What, Why, How, Who and When The Independent 4 Year Old
As a parent of a 4 year old you are probably experiencing lots of questions about everything!
Why is the sky blue?
What is that you are using?
How does that work?
Who are you talking too?
When can we go to the park?
This is the age of wonderment and your child is becoming more aware of everyday routines, activities and their environment. It is important to answer as many of these questions as you can.Their communication skills are on the increase and they are interacting and communicating with more and more people.They are becoming more aware of their bodily needs and they are able to communicate these needs effectively. For example when they are tired, hungry or BORED!!
They need lots of mental and physical challenges and have endless energy levels. It is important that you as parents let them explore their environment, engage their imaginations, let them make mistakes and take risks.
They love to be responsible and help around the house with basic household chores like dressing themselves, feeding themselves and doing simple tasks around the house like putting their dirty clothes in the washing basket, setting the table for breakfast or dinner and putting their dishes in the sink or dishwasher after a meal. Maybe they could help unpack the dishwasher or help sort the washing.
Their cognitive skills in the lead up to school are increasing and they like to be challenged so lots of puzzles, games, songs and books are required to satisfy their learning needs. As the head towards 5 they are developing their independent learning skills and their literacy and numeracy skills are on the increase they love to count, sing the alphabet, write words especially their own name and they can retell stories they are familiar with.
Their drawing skills are coming along and they are drawing pictures that you can recognise.
Emotionally they are becoming independent and they are learning to self-regulate their emotions. It is important at this stage that you make sure you are role modelling positive language and conversations and that you are taking the time to listen to your child especially when they are talking about their feeling and guide them on how to manage these feelings.
In the childcare setting we often talk to the children about how certain actions or situations make us feel. We talk about what it feels like to be angry, sad, frustrated, unhappy or happy and we help them understand how to react when they are having these feelings. For example it’s okay to feel sad and miss mummy while you are at preschool, but she will be back later. It is important for their emotional wellbeing to validate their emotions.
It is a time to be firm but fair as they have a well-developed sense of right and wrong. As 4 year olds they will challenge the rules and as a parent this is a time to be consistent with your expectations and rules. Occasionally is better to ignore a situation or an undesirable behaviour and just get on with what you are doing than to get into a battle with a 4 year old.
On a positive note they love to be seen doing the right thing so lay on the praise when they are demonstrating behaviour or doing something good and they will love the attention and praise. Watch the chest puff out and the shoulders swell with pride!
Having a 4 year old is lots of fun, enjoy them as much as you can as it will not be long before they are at school 5 days a week and becoming more independent and not needing you, their parents as much.