4 – 5 years social and emotional development

Your four year-old is just about ready to launch himself on the world. He’s a million miles from the baby he once was and even his toddler years can seem light years away. But while he may seem to be raring to go, he still see the world as a big and complicated place, so don’t be surprised if your Mr Confidence suddenly needs a reassuring back rub and a kiss.

As a fully fledged member of society, he has a growing group of friends and is now able to play in groups. He may alternate between extreme confidence and timidity, so he needs you to set clear boundaries and have a familiar routine firmly in place which he can emotionally fall back on.

Developmental milestones include:

  • Being sympathetic to those around him
  • Making new friends and being involved in the organisation of games
  • Leaving his parents without too much fuss.
  • Self-toileting

What can I do to encourage his social and emotional development?

  • Tell him stories about your childhood, or about when he was ‘little’.
  • Watch home movies with him – he’ll be fascinated to see his younger self.

Signs there could be a developmental delay include:

  • Not being interested in interacting with other children
  • Not being interested in what’s happening around him


All children are different and develop at different rates, so don’t be overly concerned if your pre-schooler is acquiring new skills at a different rate to those around him. But if you are worried about his development, or it seems to have stalled or be going backwards, talk to a health professional.





This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot New Zealand. Sources include SA Government’s Parenting and Child Health and ABC Parenting

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