Ultimate Parenting Guide to Raise a 4 Years Old
4-year-olds are experts at pushing your buttons with their attitude and new habits. This parenting guide is all about understanding your Kids ages of 3-5 years because they are full of energy and have a curious mind, according to the author of the big book of parenting solutions. There is a lot to be excited for at 4-years-old. Kids are just about finished with kindergarten; they can speak rather well and make significant progress in physical development every day.
As parents, we always worry about teaching kids the right things and giving them the best tool to grow. In this article, we will give you resources for just that. We will discuss all the toys, learning activities and practices you should be doing with your 4-year-olds to help them improve on their existing skills and achieve some more milestones. But before we get into that, let’s have a quick overview of what your 4-year-old is capable of now
What are the Abilities of a 4-Year-Old?
According to the guidelines by the CDC, your 4-year-old can do the following in terms of milestones and capabilities:
- Educational: 4-year-olds can recognize colors, uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, matching objects of similar shapes etc.
- Physical: 4-year-olds have established spatial development. They can catch and throw a ball with precision, hop on one foot, climb stairs without railing support, hold a pencil and color within lines.
- Mental and Cognitive: kids at age four can understand time. They can easily copy a picture on the page after looking at it or from memory.
- Social: a 4-year-old helps out with chores, behaves well around strangers and guests; they have some ability to resolve simple conflicts with peers.
- Language and communication: 4-year-olds answer 3-level commands; have a good hold of grammar and singular and plural words, form stories by mixing imagination and reality.
- Emotional and psychological: kids at age four understands other peoples’ emotions based on facial expressions, empathy and visibly display love and friendship.
Continue reading as we discuss each of the aforementioned aspects in detail, along with the activities, toys and tools you need for a 4-years-olds healthy development
Educational Growth and Activities for 4-Year-Olds
Progressing in preschool
4-year-olds are close to the end of preschool so the basic learning such as alphabets, numbers 0-10, colors and shapes etc. are known to them. Some learning activities to do with kids to prepare them for the end of preschool and all that lies ahead are as follows:
- Reading: now that your little one knows the alphabets and simple words, it is time to start reading full sentences. Read with your 4-year-olds to encourage the habit. Phonicse. linking sounds to words is a tried and tested method of reading. Scholastic and videos by Kids academy, kids v life have tips on how to read with kids. Pete the Cat and the little house are books you can start with.
- Learning to work together: an important skill to learn for success in life is teamwork. Encourage involving siblings and peers in tasks so kids can learn to manage different opinions and be productive in a group. To teach teamwork, you can check out the school run, mom junction and crisis prevention for more ideas on learning activities.
- Anti-bullying lessons: it is natural to disagree with other peoples’ life choices but making fun of someone or making others feel less is never acceptable. Use this learning age to teach how to appreciate diversity by exposing to different cultures, showing appreciation for special needs kids, behaving politely to others who may have a different opinion than you and so on. org and childhood101 are resources for you to read about more anti-bullying activities. Play kids YouTube has read-aloud stories to teach kids acceptance.
Curiosity based learning
Parents of 4-year-olds tend to sign up the kids for classes or activities that work on reading, math and science skills. The society labels successful people as those who excel at such skills so it is only natural that parents want to give their 4-year-olds a head start. However, a scientific study states that preschoolers learn by experimenting with their curiosity and their ability to explore, instead of organized study times and preplanned lessons. Some learning activities you can do to promote curiosity-based learning in 4-year-olds include:
- Problem-solving: use everyday activities to encourage problem-solving. Ask simple questions such as ‘which shoe is for the right foot?’ or ‘How do I open the door when my hands are busy?’ Etc. big life journal and YouTube channel little kids games have fun learning activities to practice problem-solving.
- Let them guide you: kids are inherently attracted to those activities which are in their nature. Such as singing, painting, mathematics, sports etc. Pay attention to what they enjoy doing most and give them more activities for it. Parenting first cry and the book let the kid guide is a great read to learn more about kids’ education.
- Ask questions: It’s best to answer the questions your kid has, no matter how many, because their curiosity leads to a bunch of questions looming around in the head. Create a culture to appreciate questions and encourage them to rethink the usual ways of doing tasks. org and earlyyearseducators.co.uk have more tips about this approach.
STEAM is a single word for all the skills that 4-year-olds can work on for a healthy and successful life. For engaging kids in STEAM activities, it is best to do activities in groups, because kids are encouraged by other children according to a scientific study. Technology, science, math and engineering skills lay the foundation of all fields of work. Some learning activities to practice so you can improve your 4-year-old STEAM skills include:
- Practice Mathematics during the day: you can give your 4-year-olds simple math problems of subtraction and addition while doing daily activities such as while setting the table they can count the number of people in the house and take out the same number of plates. While they put away the toys they can practice subtraction. org, oxford owl and bright side videos are resources for at-home mathematics learning activities.
- Arts and crafts: to encourage creative thinking let loose when kids do arts and crafts. Give them paper, paint, kid-friendly scissors and other accessories so they can be creative however they want to be. Babbledabbledo, the spruce crafts and meri cherry have craft ideas suitable for 4-year-olds.
- Science experiments: at the age of 4 kids enjoy science. To keep them interested teach all the basic principles using experiments. Simple experiments to do at home include filling the ice cube trays and observing water turn to ice, watching the leaf blower work or playing with slime. Fun learning for kids and go science kids are resources you can check for more science experiment ideas.
Toys for Educational Growth and Learning for 4-Year-Olds
- Kids can use the talking microscope to observe tiny bugs or perhaps a piece of fruit to learn how the objects look in the microscope.
- The crystal glowing combo is a STEAM activity where kids can form crystals of different shapes, sizes, colors and display them in showcases included in the set.
- The magnetic building sticks uses technology, engineering, math and science skills to build a pyramid from colored sticks that join together with magnets.
Physical growth, Movement and Play for 4-Year-Olds
Now that your 4-year-old can kick a ball, maintain balance and swim, it is time to progress the level of sports challenges. Sports not only work on physical growth but also are a healthy way of releasing buildup energy in kids, according to research. Some sports that are beneficial for you 4-year-old includes:
- Gross motor skills: to work on large muscle groups introduce sports such as basketball, tennis and climbing playground structures. To teach basketball to kids, watch sports on TV with them and play hoops in the garage to practice. At this stage, the physical activity and improving motor skills is more important than the rules of the game. Take your 4-year-old to the park and encourage climbing on the monkey bars and the slides. com.au and puddle ducks have online tips and in-person lessons for you 4-year-old.
- Balance and Coordination: for balance and coordination, sports such as skipping rope, skateboarding or bicycle riding is the way to go. It teaches kids to navigate and coordinate various movements at the same time. Put training wheels on a bicycle and teach them to apply force on the paddles and press brakes to stop. For teaching your4-year-old these sports check out the PE specialist and skateboarders HQ.
- Spatial judgment: Baseball and rock climbing are challenging for 4-year-olds in a good way. Rock climbing improves hand-eye coordination, flexibility and endurance. Catching a ball helps kids follow the angle of a moving object. Take kids to the rock climbing gyms to safely practice their skills. Outdoor revival, the climbing guy and com are resources you can visit online to get started.
4-year-olds can eat by themselves which means they can easily grab a snack from the pantry as well. So you will have to pay close attention to their nutrition and make sure all the carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and micronutrients needed for the healthy growth of mind and body are being eaten. According to Mayo Clinic, foods your 4-year-old should be eating include:
- Breakfast: use breakfast to fuel up the kids for the day. Include healthy fiber, protein, dairy and fruits in the breakfast for your kid. Try oats topped with berries and a glass of fresh milk, fruit yogurt with powdered walnuts and almonds or classic eggs with toast and some milk. For more healthy breakfast recipes you can read woman’s day and yummy toddler food.
- Lunch: prepare vegetables in different ways to keep it interesting for the kids. For carbohydrates add rice and top that with vegetables, whole wheat crackers with carrots and a dipping sauce. Include meat in the form of nuggets, roast chicken or boneless stir fry. Try more recipes for lunch from the apps Whisk and All recipes.
- Dinner: make something easy to consume since kids are usually tired by dinner time. Try shrimp tacos for a balance of carbohydrates and proteins. Zucchini fries or grilled chicken sliders so they get a good amount of nutrition before going to bed. For more nutritious meals, modern parents’ messy kids and fusion cooking have great ideas for you.
- Independence in activities of daily living
4-year-olds are old enough to go to the washroom on their own or tell you when they need to go; but still, there will be a few bathroom-related mishaps throughout this age. Other than that kids benefit from some level of independence in activities of daily living such as dressing and cleaning up. Some tips you can use to give your 4-year-old freedom include:
- Dressing: 4-year olds are old enough to know what shoe goes on the right foot and how to put on a shirt. Granted they will make mistakes and you will have to help out but it is a task they can handle. In case your kid is not there yet, messy motherhood and psych mom have tips for you to get started.
- Go to the washroom: by the age of four, kids are mostly potty trained; they will inform you when they have to use the washroom and will be able to manage it with only the slightest help from you. No doubt there are going to be some wet beds now and then, but the days of diaper change are behind you. org and health day are online resources you can use to establish a good bathroom routine.
- Going to sleep: 4-year-olds are independent enough to put themselves to sleep especially if they wake up during the night. Chances are you only have to tuck them in once and they will go to sleep without much trouble. org and NHS.uk have tips to establish healthy sleep time routine.
Toys for Physical Growth in 4-Year-Olds
- The jungle gym kingdom has multiple handholds, knotting ropes and mounting hardware. Perfect toy for kids to introduce them to rock climbing.
- Little tikes T ball set is an adjustable batting practice tool for young kids that you can get to introduce them to baseball.
- The cutting fruits set works on fine motor skills and also gets 4-year-olds excited about eating fresh produce.
Cognitive and Mental Growth in 4-Year-Olds
4-year-olds have a vocabulary of about 1500 words. They can form sentences with 2-3 commands and describe the details of an object to you. Developing a basis of language awareness leads to a smooth transition onto the next years of school, according to scientific study. Some learning activities you can do to improve language skills for your kids include:
- Reading skills: multilingual children can understand and speak different languages but it is difficult for them to read. To develop the skills of reading; read aloud while they look at the words and match sounds. org has tips to improve your kids reading comprehension.
- Listening comprehension skills: listening to understand a language involves more than just knowing the words. Teach kids how to emphasize certain words and use facial expressions along with it by pointing it out in their TV shows or cartoons. Oxford learning and co have activities to improve language comprehension.
- Speaking skills: speaking fluently in one or more languages comes from practice. So have conversations with your 4-year-old by asking questions, listening to stories or talking to them during play time. The kids speaking ability has a lot to do with the development of the brain’s language processing region. The more you engage in conversation, the better comprehension they will develop. Or use apps such as Duolingo and Gus on the go.
- Brain and cognitive abilities
4-years-olds can notice and remember the details of different environments; they can relate sizes and weights of objects and recall details from their past according to research. Kids this age begin to understand their bodies and the limits of what kind of behavior is acceptable etc. Various brain-stimulating learning activities to practice for improved cognition of your 4-year-old include:
- Make them think: while going about your day, strike up a conversation that makes them think of something from the past or about what happened during the day. While putting the laundry away, ask them whose shirt you are holding etc. Horlicks and super baby have more ideas on brain-stimulating learning activities for kids.
- Engage in challenging tasks: instead of doing things for kids, try to get them more actively involved in doing challenging activities such as tying shoelaces, matching socks, counting cents etc. The book new science of learning and teaching is a resource you can get to learn more about this approach.
- Use games and toys: Play games such as I spy to stimulate your 4-year-old to look around and notice the details of the surroundings. Make an obstacle course in your yard or solve puzzles with your kids. Flintobox and org are online resources you can use for more learning activities for kids.
- Learning to lie
When young kids begin to understand social behavior, consequences and boundaries, they try to see the limit they can push it to. 4-year-olds lie to hide something, for attention, out of laziness and even sometimes to protect the feelings of other people because they see the adults doing the same. According to research, kids at age four are only beginning to understand the difference between lies and truth so don’t be too harsh in case your 4-year-old starts lying. Various learning activities you can do to promote truth-telling include:
- Find the cause: try to determine whether your 4-year-old is looking for attention or if he hiding something. If its’ for attention; ignoring it is the best approach according to Dr. Rouse. If the cause of lying is something else, have a conversation about how lies can be hurtful and damaging to others. com and the parenting junkie have more tips on looking for the cause of lying.
- Set consequences: teach your 4-year-old that lying is not going to get them anywhere and discourage dishonesty by setting consequences for lying. If your child spends extra hours watching screens and denies it later, perhaps take the screen privileges away for a day. More ideas to steer your kids towards honesty can be found at org and live on purpose.
- Label it: explain in detail what lying is. Any time they begin to tell a story that is not true or make excuses for whatever reason, call it out gently and allow them to start again. Suppose your child lies about finishing the apple you cut for him, tell him that you can still see a few pieces on the plate and say something such as ‘are you sure, maybe you want to check again’. Through your behavior show them that owning up to the truth is hard for just second but it helps establish trust between people. More resources for tips to stop kids from lying are au and very well family.
Toys to Improve Cognition
- Building blocks use blocks of different shapes, sizes and colors to stimulate a 4-year-olds brain.
- Rhyming puzzle helps with language building while solving puzzles by matching words, pictures and sounds.
- The IQ challenge set uses various tasks such as a simplified version of a rubrics cube to teach problem-solving to kids.
Social Skills Development in 4-Year-Olds
- Communication skills
4-year-olds can hold a simple conversation with you generally related to their toys or school activities or perhaps their favorite cartoons. The way a 4-year-old communicates is by asking questions, all the time and about everything. Various learning activities to do to further improve the communication skills of your 4-year-old are:
- Practice at home: simulate conversations they might have in public such as ask their name and how they are etc. This way your 4-year-old will learn to formulate questions and understand how to keep the conversation going. org and the app see.touch.learn are helpful online resources for communication skills practice.
- Encourage observation: when you talk to other people, have your kids observe and ask them questions about the way of communication afterwards. The best way to teach is by modeling it in your behavior. vic.gov and the app color slaps can be used to polish social skills.
- Nonverbal communication involves using hand gestures and facial expressions to convey a message or to emphasize certain words by the change of tone. You can use movies or YouTube videos to teach a 4-year old about nonverbal communication skills. YouTube channel everyday speech and the app articulation station can be used to lean nonverbal skills.
- Relationships with family and friends
4-year-olds can form personal connections with family and friends. By this age, they can recognize habits and likes or dislikes of the people around them. Relationship with peers begins to develop and it is largely influenced by their relationship with teachers and parents, research states. To help your kids become more social try these learning activities:
- Say Hi: encourage your kids to be confident enough to say hello to the people they meet, as it is a sure way to make friends. Take them to BBQs with other families, to the park or even the grocery store and politely greet others so they can follow your lead. org and empoweredparents.org have learning activities you can practice for social behavior.
- Help others: show your kids that a community works when people help each other. Take them to drop off things at goodwill and give money to the homeless in front of them etc. Sharing with duckie duck is a great app you can use to teach the kid to share and help others in need.
- Be kind: kindness and generosity towards others are social principles you can practice with your 4-year-old. Encourage taking turns when playing with friends, sharing a meal or a favorite snack, giving hugs and smiling etc. The app peppy pals Sammy helps out can be used to practice social behavior through fun learning activities.
- Sibling rivalry
Sibling rivalry is only natural for kids. When 4-year-olds begin to understand autonomy, they can be aggressive or dismissive towards their siblings’, especially a younger sibling. Humans are programmed to want their loved ones just to themselves, so in the case of 4-year-olds, sharing parents with other siblings causes their aggressive behavior, according to a scientific study. However, it is a learning curve and you must practice different activities to deal with this behavior:
- Make rules: Early on, make some rules for all the children to follow. Such as, set time limits for playing with toys or screens so every kid gets a chance to play and this will lead to less rivalry. org and positive parenting solutions have more tips you can practice in your home.
- Spend one-on-one time: kids fight with siblings for parental attention. If your 4-year-old has younger siblings he might feel less important and lash out towards the younger kid. So make it a point to spend quality time with your 4-year-old so he can know there is nothing to worry about. Check out org and your modern family for more ideas.
- Don’t get involved: when the kids are fighting or name-calling, don’t intervene and stop it right at that moment. Distract them with other activities perhaps and have a private conversation with your 4-year-old so he doesn’t feel embarrassed in front of his siblings. Some level of sibling rivalry is beneficial for kids to learn life skills and conflict resolution, but mark some limits such as physical abuse and name-calling that your child should not do for any reason. org and childdevelopmentinfo.org have more details about this approach if you want to give it a read.
Toys to Work on Social Skills of 4-Year-Olds
- Pet Vet is a toy that can help your kid learn emotions of compassion, patience and practice imitating a veterinarian so you can check their observation skills.
- Make a face is a fun activity to express different emotions using stickers on outlined faces.
- Friendship bracelet maker is a fun activity that your kid can do with friends to formulate a better relationship with peers.
Psychological and Emotional Growth in 4-Year-Olds
- Discipline, routine and structure
4-year-olds are beginning to understand how to entertain themselves and utilize their time. They require disciple, routine and a structure to their day. Staying busy in productive tasks throughout the day prevents the buildup of excess energy that can lead to frustration. Practice routine building learning activities with your 4-year-old so that they can manage on their own later on in life.
- Set a routine according to the child: some kids are morning people; others not so much. Allow your kids some leeway to wake up an hour later if that works better, or perhaps have a different dinner time than other kids. Remember the routine will work only if the kid is on broad and nothing is forced. Practice waking up, brushing teeth and making the bed etc. at the same time every day. Create a rhythm so it’s not a chore. net and our daily mess are great resources on how to create an effective routine.
- Stay consistent: once you make a schedule or a structured plan then stick to it. Don’t be too lenient with the routine because kids will end up being frustrated due to a lack of structure. Meaningful mama and au have activities on how to maintain consistency in behavior.
- Plan: if you are running late because kids meals are not ready or your alarm didn’t go off then that is going to translate into your 4-year-old as well. Maintaining your routine is important for their discipline. Mom grows up and my home tricks have tips on planning ahead with kids.
- Praise your child
While kids are young, parents are focused on the negative aspects of their personality and behavior more than the positive ones. Because all parents realize that this is the time to form good habits and they do not want any bad habits to develop. However, this practice leads to kids’ being underappreciated. Encouraging wining and praising kids is vital for good psychological health:
- Use positive constructive language. Instead of saying ‘Good job’, use encouraging words for example; you helped me bring groceries so thank you. They will understand how their behavior affects others and it contributes to healthy emotional growth. edu and wellan.org have activities you can practice for more constructive language with your 4-year-old.
- Sportsmanship attitude: win or lose; we can always learn something from both situations. Teach kids to appreciate the loses as well and congratulate the winner. This creates a healthy competitive attitude that will go a long way. org and today parent have activities to practice for developing gratitude in kids.
- Tell them why: praise kids for all their small and big accomplishments and explain to them why they are being praised. If you like the way they cleaned up the toys, so say that ‘I love how you cleaned up today’ instead of a simple ‘good boy’. com and highlights have informative tips on how to explain to kids and praise them the right way.
- Time to explore themselves
You may have noticed parents signing up their young 4-year-olds for a dance lesson, soccer practice, piano training and so many more activities. Although it is good to encourage participation in all fields for overall healthy growth, however, kids this age discover what they like or what comes naturally to them through unstructured activities.
- Don’t put too much on their plate: Don’t sign them up for too many classes that they don’t have time to focus on their inner voice. Give your 4-year-old toys and freedom to do activities of all kinds and let them discover their passions this way. org and bright horizons have learning activities to let kids safely explore their likes and dislikes.
- Unconditional love and support: at times your kid might not be interested in the kind of activities you want them to do. No matter what they choose, show your support and let them know it is okay. If your son wants to take dance lessons then encourage it. edu and whole wide world toys have activities to do with toddlers to show them your unconditional support.
- Encourage expression: motivate your kids to express themselves and not be shy. If your kid is a performer, set up a stage in the living room so they can perform in front of the family. Laugh at the jokes of your little comedian and appreciate the drawing of your future artist. org and institute 4 learning have activities to practice so kids can freely be themselves.
Toys for the Emotional Growth of 4-Year-Olds
- Dolls are great to stimulate emotions in kids. Pretending to take care of dolls, putting them to sleep and entertaining those goes towards emotional growth.
- My first career gear is great for kids to experience different personas and create an imaginary play with all the costumes.
- Language emotion cards can be used to have conversations about different emotions displayed on the card and also used to recognize different emotions.
The Bottom Line
4-years-old kids are impressionable. They are beginning to form deep friendships and understand the world around them so it is important to practice mentally, emotionally and physically developing activities so they grow to be confident, smart, active and kind adults. Otherwise, some kids develop tendencies that make them harsh and insensitive or they can become bullies.
The above mentioned ultimate guide for parents has all the key components that parents should work on with their 4-year-olds to help them grow in all aspects. So follow the tips and the resources provided to bring a positive change in your 4-year-olds development!