Four-year-old children

This is only an introduction, a basic guide to the characteristics of children between two and five years old. By no means all children are as described in this profile. Some take more or less time to acquire and master certain attitudes and behaviour. Please, let’s remember this as we read, so we can accept and help in the personal and unique development of every child.

* Move around with greater freedom, not needing a parent’s watchful eye so much. They have greater initiative and try to understand mysteries and do things by themselves. They can become frustrated when they realise they are still not fully autonomous. Regressions are expected at this age and developmental stage.

* Slowly begin to leave behind the egocentric perspective, recognising others as my friend, my brother, etc., and begin to understand their role within the family. They have a greater awareness of the past and their own history, showing interest in it. They distinguish between before and after, but spatial awareness is still mostly in the present, (this temporal process is completed in primary). Thinking is intuitive and related strongly to what is directly perceived. All this corresponds to an important stage in the development of an identity. Contact with other children is helpful since they can share experiences, play and resolve situations together, which favours development.

* Some fears may appear: darkness and imaginary beings. Greater awareness of death is acquired which can produce uneasiness or fear and reassuring answers are needed. Speculation about life and its stages also appear. Because of these uncertainties and other aforementioned characteristics of this age, they will sometimes show insecurity or the need to be on the defensive.

* Tend to play more with other children. They suggest taking turns but cannot always respect them. They include imaginary characters when they play alone. As they near five years of age there is greater participation in group games and more communication amongst those who play. Games with role-play and puppets are greatly enjoyed. This is a stage with a lot of fantasy games. (Things to take into account: when a child is in the Kindergarten stage they enjoy playing with parents or older children very much and this is essential for the development of their self-esteem and the formation of a solid emotional bond. Unjustified interruption of their playtime is not good and can lead to frustration and aggressiveness). They like picture books.

* Are talkative and noisy. Language is characterised by the endless questions in conversations. They like asking questions without necessarily caring about the answer. They have a sense of humour and like funny things.

* Can spend much more time at each activity.

* Recognise their mistakes, even though they soon repeat them. They demand their rights and understand the concept of an unfair action.

* Begin to recognise right and left. Whether they are right or left handed is not yet defined in all children.

* An interest appears about differences in sexual characteristics, reproduction and birth.

* Go on their own to the bathroom and need very little help. They can get dressed and undressed almost without help.

* Can make all kinds of movements with the body and jump in any direction. They cannot stay seated for long and still have no real awareness of danger.

We recommend stimulating creativity, free play and avoiding extensive periods in front of the television or video games. If the children have access to games on Internet, make sure that they are age appropriate and always be alert to the pages that can be opened or that may appear onscreen, since they may be harmful to the child. It is advisable to have the computer in a well-used area of the house to ensure greater control.