Children's Age-by-Age Guide: 3 Years Old
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Children's Age-by-Age Guide: 3 Years Old

Play dates, puzzles, pretending and preschool can fill the life of a 3-year-old. Read on for more details about your youngster's current development.

Physical Milestones


Your little one has grown into quite an athlete -- he can jump, climb, stand on one foot and hop, throw, catch, kick, and even pedal a tricycle. He'll gain about 5 pounds this year and grow 3 1/2 inches. He's gaining more control of his muscles; he can carry and maneuver objects as he desires and he'll begin to dress and undress himself. He is able to use a pencil and scissors and can draw recognizable figures.

Smart Strategy:

Allow your child the chance to test himself, knowing there will be bumps and bruises along the way. If you treat every fall with concern, he may learn to fear getting hurt, which will undermine the courage he needs to experiment. This is a great time to introduce toys that help him develop new skills so bring out the puzzles, musical instruments, and arts and crafts supplies.

Developmental Milestones

Friends start to become an important part of your child's life now as she discovers what social relationships are all about. She is learning to take turns and follow directions and likes to be part of a group and play games like Follow-the-Leader. If she hasn't already, it's likely that she'll potty train now. She's also interested in exploring her body parts and learning about differences between the sexes. She likes to get dressed and undressed -- sometimes with playmates!

Smart Strategy:

Your preschooler needs social contact with peers now so enroll her in preschool, take her to the park or playground regularly and arrange play dates with other kids. Allow her to be as independent as possible in grooming and hygiene; it's a perfect time to instill good habits.

Emotional Milestones

Your preschooler is becoming an increasingly social being and you'll see that he is less selfish and more caring and sensitive to others' feelings (For example, he may comfort you when you're sad.) An imaginary friend may show up at your house this year; he will help comfort your child, play with him, and take the blame if your child does something wrong.

Smart Strategy:

Pretend play starts to emerge so give your child ample opportunity to let his imagination run wild. Don't worry if he has an imaginary friend; he can help your child deal with reality. Now that your child is starting to realize that his actions can affect others, he may need extra comfort when he does something wrong.

Cognitive Milestones

Your child is becoming very aware of similarity and difference. You'll see this in play as she sorts toys by size and color. She'll talk in five-word sentences now and constantly ask questions that begin with "why." She can describe actions and events, and loves to tell stories. Remembering nursery rhymes and playing pretend games are some of her favorite activities.

Smart Strategy:

More often than not, when your child plies you with questions she wants your attention, not so much specific answers to her queries so keep your replies simple. Whether you are out and about or at home, have conversations with your child about what you're doing or where you're going (Talk about making dinner, driving in traffic, the seasons, etc.) so that she learns about the world we live in.

Immunizations at This Age

None

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