4 Year Old Developmental Milestones for Boys and Girls

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Every new birthday of your little one will bring new milestones and joys. And this year is all about your child living life to the fullest and making the most of everything and their opportunities to learn, grow and play. As soon as they turn 4 years old, they will start to develop new skills and their knowledge will only continue to expand since they are getting closer to entering kindergarten. 

What can help you understand your child better and ensure you to keep your child on track is understanding 4-year-old developmental milestones. This will also help you see what skills your child has learned and what they still have to learn. This further helps you notice any warning signs. So, let’s see what are key 4-year-old milestones.

Physical Development

At this age, your 4-year old girls and boys will develop physically. They will grow taller and they will continue to get better at their gross and fine motor skills. A 4-year-old will still learn how to control their body, but they are now more likely to try new things and succeed. 

Some of the key milestones for 4-year-old is that their gross motor skills are becoming better. They are now more aware of their own place in space and they are now less likely to bump into others while moving. Another thing that will improve here is their running abilities and they may even be able to dribble a soccer ball a little. 

What is more, their fine motor skills will also improve. At age 4, children should have improved hand-eye coordination which will only result in new abilities to complete puzzles, color inside the lines and string beads. Another thing you will now notice is that they will be able to dress on their own, brush their teeth and complete the potty training. Make sure you have the right equipment such as potty training seats for this endeavor.

Your job here is to teach them some safety rules. Remind them that you need to hold hands in parking lots and when crossing the street, to stay away from the stove and similar, and eventually, your child will respond to these verbal cues. So, the next time you’re crossing the street ask them, “We’re about to cross the street, so what do we need to do?” and watch them learn.

Emotional Development

When it comes to emotional development, some of the 4-year-old milestones include a desire to be independent and to do things on their own as much as they can. However, don’t be surprised if they are cooperative one minute, while the next minute they are overly demanding. But overall, at this age, their emotional control will get better. 

The key milestones for 4-year-old children here are that they are not starting to be more aware of other people’s feelings. Also, they will experience a broad range of emotions, including excitement, anger, fear and even jealousy. And now they might be more set on winning when playing games. 

Things to watch out for at this age is the threats. Don’t threaten them to leave them behind if they don’t hurry up, and avoid saying that you’re going to spank them if they misbehave. Don’t even joke about that, because they might not be able to understand you’re not serious. Simply try talking to them nicely.

Social Development

At 4 years of life, your child might stop with the temper tantrums. They will hopefully become less frequent as your child has learned coping mechanisms. However, some major life events, such as a move to another city, a divorce or the birth of a sibling can affect your 4-year-old’s mood and behavior. 

Also, at this age, the primary source of child’s interactions are still within the family, they will now start to appreciate their friends and peers more and more. What you should encourage your child to do is make new and real friendships, and they may even have a “best friend” now. Also, they are now more ready to share their toys and take turns with peers. However, they will still turn to an adult they trust for help when they need it. 

When it comes to your job, you should encourage your child to play games and to respect the rules. However, you don’t want to let them win every time you play something, but you can let them bend the rules sometimes. They are likely to change the rules on their own as they go, but if you allow them to do that can be great for their imagination.

Cognitive Development

This age is when your child will become better and problem-solving skills and they will get a good handle on how to incorporate a solution that will be good for everyone. Or they will at least try to do so. Some other 4-year-old developmental milestones will include learning to recite the alphabet and to memorize shapes and colors. But, cognitive development isn’t only about learning facts and basics. They will also start to learn about learning – how to ask questions and process information and understand them. 

At this age, they will be really chatty since their language skills are quickly developing. Your little one should have about 3,000 words that they know and understand, and by the next birthday, their vocabulary will jump over 5,000 words. 

As far as play is concerned, kids this age will love using their imagination. Some of them may even develop an imaginary friend. Also, they may shuffle between reality and pretend-play non-stop. And they will love playing house or dress up, and they will certainly involve their friends as well. 

Some other milestones for 4-year-old children here are that they will show interest in goal setting, such as learning how to ride a bike without training wheels, or how to pump a swing. Also, they will express a desire to make their own decisions when choosing a snack or picking what to wear. They will also start to understand the concept of numbers and what they represent. If you want to help your little one continue learning, you just need to keep talking. If they have any questions, answer it however you know. Read to them every day and get them to think about words by asking them questions about everything.

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Other Milestones

Besides these major 4-year-old developmental milestones, some others may occur. At this age, most of the kids will start to recognize their sexuality. They may surprise you with questions about where babies come from, or why 4-year-old boys and girls are different and how. It is important that you provide the basics, matter-of-fact information and use correct terminology about their body parts. 

Another very important thing is to avoid scolding or punishment if your child is touching their genitals. Instead, talk to them about what’s socially acceptable and what isn’t. For example, explain that no one should touch their private parts, other than a doctor when needed or a parent.

When to Worry

It’s a fact that all children develop at different rates. However, you should look out for red flags that your child isn’t meeting any 4-year-old developmental milestones. If you do notice anything, you should talk to your pediatrician. Here are some things to watch out for and speak to your pediatrician about:

  • If they can’t jump in place
  • If they have trouble scribbling
  • They can’t follow 3-part commands
  • They don’t use “me” and “you” pronouns correctly
  • If they show no interest in interactive games or make-believe ones
  • If they ignore other children, or if they don’t respond to other people outside the family
  • They are resisting dressing, using the toilet or sleeping
  • If they have troubles retelling their favorite story
  • They speak unclearly
  • They can’t understand the difference between “same” and “different”
  • And if they lose any skills they once had

These are some red flags you should definitely keep an on. If you notice any of these, you should talk to your pediatrician. Don’t just disregard them and wait for the situation to improve. If you do that, you are putting your child at risk of having some developmental and learning disabilities.

Don’t forget to check out the 3-year-old milestones list here.

Every child develops at a different pace but there are some common 4-year-old milestones your little one should hit. Nevertheless, this age will be a chatty one, they will talk to your, ask you questions and play a lot. Your job is to encourage them to stay chatty, provide them with knowledge and support them in what they do. Also, don’t forget about occasional physical activity, simply to keep them moving.

Author: Stan Marsh
Author: Stan Marsh

Hi all, I’m a toy reviewer, a father, programmer and an occasional sketch artist from Washington D.C where i live with my wife and wonderful 4-year-old daughter. Although i have a bachelor’s degree in Child’s Psychology, i didn’t pursue a career in that direction. Nonetheless, the experience and knowledge i gathered during my studies helped my tremendously with life challenges.

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