4 Years Old

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Emotional and Cognitive Milestones

Emotional Milestones

Some 4-year-olds flip-flop from wanting to be independent and needing to run back into the security of your arms. It's best to have gradual transitions to new situations, especially in group situations like preschool and birthday parties. Linger until your child is comfortable in her surroundings, then say goodbye. Children this age can comfort themselves by picturing you in their minds when you are not with them.

Smart Strategy:

Don't force your child into a situation where she isn't comfortable, or tell her that she's acting like a baby if she gets upset when you leave. Empathize with her, so that she is able to verbalize her feelings about being apart from you.

Cognitive Milestones

Your child's vocabulary may include a whopping 1,500 words by year's end! He'll be able to speak in sentences of six to eight words and his speech should be clear enough that strangers can understand him. He can understand three-part directives such as "put the lid on the box", "pick it up", and "bring it to me." He will also begin to use "s" in verbs to show present tense (he runs, she eats).

Smart Strategy:

Reading to your child is a great way to boost his budding language skills. Books and stories help a preschooler add words to his vocabulary, make sense of grammar, and link meanings to pictures. Talking helps as well. Have conversations with your child -- especially at mealtimes and bedtime when things slow down and you can take the time to really listen to what he's saying.

Immunizations at this age:

  • 4 to 6 years - Fifth dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)
  • 4 to 6 years - Fourth dose of Inactivated Polio (IPV)
  • 4 to 6 years - Second dose of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
  • Depending on where you live, your pediatrician may recommend the Hepatitis A vaccine.


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