If you think your 4-year-old is hard to keep up with, it’s probably because kids develop lots of new skills very quickly this year. You may not be completely sure what to expect at this age, especially if this is new to you.
Check out these developmental milestones to get a better idea of typical 4-year-old skills. But know that all kids develop at their own rate. If your child isn’t doing all of these exciting things yet, don’t worry.
If you’re spending more on groceries and clothing lately, it’s probably because your 4-year-old is growing fast. Kids can put on close to 5 pounds and grow 4 inches this year. Their eyesight continues to get better, too, which means their coordination improves.
By the end of this year, most kids can do these things:
This year, kids’ ability to think and learn reaches beyond the basics of the world around them. They start thinking about and understanding things they can’t see or touch. You might notice that your child starts to “have an idea” more often than you’d seen before. Most 4-year-olds are developing skills to:
Start sorting things by attributes like size, shape, and color
Compare and contrast by things like height, size, or gender
Begin to understand the difference between real and make-believe, but may still confuse them
Understand that pictures and symbols stand for real things
Recognize shapes in the real world
Count to at least 20 and point to and count items in a group
Explore relationships between ideas, using words like if and when to express them
Start thinking in logical steps, which means seeing the “how-tos” and consequences of things
Get abstract ideas like “bigger,” “less,” “later,” “ago,” and “soon”
Put things in order, like from biggest to smallest, shortest to tallest
You’re likely to see—and hear—and explosion of language this year. By the end of this year, kids may have a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words they understand, use, or both. They may start using complicated sentences that combine more than one thought. And they start asking who, what, why, when, and where questions—and may even answer some.
By the end of this year, most kids:
Sing silly songs, make up goofy words, and start rhyming
Follow simple, unrelated directions (“Go find your shoes and pick up that toy.”)
Change speech patterns depending on who is involved in a conversation, like speaking in short sentences to a younger sibling
Pronounce most sounds correctly, but still have trouble with s, w, and r sounds
Ask for the definition of unfamiliar words
Make up stories and talk about what they’re thinking
Argue, even though the argument might not be logical
Remember: Kids develop at different paces. They may gain some skills later than other kids or have some skills that are advanced for their age.
But if your 4-year-old hasn’t met many of these milestones, talk with your health care provider. You can work together to discover whether there are skills that need extra help.
Take a look forward at developmental milestones for kindergartners.
Four-year-olds might argue a lot and have many new words to use when arguing.
This year, kids often become more independent physically and in friendships.
Talk to your health care provider if you have concerns about your child’s progress.