The preoperational stage is the second stage in Piaget’s hypothesis of psychological development.

This stage starts around age 2, as kids begin to talk, and goes on until roughly age 7.

During this stage, youngsters start to participate in emblematic play and figure out how to understand images.

Piaget also noticed that they don’t yet comprehend solid rationale. 

What is preoperational stage?

The name of this stage explains what’s going on during this period of time: “Operational” alludes to the capacity to control data intelligently.

Indeed, your youngster is thinking. Be that as it may, they can’t yet utilize rationale to change, consolidate, or separate thoughts. 

So they’re “pre” operational. They’re finding out about the world by encountering it, however, they’re not yet ready to control the data that they’ve learned. 

As indicated by Swiss analyst Jean Piaget, there are four phases of cognitive development (thinking and learning) that we travel through as we develop into grown-ups.

The stage your youngster has entered, the subsequent stage is known as the preoperational stage. 

When does the preoperational stage happen? 

This begins at around age 2 and lasts until about age 7. 

Your little child hits the preoperational stage between 18 months to two years when they begin to talk.

As they recognize the encounters of their general surroundings, they move towards the phase where they can utilize sensible ideas and envision things.

When your youngster is around 7 years of age, they can utilize their creative mind and play pretend. 

Significant Characteristics 

The preoperational stage happens generally between the ages of 2 and 7. Language advancement is one of the indicators of this period. 

Piaget noticed that kids in this stage don’t yet comprehend solid rationale, can’t cognitively control data, and can’t take the perspective of others, which he named egocentrism. 

During the preoperational stage, youngsters likewise become progressively proficient at utilizing images, as confirmed by the expansion in playing and pretending.

For instance, a kid can utilize an item to speak about something different, for example, imagining a brush is a pony. 

Pretending additionally gets significant—youngsters frequently assume the jobs of “mother,” “daddy,” “doctor,” and numerous different characters. 

Developing Egocentrism 

Piaget utilized various imaginative methods to contemplate the psychological capacities of youngsters.

One of the celebrated methods to show egocentrism included utilizing a three-dimensional showcase of a mountain scene.

Regularly alluded to as the “Three Mountain Task,” kids are asked to pick an image that indicated the scene they had watched. 

Most youngsters can do this with little trouble.

Next, kids are approached to choose an image demonstrating what another person would have seen when taking a gander at the mountain from an alternate perspective. 

Perpetually, youngsters quite often pick the scene indicating their view of the mountain scene.

As per Piaget, youngsters experience this trouble since they can’t take on someone else’s perspective.

Different scientists have additionally directed comparable tests. In one investigation, youngsters have demonstrated a room in a little dollhouse.

Youngsters had the option to find in the dollhouse that a toy was holed up behind a household item.

Youngsters were then taken into a full-size room that was a precise imitation of the dollhouse.

Young kids didn’t comprehend looking behind the love seat to discover the toy, while somewhat more established youngsters quickly scanned for the toy.

Formative analysts allude to the capacity to comprehend that others have alternate points of view, contemplations, sentiments, and mental states as the hypothesis of the psyche. 

Developing Conservation 

Another notable investigation includes exhibiting a youngster’s comprehension of conservation.

In one conservation test, equivalent measures of fluid are filled, two indistinguishable holders.

The fluid in one compartment is then filled with a distinctively formed cup, for example, a tall and flimsy cup or a short and wide cup. Kids are then asked which cup holds the most fluid.

Despite seeing that the fluid sums were equivalent, kids quite often pick the cup that seems fuller. 

Piaget directed various comparative analyses on the protection of number, length, mass, weight, volume, and amount.

He found that a couple of youngsters indicated any comprehension of protection before the age of five. 


As you may have seen, quite a bit of Piaget’s concentration at this phase of development concentrated on what youngsters couldn’t yet do.

The ideas of egocentrism and protection are both focused on capacities that kids have not yet developed; they come up short on the understanding that things appear to be unique to others and that items can change in appearance while still keeping up similar properties. 

In any case, not every person concurs with Piaget’s framework of kids’ capacities during developmental stages.

Analyst Martin Hughes, for instance, contended that the explanation that kids fizzled at the three mountains task was essential that they didn’t understand it.

In a test that included using dolls, Hughes exhibited that kids as young as age 4 had the option to comprehend circumstances from various perspectives, recommending that youngsters become less egocentric at a previous age than Piaget believed.


This is the inclination to concentrate on just a single part of a circumstance at once.

Have a go at arranging two lines of paper cuts so that a column of five paper cuts is longer than a line of seven paper cuts.

Request that your small kid points to the column that has more paper cuts and they will most likely select the line of five paper cuts. 

This is because they’re concentrating on one viewpoint in particular (length) and can’t control two (length and number).

As your little one develops, they’ll build up the capacity to concentrate on multiple things at once. 

Equal play 

Toward the start of this stage, you’ll see that your kid plays nearby other kids however not with them.

Try not to stress — this doesn’t mean your little one is withdrawn by means! They’re essentially caught up in their reality. 

Even though your kiddo might be talking, they’re utilizing their discourse to communicate what they see, feel, and need.

They don’t yet understand that discourse is the device of social communication. 

Emblematic portrayal 

During the early preoperational period, somewhere in the range of 2 and 3 years of age, your kid will start to understand that words and items are images for something different.

Watch how energized they become when they state “Mother” and see you softening. 


As your kid develops inside this stage, they’ll move from equal playing to remembering other kids for games. That is the point at which “how about we imagine” games occur. 

As indicated by Piaget, youngsters’ imagine play causes them to solidify the ideas that they’re growing psychologically.

Here’s the point at which your lounge area seats become transported.

Watch out: You may need to be the arbitrator when your kid and their mate battle about who’s the driver and who’s the traveler. 


Piaget characterized this as the supposition that everything that exists needed to have been made by a conscious being, for example, God or a human.

This being is liable for its characteristics and developments. As such, according to your youngster, a downpour is certifiably not a characteristic marvel — somebody is making it downpour. 


This is where your kid can’t envision that an arrangement of occasions can be turned around to their beginning stage. 

Attributes of the preoperational stage 

Your enchanting baby is growing up. Need to put a name to what you’re seeing? Here’s a rundown of the principal qualities of this phase of improvement.

Instances of the preoperational stage 

As your youngster moves from the sensorimotor stage (the first of Piaget’s cognitive developmental stages) to the preoperational stage, you’ll notice their creative mind developing. 

At the point when they zoom around a room with their arms outstretched because they’re a plane, do not worry!

On the off chance that your little one begins sobbing uncontrollably because their mate has baited away their innovative pup, you’ll need to attempt to identify with their agony. 

Pretending is additionally an important thing at this stage — your kiddo may profess to be “daddy,” “mom,” “teacher,” or “doctor,” to give some examples. 

Exercises you can do together 

Your head is full with due dates, shopping records, and physical checkups.

Could you truly stand to take a couple of seconds to play with your child? Here are some fast and simple exercises you can partake in together. 

Ø  Role play can enable your youngster to beat egocentrism since this is an approach to imagine another person’s perspective.

Keep a case of outfit items convenient (old scarves, caps, totes, covers) so your little one can dress up and claim to be another person. 

Ø  Let your kid play with materials that change shape so they can start to get preservation.

A chunk of play dough can be crushed into a level shape that appears to be greater, yet right?

In the bath, have them empty water into various formed cups and containers. 

Ø  Have additional time? Set up a corner in your home to resemble the specialist’s office you just visited. Reinforcing what they encountered will assist your youngster with internalizing what they saw. 

Ø  Hands-on training will enable your youngster to create emblematic portrayal. Have them fold playdough into the states of letters or use stickers to fill looking like letters.

Use letter-molded magnets to fabricate words on your fridge entryway. 

Ø  Don’t stop with the material. Play smell and taste games: Blindfold your kid and urge them to think about what something depends on its smell or taste. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a preoperational thought? 

In Piaget’s hypothesis of a child’s development, is the subsequent stage called Preoperational Thought.

During this stage, which often begins at age four and ends at age seven, the kid starts to go past perceiving and can utilize words and pictures to allude to objects. 

What is preoperational thinking? 

The preoperational stage is the subsequent stage in Piaget’s hypothesis of a child’s development.

During this period, youngsters are thinking at an emblematic level yet are not yet utilizing cognitive activities.

The youngster’s intuition during this stage is primarily focused on previous tasks and scenes they witnessed.

What is concentration in the preoperational stage? 

In brain science, concentration is the propensity to concentrate on one remarkable part of a circumstance and disregard other, potentially significant angles.

Piaget guaranteed that egocentrism, a typical component answerable for preoperational kids’ unsystematic reasoning, was causal to concentration

Books of Related Interest:

Play, Dreams, and Imitation in Childhood, Jean Piaget

The Psychology of the Child, Jean Piaget

Piaget’s Developmental Theory: An Overview, Davidson Movies

A Piaget Primer: How a Child Thinks, Dorothy G. Singer