Wow! Your child is already 4 years old. How exciting! This is an amazing age as you will begin to see your little boy or girl grow into their own and start to develop a colorful personality. You will also see great improvements in vocabulary, hand-eye coordination, emotional behaviors, and more. If your child’s birthday is coming up, then let's look at what you should expect as far as the developmental milestones at 4 years of age.
- Your child should begin developing an imagination and a desire to play with other children at this age.
- They should know their full name, be able to count to ten, and use pronouns correctly, among other language achievements.
- They should be able to catch a ball and dress themselves, among other motor achievements.
Emotional and Social Milestones at 4 Years of Age
At this age, you will see a vast improvement in your child’s vocabulary, and with it you will also see that they have more opinions and beliefs than they did in the past. Although they are very much still a little kid, they will seem so much more mature than they were in the past.
Yes, there will still be a chance that they may throw a fit or tantrum from time to time. That is because they are still trying to understand their new emotions, and it can be hard to adjust. It is not uncommon to see your 4-year-old feel hurt or sad. They may even change their behavior based on the environment. Ex. playground vs. kitchen.
It is also at this age that your child will be more interested in forming friendships, though they may still be a bit shy.
According to the CDC, some of the many new emotional and social milestones you may witness include:
- They have a greater imagination and like to pretend they are someone else or something else (dog, teacher, etc.)
- They will ask to play with other kids.
- Your child may go out of their way to try and comfort a sad friend or family member.
- They will be more aware of dangers like heights or spills.
- They will be excited to help you around the house.
Language and Cognitive Developmental Milestones at 4 Years of Age
If your child was moderately quiet before, that will likely all change when they turn 4 years old. It is at this point that they will be able to say between 1000-2000 words or more. They will also be able to speak in complete sentences, have back-and-forth conversations, and answer simple questions. Their language should be so clear at this point that a stranger would understand what they are saying.
Your child will also become much more helpful at this age because they will be able to follow simple multi-step commands. You should be able to tell them to get their toy from the couch and put it in their toy box, and they can do it without much trouble.
You will also find that your 4-year-old is also more inquisitive, and they will love to learn new information. They will love to hear new stories, and they will be able to recount parts of those stories later on. Since they are so imaginative at this age, your 4 year old will also love coming up with their own stories. Many children will also love to sing songs that they know or make up their own.
Your child will learn a slew of new cognitive abilities by this age, including:
- Ability to name a few colors.
- They can tell what will come next in a story they have heard before.
- They will be able to count to 10.
- Ability to draw a person with three or more body parts.
- Use pronouns appropriately.
- Identify some shapes
- Say their first and last name.
- Identify some letters.
- Say a sentence with at least four words.
Your child will only have a basic understanding of how to read at this age. However, they will be able to hold a book the right way and turn the pages from front to back. They will also recognize some upper and lowercase letters and identify when two words rhyme.
Movement and Physical Milestones at 4 Years of Age
Among the most exciting developmental milestones at 4 years of age is the improvement in movement and coordination. At this time, your child will likely be more excited to play games outside and kick and throw a ball. Many kids will also like to play board games and do art projects.
Your child will be much more active at this age. You will see a lot more jumping and running, and they may even be able to stand on one foot for a few seconds and walk backward for a few steps. Although it is not a guarantee, some kids are able to ride bikes or scooters at this age, though it will take some work. Many 4-year-olds will also be able to kick a ball to you and throw a ball overhead.
At this age, your child will also be better with their hands. You will see improvement in their ability to use kid-friendly scissors, eat with utensils, and draw with a pencil. Because of this dexterity, your child will also get better at puzzles and drawing simple pictures.
That is just the beginning. Your child will learn many other physical skills at this age, including:
- Ability to catch a ball.
- Able to serve themselves food at the table.
- Unbutton buttons on their clothes.
- Ability to skip and climb.
- Some kids can do a somersault.
- Be able to dress and undress themselves.
- Able to brush their teeth with assistance.
- Should be potty trained or close to it.
- Walk up and down the stairs without help.
- Stack 10 or more blocks.
- Average Weight and Height for 4 Years Old
Every child will grow differently based on their genes, diet, and activity level. However, according to Kids Health, most 4-year-olds will be about 40 pounds and 40 inches tall. There will be slight variations for every child, but if your 4-year-old is a drastically different weight or height, then consider speaking to the pediatrician.
Helping Your Child Thrive At 4 Years Old
Although your child is learning a lot of new things, parents can help their kids evolve by interacting with them and engaging in new activities. Consider the following:
- Give your child simple chores to do around the house. They are old enough to keep their toys tidy and to start learning the basics of making their bed.
- Allow them space to run and jump around. Teach them how to be careful when running or jumping indoors, and instruct them on where they can and can't run and jump.
- Teach them how to share and take turns by saying things like, “Now it is my time to comb the doll’s hair, and then it is your turn.” If they have siblings, begin teaching them how to share their toys and their space. At the same time, ensure that all of your children have a respect for one another's space.
- Point out symbols and common words in books.
- When you are reading your child a book, ask them, “what happens next?” Then, see what they say.
- Suggest fun art activities like drawing, writing letters, and using glue. Consider getting a fun coloring book or sketch pad for your child.
- Talk to your child a lot and ask what they did that day and what they liked and didn’t like. Actively listen to them and engage with what they tell you, even if it's simple.
- Teach your kid how to deal with their emotions. At this age, children are old enough to learn manners, to not throw temper tantrums when they don't get their way, and to treat others with respect.
- Limit screen time. Children under six should not spend more than one hour a day on screens.
- Let them watch you when you cook as they will be interested in the process, and you can use this time to teach them about the importance of eating right.
Red Flags at 4 Years Old
It is important to remember that every child will develop slightly differently, so do not be alarmed if they cannot do every single thing that another kid their age can do. With that said, if you notice several of the developmental red flags below, then you may want to speak to your pediatrician.
- Your child has trouble scribbling.
- They cannot jump in place.
- Ignores other children and people outside of your family.
- Shows no interest in make-believe or interactive games.
- Does not follow three-part commands.
- Cannot use “you” and “me” correctly, or other pronouns.
- Resists sleeping, dressing, and using the toilet.
- Doesn’t understand the terms “same” and “different.”
- Is struggling to speak or displays other evidence of a speech impediment.
- Begins displaying clear emotional issues, such as constant temper tantrums or an inability to empathize.
Sometimes, some children just develop slower than others. If your child is struggling to reach certain milestones, it's important to understand that it's likely due to something out of their control. It's best to be supportive, patient, and understanding with your child. Take them to a pediatrician as soon as you can. As long as you're doing all you can for your child, then that's all that matters.
There you have it. The developmental milestones at 4 years of age. This is an exciting time for your happy 4-year-old, so treasure these moments. Continue to engage your child every day by talking with them, reading books, going on adventures outside, and meeting new kids. They will continue to evolve every year, so love every day you have with them and enjoy the ride.