Like all parents, you are concerned about your child's development. Is his development on time, advanced or slow? If you feel concern or worry that something is wrong, it is better to confront it rather than be in denial. It is important to remember that your child is an individual and will mature at his own rate of speed, in the parameters of average developmental markers. A professional can determine if a 4-year-old is up to task with cognitive development by comparing a child's maturity against the appropriate developmental markers.
According to the CDC, standard developmental markers for 4-5 year old children include the following:
- Your child reaches for more independence while exhibiting more self-control.
- He can problem-solve now and maintain sustained periods of focus.
- He can hold images longer and stick to problem-solving.
- When your child is upset, or feeling out-of-control, he is more able to tell you how he feels.
- Cognitive language and social development are displayed through more complicated language, vocabulary, and logic. For example, he is able to recognize abstract ideas such as time, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- He exhibits a sense of humor and delights in rhyming words.
- He can count past 10, identify colors, shapes, and letters.
- He may be starting to read.
- He can perform simple tasks with ease such as brushing his teeth, taking a bath, and getting ready for bed, as well as handling eating utensils.
- His motor skills are developing and at this stage, he can start to use a safety scissor, while copying and cutting out shapes, and drawing a whole human figure.
Parents, it is important that you know your children. If they are not reaching the developmental markers, then your child's pediatrician should be the next line of defense. Have a good general work up by a professional to make sure your child isn't having any developmental delays.
If your child has developmental delays, here are some remedial activities I recommend that you can do with your children:
- Read with your children often, and create a print-rich environment;
- Talk with your children using complex language;
- Encourage your children to play with blocks;
- Practice counting objects with your children;
- Have your children practice drawing and cutting out symbols and objects such as triangles, circles and squares;
- Categorize and sort colors and objects.
When necessary, your pediatrician may recommend medical intervention including a particular specialist that is aligned with your child's deficit, such as seeing a speech therapist for speech delays.