advice

fun at four:
four year old development

Four year olds are generally curious and energetic little characters. They're beginning to take a real interest in the world around them and will be bombarding you with plenty of questions – some easier to answer than others! We've taken a look at some four-year milestones for you to look forward to.

two children playing on their bikes

wide-eyes

Four year olds are generally curious and energetic little characters. They're beginning to take a real interest in the world around them and will be bombarding you with plenty of questions – some easier to answer than others! We've taken a look at some four-year milestones for you to look forward to.

it’s playtime!

Your child will be getting the hang of day-to-day life and pushing the boundaries wherever they can, whether it’s learning a new skill (like writing or counting), or scrambling to the top of the climbing frame.

They'll also be getting a little bit more independent, maybe starting to dress and eat dinner all by themselves. Although that's not to say they might still get frustrated with the odd zip or button, or need a bit of help cutting up their food.

They may start wanting to play with other children, and be more in touch with both their own feelings and the feelings of others around them.

big dreams

Four year olds have very vivid imaginations, so it’s perfectly normal for them to be a bit frightened by the dark or be worried about monsters under the bed.

Nightmares are common enough, but they may also experience night terrors. Your little one may cry, scream and shout out in panic with their eyes open but without being fully awake. Your first instinct will be to hold them and try to wake them up but doing this can make it worse. Sit and gently talk to them until they calm down. You’ll probably find that they will fall straight back to sleep and won’t remember anything about it in the morning.

Night terrors are more likely to occur if your child is over-tired, ill, stressed or sleeping in a different bed. Make sure they're not overdoing it during the day and spend time on a soothing bedtime routine to calm them down. It’s a good idea to speak to your health visitor if it starts happening frequently.

little accidents

Many children are potty trained by the age of four, but some take a bit longer. If they’re not staying dry at night, it's probably because their nervous system hasn’t developed enough to trigger a signal to go to the loo. When they’re ready, maybe try going without a nappy. But in the meantime, reassure them that it doesn't matter if they wet the bed and let them know they're bound to get the hang of it soon.

By four, poo accidents are rare, but if it does happen it may be because they have become constipated or developed an unwillingness to go to the loo. Have a chat with your health visitor or GP who may prescribe a laxative to get things moving, and ensure your child drinks plenty of water and eats high-fibre food. Encourage them to sit on the loo after meals and before bed. It can take a while to break the pattern, but offer rewards (such as stickers or a star chart) and try to keep calm when accidents do happen.