Research Tuesday: What happened to my sweet child?: Behavioral Milestones of a 4 year old!

Behavioral Milestones of 4 year old

My son tends to show most growth (meaning most changes in cognitive, motor, social skills and yes behavior) around his birthday and half birthday each year.  This is fairly standard development when researching typical development in young children. As I just finished re-researching behavioral milestones in a four year old I thought I’d share that with you today.  This is for all the parents out there asking themselves “What happened to my sweet child?” or for all the SLPs working with this age group who are scratching their heads trying to figure out why their client has recently begun to but heads with their adult ideas or activities.  What happened?  Well the good news is, it’s simply natural development.  Let’s check it out!

According to WebMD:

“Your self-centered child is now figuring out that it is not always about him or her. At this age, children are starting to understand about other people’s feelings. Your 4- to 5-year-old should be better able to work through conflicts and control his or her emotions. 

Emotional and social development milestones your child may achieve at this age include:  

  • Enjoys playing with other children and pleasing his or her friends
  • Shares and takes turns, at least most of the time
  • Understands and obeys rules; however, your 4- to 5-year-old will still be demanding and uncooperative at times
  • Being more independent
  • Still confuses make-believe with reality
  • Expresses anger verbally, rather than physically (most of the time)”

And now you are scratching your head trying to figure out what is happening with your child/client.  Why isn’t “Johnny” obeying rules?  Why is he so demanding and emotional when he does not appear to be given what he wants? addresses this phenomenon:

“Before you know it, the somewhat calm child of three becomes a dynamo of energy, drive, bossiness, belligerence, and generally out-of-bounds behavior. You may be reminded of the earlier trials and tribulations you went through when he was two.”

Does this sound more like your child/client?  Well great!  Because this behavior is STILL considered typical development!!! also lists a number of additional social skills changes and developments you may see between ages 4 and 5 yrs.  Your children or clients around this age:

  • show more independence — able to brush his teeth and get dressed by himself
  • may be more demanding but also eagerly cooperative
  • may be rude, or even tell you to shut up — the more you emotionally react, the more he will misbehave
  • wants to be liked and to please his friends and perhaps has a best friend which could be of either sex
  • knows about everyday things like food, money and appliances and the concept of time (time seems to develop throughout this year if it hasn’t begun already)
  • has little sense of ownership — possession means he views all things as his
  • has learned sympathy and sadness when someone or something is in pain — that is what he wants when he is in the same situation
  • shows a high degree of interest in singing, dancing and acting
  • brims over with imaginative ideas
  • tries to distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality
  • may like telling “tall tales”

So, the moral of this blog post is to just RELAX!  Don’t stress!  If you begin to see these changes, a bit more sass, more bossiness, even rudeness, telling “lies” or “tall tales”, guess what?  It’s actually developmental.  You, of course, begin the adult must determine the best way to teach your child more appropriate forms of communication but knowing this behavior means typical development should, hopefully, at the very least, put you a ease.  What did our mothers tell us growing up? “This too shall pass”?  I hate to admit it but, I guess they were right!

For more specific information on developmental milestones of 4-5 year olds, click on the links above.