Your Child at Four Years Old

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Your Child at Four Years Old

This is a brief summary of what to expect for a four-year-old's development. If you have any specific concerns or questions, you should address those with your child's pediatrician.

Physical Development

  • walks backwards

  • jumps forward many times

  • somersaults

  • walks up and down stairs

  • uses safety scissors

  • cuts on line

  • copies squares and crosses

  • prints a few capital letters

  • draws a person

Social Development

  • enjoys playing with other children

  • takes turns and shares

  • seeks out adult approval

  • understands and obeys simple rules

  • likes to talk and carries on conversations

  • understands jealousy

  • fears the dark and monsters

  • begins to understand danger

  • has difficulty separating make-believe from reality

  • feels anger and frustration and may still throw tantrums

  • enjoys pretending, creates imaginary playmates

Cognitive Development

  • groups and matches objects

  • organizes materials

  • asks "why" and "how"

  • tells own name and age

  • pays attention for longer periods of time

  • learns by watching and listening

  • shows awareness of past and present

  • follows a series of two to four directions

  • uses words out of context

  • points to and names colors

  • understands order and process

  • counts to five

  • knows the name of their street and town


Four year olds need at least 12 hours of sleep per day. Some children will still take a short nap in the afternoon, while others may have given up napping altogether. It is common for children this age to resist sleep, and to get out of bed at night with various excuses not to go to sleep.


Proper nutrition includes three meals a day, with two nutritious snacks. Limit high sugar and high fat foods, and encourage healthy choices of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low fat dairy products.



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