Normal Development: 4 Years Old

Each child is unique. While some behavior and growth milestones tend to happen at certain ages, a wide range for each age is normal. It is okay if your child reaches some milestones earlier and others later than the average. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, check with your healthcare provider. Here’s what you might see your child doing at 4 years of age.


  • Sometimes still acts like a baby.
  • Shows new fears (becoming aware of more dangers).
  • Enjoys silliness.


  • Refers to parents as final authority.
  • Continues to test parental limits.
  • Uses “naughty” words to see how others react.
  • Is ready for group activities.
  • Talks “with” another child, but does not listen to what other child says.
  • Is comfortable with other children, but shares grudgingly.
  • Tattles and name-calls.
  • Imitates adults.


  • Is more likely to solve problems through words than aggressive action.
  • Has a vocabulary of about 1,500 to 2,000 words.
  • Speaks in 4 to 5 word sentences.
  • Likes funny, exaggerated stories.
  • Can count to 5.
  • Identifies some shapes and colors.
  • Can understand some concepts of time (yesterday, today, and tomorrow).
  • Often asks “why” questions.
  • Usually can put toys and materials away without adult help.
  • Insists on finishing an activity or project.
  • Likes to help with simple tasks.
  • Starts to know difference between right and wrong.
  • Shows growing ability to tell real-life from make-believe.
  • Tells tall tales, but cannot always tell the difference between truth and lies.
  • Believes the only viewpoint is his or her own.
  • Believes 2 unrelated events can have a cause-effect relationship.


  • Hops, runs, skips, climbs with increasing skill.
  • Tires easily.
  • Is accident prone.
  • Likes making loud noises, but is frightened by unexpected sounds.
  • Goes to the bathroom without help, though may not wash hands.
  • Makes designs and draws recognizable objects.
  • Can use blunt scissors.
  • Dresses self, except for tying shoes.
Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-09-25
Last reviewed: 2013-09-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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