Parents Need To Stop Doing These 20 Things When Toddler Turns 4 (According To Doctors)

Four is a magical age. This is definitely when toddlers start acting more like little people and really showing who they are. While a two-year-old is still super young and needs a lot of help from their mom, a three-year-old can do a lot more things on their own. And when a child has their fourth birthday, it can honestly seem like they are a tiny grown-up. Moms might be amazed at how much their little one has grown up recently.

There's no doubt about it: Four-year-olds are cute, and moms share many funny moments with them. Even celebrity moms have some awesome stories of having kids of this age. When Kristen Bell's daughter wanted her to dress up as Elsa from Frozen for Halloween, it was an amazing moment since Kristen Bell is the voice of Anna in that film.

Four can be a bit of a confusing age because a child is still little but is acting much more independently than they were before. Moms need all the advice that is available for this important age, and thankfully, doctors are here to provide it. Moms are advised to take kids to the doctor for a "well-child check-up" at this age.

Here are 20 things that parents need to stop doing when toddler turns four, according to doctors.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

20 Making Kids Eat New Foods They Don't Want To Try


What's a mom to do when their four-year-old doesn't even want to try the pasta with kale pesto that they made for dinner... or anything that resembles a vegetable? According to doctors, moms shouldn't make kids eat new foods that they really don't want to try.

According to Kids Health, moms should heed this advice: "Schedule three meals and two nutritious snacks a day. If you have a picky eater, keep offering a variety of healthy foods for your child to choose from. Kids should be encouraged to give new foods a try, but don't force them to eat them."

19 Still Scheduling Daily Nap Time


When their toddler turns four years, moms should also stop scheduling their daily nap time. This might sound strange because don't little kids need naps?

Actually, four-year-olds don't necessarily need a nap. Kids Health says, "Preschoolers sleep about 10–13 hours a day. Many 4-year-olds have given up their afternoon nap, but be sure to schedule some quiet time during the day."

That last part is key here. Moms can take that advice and make sure that their four-year-olds are looking at a book, doing a puzzle, coloring, or doing another calm activity during the time that they would normally nap.

18 Changing Up Daily Routines


When a mom has a four-year-old, she should also stop changing up any daily routines. While adults often get tired of the same old, same old, which is one reason why going on vacation or traveling can be so nice, four-year-olds don't feel that way.

As WebMD says, kids of preschool age need things to feel the same. The website quotes author and pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann who said that kids this age need "consistency". She said, "If sometimes you let them do something and sometimes you don't, they don't understand." Even if moms think that switching things up would be fun, this doctor says not to do that.

17 Being Lax About Potty Training Or Not Working Hard Enough On It

Good Night Sleep Site

Some moms shrug at potty training because it was no big deal and the child passed with flying colors. Other moms shudder because it wasn't an easy time at all.

When a toddler turns four, doctors' advice is that moms should make sure that their kid is potty trained. By this age, moms want to stop being lax about potty training or not working super hard to make this happen.

As Kids Health says, "By 4 years old, most kids are using the toilet. But many preschoolers who are potty trained during the day are not able to stay dry all night. It's also common for busy preschoolers to have an occasional daytime accident. Look for signs of 'holding it' and encourage regular potty breaks. Talk to your doctor if your child is not yet potty trained or was previously trained and is now having problems."

16 Spending All Their Time With Their Kid And Not Encouraging Them To Have Friend Time


After a mom's child has had their fourth birthday, they should stop wanting to spend all of their time with their kid. Instead, a mom should definitely encourage her four-year-old to have a friend.

As Healthlinkbc.ca says, moms with kids this age should look at their "emotional and social development." The publication continues, "Between the ages of 2 and 5, children gradually learn how to manage their feelings. By age 5, friends become important."

There is nothing cuter than a bunch of four-year-olds playing together and chatting. Moms will definitely love seeing their kid make friends and will see that it's good for their kid to have a social life now.

15 Swapping Outdoor Activity For Indoor Screen Time


Healthlinkbc.ca also tells moms to make sure that kids are getting some movement into their days. By the time a kid is four years old, moms definitely need to stop trading outdoor time for indoor screen time. Even if a kid is asking for the iPad and seems really upset, moms can stay strong knowing that running around and playing sports and even just walking around the neighborhood is a better idea.

As Healthlinkbc.ca explains, "Make time for your child to be active. Limit TV and computer time to less than 1 hour a day for children 2 to 4 years old and 2 hours or less a day for children older than 4."

14 Speaking For Their Kid And Not Having Kids Speak About Their Own Experiences


It's adorable when little kids talk about something that they have experienced. Whether they're sharing a funny moment from preschool or the amazing dessert they had last night, they might take a while to fully finish their tale, but it's amazing to listen to them. Everyone who is lucky enough to hear them loves it and wishes that they would keep talking forever. It's just so cute.

Kids Health says that by the time kids are four, they are old enough to speak for themselves and talk about their own experiences. Moms should let this happen instead of always speaking for their kids.

13 Ignoring The Tough Talks (Like Strangers And Other Safety-Related Subjects)


Everyone grew up hearing about not getting into cars with strangers or accepting candy, and often these talks took place in the school auditorium during a special assembly. But this is also something that moms need to talk about with their children.

According to Babycenter, moms want to talk about strangers and other safety-related subjects once their kid is four years old.

When a mom has a four-year-old, she wants to stop ignoring these subjects. While no mom wants to have these chats because they are not fun and they are worrisome, that's no reason to keep these topics off the table. The advice is that moms need to make sure that their four-year-old is aware of these things.

12 Giving Kids Too Much Sugar (Now's The Time To Focus On Healthy Foods)

Cakes Discovery Engine

Moms of four-year-olds need to stop giving their kids too much sugar. Very Well Family says that the Academy of Pediatrics suggests how much kids should eat in general "depending on activity level."

Eating healthy is always a fine balance... even for grown-ups. But it's especially key that four-year-olds are eating healthy foods. Moms can think of food as "fuel" and realize that while their four-year-old wants a chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie for a snack, that won't make them feel good or energetic. And four-year-olds want to run and play and have fun, not feel too tired to do anything.

11 Assuming That Since The Kid Is Four Now, They're Old And Mature (In Reality, They're Still Young And Need Their Mom)


The website of Interlachen Pediatrics in Florida says that when a mom takes her four-year-old to the doctor, they should remember that their kid is still young and needs them. As the website says, "Four-year-olds can strut around and brag about how great they are during the day, and then wake up at night from a bad dream and suck their thumbs. Be careful that they don't fool you - they seem to be older than they really are."

It's easy for moms to think that their four-year-old is super old and mature now since that's how they can act. This is a good reminder that this is still such a young age. Instead of thinking that their child is all grown up now, moms can keep in mind that it will be many years before that is actually true.

10 Using Scissors For Them


The same doctor's website also says that kids can use scissors at this age. It's definitely time for moms to stop using scissors for their child. As the website explains, "Your four-year-old will develop better hand control too, and may be able to button, lace her shoes, and string smaller beads. She can use tools, paint with a brush, and use scissors."

Of course, moms need to get child-friendly / child-proof scissors for their four-year-old.

Since many toddlers love to color and draw and do other crafts and projects, this is super exciting. Four-year-olds will feel so awesome being able to use their own scissors and moms will love seeing them so happy.

9 Brushing Their Kid's Teeth

Laramie Dental Arts

When a child turns four, moms also need to stop brushing their teeth for them. As the website of Tribeca Pediatrics says, "They can brush their own teeth with a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste, and they know what to do or ask for if they are hungry, tired, cold, warm…etc."

Sure, it might take a bit of time before a mom's four-year-old is truly brushing their teeth properly. They might pretend to do it sometimes and then, once their mom asks them if they really did, blush and sheepishly say, "I didn't..." But once they get used to it, mom's four-year-old will love being able to do something by themselves, and it'll become part of their evening routine.

8 Ignoring Anything The Kid Is Worried About

via iG/ameliafullarton

Once a mom has a four-year-old, she doesn't want to ignore anything that her kid is worried about. Sure, her kid is getting older and bigger, but they are still little and they still have concerns. Instead, she needs to talk to them about what's bothering them or what is making them concerned.

As the website for the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital explains, "Children want to know their parents are there to protect them." Whether a child is worried about thunderstorms at night when they go to bed or nervous about going to preschool or daycare without their parents, kids need to know that their mom is always there for them and always helping them out.

7 Serving Kids Tiny Amounts Of Food Instead Of Real Amounts

Here Come the Girls

As Parents.com explains, "A 4-year-old can enjoy adult-size portions (we have a tendency to supersize things, so make sure it's a reasonable amount of food)."

When they have a four-year-old, moms want to stop giving them tiny amounts of food instead of larger amounts. While it's definitely true that four-year-olds can't polish off an entire pizza like grown-ups can because that would be too much food, they can eat a bit more than what they were previously. Moms can make sure that their kids are eating enough by asking them if they're full after giving them a portion that seems logical for their age.

6 Assuming The Kid Is Too Little For Chores

via IG/furosichief

Moms don't want to assume that their kid is too little for chores, even if at four their child does still seem super small.

Choa.org says, "Your child may want to help around the house. Give him small jobs, such as picking up toys and setting the table."

The general advice from doctors is that four-year-olds want to feel and act more independent. Moms can work on this by assigning chores. As long as they are things that a four-year-old could actually do, like the ones mentioned above, then this will be really good. Kids will enjoy themselves and feel useful and appreciated.

5 Letting Kids Be Barefoot Outside


Choa.org also gives this advice: "Make sure your child wears shoes, even in the grass."

Moms want to make sure that their four-year-olds aren't walking around barefoot, especially when they're outside. It's easy to see how moms would want to let kids be barefoot since they still seem so young, but the advice does make sense. After all, there are rocks and other hard objects on the ground that a kid might not see and then step on. And it's just smart in general to teach kids that it's important to wear shoes. Since a four-year-old is probably in preschool, they're going to have to learn that they need to wear shoes at school and it's good to start this at home.

4 Telling Kids What To Do Without Letting Them Have A Say


According to Healthy Children, when kids are four they can "negotiate solutions to conflicts." This means that when a mom has a four-year-old, she should stop telling her kid what to do and not letting them have a say.

When a mom has a conversation with her four-year-old about the day's activities, for instance, they can ask them if they would prefer to go to the park or grocery shopping. They can ask their kid what their favorite activities are and anything else that is relevant. And if their kid misbehaves or is having a bad day, their mom can talk to them about the best way to move forward.

3 Holding Children And Carrying Them Around


Parents.com says that it's really key for four-year-olds to use the stairs by themselves. Based on that advice, it seems like moms should definitely stop holding their four-year-old all the time and carrying them around.

Sure, moms love their kids so much and can't help but want to hug and cuddle them all the time. And while moms can keep cuddling their cute little four-year-olds (and they should since that's so important), they want to encourage independence. And that means letting their kid walk on their own and get around on their own. It might feel a bit emotional at first since they are basically admitting that their toddler is growing up, but that's the point, right?

2 Assuming Any Behavioral Problems Are Just A Phase


The general advice is to bring up anything behavior-related at the doctor's visit.

As Healthy Children tells parents, "Make a list of topics you want to talk about with your child's pediatrician such as development, behavior, sleep, eating or getting along with other family members. Bring your top three to five questions or concerns with you to talk with your pediatrician at the start of the visit."

Moms of four-year-olds want to stop assuming that any behavioral problems are just a phase. Some moms believe that kids go through phases and others don't think that is a thing, but no matter what they think about this, moms can admit that it's best not to ignore any behavior issues.

1 Stopping Kids From Being Independent


The final things that moms want to stop doing when their toddler turns four? Stopping them from being independent.

As Pha4kids.com says, "Always supervise your child but encourage independent play and decision-making." Once moms realize that their kid needs to do more things by themselves, they will see how much their kid enjoys that.

Moms of toddlers often get emotional since their baby is getting older, and everyone feels that way so it's totally understandable. But the best thing that moms can do is admit that their child is growing up and help them do more things on their own so they can be happy and thrive.

Sources: Kidshealth.org, Webmd.com, Healthlinkbc.ca, Babycenter.com, Verywellfamily.com, Intpeds.com, Tribecapediatrics.com, Ucsfbenioffchildrens.org, Parents.comHealthychildren.orgPha4kids.com, Scarymommy.com, Choa.org

More in Did You Know...