Three Year Old
How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about his or her development. Check the milestones your child has reached by age 3.
What Most Children Do By This Age
Socal / Emotional
- Copies adults and friends
- Shows affection for friends without prompting
- Takes turns in games
- Shows concern for a crying friend
- Understands the idea of “mine” and “his” and “hers”
- Shows a wide range of emotions
- Separates easily from mom and dad
- May get upset with major change in routine
- Dresses and undresses self
Language / Communication
- Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps
- Can name most familiar things
- Understands words like “in”, “on”, and “under”
- Says first name, age, and sex
- Names a friend
- Says words like “I”, “me”, “we”, and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats)
- Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time
- Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences
Learning, Thinking, Problem-solving
- Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts
- Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
- Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces
- Understands what “two” means
- Copies a circle with pencil or crayon
- Turns book pages one at a time
- Builds towers of more than 6 blocks
- Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle
Movement / Physical Developement
- Climbs well
- Runs easily
- Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)
- Walks up and down the stairs, one foot on each step
Your Child Knows Best
If you have concerns about the way your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, or moves, or if your child:
- Is missing milestones
- Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs
- Drools or has very unclear speech
- Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle)
- Doesn’t speak in sentences
- Doesn’t understand simple instructions
- Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe
- Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys
- Doesn’t make eye contact
- Loses skills he once had
Tell your child’s Provider if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay. Acting early can make a real difference!
You can help your child learn and grow. Talk, read, sing, and play together every day. Below are some activities to enjoy with your 3-year-old child!
What You Can Do For Your 3 Year Old
- Go to play groups with your child or other places where there are other children, to encourage getting along with others.
- Work with your child to solve the problem when he/she is upset.
- Talk about your child’s emotions. For example, say, “I can tell you feel mad because you threw the puzzle piece.” Encourage your child to identify feelings in books.
- Set rules and limits for your child and stick to them. If your child breaks a rule, give him a time out for 30 seconds to 1 minute in a chair or in his room. Praise your child for following the rules.
- Give your child instructions with 2 or 3 steps. For example, “Go to your room and get your shoes and coat.”
- Read to your child every day. Ask your child to point to things in the pictures and repeat words after you.
- Give your child an “activity box” with paper, crayons, and coloring books. Color and draw lines and shapes with your child.
- Play counting games. Count body parts, stairs, and other things you use or see every day.
- Hold your child’s hand going up and down stairs. When she can go up and down easily, encourage him/her to use the railing.
- Play outside with your child. Go to the park or hiking trail. Allow your child to play freely and without structured activities.