Child development and milestones: your 48-month-old

Here's all you need to know about a four-year-old child's developmental milestones and red flags...

So, your child is now four (48 months old). What an exciting age this is! He has just stepped out of toddlerdom and is raring to explore his world and try new things.

Notice his newfound confidence? Your little one is getting more independent and assertive by the day.

In fact, “I can do it myself!” is one phrase you are going to hear more often…

Let’s take a look at some common four year old child developmental milestones your little one will most likely achieve this year. Do remember though, that these are just guidelines. Every child is different and will do things at his or her own pace and time.

Four Year Old Child Development and Milestones

Daily Skills

Following Routines

Your child is able to understand the passage of time. He now knows that after night comes morning, and after today comes tomorrow.

He is also able to comprehend routines. In fact, four-year-olds love the security and structure that rules and routines offer.


Try to stick to a daily routine as far as possible. And be vocal about it. For example you could say something like, “After dinner at 7 o’clock, let’s read those books we borrowed from the library. We’ll go to sleep at 9 o’clock.”

Loving Independence


four year old child development

Four year old child development: Your little one is all grown up now!

Your child is more and more impressed with his skills now, and he can’t wait to do all his “chores” himself.

Expect him to push you away with an “I know how to do it!” when you try to get him dressed or pop a morsel of food in his mouth. 

These are precious times indeed. Your child is slowly coming into his own. Encourage his confidence and give him more opportunities to hone his skills.


  • Your child might want to brush his teeth by himself. But at this age, he might not be able to clean his teeth properly. Make sure you do some finishing up for him.
  • The little one might still be frustrated by buttons, zippers, and shoelaces. While these are great for his motor skills, you might want to give his confidence a boost by mixing things up a bit. He will definitely love those pants with elastic waistbands and Velcro shoes.
  • Your independence-loving child will love “making” his own breakfast. Let him pour out cereal and milk on his own. Try not to fuss over the mess.

Social and Emotional Skills

Your child is starting to enjoy his interaction with other children. You might be surprised to see him sharing and taking turns. Of course, there will still be demands and the occasional tantrum — but there will be a huge improvement in his social skills compared to, say, last year. 

As he grows older, he is now also able to empathise and understand others’ feelings better. And because he can talk a lot more, he is now able to express his own feelings verbally.

Here are some social and emotional milestones at this age:

  • Enjoys doing new things
  • Enjoys make-believe play
  • Would rather play with other children than by himself
  • Cooperates with other children
  • Talks about his likes and interests, expresses emotions verbally
  • May not be able to distinguish between real and make-believe


  • Help your child name his feelings: “I know you are sad about not being able to meet your friend today.” Empathise with his feelings no matter how trivial they may seem. He should feel comfortable about sharing his feelings with you. Give hugs.
  • Model empathetic behaviour. Children see, children do. Also, compliment him when he displays empathetic behaviour.
  • Meltdowns and tantrums are bound to happen, but be firm about your rules. Consistency helps a child know what to expect. It helps him to regulate his emotions better.

Gross Motor Skills

four year old child development

You’ll see a huge improvement in motor skills as part of four year old child development.

Your four-year-old must be playing a lot by now. That includes running, hopping, throwing and kicking balls, climbing — that’s one active child you have!

Here are some gross motor skills your child should have by now:

  • Hops and stands on one foot for up to two seconds
  • Walks up and down stairs without assistance
  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time
  • Walks forward and backwards easily
  • Peddle a tricycle
  • Copy a cross, triangle, circle, square, and other shapes
  • Draw a person with a body
  • Stacks 10 or more blocks
  • Pours and mashes own food


  • Drawing, cutting, and stringing beads are activities that can strengthen those small muscles. Working with clay, and making shapes helps too.
  • Building blocks and Lego are a great way to develop his imagination and work his hand muscles.
  • Nothing is out of reach for the curious child. So make sure your home is safe by keeping pesticides, medicines etc in locked up cabinets.

Language and Cognitive Skills

four year old child development

Make reading an important component of four year old child development.

Your child is learning fast! He loves singing rhymes and listening to stories. Expect him to even make up a story or two!

He can now count, and loves identifying shapes and colours.

This is a good time to enroll your child in a class or kindergarten. He will enjoy learning new things. He will also learn to respect rules and socialise with other kids.

Here is what most children can do by this age:

  • Speak clearly enough for strangers to understand
  • Can say full name
  • Sing a song or rhyme from memory
  • Understands the idea of counting; may count ten or more objects
  • Correctly name some colours and shapes
  • Recognise some letters
  • Can understand the concept of time and the order of daily activities, like breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and dinner at night
  • Have a greater attention span
  • Follow three-part commands; for example, “Put your book away, brush your teeth, and go to bed”


  • Read, read, read! Your child is learning new words every day. The more you read books to your child and engage him in conversation, the more practice he has with language. Point to words as you read.

Also, help him think, by asking questions about what’s happening in the story. He might even surprise you with his version of what’s going to happen next!

  • Sing rhymes together. Pretend play and playing out scenarios with your child is another great way to promote vocabulary development.
  • You can also help him make comparisons, like big and small, tall and short.
  • Play the sorting game at home. Four-year-olds love to sort! Watch him have fun sorting by colour, shape or object. You now have someone to help you sort the laundry.

Four Year Old Child Development: When to Be Concerned

four year old child development

Like we said, all children grow and develop at their own pace. Still, you might want to consult your child’s doctor if your four-year-old shows these possible signs of developmental delay:

  • Cannot jump in place
  • Does not speak clearly
  • Does not follow three-part commands
  • Cannot grasp a crayon between thumb and finger, and has trouble scribbling
  • Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe
  • Ignores other children or does not respond to people outside the family
  • Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet
  • Does not use “me” and “you” correctly
  • Loses skills he once had

We hope this article on four year old child development is useful in keeping track of your little one’s milestones! 

Source: CDC, WebMD