4-year-old milestones: Development myths you shouldn’t believe

March 29, 2018
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    Your four-year-old kid is growing and learning every day, but sometimes it can feel like he is already set in his ways. You may have heard your friends share so-called “facts” about four-year-olds. Yet many of these are simply myths. Here are 10 common ones about four-year-olds that you should dispel the next time you’re with your pals.

     

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  • Myth: It’s too late to change a four-year-old’s behaviour.

    2 / 11 Myth: It’s too late to change a four-year-old’s behaviour.


    Truth: There is very little that is unchangeable about your four-year-old – you can still affect his behaviour, his social skills, his confidence, his attitudes and his relationships. Identify where you think changes should be made, then gently encourage him to develop in those ways.

    Related:  4 discipline mistakes to avoid

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  • Myth: A four-year-old will inevitably be jealous of his younger brother or sister.
    3 / 11 Myth: A four-year-old will inevitably be jealous of his younger brother or sister.

    Truth: Although 
sibling rivalry is common at this age, it is not inevitable. Much depends on how you encourage friendships between your four-year-old and his younger sibling. Make each
of your children feel special,
so that they aren’t jealous of each other.

    Related: 5 ways to stop sibling rivalry

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  • Myth: A four-year-old doesn’t understand the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie.
    4 / 11 Myth: A four-year-old doesn’t understand the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie.

    Truth: His moral understanding is not yet fully developed, but at this age
, he understands the difference between truth and falsehood, and he also knows that it is wrong to tell a lie. Always encourage him to tell the truth, no matter what the consequences.

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  • A four-year-old should only play with toys associated with his own gender.

    5 / 11 A four-year-old should only play with toys associated with his own gender.


    Truth: Children should be encouraged to play with a wide range of toys, from dolls to trucks. Anyway, you’ll find that his play interests change regularly and that what interested him last month might be of no interest to him today.

    Related: 8 smart toys and gear that boost your kid’s development

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  • Myth: A four-year-old should be able to read before he starts kindergarten.

    6 / 11 Myth: A four-year-old should be able to read before he starts kindergarten.


    Some children are able to read before they start kindergarten, and that’s fine. But any teacher will tell you it is more important for your child to be able to listen, to cooperate with his peers, to be independent with eating and hygiene, and to be able to ask questions.

    Related: How to prepare your child for reading and writing in Primary 1

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  • Myth: A four-year-old is too old to have an imaginary friend.
    7 / 11 Myth: A four-year-old is too old to have an imaginary friend.

    Truth: Although many children cease to have an imaginary friend by this age, others continue with their fictitious pal for a few more years. This is perfectly normal. The imaginary friend is simply a psychological mechanism that boosts a child’s confidence.

     

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  • Myth: The more activities a four-year-old does, 
the better.

    8 / 11 Myth: The more activities a four-year-old does, 
the better.


    Truth: Naturally,
 you want your child to take advantage of every opportunity that’s available. But if he has too much to do, he’ll become tired, unenthusiastic and bored. Choose a few activities that he can concentrate on, rather than overscheduling his leisure time.

     

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  • Myth: A four-year-old is too young to care for a pet.

    9 / 11 Myth: A four-year-old is too young to care for a pet.


    Truth: Raising a pet encourages your child’s empathy, sensitivity and responsibility. However, it’s probably best to let him care for a small domestic pet such as a goldfish or hamster, rather than a dog or cat, because these are much more manageable for him.

     

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  • Myth: If a four-year-old is not fully toilet-trained by now, he has an emotional problem.
    10 / 11 Myth: If a four-year-old is not fully toilet-trained by now, he has an emotional problem.

    Truth: Some four- year-olds are still not fully toilet-trained just because they are not physically and neurologically mature enough to gain control – but they will, eventually. Emotional causes of poor toilet control are associated with an older age group.

     

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  • Myth: If a four-year-old is left-handed, you should encourage him to use his right hand.

    11 / 11 Myth: If a four-year-old is left-handed, you should encourage him to use his right hand.


    Truth: Left-handedness is not a disability. Never force your child to use his right hand when his left one is dominant, as this could cause difficulties later on in other areas of development such as speech and reading.

     

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