3-year-old’s Behavior and Development

3-year-old’s Behavior and Development

Learn more about your three-year-old’s behavior and key development milestones

3-year-olds are fascinating creatures. Fantasy, imagination, and their attempts to really be in charge of their lives make them very special.

Make believe play

Make-believe is now a way of life, with every object, person, and event likely to be wonderfully transformed into something else.

Your 3-year-old now makes up little stories to explain events in his life and he's discovered the power of words to make things happen.

Imaginary friends, who are completely at his beck and call, are very normal and healthy household additions. Don't pay too much attention to them, as they disappear or assume too great an importance under too tight scrutiny.

Your 3-year-old can't lie at this age, but he may creatively reconstruct reality so it matches the way he would like things to be. He thinks his words can create a preferable reality and that reality can be truly denied.

Playing with others

Play at this age should be cooperative and really interactive. Giving your 3-year-old the opportunity to play with other children and work out conflicts with them is perhaps the most vital part of parenting support at this age.

The Role of Routine

Three-year-olds are dependent on predictability, which is part of their effort to understand and control their world. When no two days are same, you're very likely to have an irritable, whiny child. By keeping a set order of events each day it helps them know what is coming next, giving them a feeling of control.

Three-year-olds adopt rituals to keep a sense of sameness and control over their world. Respect these, provided they don't seriously get in the way.

Wonderful Words

Listening to your 3-year-old talk is wonderful. It's a fantastic narrative drawn from experience and imagination, filled with a few facts and a lot of commentary. A child this age is never slowed down by lack of vocabulary, so nonsense words appear regularly, causing you to see the world with different eyes. Water fountains become "crash waters" and an SUV becomes a "box car," for example. Enjoy these ‘mistakes’ as soon enough their vocabulary will expand and the made up words will disappear.

Disciplining Your 3-year-old

Discipline now means clearly linking wrongdoing to its consequence, such as having a child clean up a mess she's made or taking away a toy that he threw.

If your 3-year-old does something wrong, it’s important you handle it right away, you might remember it later but they won’t

Most of all, enjoy the magic of 3 and marvel at the hard work it takes to put the world in order.

Leave a comment *Mandatory text
I confirm I have written the entirety of the content and agree to the community guidelines and terms and conditions

Crybabies: why do some babies cry more than others?

You might ask yourself why your baby cries so much. Here’s what you can do to soothe your baby and relieve your own stress.

Read more

Playdates for Toddlers

Interacting with other children is an ideal opportunity for your child to make friends and hone social skills. Get the most out of toddler playdates.

Read more

Housework with Toddlers

Since our kids like to imitate us, why not show them ways to help around the house? Some easy chores kids can do (with parental supervision) include dusting, watering plants and sorting laundry. Get more ideas.

Read more