By 4: Skills Your Child Should Have by Age Four

By the time a child turns four, they are smooth-talking, agile, and observant seekers of adventure. They are kind of know-it-alls—as in they want to know it all. They have more questions than you have answers, and they should be challenged.

What Can You Expect from Your Child? 

  • Pretending to play "mom" and "dad"

  • Cooperating with other children

  • Talking about their likes and interests

  • Telling and retelling stories that are familiar to them

  • Saying their first and last name

  • Singing a song or reciting a poem from memory, such as “The Wheels on the Bus”

  • Drawing a person with 2-4 body parts (head, body, arms or legs)

  • Using scissors. Your child may not use them correctly, but they understand that the scissors need to open and close in order to cut something.

  • Understanding the idea of counting and can count to 10

  • Hopping or standing on one foot for up to two seconds

  • Catching a bounced ball most of the time

  • Pouring, cutting (with supervision), and mashing their own food

  • Caring for their own toileting (going to the restroom, wiping, and washing hands)

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Learn and Grow?

  • Acknowledge your child's feelings, but be firm in the rules you set.

  • Reinforce positive actions and interactions, such as playing nicely with a friend.

  • Encourage new words and pronunciations through play.

  • Practice numbers and letters, such as teaching them a poem to recite.

  • Encourage play with other children.

  • Avoid labeling your child, such as shy or aggressive, especially in front of them. You do not want them to feel as though their actions are wrong and make them a bad person.

  • Allow your child to learn self-help skills, such as serving their own food and drinks and feeding themselves.

  • Model appropriate behaviors through pretend play.