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Your 4-year-old now
You can help boost basic thinking skills by encouraging your child to sort things around the house. Four-year-olds love to sort, and while they're having fun they learn more about colors, numbers, shapes, sizes, and opposites.
Look around your house and collect a pile of similar objects — spare coins, buttons, cars, or blocks. It doesn't matter what you choose as long as the items are in the same category but not identical. Then ask your child to sort the objects. You might suggest sorting them into color piles or piles of similar shapes or sizes. "Put all the square blocks in one pile and the circle blocks in another." Or, "Put the trucks here and the cars there." When he's done sorting, count the pieces with him and sort them in another way. Arrange them from largest to smallest, for example.
Sorting plays a role in household chores, too. Let him help sort laundry or silverware. Sorting comes in awfully handy in cleaning up toy rooms, too. Create labeled bins for toys: The cars go in one bin, the art supplies in another, and the dolls in another.
The variations on sorting games are endless. Best of all: He's learning — and working — without even knowing it.
Your life now
When your child complains about something, your first impulse might be exasperation or impatience. But try to be empathetic. A complaint is an opinion, and you want your child to understand that it's good to say what he thinks and that his feelings matter. Help him articulate exactly what's bothering him in words that don't hurt anyone's feelings.
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