Is My 4 Year Old Immature?? What Is Maturitiy in a 4 Year Old?

Updated on January 30, 2012
L.O. asks from Sterling Heights, MI
13 answers

My son is 4. With a June birthday. so he is 4 1/2. He seems very immature for his age. He used to be able to get dressed.. but now can't seems to manage any of his clothing. He is very attached to his blankie which he carries everywhere. He is very social and plays well with others. He is not really clingy to me. He does whine and cry. I know that kids are all different but what are the expectations for a 4 year old in maturity??

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answers from Chicago on

A psychologist from the 70s, too tired to think of her name, found that around the half year kids regress. This is when they are the most difficult, and then, around their bdays, they do a big developmental leap and tend towards to be more agreeable and cooperative.

I'd say it's normal and that he is preparing for a big shift in his brain.

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answers from Honolulu on

4 year olds are not mature.
They are still, very very young and are not even fully developed.

Your son sounds like a 4 year old.

Often times as well, when kids are on the cusp of an age change, they get really tweaked. Because, they are on the verge of changing so much and are hitting a different age... in terms of cognition and emotions and everything.

And, to me, he also sounds very tired.
Does your son get enough sleep daily or naps?
Because, when kids are tired/overtired, they OFTEN do get whiney and less able to do the mundane things.

Or, has his life changed in any way?
He could be going through an adjustment transitioning period.

But again, maturity in children, is not a template. Even Teenagers are not mature yet. Emotionally.
They are all different.
I wouldn't expect a 4 year old to be mature.
My son is 5 now. At 4 he was a typical 4 year old. Given the time or place... that meant, that he was either really on the ball with things or not. Which is normal.

AND, ALL kids, "whine" or "cry."
Even, Husbands do that, right?

You cannot expect, a 4 year old to be mature yet or even know what that is.
Your son seems really normal.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

they go up and down for a long time. Heck, I think I regress every so often. Many days I want to carry around a blanket and suck my thumb in bed. Man those days.
Not to worry. There isnt a true "maturity" level as much as developmental stages. As long as he is hitting milestones, let the maturity come with experience.

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answers from Washington DC on


Sounds like something happened to make him "regress" a little. I know that when my girlfriend had a baby when hers was almost 5 - he regressed a bit because he wasn't used to not getting all of the attention...

he may be doing this to get attention. I don't think this is a maturity issue - I think it's an attention issue. I don't "expect" kids to start being mature until they are 9 or 10.

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answers from Seattle on

I'm turning your Q backwards a little to see if I'm right?

When will my son:

- Dress himself always
- Ditch the lovey
- Stop whining
- Stop crying

Not for several years to come.

(Ahem...And many grown men have difficulty dressing themselves! But boys in particular tend to like to go about half dressed, not dressed, or inappropriately dressed).

It's all about the AMOUNT of time he spends doing each that determines whether this is perfectly normal development, or whether there's an issue. For example... many teens and even adults still have a stuffed friend or special blanket. They just leave it at home! But go to a children's hospital, and their loveys all come with them. From toddlers to teens. Go to any college campus and you'll find teddy bears in dorm rooms. Most parents, when they have their children, still own a favorite friend from childhood that they may or may not pass down.

So it's normal to have loveys. Throwing a screaming tantrum at age 4 if he's separated from his lovey even while in the wash isn't normal. Sitting and staring at the washing machine IS normal. So is not particularly caring if his lovey is having a bath. There's a wide range of normal.

Also what you're doing to encourage or discourage, and what your expectations are (for example; even an adult will break down in tears when they're exhausted and haven't eaten all day... a kid will do it after "just" a few hours)... play a part as well. Many parents encourage whining and tantrums, because they can't stand whining, so the moment the child whines (or 10 minutes of whining later) the kid KNOWS they will get what they're whining for. Whining works in those situations, so there is no reason to stop, and every reason to whine as much as possible. But even kids who almost NEVER whine... will whine when they're scared or tired. An adult who never whines will wine when pushed past their limits, too.

So there's a huge variation, and none of these behaviors ever just "stop", although they decrease or rarely happen as long as you can stay on top of a lot of them...but no one can control the world. Kindergarteners often start behaving like toddlers; for the pure and simple reason that they use up all their self control at school, and come home exhausted. TOTALLY to be expected. It's part of why most families schedule nothing for directly after school... so their kids can eat and rest. Other families, their kids are fine, and they can dive straight into homework or an activity/sport. And a family will often have one of EACH kind of kid!

If you're worried, though, get an eval :) The #1 that something is off, is a parent's instinct that something is off. Sometimes parents just have unrealistic expectations. So no matter what, an eval helps. Either the kid gets help, or the parent gets help. Win win.

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answers from Boston on

Both my girls slept with blankies until they were about 8. They had them in the house sometimes while watching tv or cuddling, and in the car for long rides, but not usually out of the house, except up to age 4 or 5.
He does not sound very immature to me, except maybe whining and crying. But, all kids do that when they are overtired or spoiled. You do not say when he whines and cries.
Both my kids are super sensitive, and a book entitled "The Highly Sensitive Child - how to help our children thrive in a world that overwhelms them" helped me a lot. It has a short questionnaire in the front, maybe 20 quick questions. I answered "yes" to all but 2 of them for my child. See if the library has this book and take the questionnaire. I myself am highly sensitive so I did the things in this book naturally (cutting out tags, making sure nap and bedtime were adhered to, never having child hungry, avoiding crowds and noisy places, etc.). The book has chapters by age how to best adjust the world to the child so they can learn and later on adapt to the world themselves. My 14 year old cried EVERY SINGLE DAY I dropped her off at school well into 2nd grade, but is now a very happy 9th grader with a close-knit group of likeminded friends.

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answers from San Francisco on

Go to the library and check out a few books on child development. There is a wide range of "normal" and many stages and patterns that kids go through as they are growing. There are also periods of regression sometimes triggered by a big event (like a new baby) and sometimes triggered simply by an oncoming growth spurt.
I found these kinds of books incredibly helpful when my kids were little, they really helped me see and understand behavior that was sometimes confusing to me as a parent, and they often helped me prevent problems by understanding what NOT to do. I also took a few parenting classes at the community college through their early childhood education department and that was also REALLY helpful!

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answers from Dover on

It could be that he's brilliant. One of mine at this age was much the same way, and he was a master manipulator. He was seeing what he could get me to do as opposed to what he was required to do himself. I heard a lot of, "I can't" or "I don't know how" or "I'm too little." It was super frustrating because it would always be when I didn't have time for the shenanigans, but if I did it for him once he would push and push in every other area to see what else he could get me to do. Same with the whining and crying.

It's OK to have a lovey. Just set boundaries. He can have it at home, but can't take it in the car or to locations outside of the house.

If he's social, gets along well with others, and no one else is dealing with this, then you can bet it's all for you, mom. That's not immaturity IMO so much as it's crafty and smart. You just have to be smarter, which I am positive you are. =)

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answers from New York on

You're saying he is actually becoming a little less mature? In my years teaching kindergarten, I've seen this happen for two reasons: Either a brand new baby in the house OR being pushed to excel academically. I guess both things make the child feel he or she is being pushed to grow up in one way or another and they react by becoming emotionally less mature. Is there a teacher or parent pressuring him too much? Since you don't mention a new baby I'd recommend both you and his teachers back off academics and see if this reverses itself.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

He's still pretty young, so you need to expect three steps forward/two steps back a good part of the time.

It's great that he plays well with others kids! The whininess? Think if anything has happened lately to make him worried. Failing that, think of a reason for his wanting some more attention from Mama, because whining works for that, too. Maybe there really isn't a good reason, but he just feels like wanting Mama to "do" for him again for a while.

It may be good to go along with it for a bit, without letting him be the boss of the situation. "I'm sorry you need help with your shoes, but if you do, here you go." "Oh, did you forget how to zip your jacket? Yes, I'll help, but I hope you'll remember again how to do it soon, because I may need your help with my jacket one day." Keep it light!

Be available to listen to him when he wants to talk - about anything (yes, yes, I know). You can pick up great clues just by keeping your ears open.

I won't say anything about the blankie because I was attached to my "bobby" until I was older than that!



answers from Detroit on

he is a boy for one they're maturity level is different. Also my four yeqar old did the same thing and shes a girl. I wouldn't worry about it i think its a phase



answers from Los Angeles on

its normal. my daughter who turns 5 in march does the same thing

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