Your 4 1/2-year-old: Getting into scrapes

Your 4 1/2-year-old: Getting into scrapes

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Your 4-year-old now

Some preschoolers seem to do everything in hyperdrive, exploring their world with courage, curiosity, and speed. Watch a 4-year-old on the playground and you'll see someone with ever more confidence in her body and movements. She jumps over things, climbs stairs more confidently, and can catch and throw more accurately.

The downside of this newfound confidence is that it's paired with a less-than-fully-mature brain. Net result: lots of risky moves. Fours love tricks and stunts, and their judgment hasn't caught up to their new physical skills. And while they can follow directions more easily, they don't always remember them.

That's why 4-year-olds at play still need supervision, as well as plenty of reminders. Because they don't see the dangers that adults are aware of, it's important to set limits and talk about safety in very specific, concrete terms. Stress the importance of helmets when they bike. Go over water safety rules every time you step into a pool. You don't want to put a stop to any play that seems "wild." Just be aware that this is an accident-prone time, so keep your guard up.

Your life now

Do you ever find nutritious meals hard to prepare in a time-crunched life? Enlist your child's help! It might seem like a child underfoot would make mealtime prep take longer, and at first it might. But your four-year-old is increasingly capable of simple chores like tearing lettuce, stirring, or kneading dough. Kids who are involved in food preparation tend to be open to a wide variety of foods because they have pride and interest in the process of bringing it to the table. Try preparing extra dishes in the evening in order to speed up dinner preparation the next day — it's a great way to spend quality time with your child, too!

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