Major motor skills

Developmentfour year old should be able to hop on one foot and stand on one foot for 3–5 seconds. Children should be able to go up and down stairs one foot to a step. They should also be able to climb ladders and trees, ride a tricycle and have increased ball game skills.

Fine motor skills

Children should be able to build three steps with six cubes after demonstration or occasionally from a model. They should be able to draw a cross shape after demonstration.


Question asking is at its peak, and children can use appropriate grammar most of the time. They should be able to name four primary colours and count up to twenty. As well as their full name and sex, they should now know their age and usually their address.

Vision and hearing

Children should demonstrate everyday visual competence for near and far.

Social achievements and play

A four year old is becoming more sociable and independent. They play cooperatively with other children, can take themselves to the toilet, can argue and are developing a sense of humour. A four year old should be able to dress and undress independently, with the exception of some back fastenings and laces. Caregivers will often report they like playmates of their own age and understand taking turns.

When to be concerned

Tell your doctor if a four-year-old child:

  • Is uninterested in play with others;
  • Is very aggressive or withdrawn;
  • Shows repetitive behaviours;
  • Cannot run, play or move as skilfully as other children of the same age;
  • Is not toilet trained;
  • Is unable to produce clear sentences; or
  • Cannot understand verbal instruction.

More information

Developmental milestones in childhood For more information on developmental milestones in childhood, including recommended health check-ups and childhood immunisation, see Developmental Milestones.


  1. Sheridan M. Birth to Five Years: Children’s Developmental Progress (2nd edition). Australian Council for Educational Research; 1997.
  2. Parenting and Child Health: Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service. Child development: 0-3 months [online]. Adelaide: Government of South Australia. 11 September 2008 [cited 31 October 2008]. Available from URL: HealthTopics/ HealthTopicDetails.aspx? p=114&np=122&id=1963
  3. Slater A, Hocking I, Loose J. Theories and issues in child development. In: Slater A, Bremner G [eds]. An Introduction to Developmental Psychology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing; 2003, 34-63.