4 Years

During a child’s first few years, primary interactions have been with an immediate circle of caregivers – parents, family members, and perhaps a childcare provider. As children enter their fourth year of life, relationships are expanding beyond this immediate circle and will include friendships with other children. Rather than simply playing next to other children, four-year-olds are learning to play with other children in more complex and imaginative ways.

Your Baby

At age four, your child may …

Enjoy using blocks or boxes to create buildings, towers or other structures – You can help provide the right materials and the right inspiration with photographs of buildings he/she can copy.

Try to button, unbutton and manipulate other types of fasteners like zippers – See if you can provide old dress-up clothes to help encourage this practice.

Have 80% of the vocabulary she will use for the rest of his life – Keep challenging your child with new vocabulary.

Begin to remember his address and phone number – In an age of cell phones, it is easy to forget important phone numbers but it is important that your child can provide this information in an emergency. Practice this information with them. You can even turn it into a song.

Repeat words, including “naughty” words – Children repeat what they hear even when they don’t quite understand what the words mean. If your child is using language that you think is inappropriate patiently help them understand.

Enjoy sorting, grouping, and organizing – It can help if you talk about the differences and similarities between all kinds of things you see around you, inside and outside.

Become aware of the emotional impact that words can have on others – Be a good role model. Show kindness and sensitivity to the feelings of others. Books that discuss feelings and emotions provide a good starting point for conversations.

Your Family

Help your child with truth and fibs.

Four year-old children still have a fuzzy distinction between fact and fiction, truth and fibs. Your child may think that something he wants can be his just by taking it or something he imagines is true because he wants it to be. He is still learning to see life from another person’s viewpoint. You can help him by seeing these behaviors as mistakes to be gently corrected rather than misbehaviors to be punished. Here are some other ways you can help your child learn to be truthful.

  • Gently confront your child about a suspected theft or fib: “I saw you take the candy and put it in your pocket. That is not okay.”  Avoid asking questions like “why did you do that?” because your four-year-old might not be able to provide a logical answer.
  • Help your child apologize if he/she takes something. Remember that apologizing is a new skill and something that must be taught.
  • Model honesty and talk about rules and fairness using words he can understand. Story books are helpful in explaining these difficult concepts.
  • Teach your child to use words to communicate their wants and needs. Respond to their requests openness and communication – even if the answer is “no.”
What to do when your child hurts another child

At this age, some children may have learned that hitting or biting is a way to get attention or to achieve power over another child. As a parent, you may feel embarrassed or angry. Some things you can do to teach assertiveness without aggression include:

  • Explore why the behavior is occurring – is there a pattern to the aggressive behavior? Is your child tired? Frustrated?
  • Respond verbally. Let your child know that you recognize his feelings but that the behavior is unacceptable. “Hurting others is NOT okay! You wanted the doll and you were angry because your friend had it.”
  • Focus your attention on the hurt child. Some children will misbehave to attract adult attention even if it’s negative attention.
  • Help your angry child find a calming activity such as playdough or water play to help with coping.
  • With your positive direction, a child with aggressive behaviors can learn self-control and concern for others while maintaining a healthy self-image.

Your Checklist

Remember to keep up with your child’s changing safety needs
  • Always use appropriate helmets and life jackets.
  • Supervise outdoor play – the garage can be especially dangerous
  • During any season, sunscreen is a must for outdoor play
  • A booster seat is required by law until children reach 8 years of age or 4’9”
  • It is recommended that children remain in the back seat until at least age 12
  • Keep matches, knives, and other sharp objects out of reach
  • Lock away guns and gun supplies at all times
  • Post the Poison Control number by your phone: 1-800-222-1222
Schedule your child’s well-child check-up and ask your health care provider if you are up-to-date on your vaccinations.

Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause serious harm to children who are not fully immunized. Call your child’s health care provider or your local health department to make an appointment..

Remember to schedule your 4-year well child checkup.