What words would you use to describe your 4 year old, Energetic, Full of Life, or the oxymoron Joyous Craziness?  Four year olds can be all these things and more.  Most four year old are eager to learn and may test the patience of the caregiver or parent with this quest for knowledge.  Hopefully you are not pulling out your hair and have enough time to read this article. 

Physical Development

Your four year old is hitting growth spurts and then may be slowing at times.  You can tell when they are going through or are getting ready to go through a growth spurt.  They will complain of leg problems a lot of the times.  Another symptom of the growth spurt will be the refrigerator will be raided a lot.  Yes, kids will eat a lot more when they are having the growth spurts.  Not just 4 year olds, but anything.  I am going to use that excuse for me right now. 

Your 4 year old should weigh about 27-50 pounds.  They will start to provide a few more notches on the door frame, measuring between 37-46 inches.  To deal with all this growth and brain development that is happening, your child needs 10-12 hours of sleep each night. 

Fine motor skills are still improving and they will have now learned to appropriately use the fork as well as the spoon.  Dressing themselves should be encourages.  However, they are still not able to recognize the fashion sense and will need help with that.  Some zippers will still provide difficulty.  Your child will now be able to stack more and more blocks or objects and will find objects to show you.  They can form shapes out of Play-Do.  The snake is still the preferred animal that is recognizable.  Take your child’s word for it when they say a play dough animal is a giraffe.  You little child will be able to use scissors to cut things.  Better watch the hair of other children as well as your own.  Glue can be useful with this child, but can be a tool to stick all kinds of things to walls as well.

Gross motor skills are vastly improving.  They can run, jump, hop, skip, and climb about anywhere.  They like to do this is Wal-Mart for some reason.  When asked to walk a straight line, literally, they will and can do it.  When asked to walk a straight line as it pertains to not breaking the rules, they will have difficulty.  As I said before, they can hop.  They should be able to do this on one foot and can jump over things that are about a half foot off the ground.  Lines on the floor will become rivers to them and their active imagination.  Your little athlete will be able to catch, bounce, and throw balls easier and will usually throw balls in the right direction.   4 year oldsCredit: www.sheknows.com

Mental Development

We humans are good at putting things in categories.  This is a skill that is taught us from early on.  Around age 4, children like to line things up.  A lot of the times they will do this according to size and maybe even color.  They can realize that letters are different from numbers and will start to recognize printed forms of the letters they have been singing the ABC song to for a while now.  They might be able to print their own name.  It might not legible, but then neither is my writing today.  They should be able to count to at least 7 by now and most will be able to go to 10 because, well, that is how many fingers they have. 

Routines are important for all of us, but especially for children.  By age 4, he or she should not only be able to do routines, but be able to recognize routines and tell you what is going to be next.  That is if you have been following it like you should. 

They are still concrete in thinking but their abstract reasoning skills can be applied to simple things.  For instance, they might now know that the letters D.O.G. when placed in this order spells the word dog and that dog is a four legged animal that barks.  Along with this abstracting ability, they should understand the concepts of more, less, up, down, tall, short, big, little, above, under, behind, and in front of. 

They should be talking in longer sentences and can convey those sentences in a meaningful way.  Instead of saying “mommy went bye bye” they could say “mommy went to the store to buy some food.”  They still enjoy singing and will want to control the radio anytime they are in the vehicle.  Same goes for 11 year olds too.  Isn’t that right Hannah?

You should be teaching your 4 year old their home address, phone numbers and what number to call in case of an emergency.  You should also teach them your name, because if they get lost and asked what your name is, “mommy” does not help.

When your child was 3 years old they were getting really good at asking the who, what, why, and where questions.  Remember from my previous article.  Now, they are still asking these questions but can also answer those types of questions better. 

They can name most common colors and can identify things of those colors.  They should also be able to identify the shapes of circle, triangle, and square. 

As for following directions, it is not a question of IF they can follow directions; it is if they WILL follow directions.  However, your child should be able to follow two different directions that you give to them.  For instance, “bring me the paper AND the crayons.” 

Social Development

The 4 year old is still in the Initiative versus Guilt Stage, which we discussed in the Child Development:  3 year old article.  I do not want to cover it again here.  Please check out that article. 

Your child is learning how to share but is still pretty selfish.  They will share if you tell them to.  They will obey you most of the time.  It is around this time, we psychologist, start to see the problems of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) come along.  I have also written an article on this topic as well.  Just follow the above line or search through my articles here at 4 year oldCredit: www.ehow.comwww.infobarrel.com/users/zuke258 and you will find it.   If you suspect your child has you should get him or her assessed.  This problem is very treatable and is a lot easier to deal with when they are younger.  Temper tantrums should be waning.  That is not as frequent and not as long in durations.  10 a week at most, for no more than a couple of minutes.  They will start to become more aggressive when they are angry.  Expect fights. 

Your child will enjoy playing games.  However, they will change the rules in the middle of the game.  They will understand the rules in simple games, but like to make their own up so they can win. 

They will start to have elaborate conversations with you, someone else, or their imaginary friends.  Imaginary friends are “normal” for a 4 year old.  Not so much for a 40 year old.  I got to have a talk with my imaginary friend about this.  The 4 year old may have a difficult time distinguishing reality from fiction.  They might things that the things they see on television and cartoons can be real. I have an article over know when there is too much television watching going on by children. 

They are persistent in wanting to know the answers to question, “Momma, momma, momma, momma,” if mom does answer, “daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy” will be the norm.  They will tell on everyone, which can be helpful if the lamp mysteriously gets broken (even by daddy playing ball in the house), but it can be bothersome and cause some problems with siblings and peers when they do this all the time.  They will also lie if it benefits them, so you parents should be able to think it through before punishment the innocent one.  Do not be surprised if curse words are used.  Just put a stop to in and tell them what will happen if it happens again. 

The concept of danger is becoming more of a reality.  They will still climb on things and jump off, but they do understand they could get hurt.  They are fearful of monster and the dark.  A night light and your assurance that if a monster comes out you will get it first.  Do not tell them a monster exist; just tell them IF it comes out you will get it.

They love to pretend play but the playing is becoming more elaborate and more detailed.  Before, they were playing house, now they are playing cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, or even doctor.  Watch out for the doctor.  Even though the exploration of the body by 4 year olds is normal, you do not want it to go too far.  The best way to handle sexually inappropriate4 year oldCredit: www.earlymoments.com behaviors is to call the child by name, say stop, indentify the behavior, and then say their name again.  For example, you little explorer is masturbating in the living room.  This is what you should say and do.  “Johnny, stop playing with your penis in the living room, Johnny.”  Do not call it “wee wee” or any other name.  Use the anatomically correct words.  Our name is the most recognized word to all of us, so this is why we use it at the beginning and end, to reinforce that all the statement is for them and them only. 


Your 4 year old is growing up and you might start to see temper tantrums, misbehavior, extreme emotions, and rules being broke.  Some of this is normal development of the child. However, remember if you feel like these behaviors are affecting the child or your family is a moderate way, you should seek the help of your medical doctor and possibly a mental health professional.  These problems are easier to correct when younger.  And as always do not let this information be a substitute for the valuable information you can receive from the professional who know you and your child better than I do from behind a computer and many miles away. 

Take care of yourself and each other.  Make today and everyday a great day.

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