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Most people agree that raising a child is not an easy task. We parents aren't issued a rulebook or guidelines which guarantee raising a happy child into a well-balanced adult. Parents of young children almost always worry now and then about their parenting skills. If you are aware of what to expect from your 3-year-old as far as development, milestones and normal behavior go, you'll both enjoy that journey to 4.
Congratulations, you've survived your child's babyhood — and also the difficult journey through the unmistakably terrible twos. Now that he's 3 years old, you hope for smoother sailing ahead, but what should you expect?
You look at your beautiful child and realize he's become a smarter but more demanding — and probably impolite and self-centered — little person. You might ask yourself these questions. Am I too lenient? Too strict? Is my child doing what he should be at doing this age?
What's normal behavior for a 3-year-old
Social skills, both fine and gross motor skills and language skills have improved. Far different than your 2-year-old, kids who are 3 are easier to understand and have a better grasp of communicating their needs. Here are some of the milestones to expect from this age group.
3-year-old developmental milestones
3-year-old social skills
- no longer a toddler
- has become more independent
- less selfish than 2-year-olds and exhibits less aggressive behavior
- more aware of and sensitive to the feelings of others
- more responsive to other children and able to develop friendships
- capable of taking turns and sharing toys
- will begin to identify with his own sex and traditionally gender-related activities
- more interested in structured games
- spends much of his time in fantasy activity and will have imaginary friends (This is actually a very creative way for your child to sample different activities, behaviors and emotions.)
- sense of time has become clearer and he'll know his daily routine and will try to figure out the routines of others
- will have a capacity to understand his own place spatially amongst the family and is able to view you as a separate person
- wants to please you — will be less dependent on you because his sense of identity is growing stronger
- will exhibit a feisty attitude on occasion and resist your requests
3-year-old motor skills
- losing his baby fat, developing more muscle control and gaining in height
- is quite agile and can catch a ball with arms extended
- jumps down from object 18-inches high using two-footed takeoff and landing
- will be interested in tools such as scissors, paper, fingerpaint and crayons
- can walk up and down stairs while alternating feet
- can bend over and not fall down
- draws a circle
- cuts paper into two pieces
- concentration is required when learning to master precision finger and hand movements
3-year-old language skills
- will have mastered the basic rules of language and should have an active vocabulary of 600 or more words with 80 percent intelligibility
- should be able to say her name
- answers the question, "How old are you?"
- able to talk in sentences of three or fours words and imitate most speech sounds but still has thoughts and emotions that can't be conveyed through language
- uses plurals and pronouns
- may mispronounce words and will become extremely frustrated when he is not understood