Developmental charts

While each child grows and develops at her own pace, her overall development follows a pattern. Here you'll find some of the developmental tasks and milestones for preschoolers, 3 and 4 years old.

Development | 3 and 4 year olds

Developmental stage

This is the thinking stage, a time when it's important for your child to keep practicing earlier tasks as well as to:

  • manage emotions—start to cope with feelings and emotions
  • develop empathy—understand and care about other people's feelings
  • take initiative—plan and act on his own thoughts and ideas
  • feel capable—develop skills to do more and more on his own

What to expect


  • eats with a spoon and fork
  • dresses and undresses self
  • balances and hops on 1 foot
  • throws ball (underhand and overhand)
  • walks in a straight line, forwards, backwards and up and down stairs
  • climbs on things (e.g., trees, furniture and playground equipment)
  • kicks balls
  • uses paints, scissors, pencils and crayons to create shapes and faces
  • develops bladder/bowel control day and night
  • does simple chores with some help and direction

Cognitive (learning and thinking)

  • asks "Why?"
  • uses longer sentences for more detailed stories
  • talks about the past and future
  • shows improvement in grammar
  • starts to understand the difference between real and imaginary
  • listens to and understands short stories
  • sings simple songs and recites rhymes from memory
  • has a very active imagination and tells short stories


  • is more able to identify and name own feelings
  • uses words more often to express feelings
  • fears real things (e.g., the dark, animals and thunderstorms) and imaginary things (e.g., monsters and ghosts)
  • exaggerates the truth
  • likes to talk about body functions
  • develops a sense of humour


  • begins to share and take turns
  • hits less, name-calls more
  • likes playing with other children
  • uses imagination and themes in pretend play
  • may have an imaginary friend
  • likes to talk
  • enjoys group activities and games
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