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Three Year Milestones for Toddlers

Social and Emotional Development

In previous article, we covered the physical developmental milestones for 3 year old children. Here, we'll list some of the social and emotional developments you may notice.

Toddlers at 2 and 3 years old begin to understand the concept of ownership, and begin to use the word "my" to let others know what belongs to them. Although they may understand the concept of ownership, small toddlers may not be ready to share yet. However, some small children will learn to share sooner than others, and parents can help their child learn to share by demonstrating what sharing is all about, and what it is like to share. For example, you can say to your child, "I'm sharing my apple with you", or, "can you share your toy with me?" Social development is an important part of growing up for a child, and below we list some of the social development milestones you might see for a 3 year old child.

  • Three year old children begins to play with other children. In some occasions, they may share their toys with other children, however, they are still very possessive about their belongings. There will also be times when the young children fight for toys, and this is where adults need to remind them of appropriate behavior and encourage more sharing.
  • They may begin to develop some friendships with other children. Your child may speak fondly of their friends, however, the friendships at this age are brief, and the child may not miss their playmates from daycare or playdates.
  • The child can become very imaginative and engage in lots of imaginative play. They might use imaginary people or pretend one object to be something else. They may have tea parties with water, pretend a towel is a cape, or pretend that they're a fairy tale character. Join in on the imaginative play with your child and encourage their imagination.
  • The child likes to help you with simple tasks. When they see you moping the floor, they might come grab the mop and try to help out. Let them help in their small ways when you do chores around the house - such as setting the table, sweeping the floor, organizing the house, or putting toys away.

Emotional Development

Below are some of the emotional development milestones you might notice with three year olds.

  • Children at this age are better able to control their emotions, and will have fewer tantrums. But they will often fight with other children or siblings over toys. Set clear and consistent limits with your child, and let them know what is appropriate behavior and what is not acceptable.
  • They may not yet fully appreciate other people's feelings and can often be demanding and rebellious - such as telling you or others to "go away!" Be calm and remind your child that we need to be respectful, and again, remind them of what types of behavior is acceptable or unacceptable.
  • They begin to develop some understanding of the emotions of others. They may notice that you are sad and give you a hug or kiss, or be happy with you when they see that you are happy.
  • Three year old toddlers will begin to seek approval from you. They may do this through various ways such as showing you a picture or crafts they made. Give verbal and non verbal approval and offer lots of encouragement and praise.
  • Toddlers at this age may develop some fears as they become more aware of the world around them. For example, they may be afraid of the dark, or be afraid of sudden, loud noises.

The above listed are just some of the social and emotional milestones for a three year old child. The child at this age is developing a real sense of self and ownership, and he or she may become upset if their things are taken away. At the same time, they are developing some excellent language skills that will allow them to communicate clearly to and with you. Teach your child good manners by modeling them yourself. Treat your child with the same respect that you expect from them, and say "please" and "thank you" to your child.  With the growth of their social and language skills, the child can now really become part of the family and take part in family activities; they can now also become a part of play groups.

Is the development and growth of your child important to you? You can help your child get a big head start by learning to read at an early age that will stimulate intellectual development, and help them develop the most important skill in life. Click here to learn more.

3 Year Old Language and Intellectual Development >>

Baby & Toddler Videos

Toddler Reading Video
Watch a 2 year old toddler read, and see how this child's reading skill develops at 3 and 4 years old.