Curious And Fun

Your 4-year-old is full of energy, talkative and curious. He’s eager to show you what he can do. You and he will both be excited by his accomplishments. He constantly tests his environment and will waffle between feelings of security and insecurity. He may also be a bossy little tyke who makes up stories. You will experience emotional highs and lows with this age and each day will be a new challenge for both of you.

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Parenting your 4-year-old to love learning

Mom and four year old boy

Michelle LaRowe is an author and career nanny who received the 2004 Nanny of the Year award by the International Nanny Association. Her newest and fourth book is A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists. LaRowe says, "Parents can best encourage their 4-year-olds to love learning by providing lots of natural learning moments. For young children, the best learning is often done through play. Get rid of the battery-operated toys and shut off the TV. Set aside times for arts and crafts, singing songs, reading and creative, hands-on play."

LaRowe continued, "Capitalize on what they love and incorporate it into playtime. Does your child love flowers? Plant a garden together. Chart the growth of the flowers. Draw pictures of the garden and label the different types of flowers you planted. Doing so will encourage a love of learning and teach them that learning is indeed fun!"

More information on LaRowe's parenting tips and her books can be found at

Give your 4-year-old specific tasks

Mother of three children and educational consultant, Sara Lise Raff says, "Early childhood is a crucial time and can make or break a child's love of learning. As a mom, I try to provide wonderful opportunities for learning and I know it is very important for my 4-year-old daughter to receive encouragement from both my husband and myself. Children at this stage are looking for purpose. I try to give my daughter opportunities to be independent and practice real skills that have meaning."

"Children at this stage are looking for purpose."

Raff says, "I have made it a point to teach her how to make her bed, set the table and give her other tasks that demonstrate to her that what she knows and learns has an impact on our family. We try to choose schools and teachers that bring out the best in all of our children and make a conscious effort to reflect those learning techniques at home."

This is a critical age for building self-esteem. Let your preschooler know you're proud of his learning. Providing a warm supportive environment is the key. As your child discovers that learning is fun, he will be self-motivated. Your 4-year-old is building a foundation for school days which are coming sooner than you think. You want that foundation to be strong and filled with exciting learning opportunities that your child will embrace.

What's up for next year? Read about your 5-year-old's development >>

More tips on parenting 4-year-olds

SheKnows talks to Supernanny Jo Frost
Top 15 books for preschoolers, kids and teens
10 Educational activities for kids that are low cost or no cost

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Comments on "Your 4-year-old: Development, behavior and parenting tips"

rini April 07, 2014 | 5:58 AM

my son is very stubborn he becomes very challenging sometimes I don't know what is the best way to manage the situation. I feel very bad the way I shout at him but nothing changes him

manasi thakur April 06, 2014 | 2:49 AM

my son is just 4, is very imaginative,great story teller and intellegent. but he was very impatiance. never stop anywhere always jump here and there, want to do he want, never take care of his belonings. he has also no interest in writing and painting. but a great interst IQ and spelling and teacher say his fundamental clear. but never listen to his teacher and always in his mood. is his behaviour is normal.please help me.

Mia April 05, 2014 | 7:06 AM

People are coming here for help. That don't know what to do in certain situations and have tried various things. And when im reading all I see is judgement passed, instead of encouragement. Its probably the same in your household. Judgement instead of praise/assistance/encouragement. When you are needing help there are books out there that will help you. The key to it is consistency. Thing is, our children will do the things they see us do (but in kid form). We must look at ourselves in the behavioral situations. Understand our children's emotions and speak to the emotion. A book I have been reading that has really helped me change my thinking is "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk". Try this book, very inexpensive.

LORENA March 31, 2014 | 7:59 PM

i have a four yeaar old son he loves being called a chararcter from a movie or book he just seen and really liked, we went through a tiger, lion and hulk and now he wants us to call him a big bad wolf and he calls me red riding hood but he started having his preschool teacher call him that too schould I be concerned.

Justine January 19, 2014 | 7:24 AM

My little boy has just turned 3 and most of the time a little angel. From my experience, children are only naughty when they're bored. Mine is kept occupied from the moment he wakes up until bed time. Get them involved in house work or cooking, take them to the park to wear them out. Children aren't born naughty, if they're ignored, they want attention, Just like adults, right?

Sandi January 13, 2014 | 8:51 AM

My son will turn four very soon, he is the youngest of nine but this is a blended family his siblings are all grown. He is the only child at home. Because he has no siblings it is very challenging to keep him busy with things he can do, loves to be bigger then he really is. He picks up on everything and repeats words he hears in his own sentences. I am a stay at home mom for the first time so I realize I have not the patience I did with his sisters. He has as all four year olds do a behavioral problem, I'm trying to discipline with words and logic but it doesn't always work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Very independent and wants to do things himself and does not take no for an answer.

jeanne forsyth December 31, 2013 | 9:27 PM

my four year old daughter enjoys singing, playing with me when it is just us (i get on floor and pretend i am a horse or a unicorn, play with barbies etc.) and all the other things 4 year olds enjoy: playgounds friends singing dancing working with clay puzzles practicing letters (i do not push her) counting and of course READING BOOKS.i love this site and i am going to be giving her little tasks to do around the house to make her feel like she is an important member of the family.

M.A.Y. November 16, 2013 | 8:20 PM

Wow! I can't believe the things I'm reading here. I have a four year old and show him with words and with actions everyday how blessed I am to have him. Besides love I give him attention, I listen to him, treat him with respect, acknowledge his feelings, teach him, learn with and from him and most importantly I enjoy him. He will only be 4 years old for 365 days. Shouting, spanking, extreme feelings of frustration, not knowing basic milestones and behavioural development for your child have little to do with the child. It's our job as parents to learn, grow and develop into someone capable of guiding and teaching with love and patience the angel god has leant us.

Charlie November 05, 2013 | 5:16 PM

My son is 3 and a half, sometime some day not listens to mama and papa, just spanks here and there in the morning before get under control,

Cathy579 September 08, 2013 | 4:17 AM

I have a 4 year old son,He is very energetic. He is really sweet he listen to us most of the time. My Dad come and pick him up sometimes and stays with him 1 or 2 nights. When he came back home,he is acting up and want to stay more nights with my Dad and start screaming, crying.We decided not to let him stay with my Dad but he can come and visit my son.I need help if I should keep him at home because when he is in my dad house he always having fun and he can play all of the kids thats lives out there.My son always misses him. Please help

patricia rose August 14, 2013 | 4:04 PM

I thought i might actually learn something about my beautiful daughter that i don't know already. I have read thought some of the comments and to be honest i feel sick that you are treating your children with so much disrespect. Lisa and Valerie your a disgrace Jane you need to go to parenting course actually the whole lot of you should get off the internet and look after your kids.

Monique August 13, 2013 | 6:02 AM

When my daughter skyler throws a temper trantrum I throw one too and she stops immediately :) she must think Im crazy!!

rosi July 09, 2013 | 5:02 PM

@ faith, if my child does not react of normal adjustments such as asking or time out ect and is screaming and and not stopping the tamper tantrum at home I will take her into the shower and turn cold water on. it usually takes about 1-2 sec. for her to stop and this works . So far she is 4 years old and I needed it only 2 times.

Lisa July 02, 2013 | 7:51 PM

Valerie, I had the same problem with my son and it would go on for hours no matter what I tried. My friend nada similar problem with h now 8 year old son and what worked or her also worked for me.....since they almost seem like they can't help it and calm down, and for your own sanity since you will not convince them, tell them you are going to ignore them completely until they stop yelling and get back o a calm state. They may do some crazy things to get your attention (ie..pinch or even hit) but ignore them and keep washing those dishes or fold your clothes. It worked for us and mine gets the message now and is doing much better with his crazy tantrums. I hope it work for you

Valerie June 13, 2013 | 4:15 PM

My son throws temper tantrums to the point where he is screaming at the top of his lungs. Spanking does not work with him, putting him in the corner or in his room doesn't work, and taking toys away doesn't work. Im lost on how to get him to stop. Any suggestions would help.

Thelma Sawyer May 26, 2013 | 1:03 AM

My granddaughter turned four one ago. She is very smart and advanced for her age. On her last two visits, she has cried excessively when it is time for her mother to leave. And this child was very independent. Now she cries for her at night and is withdrawn from me. She moves away from reach but will allow my 27 year old daughter to comfort her. What could be the problem?

juliet May 10, 2013 | 2:02 PM

Hi my 4yr old son loves to sing,dance etc.i enjoyd with him but when his needs are not met he throw things away.i always say that "dont do it again its bad" but none of these things work.thats why im out of control i spanked him.he likes to play video games on wii,celphone,ipod maybe becouse of that he worsen!,.pls help me...

victoria February 25, 2013 | 3:23 PM

i think we need to show more patience as moms and ask God or higher power for help and compassion within ourselves. They are just kids and we need to love them no matter what

Carrie Payne February 15, 2013 | 4:09 PM

I have a little boy who turned four in October, he is funny, energetic, creative and very advanced for his age with writing and drawing. He sometimes tries to answer back or says with a huge grin on his face that he is going to hit us etc I think it is halarious. lovely age.

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