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Child development is one of the biggest areas of study in psychology. The early years of a human’s life which arguably are the defining years have been the center of interest for a long time.
Age four just like all ages in a child’s life has its own set of changes which should occur both physically and mentally.
During this age they basically add onto their previously gained strength and intellectual ability and take all the basic activities they learnt how to do at age four to a more advanced stage.
Those intellectual and physical abilities help to improve their social skills which develop drastically during this age. To be more precise about these changes they are split into five categories which we are going to discuss:
Between the ages of four to five, there is evident physical growth, from the growth of muscle to strengthening bones. Children become even more active than in earlier years and it is important for them to have spacious areas both indoors and outdoors for them to let their energy out. But also important is that they receive a good amount of rest as they tire easily.
They begin to understand the concept of movement and space as they navigate, learning how to easily change directions and to avoid bumping into others. Their coordination abilities increase and they become fascinated with the results they receive when performing an activity like kicking a ball in a certain direction.
Their hand-eye coordination becomes more accurate allowing them to play with toys such as Lego, building block structures and puzzles. And all the small things they start learning during their third year become better, so they should be able to feed themselves with a spoon without spilling, and use tools like pens and pencils to create clearer shapes, and people figures of at least four parts. It is also the age when children start showing preference to being left or right handed.
The lingual abilities of kids keep developing, and throughout age four they obtain a large vocabulary of 1500-2000 words, that is mainly because they start getting interested in new words which they initially view as ‘new sounds’ and they become fascinated and willing to learn. Along with the appropriate words they tend to learn and repeat a lot of inappropriate words which should be ignored by parents.
Their curiosity becomes more urgent and therefore their questions increase, about almost everything and they seek for accurate detail. It is in the best interest of the child to receive answers, which means parents ought to be patient.
Their imagination also grows, and they indulge in the fantasy world, creating imaginary friends with which they might interact. It is important that if such fantasies are mentioned they do not get ridiculed by adults.
Their active imagination often leads to nightmares which should be handled by parents by empowering the kids with tools to fight their fear, like telling them that when the say “Freeze” the ‘monster’ will stop chasing them.
During this age Children start learning how to deal with their emotions from parents and adults. They model what they see from the way their school teacher reads to the way their mother reacts to a problem. Their confidence starts growing and they concentrate on themselves and their families, as they learn to express things in self-terms and differentiate their own wants and needs from others. For example a child will start saying phrases like “I like ice-cream, “I want to go to school” and are usually boastful when referring to self or family.
They also start understanding the causes behind feelings and how different people feel differently about the same thing; they realize that what they want is not necessarily what others want.
They start testing people to see who can be controlled opposed to who can’t. So they will often ‘threaten’ people with phrases like “I will tell my mum when she comes home”, and they exhibit a great deal of name calling and demanding.
Their social life increases between ages 4-5 as coping with new situations becomes easier for them. They have an easier ability to join groups of kids, and they can engage in games and role playing and suggest ideas for the story like “We will be a family having lunch” and even go into greater detail like “I will be the mother, you can be the father”.
Their sense of ‘friendship’ starts formulizing and they bond with certain peers and can have a close friend. They try to please their ‘friends’ and learn how to find ways to get their approval, like purposely asking them to join an ongoing game.
Their emotional connection with people becomes stronger as they start sympathizing with emotions displayed in front of them like someone crying, or upset. The will also try to be helpful suggesting ideas which they think will make the person feel better.
Their sense of right and wrong is heightened and they understand when they have made a mistake. They also start understanding the implications of it, for example knowing that they will be punished for painting on the wall. Due to that they learn how to put the blame on others when they find an opportunity to avoid the consequence.
Conclusively this stage is freeing for the child in many ways as they possess the physical freedom to do more, they linguistic abilities grow allowing them to express what they feel and their social interactions increase. It is important that through this stage children have a social network, like pre-school peers, and family friends with kids, to allow them to explore their new skills, test them and improve them.
It is also important that parents be patient, and always see things through the child’s perspective before applying the appropriate punishment for the child’ s wrong doing. This way they will allow them to explore the world the way they see fit and also guiding them through it by teaching them right from wrong.