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Childhood milestones age 4

At 4, there are still huge gains in your child's overall development of physical, cognitive, language and social abilities. Your child's imagination and conscience will also be developing as he or she becomes less egocentric and is able to understand what is expected of them.

This guide gives some idea of what to expect by the time your child reaches his or her fourth birthday, but it's important to remember that children don't develop according to a fixed timetable. The speed at which children mature can be highly variable and your child may reach some stages earlier or later than others of the same age without there being reasons to be concerned.

Age 4: Physical development

By the time your child reaches the age of 4, he or she should be able to stand on one foot for up to 2 seconds and be able to hop. Your child should be able to catch a bounced ball, at least most of the time, and push and pull.

Age 4: Cognitive and language skills

This category covers a child's ability to learn and think and involves problem-solving. Your child should be able to say his or her first and last name and know some basic rules of grammar, including when to use "he" or "she". Expect your child to be able to sing a song or recite a simple nursery rhyme - such as "Wheels on the Bus" - and tell a story or what may happen next in a story. Your child should understand the concept of "same" and "different", be able to name some colours and numbers, and understand the concept of "counting". Your child should start to understand the concept of time, and past, present and future. Your child should be able to talk well in short sentences clearly enough to be understood.

By this age your child should be able to use scissors, start to write some capital letters and draw someone with between two and four body parts such as a person with a head, trunk and legs and arms. Your child may enjoy playing card or board games.

Age 4: Social and emotional growth

Your child should enjoy new activities - such as playing "Mum" and "Dad" - and should talk about the things he or she likes or is interested in. Make-believe play should become much more creative, but your child may not understand what is real and what is make-believe. Your child should prefer to play with other children instead of playing alone, and he or she should be more able to co-operate when playing with other children.

Age 4: Tips for Parents

The more practice and encouragement your child gets when drawing or doing artwork, the more he or she will improve. You can also encourage your child in other creative play such as making models or dressing up. Restrict the television to no more than 2 hours a day - while TV can provide entertainment, it's not a substitution for other activities and interaction with others. At this age it is important for your child to develop socially with other children. If he or she hasn't started a nursery or pre-school group, try to enrol your child in one - this will also help in making the adjustment when your child starts primary school. All children under the age of 5 are entitled to at least 12.5 hours of free education each week for 38 weeks a year.

If you are wondering whether your child is experiencing a developmental delay, seek medical advice. Early treatment is the best way to help your child make progress or catch up.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 22, 2017

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