What Does Turning 4 Mean? Developmental Milestones

My baby turned four yesterday. No. I’ll stop. I’ll say it again. My BABY turned four yesterday. Do you know what happens when a child turns four, aside from the obvious chronological differences? Look at his face from birth to age four, for starters:


Yes, the kid at picture “1” is the same kid as the rest of the pictures. Look at the chin and you can see it. I think he must have had the flash right in his face on that picture. I know you were thinking it, so I had to address it. I kept my child far away from the sun in year one. 

Anyway, according to the CDC’s developmental milestones chart, here’s what my 4-year-old should be doing right now: 


  • Enjoying new things (got it)
  • Playing “Mom” and “Dad” (does this some)
  • Becoming more and more creative with make-believe play (definitely)
  • Wanting to play with other children more  than by himself (yes)
  • Cooperating with other children (define cooperate…he’s more of an orchestrator)
  • Having a difficult time can’t telling what’s real and what’s make-believe (I’m not sure he has a difficult time with this, unless you count the monster in his closet)
  • Talking about what he likes and what he’s interested  (oh yes)


  • Has knowledge of some basic rules of grammar, such as correctly using “he” and “she” (need to work on pronouns)
  • Singing songs or saying poems from memory such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or the “Wheels on the Bus” (yup)
  • Telling stories 
  • Saying first and last name (CHECK!) +Middle name

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Names some colors and some numbers (got it)
  • Understands the idea of counting (yes)
  • Starts to understand time (eh- some)
  • Remembers parts of a story (yes)
  • Understands the idea of “same” and “different” (definitely)
  • Draws a person with 2 to 4 body parts (draws more than that)
  • Uses scissors (No idea)
  • Starts to copy some capital letters (yes!)
  • Plays board or card games (like a boss!)
  • Tells you what he thinks is going to happen next in a book (yes)


  • Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds (hop…hop…)
  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time (pretty sure he can)
  • Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food (fine motor skills are redonkulous)

And I say all this not to make anyone who doesn’t have this child feel anything in particular but just to demonstrate how very different two children in the same family can turn out. We struggled with the idea of whether to go for a second child and here we are with two very special, very different, but two very wonderful children with completely different developmental tracks. This one? He’s ahead in many areas. I suspect if I look at age 5, I could tick off some things he’s already doing. 

Squeaker, though? He made a 53 on his SRI Lexile today and that was the first time he didn’t make a 0, so we’re happy. Let me be a bit honest about whether I think the SRI Lexile really tells me his true reading level. Technically that means he’s still on a Kindergarten reading level, so no, I don’t. But it’s now a little closer to where I think he might be. So maybe that means something. He’s also doing well with telling time on an analog clock (because we still teach that even though we’ve all gone to digital time) and he did pretty well with money, but mostly with manipulatives at home. He knows how to count it, but the size/color of the money changes with the paper version of whatever worksheet and that throws him off a lot of times. Welcome to Autism. So yeah, their worlds might be different, and, yes, they’re on completely different trajectories, but I don’t discount the fact that the intelligence might just be locked up inside of Squeaker, whereas Big Guy can express his more easily.


As it turns out, turning 4 means completely different things depending on the child. 

The “Act Early” Signs according to the CDC are as follows: 

Act early by talking to your child’s doctor if your child:

  • Cannot jump in place
  • Has trouble scribbling (see if you can get your child to copy a couple lines you draw on a paper and that should tell you something)
  • Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe
  • Ignores other children or doesn’t respond to people outside the family 
  • Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet
  • Cannot retell a favorite story
  • Does not follow 3-part commands (Go to your room, get your socks, then bring them to me in the bedroom)
  • Does not understand “same” and “different”
  • Does not use “me” and “you” correctly
  • Speaks unclearly (and just FYI as a mom on this one – if a lot of people ask you what your child says and you can translate, but they’re asking a lot, I’d consider this one a red flag)
  • Loses skills he once had

[ctt tweet=”Love your child no matter what path he/she is on. http://ctt.ec/jagCH+ #love #family #disabilities @embracespectrum” coverup=”jagCH”]

Maybe you noticed something before your child turned four and you’re already on that different trajectory. Maybe you already know that 4 looks different for your child than it does to other children, and you already know that it’s okay. Maybe you just need to know that it’s okay for 4 to look different because your child is wonderful and beautiful too. Developmental milestones charts help us to figure out where our children should be along the “road” of life, but if you already know the milestones and looking at them everyday makes you perseverate like they did with me, stop looking at them and just enjoy your child. Once you know your child has gone off the beaten path, there’s no point making yourself sick (or those around you for that matter, which is what you’ll do if you keep looking at those charts). 

What Does Turning 4 Mean: Developmental Milestones

If so, take the time to list the 3 things you love most about your child or that you know your child does best.  Maybe follow that up with 1 thing gets you through every day–whether it’s your child’s smile, laugh, or even just the way your child eats crackers. Put them in the comments. Heck, do it no matter what path your child might be on. We all have those days where we need reminders, right?! 

Originally posted 2015-03-24 01:02:23.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.