3 Years

What Most Children Do by This Age


  • Calms down within 10 minutes after you leave her, for example, at childcare drop off
  • Notices other children and joins them in play

Problem Solving

  • Draws a circle when you show him how
  • Avoids touching hot objects, like a stove, when you warn her

Language and Communication

  • Talks with you in conversation using at least two back-and-forth exchanges
  • Asks “who,” “what,” “where,” or “why” questions like “Where is mommy/daddy?”
  • Says what action is happening in a picture or book when asked like, “running,” “eating,” or “playing”
  • Says first name when asked
  • Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time


  • Strings items together, like large beads or macaroni
  • Puts on some clothes by himself, like loose pants or a jacket
  • Uses a fork

Tips and Activities: What You Can Do for Your 3 year old

As your child’s first teacher, you can help his or her learning and brain development. Try these simple tips and activities in a safe way. Talk with your child’s doctor and teachers if you have questions or for more ideas on how to help your child’s development.

  • Encourage your child to solve her own problems with your support. Ask questions to help her understand the problem. Help her think of solutions, try one out, and try more if needed.
  • Talk about your child’s emotions and give him words to help him explain how he’s feeling. Help your child manage stressful feelings by teaching him to take deep breaths, hug a favorite toy, or go to a quiet, safe place when he is upset.
  • Set a few simple and clear rules that your child can follow, such as use gentle hands when playing. If he breaks a rule, show him what to do instead. Later, if your child follows the rule, recognize and congratulate him.

Developmental Milestones