3 Year Old Milestones – Your Easy But Comprehensive Guide & Free Checklist
You’ve survived the “terrible two’s.” Yippee, and Congratulations. Throw out the 2 year old milestones. It is time for the 3 Year Old Milestones.
When your child turns three, he/she is no longer a toddler (age 1-3). Your little one is now a preschooler (age 3-5). A new adventure begins!
As their parents, we want to be sure our children are developing as they are supposed to. That’s why there are developmental milestones. It tells us how our child is supposed to play, learn, move, speak and act – as compared with other children their age. The 3 year old milestones indicate the things most children can do by this age.
The information below and the infographic was created based on research conducted by the CDC – Center for Disease Control. You can, therefore, trust that the data is thorough. Having said that, developmental milestones are things most kids can do at a certain age, but children develop milestones at different times. That is normal, so don’t panic if your child is a little late on certain activities. He/she may be early on other things. The milestones below should be developed by the time your child turns 5.
The CDC advises that if you have any concerns about your little one’s development, do contact your child’s pediatrician for an evaluation. Early intervention could help develop your child’s skills.
3 Year Old Milestones: Social and Emotional Development
Your three year old will likely:
- Imitate/ copy friends and parents;
- Naturally show affection to friends and family who are familiar to them;
- Understand “mine” and “his” and “hers”;
- Take turns when playing games/ cooperate with friends;
- Separates more easily from parents;
- Show concern for a crying sibling or friend;
- Expresses a wider range of emotions, like being angry, happy, sad, bored, frustrated;
- May possibly get upset with major changes in their routine;
- May begin to show problem-solving skills.
3 Year Old Milestones: Physical Development
Gross Motor Skills
- Runs comfortably;
- Kicks, throws and catches a ball;
- Can walk forward and backward easily;
- Can bend over without falling;
- Can stand or hop on one foot for up to 5 seconds;
- Can walk up and down the stairs with one foot per step;
- Can climb up and down comfortably.
- Can ride a tricycle (3-wheel bike);
Fine Motor Skills
- More easily able to handle small objects and turn the pages of a book;
- Dress and undress him/herself without help;
- Is able to use age-appropriate scissors;
- Can turn rotating handles;
- Can screw and unscrew jar lids and open doors;
- Recognize and write some uppercase letters;
- Draw a stick person with 2-4 body parts;
- Copy squares and circles with crayons/ pencils;
- Build towers with six or more blocks.
3 Year Old Milestones: Language And Communication
- Follows instructions with 2-3 steps;
- Can identify and name most familiar things;
- Answer simple questions;
- Speaks 250-500 words;
- Can tell stories by age 4;
- Understands “in,” “on,” “on top,” “under” and similar words;
- Can say his/her first name, age and sex;
- Knows the names of friends;
- Says words like “me,” “I,” “we,” and “you.” May also say some plurals, like dolls, dogs, cars, etc;
- Speaks well enough for strangers to understand him/her most of the time;
- Can carry a conversation using 2-3 sentences;
- By age 4, can speak in complete sentences.
3 Year Old Milestones: Cognitive Development
Toward the end of the third year, most 3-year-olds are able to do the following:
- Can work with and plays with toys that have buttons, levers and moving parts;
- Plays pretend/ make-believe with animals, dolls, and people;
- Plays with age-appropriate puzzles;
- Correctly name familiar colors;
- Follow three-part commands;
- Understands what “two” means;
- Understand the idea of what is the same and what is different;
- Understands time better, like morning, evening, night;
- Remembers parts of a story;
- Counts and understand the concept of counting;
- Sorts objects by shape and color;
- Identify common objects in pictures.
3 Year Old Milestones: When To Be Concerned
As mentioned before, children develop at their own pace. You should notice a gradual progression in their growth and development as he/she gets older. However, talk to your child’s pediatrician if you notice any of the following signs of developmental delays in three to four-year-olds:
- He/she is unable to throw a ball overhand, jump in place, or ride a tricycle;
- Frequently falls down and has trouble with stairs;
- Is unable to hold a crayon between his or her thumb and fingers; he/she has trouble scribbling and cannot copy a circle;
- Drools or has very unclear speech;
- Is unable to use a sentence with more than three words;
- Does not speak in sentences;
- Uses “me” and “you” inappropriately;
- Cannot work simple toys like peg boards, Mr Potato Head, etc;
- Cannot do simple puzzles or turn handles;
- Cannot stack four blocks, and has difficulty handling small objects;
- Does not understand simple instructions;
- Is not very social and continues to experience extreme separation anxiety;
- Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe/ fantasy play.
- Is not interested in playing with other children or toys, and doesn’t respond to non-family members;
- Self-control is not improving when he/she gets upset;
- Does not make eye contact;
- Loses skills he/she once had;
- Doesn’t want to get dressed, sleep, or go to the bathroom.
3 Year Old Developmental Milestones – A Few Helpful Resources:
Note From The Author
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I trust you will find the checklist quite helpful.
I do want to remind you that developmental milestones are great guidelines, only. They are meant to be helpful in tracking what your kid is supposed to be doing at this age. But remember, kids are all different.
My twins are 3 (at the time of this writing), so I’d like to offer you a real-life example of how kids are very different from one another. She is speaking better than him and she’s really into “pretend playing,” while he is not. However, he can write all the uppercase letters, and he can do really basic math, while she can’t. She’s just not interested. She prefers to twirl around in her princess dress when we work on letters. My point to you – they’re all different and that’s okay.