3 year old boy in yellow hat holds up 3 fingers in front of his birthday cake. There are many milestones to look forward to in your child's 3rd year.

Hello 3! Welcome to the Magic Years

Welcome to the magic years! Between the ages of 3 and 4, your child will be consumed by their vivid imaginations and sense of discovery. You’ll enjoy watching your child bloom into a more independent individual while they become more socially aware and empathetic.  3-year-olds are at a stage of development where they are becoming more self-sufficient and developing their language and cognitive skills. It’s an exciting time and parents have much to look forward to in the coming year!

Physical Development 

Just like their previous year, 3-year-olds are very active and eager to try out their ever progressing physical skills, like hopping and standing on one foot, throwing and kicking balls with more accuracy, and going up and down stairs with better agility. You may notice, however, that this year your little one is more interested in structured activities. This is a great time to teach your child to play games with rules, like tag or simple sports.

Also like last year, you’ll notice progress in your 3-year-old’s fine motor skills. You can expect your child to have better control of the muscles in their hands and wrists and begin engaging in activities like copying circles, squares, or letters and drawing more sophisticated “people” with a head, face, and body parts. Your child may even begin to use child-safe scissors (with supervision, of course!)

Cognitive Development 

Cognitively, there’s plenty to look forward to. You’ll notice your 3-year-old engaging in imaginative play. And be ready to answer a lot of questions! At this stage, children are fascinated by learning about how things work around them. Keep your answers short and simple. They’re interested in getting answers, but their ability to process deeper levels of information is still developing.

Your little one will also likely begin counting, be able to correctly identify several colors, have a clearer sense of time, and follow three part commands.

Language Development

Language development is a key area of focus for 3-year-olds. They will be expanding their vocabulary to about 300 or more words and be using more complex sentences. They may also be able to carry on simple conversations and answer questions. They’ll begin to tell stories and adults will be able to understand about 75% of what they’re saying!

Social Emotional Development

Social and emotional development is also important for 3-year-olds. At this age, you’ll notice that they may be less selfish and more cooperative than they were at two. This is because they will be starting to understand the concept of sharing and taking turns. They will also be becoming more aware of their own emotions and the emotions of others. You’ll find them gravitating to certain children based on preferences. They’ll even understand what qualities they have that makes them a “good friend.”

Through their imaginative play, 3-year-olds will explore their emotions and the emotions of others with role playing. They may play dress up and pretend to be the Mommy or Daddy. They’ll act out familiar scenarios. This is a great time to brainstorm and  practice conflict resolution skills in a way that’s fun!

In terms of behavior, 3-year-olds may still have tantrums, but they will be starting to understand that certain behaviors are not acceptable. They will continue to test limits and boundaries, so it is important for parents to set clear rules and consequences.

Overall, 3-year-olds are at a stage of rapid development and growth. They are becoming more independent and are starting to understand the world around them. With the right guidance and support, they will continue to grow and develop into well-rounded individuals!

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