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Your 4-year-old now
"I can do it myself!" your child hollers as you're getting her dressed in the morning (or when she's brushing her teeth, helping set the table, or doing just about anything, it sometimes seems).
As your child's motor skills develop, she's likely to push away your helping hands and want to do things solo. It may try your patience, but don't deprive her of these moments of self-sufficiency by stepping in too quickly to help.
At four, your child should be able to dress herself, although she may still be frustrated by zippers and snaps. To speed things up, try mixing user-friendly clothes into her wardrobe, like pants with an elastic waistband or shoes with Velcro.
One thing you'll still need to supervise is tooth brushing. A 4-year-old isn't coordinated enough to clean her teeth properly. Do let her try alone for a bit before you step in for the "finishing touches." (Her twice-annual dentist visits will let you know how well she's doing.)
At meals, put drinks in a small, easy-to-use pitcher and let her pour her own. Cereal is also fairly simple for small hands to pour. Her glow of pride as she fixes her own breakfast makes the spills and messes worthwhile.
Your life now
Wondering whether your child is ready for that video game system? Save your cash for a while longer. It's not that 4-year-olds can't manipulate the controls and play. But a growing body of evidence says that video games are addictive. By the time your child is in grade school, there will be no escaping them; even if she doesn't have a system, most of her friends will. For now, emphasize all the other cool kinds of play out there and hold off on starting this habit.
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