Your Child at Four Years

What Most Children Do at this Age:

Social/Emotional

  • Enjoys doing new things
  • Plays “Mom” and “Dad”
  • Is more and more creative with make-believe play
  • Would rather play with other children than by himself
  • Cooperates with other children
  • Often can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
  • Talks about what she likes and what she is interested in

Language/Communication

  • Knows some basic rules of grammar, such as correctly using “he” and “she”
  • Sings a song or says a poem from memory such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or the “Wheels on the Bus.”
  • Tells stories
  • Can say first and last name

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Names some colors and some numbers
  • Understands the idea of counting
  • Starts to understand time
  • Remembers parts of a story
  • Understands the idea of “same” and “different”
  • Draws a person with 2 to 4 body parts
  • Uses scissors
  • Starts to copy some capital letters
  • Plays board or card games
  • Tells you what he/she thinks is going to happen next in a book

Movement/Physical Development

  • Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds
  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time
  • Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food

The Milestone Child Development Chart is shown Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

What You Can Do for Your Four-Year-Old:

  • Play make-believe with your child. Let him/her be the leader and copy what he/she is doing.
  • Suggest your child pretend play an upcoming event that might make him nervous, like going to preschool or staying overnight at a grandparent’s house.
  • Give your child simple choices whenever you can.
  • Let your child choose what to wear, play, or eat for a snack. Limit choices to 2 or 3.
  • During play dates, let your child solve his/her own problems with friends, but be nearby to help out if needed.
  • Encourage your child to use words, share toys, and take turns playing games of one another’s choice.
  • Give your child toys to build imagination, like dress-up clothes, kitchen sets, and blocks.
  • Use good grammar when speaking to your child. Instead of “Mommy wants you to come here,” say, “I want you to come here.”
  • Use words like “first,” “second,” and “finally” when talking about everyday activities. This will help your child learn about sequence of events.
  • Take time to answer your child’s “why” questions. If you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t know,” or help your child find the answer in a book, on the Internet, or from another adult.
  • When you read with your child, ask him/her to tell you what happened in the story as you go.
  • Say colors in books, pictures, and things at home.
  • Count common items, like the number of snack crackers, stairs, or toy trains.
  • Teach your child to play outdoor games like tag, follow the leader, and duck, duck, goose.
  • Play your child’s favorite music and dance with your child. Take turns copying each other’s moves.