve traffic problems
• Their very first “imaginary friends” will appear, although they are unlikely to be “friends” now but rather just visions. “Workers” might help them build a road. Or they invite their toy cars to come with them to the playground. What they imagine now is likely to be similar to the imaginary friends they eventually develop in their mid-4s.
Encyclopedic, Detailed Knowledge
• They have a lot of knowledge now and they are very specific and nuanced about it.
• Develops an impressive memorization of facts, such as what a certain animal eats or the names of the planets
• Loves to answer questions to test their knowledge and understand the world, such as “Are trees living or not living?”
• Wants to know if things are real or fake
• May ask you questions like, “Mom, did you know … ?”
• May become interested in all of the technical details of something, such as how some simple machines work
• Asks intelligent questions such as “Does the sun use electricity since it’s so bright?”
• Their vocabulary grows and so does their sentence complexity. Instead of saying, “Sit by me,” they might say, “Sit right next to me.”
• Interested in knowing what the exact rules are essentially to know what they can do or what they can get away with, e.g., may tickle their sister instead of hitting because the rule was “no hitting”
• Very technically accurate, such as “You just hit your brother.” “No I hit his TOE,” or any other similar example
• That they start to break up all of life and their knowledge base, of which is really large now, into segmented, detailed chunks is this milestone, 9A. That they can integrate these segmented chunks into an integrate theme is milestone 9B, Thematic Thinking.
Gets Their Hands on Things
• Loves, loves, loves to do experiments and activities
• Shows mastery over a skill using their hands, may write letters nicely, put on makeup with impressive ability, or operate the remote better
• Plays with string to tie things up and other materials to make “bridges.”
• Interested in simple machines and how things move (both boys and girls may show this.)

Surviving

Thriving

Sort Animals

Three Year Old Milestone 9B — Thematic Thinking
Starts
: 3 years, 8 months, 1 week
Most Intense: 3 years, 8 months, 2 weeks
Ends: 3 years, 8 months, just shy of 3 weeks
Irritable Period Summary
Possessive of Projects, Controlling, Possibly Aggressive
• VERY possessive of something they are working on
• May unexpectedly cut something or destroy something
• Wants more control especially in situations where they don’t have it, such as if they are strapped in a car seat and they want you to do something a certain way and they can’t make it happen
• Very upset over the slightest of inconveniences, such as if you don’t get food quick enough for them or if food on their plate falls on the floor
Bedtime Battles
• Refuses to go to bed/stalls at bedtime/likes to stay up late
• Gets back up out of bed and insists on working on a new skill such as coloring
• Or continues to talk after going to bed
• May fall asleep during the day
Physical Changes
• Their head may elongate
Confused / Can’t Communicate
• May be in a confused “do loop,” especially at bed: you need to read a book and the light needs to be on, but they also need to go to sleep and the light needs off, but then they want to read the book, and the light needs to be on, etc.
• They might run around in circles many times per day, as if it brings great comfort to them. I wonder if more flat-footed children are more prone to this, as they seem to like to have firm sensations on their feet
• They all of a sudden don’t say words right. For instance, they might say “blue” or “boop” as they try to say “Blippi”
• They want very exact things. They don’t just want to watch a particular TV show; they want to watch a particular episode of that TV show. Often, they have trouble communicating this.
Fear of Abandonment
• High fear of abandonment, may even tell you they think you might give them away at a donation store or had a nightmare as such
• They might assure their stuffed animals that “we would never leave you in the van.”
• Very caring and loving to stuffed or real animals, wanting to take care of and protect them, perhaps tucking them in to bed at night with their own special blanket (a wash cloth)
• They are so fearful of abandonment at this one that I recommend making it a point to lovingly tell them you would never leave them behind, etc.
• Continues to want you to do many things for them, e.g., put their shoes on
Imaginary Threats
• Imagines fake threats against them and has a story about them, e.g., “A light saber hit me and hurt me.” Or, “Hippopotamuses are chasing me!!!” Or, while in the car, “Robbers are at our house stealing our stuff right now.” Or, “A black hole will suck me in.” Or, if near some rocks, “Bears are in the cave!”
• Warning: Scary movies may be too much during the irritable part of this milestone. I really don’t recommend scary movies at all when a child is 3.
Most Intense Period
• A child who is very possessive about their items, won’t let anyone play with what is theirs, or is very picky about what they do. Aggressive, rude, and bossy behaviors may stem from this. They really need you, especially at night, and may even be scared of what they think might happen to them.
New Abilities Summary
• This can be summed up as they understand that the parts make up the whole. They see many details of things and how it is integrated into a larger theme.
Themes: Understands Rich Details of What Makes up a Complicated Thing
• Draws real life things in stunning detail, maybe an entire roller coaster or a train with details about how it works
• May become a drawing machine: snow men, trees, race cars, spiders, a sun, a butterfly, Curious George holding a pig
• May follow along with a complex documentary and recite it back to you after it’s done
• For a cheeky child, they might put on funny videos, and it seems like they do it to learn how to be funny
• Recreates real objects as art, might make robust, specific shapes out of perl beads (before likely put the beads on randomly) or arrange food on their dinner plate in an artistic way
• If you are going somewhere, say to see bee hives, they might gather up everything related to bees in the house: a book on bees, toys that look like bees, etc.
• Easily follows along with a complicated game, such as football or checkers
• Better mastery over something like zipping up a jacket, zipping up a wallet, or operating a remote (could do it before; they just get much better now)
Core Personality Integration
• Asks you to see their positive attributes and gives detailed reasons why they are good, “I put the dishes away, I am kind to my sister …”
• Loves, loves, loves when you take notice of what they are doing
• They delight in knowing why you like them or why you just laughed, “Mommy, why did you just laugh?” “Because you made me laugh” “I made you laugh!?” “Yes, you cute thing.”
• Fully expects and imagines that others see their good qualities. As they listen to a baby babble, they announce, “The baby is telling me why they love me.”
• Tells you definitively what they are not good at, “I’m not strong, so-and-so is strong.”
• Gives reasons for why they love someone or may say “That’s why I love you.”
• Assigns jobs to people based on their talents, e.g., “Mom you can’t do that because you’re not good at. I’ll do it because I’m good at it.”
• May love to fantasize they are a hero, such as a football player winning the game, reenacting all the moves, putting on a jersey, and going to bed with their “winning” ball
• May love to play hero to others, such as picking up something that another mom dropped
• Does new, daring things, such as wants to try to ride their tricycle up a big hill
Socially Perceptive
• Highly socially perceptive and takes social risks, e.g., says “WAH Wah wah” when a joke falls flat.
• Or they note when an adult behaved poorly, say they were rude to a child, citing exact reasons, e.g., “That boy had no choice.”
• They continue to be aware of themselves and behavior, as if they are in awe of it, such as saying, “I’m so cold,” if they are cold. It’s not communication to you. They like taking notice of this
• Able to correctly identify whose “fault” something. Before, they said so, but often got it wrong
• Keenly aware that someone else is dizzy, may try to make others dizzy
• Makes up and tells story after story (some children simply have the gift of storytelling)
Moral Themes and Rules
• Can understand the simple moral themes of a story, e.g., “Luke has to decide to be a good guy or bad guy”
• Can tell you the plot of the movie, e.g., “The bad guy tries to steal the robot that looks like a basketball.” About Star Wars.
• Begins to consistently prefer movies with real people instead of cartoons and more adult themes; understands the plot more readily as the movie progresses
• You might now get told that something is “so unfair!”
• Understands the rules and expectations you have for them very clearly and exactly: they know the 3 rules are No hitting, no throwing, and no taking.
• But “no tickling” was not a rule. So. All is there, right?
• Might replay over and over a situation where someone got in trouble for breaking a rule and how it went down
• May enforce rules on other children
Sense of Perspective
• Transfers social risks to their dolls or stuffed animals, e.g., “Doggy wants to lick you” or if you ask if you can kiss them, they say, “No, kiss doggy” or asks you to try to send their favorite stuffed animal to the moon
• A better understanding of someone else’s perspective, e.g., pretends their stuffed animal is playing a game and they play for the stuffed animal
• They may get this confused. “Daddy wants to push me on the swing,” when it’s they who want daddy to push them on the swing. Or you ask them to pour water into soil, and they pour the soil into the water
• May want to help their sibling learn how to do something, like go down the slide
• Coaches and consoles their stuffed animals as if they are real
• However, their sense of perspective is not refined, e.g., if you spin them and ask if they are moving or the room is moving, they’ll say the room is moving
Very Immersed in Projects and Social Play
• Initiates games with other children, such as Go Fish
• Can play independently of adults, and persistently play with other children, independent of adults
• Extremely focused on things like coloring, drawing, and cutting


Surviving

Three Year Old Milestone 9C — Precision
Starts
: Bleeds a bit from the last one, can expect some calm but also some flare ups in between
Most Intense: Somewhere between 3 years, 8 months, 3+ weeks and 3 years, 9 months
Ends: 3 years, 9 months, 1 week
Irritable Period Summary
• Continues to be VERY possessive of their work area or items they perceive as “theirs”
• May thus get rough with their siblings or friends
• Can be expected to never share
• Aggressive, rude, or bossy, likely in setting their own boundaries
• May have dreams at night where they heroically do something or accomplish something, such as riding a bike—a skill that they’ve been working on
• Gets REALLY upset if you yell at them or think they are “bad”
• May physically grow
• Boys’ voices might get slightly deeper
Most Intense Period
• Very upset if someone tries to take something they have or interrupts them when working. How they handle this highly depends on their personality: they might get aggressive, whiny, or just more demanding. You might see a physical growth spurt or hormonal changes, e.g., their voice changes slightly
New Abilities Summary
Precision

• They are very precise about the details of things
• They now see the nuances of time. They might say they are going to be back “in 5 minutes,” and they are approximately right. Or, “I just dropped something. It will take me a few seconds to get it.” Or a stain on the floor “will take about a half hour to dry.” They sincerely are thinking about getting the estimation of time, on a small scale (minutes and seconds) right
• Takes an interest in measuring things and can measure things with a ruler
• Very precise in estimating price. Something is $8. They have $5. They should put the item back
• Might talk about what they would do if they had $100. They would buy a house.
• They might be able to increment the day it is mentally. Yesterday was July 10. So today is July 11.
• They might notice things are a “close call!” You almost hit each other. That was a close call.
• More precise in how they hold, say a pencil, and how they draw
In a more forward moving, heroic role, consistently
• Initiates own projects, such as making a “light saber” out of a paper towel roll and green construction paper
• Takes pride in doing things to improve their wellbeing, such as brush their teeth well or eat healthy food
Socially Forward
• Much chattier with strangers
• Might yell at people they don’t even know who are breaking the rules (say teenagers walking in the middle of the road)
• More willing to ask for help when they need it


Preschool Milestone 13 Tests, Compares, and Evaluates Complex Theories and Systems
Starts: 3 years, 9 months, 2 weeks
Most Intense: From 3 years, 9 months, 2 weeks until at least 3 years, 10 months, 1 week it is especially difficult
Ends: 3 years 11 months, 2 weeks +/- 1 week
Irritable Period Summary
• Extreme battles at nighttime
• Meltdowns over what likely seems mundane but which is likely over who is faster or better, e.g., you ask someone to get you a piece of paper and they are upset their sibling got it first
• Meltdown over very specific and detailed things not going the way they are used to, e.g., their dad always says “Look at this little heart!” before you watch a song together and you forget to do it once
• Very upset with things that are distracting, like loud noises when they are trying to watch something or someone who hits them accidentally
• Becomes very comfortable with making decisions that have several variables, such as when to cross a road based on if the vehicle has a turning signal on, and my dart out into the road on their own unexpectedly
• Wants a say in things like where you go or how you do it and has a meltdown if you don’t do it a certain way, such as how to peel a banana or what song to sing
• Very bossy in a specific way. You might have to take turns when helping them get dressed or they might insist you ORDER food inside, while they play in the playground and then leave, or get mad that you didn’t use the word “SOMETIMES” when describing something they do or wanted to do or says, “I’m not a MAN; I’m a BOY!” if someone says “You are a responsible young man.”
• You might find many communication problems when they simply say “Look at that one!” and you don’t know what “that one” is but it turns out to be a bug that flew away or maybe they categorize things in their own way such as one door is orange and another is gray an you have no idea what orange or gray are when they bring it up
Most Intense Period
• Perhaps aggression or lots of crying and crying and crying. Boys may be likely to be aggressive; girls to whine. Drop me a note if you find that this gender assignment holds up. This one is intense.
New Abilities Summary
• Finally calm again and may be respectful and not rude when they feel threatened that mom or dad is not giving them full attention
• Formally tests one idea as better or worse than another, e.g., builds a rocket and tests which can go higher
• Compares themselves to everything and always wants to be the fastest or the best
• Capable of holding several factors in their mind mentally and making a decision, e.g., if a moving vehicle is near but doesn’t have their turning signal on to go the direction you are, you can still cross the road. They likely will want to make such decisions more.
• Better at certain board games with more rules, such as a (slightly modified version of) Clue
• Considers solutions to problems that very specifically satisfy everyone, such as mom and dad can go inside a fast food restaurant and they can play at the playground while mom and dad order
• Develops theories, e.g., “Boys can rock climb but girls can’t.”
• Verifies if statements said are right or wrong, e.g., if you say it’s raining, they go and check.
• Leverages complex rules/ideas to get their way, e.g., “Caramels have sugar and sugar is bad for you but I can have one per day” or “If [a certain food] makes me sick and [a certain medicine] helps me not be sick, then if I have both, I’m good.”
• Very good at being given some rules or restrictions and complying with them, e.g., be quiet at the library
• A lot less demanding of your attention, more independent, more respectful, a delight really
• Shows stronger identification with their gender, such as insisting on going in the proper gendered bathroom or only singing the part in a song where the same gender person that they are sings
• Understands the idea of going to a “next level” or completely your “training” (e.g., to be a jedi)
• Very quick at adding numbers up to 10
• Loves to see the patterns in words, e.g., “Mommy starts with ‘M’!”
• Loves science experiments, especially if two things are compared
• Very capable of understanding and interested in knowing which way is North, South, East, and West, and may ask about it and understand it while driving in a vehicle

Surviving

Thriving
Try some of the science experiments from my science program
Melting Point Race

Preschool Milestone 14 Differentiates the Possible from the Impossible
Starts: Between 3 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 4 years
Most Intense: Has two peaks at 4 years, 1 or 2 weeks and 4 years, 1 months 0 or 1 week or may be two separate milestones with just a little breather in between
Ends: 4 years, 1 month, 2 weeks (some flare ups likely involving jealousy or “whose toy is it” should be expected between this milestone and the next but it should be noticeably calmer on average)
Irritable period

  • Hitting, throwing, taking, acting out
  • Aggressive towards other children to take their toy or other object
  • Won’t stop when asked to stop
  • May be playful in this aggression to be with another child, such as chasing them around saying “I love you! I love you!”
  • Can be withdrawn, quiet, and clingy
  • Demands you stay with them late at night
  • Demands your attention in the day time
  • Does not at all like when you are separated from that at times (say you keep them out of the room if you are getting dressed)
  • Does destructive things with a seeming purpose, like cut a dolls hair or use an electric toothbrush near water to wash something
  • Communication problems like they ask a question and you start to answer and they yell, “NO! LISTEN TO ME!” You might have to repeat to them what was asked before answering
  • Might tell people to “go away” or retreat to their room and shut the door, seems to value privacy and space
  • No amount of outside time settles them
  • Reminder: Take a note of your child’s behavior and how it affects you. It might affect your relationship or work.
  • Snuggly

Most Intense Period

The first: Very assertive and in a physical way, might hug and tackle their sibling and not let up. Wants you to stay with them late at night, might show off an impressive new skill during these late nights.

The second peak shows a better ability to verbalize in an assertive way rather than going straight to physical assertiveness. When pressed or uncomfortable, the child may still resort to physical violence like kicking people in the foot or jumping on them

New Abilities Period

Pushes Ideas and Behaviors of What is Possible:

  • Many questions pertaining the difference between what is possible and impossible such as questions about turning their brother into a girl, if you can put your head on theirs and theirs on yours, can they fly, can cats lay eggs. Things don’t have to be the way they are!
  • Loooooooves super heroes
  • Loves the idea of “magic” making things happen
  • In the quest to make things happen, might hit or punch people to get their way in a deliberate way
  • May also do things to make things “beautiful” like put marker all over the dresser or cut their hair
  • Wants to take on big challenges, like carrying a heavy basket at the store, and commit to doing it despite the difficulty
  • Can clean up an entire room (bedroom or toy room) on their own and in fact may want to
  • Can clean their entire body in the bathtub
  • Reliably executes a routine in the morning, such as changing clothes and also less likely to wake up Mom or Dad
  • Demands you watch them do something big and dramatic
  • Does more daring physical things like running on then jumping on a scooter or flipping outside down on gymnastic rings or blowing up a balloon
  • It’s as if they don’t want to be contained by a room or house because they want to do big things
  • Very interested in the idea of truth versus lies or real versus fake
  • Prone to exaggerations, such “We’ll NEVER see my friend again” or “Halloween is gone FOREVER!”
  • Sincerely can’t stop themselves from doing certain things, like peeling at things they shouldn’t (like paint or their fingernails) or hitting people with something (like a toy sword)

But Also Understands Better What is “Good” and Realistic:

  • Very receptive to formal lessons about ideal social behavior (take advantage of it and actively teach them proper ways of doing things!)
  • Always listening, watching, and understanding what adults say and do, e.g., may note when you were angry
  • Really wants to be good or do good, such as hears you talking about what is good and they announce they are committed to being nice
  • Asks permission to do things
  • Very mature and self reflective on how they make mistakes. They may say, “Mommy, you made a mistake. That’s Ok. You can work on it” or recognizes “sometimes I make mistakes.”
  • Can follow rules and request much better and in fact reliably
  • Doesn’t cheat at games
  • Can execute tasks much better such as please go get your blanket or please wipe after using the potty
  • Much more calm, less whiny/aggressive
  • Just much more calm and reasonable, even sly and clever

Cognitive  and Academic Changes:

  • Intensely interested in academic things like reading, such as noticing what letter words start with (if they are or are not reading, they may take notice in this)
  • Information seems implanted in their mind now. Does not forget any step in any routine, e.g., will remember that you read books during bedtime even if they’ve already laid down
  • Retains information while evaluating solutions. You might tell them, “to make gray we can use black lightly” and they go and look for gray and after not finding it, come back to the solution of using black lightly
  • Evaluates past decisions to improve in the future. For instance, says they should have let their tablet charge longer so it lasts longer next time
  • More resourceful in play and solving problems. Might find a part from something that doesn’t belong to what they are working on and use it in a useful or creative way, such as a Lego from a different kit or uses Lightning McQueen instead of Goldilocks in a Three Little Bears Play
  • Can understand a concept like socks are interchangeable but shoes are not
  • Loves to compare things like Wonder Woman wears red circle earrings and Wonder Girl wears red star earrings. Bigger comparisons as well
  • Interested in the idea of sets. Like, why is Supergirl and Batgirl in the list of girl superheroes and ALSO in the list of super heroes in the Justice League? Or how are there bees AND bumblebees?
  • May talk in their sleep, repeating what they learned that day
  • Understand both the parts of something and the whole as found in previous milestones but now more persistent about it across a routine or time, e.g., the exact steps to make a salad
  • Enjoys skip counting, perhaps writes out 10, 20, 30 etc., up to 100 or loves to skip steps as they walk, like they are turbo charging the process, making it faster
  • Loves to be given lessons, do science experiments, or watch interesting documentaries (say on a house being jacked up to avoid flood). A very active and excited learner; sees learning as a joy or even describes it as “beautiful” or says things are “really cool to watch (or learn)”
  • Understands more complex moral themes, such as the Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp caused a mess and blamed Lady but it wasn’t really Lady it was the cats
  • Wants to learn about moral themes such as asking “What is this song about?” wanting to know what the chorus and words mean
  • Draws their own conclusions as related to them about moral themes such as the boys in Pinnochio turn into donkeys but they are a girl so they (if they are a girl) won’t
  • Clever and creative at explaining things, such as to explain fast and strong they may say, “Dash (from the Incredibles) is fast and Mr. Incredible is strong”
  • Endless questions: why are you so sad, why are you so excited, why did this character do that
  • Can better understand “what if” questions, as they have a better imagination, can think about the ramifications of certain situations, and push the bounds of what is possible

All of the following start at Preschool Milestone 13 but get more refined at 14:

  • Understands the rules of games better
  • Joins in many practical life activities, takes instruction, and executes them well, e.g., putting together a salad
  • An ability to take in several variables and make an exact right decision or come up with a solution has been characteristic of a child in the months leading up to 4.

Social and Relationship Changes:

  • More independent, specifically about stuff they previously begged you to do (such as help them with the potty or put their shoes on) with them, may insist on doing something in privacy then come out having done it
  • Much more likely to dress themselves completely or put their own shoes on
  • Settled on who is their best friend
  • Very friendly and intimate with their friends, may hold hands, etc.
  • Likes to set up serving stations or be a “waiter,” loves to help set tables/serve food
  • Very matured sense of humor, stays in character to tell a joke, capable of running the full gamut of humor such as deepening their voice to make a joke, loves if you notice their jokes
  • Loves to whisper to you

Surviving

Preschool Milestone 15 Highly Creative Solutions Applied to Real World Problems

Starts: 4 years, 2 months, 2 or 3 weeks

Most Intense: 4 years, 3 months

Ends: 4 years, 3 months, 2 weeks (at earliest)

Irritable Period Summary

• Wants their own way
• Wants to stay up late
• May want to do crazy things late at night like go on a walk
• Spins in circles (while holding objects which crash into things)
• Harasses others such as their sibling (it’s very annoying)
• Refuses to leave the house
• High fear of abandonment, such as if the primary caregiver simply leaves the house or they think you are going to drop them off at a recycle place (after you simply dropped off your stuff)
• Very jealous of who has mommy, may even directly tell you this
• Adopts behaviors of others such as their younger baby brother or sister
• Intensely fearful about getting hurt (such as with bullets if they read about it in a story)
• May have a (fleeting) imaginary friend, in particular one that helps them solves problems like finding a stubbornly missing item
• Hops on pop (and mom)
• Makes stark observations such as that someone has a big belly or asks if a woman is pregnant (who is not)
• May talk to you about doing something big but realistic like build a house, especially late at night when they are refusing to go to sleep

Most Intense Period: Both of my older children at this exact age, 4 years, 3 months, wanted to stay up late to build a house. Crazy, right? Otherwise, many meltdowns, defiant and stubborn about how and when to do things like putting on shoes or socks, may harass others like siblings or parents

New Abilities Summary

• Recognizes the capabilities of the resources they have and utilizes them, e.g., in imaginary play recognizes a bird doesn’t have to walk like everyone else but can fly
• May surprise you in how resourceful they are, such as making a dress for a doll out of rose petals
• May make up a joke like “Why did the pig cross the road to get to the rocket?” “To get to the moon!”
• Forward about solving social problems. Might counsel other children like “It made my baby brother really sad when you took his monkey. Ok?”
• Accepts major responsibility for solving big life problems. For instance, they make a mess and solemnly declare “It’s my job to fix it” or similarly a restaurant goes out of business and they say “It’s my job to fix the restaurant.”
• Interested in the issue that resources are limited, such as there is not infinite time and most of all that there is only one Mommy
• Extremely persistent at solving at problems, such as taking two hours to solve something that someone showed them previously—and does it!
• Good at doing many steps all on their own such as making scrambled eggs (can crack eggs, put milk in, all of it)
• May verbalize out all the steps to solve a problem in great detail, “I had a potty accident. First I took my pants off. Then I took off my underwear. Then I got new pants. Then I got new underwear. Then I put on my underwear. Then I put on my pants. Then I put a towel on where I peed. The end.”
• Can understand that today is Tuesday, and it’s garbage day so they get their garbage bag without asking
• Loves to answer questions about BIG problems like how would you get a truck big enough to carry a dinosaur fossil that you found home?
• Interested in complex social problems like if you have a game with 2 players but 3 play, how does that work?
• May make funny or offhand comments about success of survival like “I am going to be with Mommy. She helps keep me alive.”
• Respectful of others such as saying “Mommy I am going to respect you. I’ll let you sleep!” Or perhaps “You need to do chores? Does that mean you need space?”
• High amount of empathy for others such as recognizing that doing things is hard for a person since they are pregnant, specifically tying it to that person’s need to rest
• Shows terrible guilt when they find out they hurt someone
• Handles social conflict well, such as by arranging taking turns for the last piece of food
• Follows along with a chapter book better and even becomes concerned and immersed in the book such as noticing and being sad that younger siblings don’t get to go to wizard school in Harry Potter
• Interested in using (picture) multi step instructions to something to better know how to do or assemble something (such as Legoes)
• Can put together more elaborate structures that come with instructions, such as a simple design from the toy Snapcircuits, a simple machine kit, or structures made out of marshmallows and spaghetti noodles
• They respond very well to being taught how to behave in certain social situations and even seem thankful that you taught them
• Notices and really grateful when others are “nice” to them
• Highly interested in reading/sounding out words, may even cry or get upset if they can’t read.
• Notices things from different perspectives such as noticing that they can’t see their own eyes or that Superman is simultaneously Superman and Clark Kent and that “When Superman is Superman he is Clark Kent and when he is Clark Kent he is Superman!”
• Like to reverse roles where they pretend they are you and you are them
• Many scientific questions like why do some things snap when bent and other things don’t, why does liquid evaporate, why don’t they wear clothes in the swimming pool
• Interested in space and dinosaurs
• May obsess over a topic or tell you they obsess over a topic, “I think about dinosaurs all the time!”

Preschool Milestone 16 — Astute, Forward, and Realistic
Starts: A few days shy of 4 years, 4 months
Most Intense: 4 years, 4 months
Ends: 4 years, 4 months 1 or 2 weeks
Irritable Period Summary
• Very demanding to have a particular caregiver at night
• Very upset that things end or go away, e.g., Christmas is over or Halloween is over. This is seen in last milestones too but it is at a peak and seems to dissipate somewhat after this
• Very upset if something gets “ruined,” such as you open a card or envelope and they didn’t want you to open it
• All of a sudden wants something very different from normal, such as a different meal than normal at a restaurant and has a really big meltdown if you failed to ask what they wanted for dinner
Most Intense Period
• Lots of screaming and meltdowns over everything, jealous others have attention. It’s maddening but short lived
New Abilities Summary
• Astute means they take in information very well. Forward means they use that information in very verbal, pro active ways to solve problems or even give people the what for. Realistic means they are now much more realistic in solving problem, and much more refined and precise.
• Very active in taking in new information, such as what the tags on their clothes say or how much something costs (astute) and then making determinations or vocalizing opinions about that information (forward). For instance, while looking through shirts at a store they announce, “Hey mom! This shirt is FIVE BUCKS!”
• That they are thinking about and absorbing everything is very apparent in their facial expression and bodily gestures. They might hold their hand up to you as if it tell you to stop talking because they are thinking about something and wave their hand around while mulling an idea. Very, very, VERY reliably understands all the going ons around them
• Loves when people love them, e.g., love to hear that Mom and Dad will always, always love them, if they are good, bad, silly, or not
• Spends a long time with others (hours) in engaged, imaginative play
• Not having it if others are disrespectful. For instance, another child tells them to stop crying and they respond, “No! I am a girl who cries. Ok!?”
• Can possibly become a voracious reader, reading beginner book after beginner book
• No longer responds to “distraction” as well, not even the more imaginative kind of distraction that worked in the threes. For instance, telling them about their favorite story won’t cause them to get in the bathtub or down the stairs. They want to solve the actual issue at hand.
• Evaluates potential new challenges and accepts them like “I am going to read more books than my brother,” when you didn’t suggest it but rather they came up with it on their own or perhaps puts on a costume to the grocery store and announces “People will think I’m hilarious!”
• Figures out more on their own, such as how a mechanical thing works (maybe a hospital bed they saw for the first time)
• Bubbles over with excitement or thoughts on how “all I have in my head are ideas and solutions”
• Offers realistic solutions to life problems, e.g., we can’t get coffee at the store so why don’t we make it at home and offers to help do that
• May want to help you with more stuff, like putting on lipstick
• Wrestles with the big life issues they discovered in the last milestone, e.g., they were worried about their favorite restaurant closing and now they have better ideas of how to keep a restaurant in business, e.g., “The restaurant needed more people to stay in business”
• Very precise in how they solve problems such as “Yellow and blue Play Doh mixed together make green but add more yellow and it’s light green!”
• Applies information in a shocking, realistic way. They might feed their newborn baby brother while you were distracted for a moment—and shut the door very quietly behind them, like you showed them once
• Very interested in an academic app like Starfall Academy
• More opinionated and argumentative about what they read. For instance, if an evil character says the world is filled with only wicked people, they might disagree, “No! That’s not true! The world is filled with kind people!” Astute and forward.
• Really loves to draw, cut, and tape things
• More realistic and detailed drawings, like a dinosaur with roller skates and a hat who gets killed by meteorites or an elaborate mountain scene
• May make elaborate things with paper, like an airplane with wings (that they cut out) or even a book of something

Preschool Milestone 17 Emotional Restraint, Ideas Across Space and Time
Starts: 4 years, 5 months, 2 or 3 weeks
Most Intense: A week or a few days shy of 4 years, 6 months (still documenting)
Ends: 4 years, 7 months (or much earlier)
Irritable Period Summary
• Children release their anger in different ways. Some whine, some hit. Some of these behaviors will apply to your child and others won’t
• Pick up easily on other’s behaviors of how to handle others. If an adult says “You’re wasting my time!” they start saying it or if their brother deals with things by saying “I’m going to kick you!” they start saying that
• Refuses baths
• Jumps on or hits others, often boys hit other adult males
• Spits
• Whines intensely / screams at the top of their lungs
• Wants to stay up late
• Tries to force other children to do things, won’t take “no” as an answer from other children when they want to play, very upset if they are left out (very distinctive of 4-1/2 to 5 year old milestones, on and off)
• Wants you to “protect” them, may want you to stop threats to them, e.g., tackle bad guys to the ground
• Wants to help you with multi-step things, such as making coffee; becomes deeply sad and upset if they can’t
• Gets out of control as if overcome by passion, e.g., cuts things that should not be cut (explicitly says they do not know right from wrong)
New Abilities Summary
• Marked by 3 distinct things: emotional restraint, highly involved imaginary friends, and weaving together big picture ideas across space and time. Old memories may randomly get kicked up too (brain growth does weird things!)
Emotional Restraint:
• Capable of emotional restraint, of getting really angry but deciding how to respond. This is the most distinctive new ability of this milestone.
• Is now willing to breathe to a count of 4 after getting really angry
• Capable of enduring pain, for instance, a hair stylist is rough in brushing their hair and you watch them tear up but endure it
• Take an active role in solving conflict with others and in a way in which they show emotional maturity. For instance, something gets out of hand with their sibling in an emotional way but they take the leadership role to calm people down and find a solution like “Here I’ll show you how to do that.”
• Much more accepting of not having their favorite person at night. Like “Oh ok. That’s just how it’s going tonight. Mom is putting brother to bed, not me.”
• Shows dramatic increasing empathy and desire to see others have fun or enjoy themselves. Shows respect for others, for instance by asking permission before doing something, to make sure the other person is OK with it (this may be the last milestone)
Imaginary Friends and Fears
• Elaborate imaginary friends, those friends may “do work” for them or “stay and protect the house” when they leave or they may counsel the friends on when such and such activity is or pretend to have races with them
• Take an interest in flying or want to fly. They are apt to jump off of high things. Please be clear with them that they cannot actually fly. You may avoid a story like Peter Pan until older ages. A swing is healthy way to make them feel like they are flying.
• Many fears of things that may be hidden but in a realistic way. For instance, they see a bush move due to the wind (at night) and won’t go outside because the “bush moved”
Long Term Planning
• This one has a strong element of understanding ideas across space and time. One striking way is long term planning. Imagine it as like a book that dictates what one is about to do and then making it happen
• They may literally describe this when they ask if they can get “REAL” toys, by which I think they mean toys that come alive
• Can talk about a long-range project, e.g., where to go on vacation and what they do when there
• Draws out something, such as a race car track, then builds it with something, like train tracks
• Come up with solutions that will project into the future, such as Mom can put them to bed one night, then their brother gets Mom the next night, then come back to them the night after that
An Integrated Personality
• Again, in weaving together ideas, they may have an idea of who they are on a more long term, committed, or comprehensive basis, such as a distinct a personality or style
• Love to have a “style.” They may be into styling their hair or picking out a full outfit for a big party and stomping, sashaying, or strutting around with their “style”
• Very much understand what’s going on and has an elaborate personality in the goings on. For instance, you play I Spy and they have an idea in their head but you can’t guess it but they sing “I can’t tell you!” when you ask them to say what it is.
Weaves Complex Steps and Ideas Together as Across Space and Time
• Can play a game with complex steps, such as Robot Turtles, Mastermind, Sorry, and Checkers. They understand the instructions easily and pick up on strategy better now, such as telling you such and such peg is the right color but the wrong spot (in Mastermind), and keep up with the game until the end
• Interested in “big picture” history, such as space and dinosaurs and has a deeper interest and understand beyond just facts. They might ask “Can we live on Mars?” “What happens to me if I go to Jupiter?” “Where did we come from?” “How did we get here?”
• They really understand “protocol.” Any game or procedure has steps and they follow them, strictly.
• They make more connections as across time and over space. They might see a restaurant as you drive by it and say “We went there last week” Or you ask them what they want to do and they want to go to a special playground they overheard you talk about the other day.
• Love to take part in something new, such as passing out candy at Halloween, doing it in an exact and fair way, minding both how much they can get and the people at the door. Very fluid, exact, and comprehensive in how they do this (similar to how they can play a board game until the end or keep up on the protocol in an I Spy game)
• They might make a highly educated guess about something given they know the goings on. For instance, something comes in the mail and they know you are making an unusual soup and need a specific ingredient and they guess that ingredient may have come in the mail
• Their drawings may reflect this new deepening protocol, perhaps drawing out some routine you have in the house, such as where to put dirty dishes by drawing out the counter. Or you take them to vote and they come home and draw it out, pretending to vote. Or they draw the entire solar system with as much detail as they know.
• If they put on a play, they remember exact lines and details and personalities about the play they are putting on, such as how one character may bow to say “Good night.”
• Can retell the plot of books that are fairly long, such as Richard Scarry stories
• Love to see the books they read on TV or in a movie. They can relate ideas better, not just facts
• Thinks about long term things like, if they got long hair like Rapunzel and it glowed and you brushed it, would you stay young forever and always be their Mom and never a Grandma?
• Expresses the knowledge that practice makes them better, i.e., they will get better in the future if they lift weights at 1 pound, then increase to 2 pounds, etc. (an idea across space and time)
• Gets the moral of the story better and very interested in ideas on punishment, justice, empathy
Academic
• Good at reading double digit numbers, enjoys work with double digit numbers (Montessori beads or base 10 cubes)
• Can learn to read many new words (I recommend just saying what the word is when they ask, don’t make them sound it out; their memory is incredible and they can reverse engineer the word after they know it)
Quiet Thinking Time
• Even the most extroverted kid all of a sudden wants lots of time alone to think
• May swing for a long time (an hour)
• Colors for a long time
• Just sits and absorbs their surroundings
Old Memories Get Kicked Up
• Shockingly remember things that they haven’t seen or places they haven’t been in up to 18 months, e.g., an obscure part of a toy that’s been in a closet or they miss a place they used to go but don’t anymore (if, say, you moved)

Preschool Milestone 18 Wildly Imaginative Stories
Starts: Between 4 years, 7 months, 2 weeks and 4 years, 7 months, 3 weeks
Most Intense: A few days after 4 years, 8 months
Ends: 4 years, 8 months, 1 week at least
Irritable Period Summary
• Different children will show different behaviors:
• Unusually upset over getting hurt
• A bit more whiny
• Super upset, on a deep emotional level, that other children may not want to play with them
• Lunges at other children, extremely upset over whatever they perceive as “unfair”
• Tries to take things from other children
• Very, very upset if you say you are disappointed in them or that they are “wrong”
• Like they are too excited to be in their own body
Most Intense Period
• A child who is very whiny and sensitive, has meltdowns easily, lunges at other children and takes things, stays up late, gets up early, gets up confused (e.g., thinks their blanket is missing when it’s not) possibly starts cleaning or organizing things. Please expect to have some extra cuddles at night around this time. They may feel scared to be alone at night.
New Abilities Period
• Their imaginary friends and wildly imaginative stories are on high gear. They might tell their imaginary friends to go save the world, make up vivid super hero/villain scenes, or create a dual set of friends, such as one who is meek and shy and one who is full of confidence. They may rope other children into their stories, to the other children’s delight
• Might tell you they have a lot of dreams
• Can play “20 questions” where they have something in their mind, and you have to ask 20 questions as you try to guess what it is
• Very helpful around the house (throwing garbage away, etc.)
• May do “experiments” Like they take all the spices out of the spice drawer, put them on a piece of bread, and douse it with water. Boom. Science.
• Anything you teach them will show up in their play, e.g., you show them what an island is and they start drawing one
• Wants to learn “NEW” things
• Very interested in compass directions
• Can pick out major landmarks while driving
• Loves video documentaries (e.g., Wild Kratts, SciShow Kids). Can watch them for hours.

Surviving

Preschool Milestone 19–Loss of Fantastical Thinking (Heightened Realism)
Starts: 4 years, 9 months, 2 weeks
Most Intense: 4 years, 10 months until the end
Ends: 4 years, 11 months
Irritable Period Summary
• Angry
• Aggressive
• Gets up late at night
• Shows jealousy if you spend time with others
• Shows incomprehensible aggression, physical or verbal, usually towards the same sex parent. A boy might inexplicably start hitting his dad. A daughter might tell her mother, “If my nail polish wears off, I am going to be mad at you!” Their anger is directed at you, even though you didn’t cause it
• When they attack someone, if you tell them a part of someone is particularly vulnerable, they actually go after that part harder
• Purposely blames others for something they obviously did, e.g., “No you farted”
• Tells other little white lies like “My iPad is dead,” when it’s not
• Highly afraid of death, asks in a distraught way, “Why do we have to die?”, asks you if you’ll die someday a lot. The only thing that calms them down is to lie down with them or cuddle with them
• Keeps their creations all over the house or arranges parts of the house to their liking and hates when people move anything
Most Intense Period
Highly afraid of death, directs aggression at an adult
New Abilities Summary
Highly Realistic
• Verbally says fantastical things like vampires and monsters are fake but other things, like tornadoes and fires are real and scary
• Much more reasonable about plans. If they expected to go to the grocery store and you can’t or you are just temporarily delayed, you can explain it to them, and they accept it
• Says, “That’s OK. We can figure something else out.”
Highly Mentally Flexible in a Realistic Way
• Very flexible in allowing what kind of solution might solve a problem. For instance, they now accept that a pair of black socks can work when previously they had only wore blue socks for a certain event. Willing even to go without their favorite whatever, such as a favorite blanket
• Can give general requests without specifics, and they come up with their own solution. For instance, “We need something to play trolls in our play but we don’t have any,” and the child might bring back a different but similar figurine to be the “trolls.”
• Wants to solve a problem by coming up with their own solution, e.g., catch a fish after making their own fishing rod or makes really inventive Lego creations, such as a coffee maker made out of random Lego pieces
• Boasts sometimes that they are going to “Use their imagination!”
• Can develop a matrix in their mind. If they win a game, they smile and Dad frowns. If Dad wins, he smiles and they frown.
• Can play a game like 20 questions with advanced questions, like, “It’s not on earth and not a planet so it must be Pluto”
Highly Responsible
• Shows jaw dropping responsibility. Might carry their own stuff for a sports event, clean their toys, clean up their own potty accidents, take care of their siblings.
• In the irritable period they blamed others a lot. Now admits responsibility for what they did. Might say, “I got really hurt when I did that, but it was my fault.”
• Does something daring to solve a problem, perhaps gets their sibling out of their crib by wheeling the changing table over
• Takes responsibility for long term things, such as wants to make a cake now—for their birthday, which is two months away
• Can handle money well
Very Aware of Themselves and Their Personality
• Incredibly self-aware of their personality. Someone might ask them if something was funny and they say, “Um, yeah, but not enough to make me laugh.”
• May correctly introspect that they love doing something because they are “learning” about it. Or they say their “mind was blown” as you share new information or insight with them.
• Very aware of their growth. They may be cognizant that they used to think something but new information presented itself and now they think something different.
• Aware of how others wee them. May be highly aware that others can see them as they walk in public, might say they are “famous” because of it. As noted, just very aware of their personhood
• Aware they need to try to stay in character if putting on a play, adorably finds this task difficult
• Reads books or sings songs with great verve and personality
• Proud of their abilities like “I can make anything beautiful.”
• Likes to pretend to kiss their Mother in a romantic way.
Can Think “Outside” of themselves
• Aware of other’s perceptions. They notice that their baby brother would see them as big but Mom sees them as small. They might say something like, “I want to wear a skirt so others know I’m a girl.”
• Might ask an adult how their day was and follow along with the going-ons of the adult’s day
• Highly aware of the progression of things: they are a baby, then a child, then a teenager, then an adult, then a “Grandma.” Interested in comparisons of these things, e.g., what will they be like as a teenager, do people see them as a girl or baby?
• Very interested in what is nearby or far, like using a bathroom that is nearby instead of far
• Loves to pull jokes on people. They might chat you up nonchalantly, purposely distracting you, then look away, put sunglasses on, and surprise you with this joke of theirs

• There is a certain commonality in being willing to separate from their favorite blanket, which has been a favorite blanket forever; being able to see that certain imaginary threats are not actually threats (such as vampires or scary monsters in movies), and the way they become more aware of themselves and how they act (“I’m learning about cats,” “My mind was blown”) and how they see how others see them (“I’m big to my little brother”). It’s as if they realize that magical things cannot and will not affect them. Their favorite blanket is no different than another blanket. Vampires aren’t real and won’t hurt them. They become remarkably self aware. I would venture to say most people’s first memories are around this age, 4 years, 10 months ish. There is a certain “knowingness” to them. They have a true, formed personality at this age. It’s who they will likely be for life. And it’s fun to them to see how their personality and their surroundings play out.