5 Things Every 4 Year Old & Their Parent Should Know

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Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

What Should A 4-Year-Old Know?

If you're a dutiful mother, scouring the blogs, trying to make sure your four-year-old is learning everything they need to know ... you're NOT alone. And, most of the answers online probably only leave you more worried.

There are endless lists that bullet point what four-year-olds "should know." But when it comes to our kids, counting to 100, how many letters they recognize... What we should be telling each other is that ultimately, each child develops at their own pace and not to worry.

Every mother worries about their children. The worry we feel over our kids is a special kind of pain. It hurts differently compared to other kinds of worry. You worry if you're not doing enough, then if you're doing too much, basically the worry is endless.

There is no way to avoid this worry as a parent, but sometimes a friendly voice can help.

We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, is what you should worry your 4-year-old knows:

1.) That they are loved, wholly and unconditionally, ALL of the time.

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2.) That they are safe with you, but also know how to keep safe in public & with others.

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Your four year old should know that they can trust their instincts about people and that they never have to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. They should know their personal rights and that their family will back them up.

3.) How to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use their imagination.

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They should know that it is always OK to paint the sky orange and give cats six legs.

4.) That they're encouraged to have their own interests and to follow them.

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If they couldn’t care less about learning their numbers, parents should realize they’ll learn them soon enough and let them immerse themselves​ instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

5.) That they are worthy and having a fun childhood is just as important if not more essential, than learning phonics.

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They should know that they're wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. That it's just as essential to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that — way more worthy.

And, perhaps more importantly, here’s what parents need to know:

1.) That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

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2.) That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children.

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Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but Mom or Dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.

3.) That being a happy kid is WAY more important than being the "smartest" or "most accomplished."

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We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

4.) That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them.

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Most of us could get rid of 90 percent of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important — building toys like LEGOs and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too — to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

5.) That our children need more of us.

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We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not OK! Our children don’t need Nintendo, computers, after-school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

h/t | huffingtonpost.com

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