Baby milestones

Journey into Preschool: a 4-Year-Old Child’s Milestones and Development

It’s a miraculous and beautiful thing to witness your child grow and achieve milestones. As a parent, it’s your job to enjoy these exciting new experiences and ensure that your child’s development is on track to meet these milestones.

While each age and stage of your child’s life comes with its own breakthroughs, this is a deep dive into 4-year-old milestones.


Exploring Growth in 4-Year-Olds: Height, Weight, and Appearance

gross motor skills for 4 year olds


As parents, witnessing your child’s growth is one of your greatest joys. When it comes to physical development, a 4-year-old child typically undergoes significant changes.

Their bodies start to lean out, becoming more athletic and coordinated. With consistent nutrition and physical activity, children at this age are likely to gain around 4-5 pounds in a year and sprout up by 2-3 inches.

This astounding growth rate allows them to reach new heights (quite literally) in their maturity and ability to navigate the world.

On average, a well-nourished and healthy 4-year-old weighs around 40 pounds and stands an impressive 40 inches tall. This average is for both a boy and a girl.

Of course, keep in mind that every child is unique and may not adhere exactly to these averages. However, these numbers can serve as a useful guide to gauge your 4-year-old child’s growth progress.

What Milestones Should My 4-Year-Old Achieve?

There are many milestones that your 4-year-old child should achieve at this stage in life. From cognitive and motor to social and academic learning skills, there are 4-year-old milestones in all aspects of their life to attain and work towards.

Physical Development Milestones

is a 4-year-old a toddler

Andrii Yalanskyi/

As your preschooler crosses their fourth birthday, a world of newfound independence and discovery awaits them—and you! Among the many transformations to look forward to, physical development takes center stage.

Below are some key milestones in this domain that your 4-year-old toddler is likely to achieve:

  • Self-serve at meal times and put food on their plate
  • Pour water or a drink into their cup
  • Hop on one foot
  • Do and undo buttons and zippers
  • Pedal a tricycle

Remember, patience is key while you eagerly wait for your child to achieve these milestones. Every child is different, and the pace at which they develop varies from one precious tot to another.

Movement and Motor Skills

4 year old milestones

Juliya Shangarey/

By the age of four, your child should manifest remarkable independence in their movement and motor skills.

Your 4-year-old child should be able to achieve the following movement goals:

  • Walk up and down stairs independently
  • Balance on one foot
  • Getting dressed and undressed
  • Copy and draw basic shapes and the alphabet
  • Catch and throw a ball outside

Achieving these skills indicates the development of their overall physical level, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. These necessary skills are the foundation of growing and becoming adults.

Cognitive Milestones

4 year old


As your little one reaches the age of four, they should be able to demonstrate increasingly complex cognitive milestones. Cognitive milestones include problem-solving skills and understanding concepts in everyday life, which will build the foundations for them academically and educationally.

The typical 4-year-old should be able to:

  • Count to 10
  • Follow two- or three-step instructions
  • Understand the concept of time, days, and months
  • Identify at least four colors and shapes correctly
  • Increased attention span

If you’ve taught them, some may even know their address and phone number! They’ll also begin to understand everyday things like food and money, broadening their understanding of the world.

Language and Communication Milestones

4 year old developmental milestones

Lena Ogurtsova/

Your child’s vocabulary and language capabilities should evolve at a rapid pace. They should be able to speak clearly and make use of more detailed sentences. Don’t be surprised if they start to engage in meaningful conversations!

Along with participating more in conversation, developmentally, your child should also be able to:

  • Understand basic grammar rules, such as “he” and “she”
  • Be able to express themselves
  • Recall a story or tell what comes next in a familiar story
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes from memory
  • Speak clearly in full sentences with at least five words

Don’t expect your child to be forming entirely grammatically correct sentences or pronouncing every word correctly. The goal is to be able to understand what your 4-year-old is trying to communicate to you.

Social and Emotional Milestones

preschool skills checklist 4-year old

Your child is likely forming stronger emotional attachments and advancing in their social interactions. Here are some social and emotional milestones they should be approaching:

  • Showing a preference for group play over solo activities
  • Expressing emotions more accurately and showing empathy towards others
  • Frequently asking intriguing questions out of curiosity
  • Developing a sense of humor and enjoying kiddish jokes
  • Displaying an increasing desire for independence and control over their environment
  • Learn how to share toys with other children

Their emotional landscape is expanding, too, enabling them to show empathy. They’ll express feelings more astutely, resonating with others’ feelings and responding accordingly.

As their curiosity piques, they will bombard you with questions—a sign of their blossoming cognitive abilities. A sense of humor shines through, creating gleeful, laughter-filled moments.

Sleeping and Feeding Habits of a 4-Year-Old

4 year old development


4-year-olds need ample sleep, averaging 10 to 12 hours each night. This sleep isn’t just for resting—it’s important to their overall health and significantly aids their physical growth and cognitive development.

A daytime nap will offer that extra recharge to help keep their energy levels stable throughout the day. Most preschool and kindergarten classes offer naptime in the middle of the day or late morning.

As for feeding, anticipate them eating at intervals of approximately every two to three hours. Don’t worry if they sometimes declare they’re not hungry or eat just a little. Unlike adults, children eat in harmony with their bodies’ needs, meaning they are less likely to eat when they are not hungry.

Maintaining a consistent feeding schedule will help accommodate their small stomach size and continual growth and energy needs.

When preparing meals and snacks for your little one, remember to aim for healthy food. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and natural options. Avoid sugar and high-fat or overly processed snacks.

Common Behaviors and Nuances Parenting 4-Year-Olds

4 year milestones


One of the most astonishing 4-year-old milestones is blossoming into an independent, curious individual. You’ll notice a surge in imaginative play, a fondness for storytelling, and an ability to play cooperatively with others.

At this age, they are more assertive in expressing their will and getting testing boundaries occasionally. Attention span and focus improve, and they engage in more complex tasks. You may also witness a burst of self-centered behavior as your child’s awareness of ‘self’ begins to peak.

Embrace these transformations as they are key indicators of healthy development, even if they sometimes challenge your patience.

You might also notice that your little one has become a question-asking machine. The countless “why?” and “how?” questions might seem tedious and can occasionally drive you to distraction.

You must pay heed to their curiosity and provide answers as best you can. This active inquisitiveness is a vital aspect of their cognitive growth and a sign they are making sense of things and the world around them.

Demonstrating patience and taking the time to indulge their thirst for knowledge can greatly support their development, fostering a lifelong love for learning.

Helping Your Child Reach 4-Year-Old Milestones

preschooler children

Yuganov Konstantin/

The journey to help your child reach their 4-year-old milestones can be both rewarding and challenging. These tips may ease the process and boost your child’s growth in all areas:

  1. For physical and motor skills, incorporate playtimes that encourage creative movement. Set up obstacle courses with cushions and furniture for multilevel fun that furthers fine and gross motor skills.
  2. For cognitive development, engage your toddler in simple problem-solving activities. Jigsaw puzzles and shape-sorting toys can enhance their logical thinking abilities.
  3. To promote language and communication skills, maintain a robust conversation with your child. Regularly reading together can’t be underestimated as it nurtures a love for language, expands vocabulary, and builds listening skills.
  4. In terms of social and emotional development, allow for playdates and family gatherings. As they interact with others, they practice empathy, sharing, and turn-taking. Make time for pretend play—it is imaginative and pivotal in emotional development.
  5. Cultivate healthy sleeping and eating habits for your little one. Develop a consistent bedtime routine and aim for a balanced diet.

Constant love, encouragement, and patience from your side can foster their growth as they reach milestones at four years old!

4-Year-Old Development: How to Keep Your Child Safe

playschool children


As your 4-year-old develops and yearns for more independence, you must reconsider the safety of your child, first.

They will begin attending preschool and kindergarten, spending time away from home and in the care of others. This can cause some anxiety and nervousness in parents.

One way to combat this feeling and always know where your child is at all times is with the Findmykids App. The downloadable app allows parents to see where their children are while also allowing children to send alerts to their parents if they are in danger.

With the Pingo GPS watch, parents can track their little ones who aren’t old enough to have a phone too!

Download the Findmykids app for free right now or purchase a Pingo Track GPS smartwatch with a full app’s license included!

Developmental Delays in 4-Year-Olds

4 year old girl

Maria Symchych/

Understanding and recognizing these milestones is essential for you as a parent. It allows you to notice if your child might be experiencing developmental delays.

Sometimes, these delays might require simple interventions, like speech therapy. However, other times, they might indicate more significant issues.

Some signs of developmental delays include:

  • Avoiding playing with other children
  • Unable to say their full name
  • Shy, fearful, or aggressive behaviors
  • Separation anxiety from parents
  • Limited interests
  • No eye contact with others
  • Difficulty holding a crayon or pencil

By being informed and vigilant, you can identify any potential roadblocks in your child’s progress early and seek necessary medical or professional guidance.

Remember, although these delays can be worrying, many children catch up with their peers given the right support and time.

When to be Concerned About Developmental Delays in Your 4-Year-Old

fine motor skills for 4 year olds

Alena Zharava/

It’s crucial that, as parents, you become alert if your child seems to exhibit persistent difficulty in speaking, understanding, or executing instructions.

Similarly, if they have trouble forming sentences or if you notice potential issues with their hearing, immediate consultation with a pediatrician is advised.

These can be potential indicators of developmental delays in your little one that require professional evaluation.

Remember that early identification is key to setting the appropriate interventions and support. Don’t hesitate to seek help when these concerns arise.

Keeping Your 4-Year-Old on Track to Achieve Important Milestones

what should a 4 year old know

Dusan Petkovic/

Helping your child reach crucial milestones at the age of 4 is vital to their overall development. This stage lays the groundwork for their physical, mental, social, cognitive, and language abilities.

Engaging your child in activities that stimulate these areas can positively impact their growth, increasing their confidence and self-esteem. However, as parents, your role doesn’t stop at fostering growth.

Ensuring the safety of your child is equally critical. This means providing a secure environment for exploration, monitoring for any changes in behavior or development, and acting promptly if developmental delays are noticed.

Let these milestones be the guiding posts for your child’s journey into growing up, and balance your encouragement and assistance with love and protection!

If you found this article helpful in navigating your child’s 4-year-old milestones, share it with other parents to help them keep their kids on track too. 


preschool development


What is the normal behavior of a 4-year-old?

A 4-year-old typically is independent, curious, and enjoys interactive play. They may be prone to brief emotional outbursts but overall should exhibit cooperative behavior. Increased imaginative play, storytelling, and frequently asking ‘why’ exemplify their burgeoning cognitive developments.

What should my 4-year-old be able to do?

Your 4-year-old should have enough independence to get dressed by themselves, brush their teeth, serve food, draw a person, identify colors and shapes, recall stories, follow directions, count to 10, and play cooperatively with other children.

How does a child behave at 4?

4-year-olds are often very curious and imaginative. They can become assertive, especially as they yearn for independence while asking about the world around them.

What does the average 4-year-old do?

Average 4-year-olds will play, create, and ask questions. They will be active outside, playing games, running, and riding tricycles. They will make up stories and games with their imagination. They gain some independence through activities such as brushing their teeth and pouring their own water.

Is a 4-year-old a toddler?

4-year-olds are not considered toddlers. They are considered to be preschoolers.

Toddlers are ages 2 to 3 years old.

The picture on the front page: De Visu/

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