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Your four year old

Your Four Year Old 

A group of children holding a rodent

Parenting a 4-year-old can be a wonderful, exciting experience. Yes, your child may still be a handful at times (this is common!), but they are growing in leaps and bounds. Four-year-olds are creative, thoughtful little people. Get ready for the stage when imaginative play is all the rage, and you can begin to have fuller, fascinating conversations with your kiddo. Your 4-year-old’s fine motor skills are becoming more refined by the day and they’ll soon be expert climbers, jumpers, and runners.

Language Development 

Your preschooler is turning into quite the chatterbox at this age. By 4 years old, your child should be able to speak in complete sentences, answer simple questions, and have back-and-forth conversations. Almost all of what they say should be intelligible to a stranger. 

Additionally, your child should be able to follow multi-step commands with three or more steps, for example, after being given instructions, your 4-year-old should be able to pick up a toy from the floor, put it away in a toy basket, and then come back to sit on your lap to read a book.

At 4 years old, children are inquisitive and love to digest new information. You’ll be amazed at how much your child can comprehend. If you tell or read them a story, they should be able to recall large parts of it.1 Not only that, but 4-year-olds are great at making up their own stories.

Physical Development 

Your 4-year-old isn’t just getting taller, but their fine and gross motor skills are getting more mature as well. By now, you should be able to play basic outside games with your child, like catch and kickball. Art projects and board games will be favorite activities.

In terms of physical growth, 4-year-olds weigh an average of 40 pounds and are about 40 inches tall. They are twice as tall as they were when they were born! Your child is gaining weight at the rate of about a quarter of an ounce per day. All this growth requires healthy eating habits and good sleep: you can expect your child to still need about 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night.4

Your child is becoming stronger and more agile each day. Children at this age can run and jump well, can often balance on one foot and walk backward. Many children this age are starting to ride bikes or scooters. 

You’ll be wowed by your child’s emerging fine motor skills as well. Children at this age can use scissors, manage a writing utensil mostly independently, and use eating utensils. 

Social and Emotional Development 

Four-year-olds are starting to have more opinions and beliefs, and they are starting to be more in touch with the world around them. Although 4-year-olds may seem much more mature than they were just a few months ago, they can still have some difficulty regulating their emotions and temper tantrums are relatively common.  Children at this age thrive on routine, and a predictable daily structure can help them to feel safe and secure.

Socially, 4-year-olds are learning a lot about making friends. They will start to be able to form real bonds with their peers, and are getting better at cooperating and being mindful of the emotions of others.

How to Help your Four Year Old Learn and Grow

There are many things you can do to help your child blossom and grow. Engaging in conversation with them whenever possible, reading to them, and supporting their interests are simple steps you can take. This is the age when your child will have a million questions. Answering their questions, and supplementing their queries with educational materials (books, appropriate media, activities) is a great idea, too.

You will want to create a structure for your child at this age and enforce positive behaviour expectations. Four-year-olds are able to understand rules and social customs, but remember that they are still learning, so it’s normal if they need lots of guidance along the way.

You can start teaching your child to do basic chores, such as setting and clearing the table. It can be helpful to have routines around your day-to-day life so that your child knows what to expect. This helps your child regulate their emotions as well. At this age, you will want to enforce screen time rules and ensure that your child gets plenty of physical activity in fresh air. 


When to be concerned

All children grow at their own pace and in their own way, but there are certain signs that your child may be experiencing a developmental delay.

You may want to speak seek further advice if your child: 
  • struggles to play co-operatively and does not interact with their peers and other children
  • finds it difficult to communicate their needs with speech that is unintelligible
  • has a hard time following directions or understanding commands 
  • has regressed and has lost some of the skills that they could previously do well


Last Updated on Thursday, May 30, 2024

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