What A 4 Year Old Should Know

  • Parents Only

By: Phoebe Ackland and Lisa Wolff, ellaslist

Being a mum of a four year old, you can’t help but wonder if your child is meeting or exceeding their milestones. When she was a baby, I was obsessed with the Wonder Weeks app – using it as my revered bible to see if my beloved bub was kicking the right goals.

running little girl

Childhood Isn’t A Race

So it was really meaningful to read A Magical Childhood’s blog post about how disheartening it is when parents become competitive about the milestones their children reach quickly, making others feel that their perfectly well-developing child is falling behind.

Here’s their list of the truly important stuff a 4 year old should know:

  • That they are loved unconditionally

  • How to keep themselves safe in public, and be able to trust their instincts about people and what people ask them to do

  • Know what their interests are and feel encouraged to explore them, for example music or drawing.

The post is topped off with a message for all the mums out there: “That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.”

preschool 2

But I Still Need To Know The Milestones

If you’re just a little curious as to what your 4-year old should be doing, we did a little bit of digging.

Whilst every child is different, here is a checklist of some typical things you can expect. Thanks to WebMD and Raising Children for help with this awesome list:

Daily Routine: Your 4 year old will better understand the daily schedule of waking up, then breakfast, getting dressed, etc. They could be able to dress themselves, brush their teeth, use a knife and fork and bathe (with supervision) by themselves, and so are becoming more independent.

Identity: They might be able to write his or her name, and even remember their address or phone number, if taught.

Attention Span: They will play with toys for longer, and have a greater attention spans for things such as watching movies.

Follow Commands: They may start following 2-3 part commands, for example: “Brush your teeth, comb your hair and put your shoes on.”

4 year old

Physical Activity: Your 4 year old may be able to walk down stairs with alternating feet, balance on one leg, run, kick a ball, jumping, skipping etc.

Fine Motor Skills: Potentially could include writing their name, drawing a person with up to 10 body parts, draw simple shapes, and maybe even cut out with child-safe scissors.

Chatter: Your four year old will love having conversations and telling stories. Sentences typically have about 5-6 words in them.

Empathy: Your 4 year old will (hopefully!) start to understand that it is not always about them- they become more aware of the feelings of others, as well as being better able to express their frustrations with words rather than hitting and stomping.

Lying: Your 4 year old might even begin to tell porkies, like that they did’t do something naughty when in fact they did.

little girl

When To Be Concerned

Once again, every child is different and particular things may come easier/more difficult for them than others. However, here are some typical things to look out for, and may even warrant a trip to the doctor if you feel there’s something amiss, according to WebMD:

  • Unable to do simple tasks for themselves like brush teeth, undress, wash and dry hands

  • Unable to hold a pencil, crayon or paintbrush

  • Having problems with toilet training

  • Being extremely shy and unwilling to socialise with other children, or showing very aggressive behaviours

  • Not responding to you or making eye contact

  • Being unable to say their name

  • 4 year olds are typically quite adventurous and excited to try new things, so an interest in a limited amount of things may be an issue


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Apr 19 2019

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