Developmental Milestones: Age - 4 years

— Medline Plus
Updated on Nov 12, 2009

Alternative Names

Normal childhood growth milestones - 4 years; Growth milestones for children - 4 years; Childhood growth milestones - 4 years


There are skills and growth markers expected in a typical 4-year-old child. These milestones are physical and mental developments considered normal for this age group.


Physical and Motor

During the 4th year, a child typically:

  • Gains weight at the rate of about six grams per day
  • Grows to a height that is double the length at birth
  • Shows improved balance
  • Hops on one foot without losing balance
  • Throws a ball overhand with coordination
  • Can cut out a picture using scissors May not be able to tie shoelaces
  • May still wet the bed (normal)
Sensory and Cognitive

The typical 4-year-old:

  • Has a vocabulary of over 1500 words
  • Easily composes sentences of four or five words
  • Can use the past tense
  • Can count to four
  • Will ask the most questions of any age
  • May use words that aren't fully understood
  • May begin using vulgar terms, depending on their exposure
  • Learns and sings simple songs
  • Tries to be very independent
  • May show increased aggressive behavior
  • Talks about personal family matters to others
  • Commonly has imaginary playmates
  • Has an increased comprehension of time
  • Is able to distinguish between two objects based on simple criteria such as size and weight
  • Lacks moral concepts of right and wrong
  • Is rebellious if expectations are excessive

As the parent of a 4-year-old, you should:

  • Encourage and provide the necessary space for physical activity
  • Instruct the child how to participate in, and follow the rules of sporting activities
  • Encourage play and sharing with other children
  • Encourage creative play
  • Teach children to do small chores, such as setting the table
  • Read together
  • Monitor both the time and content of television viewing (preferably less than 1.5 hours of TV, no more than 3 hours maximum)
  • Expose the child to different stimuli by visiting local areas of interest

Update Date: 10/26/2006. Updated by: Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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