Birth to five years (part 12)

Four years of age: Self-control and a sense of self
The four-year-old develops more self-control over aggression and other impulses, a gender role and a sense of self beyond the immediate family. Friends can become significant attachment figures and be a great source of comfort in stressful situations. He starts to acquire knowledge of social expectations and is more able to distinguish between what is real and pretend .
Language/literacy: Provide time for him to finish his thoughts. As he shows interest in words, point out letters and make rhymes with words .
Problem-solving: Model steps in a task so that he can imitate you. Teach conflict resolution with peers. Help children express problems and feelings. Ask questions to help them find solutions, and praise them for their suggestions. Help them remember what worked and to try the best plan. Select solutions that satisfy both sides.
Attachment: Help him develop a sense of self by going through baby books, seeing his old photos and keeping family traditions. Allow him to be as independent as he is able (eg, dressing). Sexual development: Anticipate normal curiosity about the body and the differences between boys and girls, and anticipate engagement in exploratory sex-play. Teach that nudity is private, that touching of his private parts is only for him (ie, in private), parents and health care providers, and that breasts are for feeding babies. Take seriously all reports of bad touches. You will be glad to come across costing you very little money.

Socializing: Having friends is crucial. Continue providing opportunities to play with other children.