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Developmental Milestones for 3-Year-Olds

Preschool Building

From birth, children rapidly add to their language, speech and cognitive skills, building the foundation that will help them the rest of their lives.

When a child reaches 3 years old, these skills begin to intersect and expand in wonderful ways. He isn’t just playing with a block – he’s building tall towers and telling you what he’s doing. She isn’t just playing – she’s making up a conversation while playing make believe.

Every child grows at his or her own rate, and Help Me Grow offers the following developmental milestones for 3-year-olds to help monitor their progress as they grow:

  • Climbs and runs well
  • Builds with blocks; may build a tower of six blocks
  • Uses three-word sentences
  • Shows concern and affection for others
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals and people
  • Does puzzles with three to four pieces
  • Says first name, age and gender
  • Asks “why,” “where,” “what,” “when” and “how” questions
  • Separates easily from parents
  • Shows a wide range of feelings
  • Enjoys routines and may get upset with a major change
  • Enjoys helping with simple household tasks
  • Verbalizes toilet needs and may be toilet trained during the day
  • Knows common colors

Parents and caregivers can take the following actions to encourage a 3-year-old’s development:

  • Let the child help with simple household chores
  • Help the child include others in playing, sharing and taking turns
  • Support the child to develop trust in other consistent adults
  • Listen to and encourage the child to use many words and longer sentences
  • Share new stories, songs, games and play materials
  • Support appropriate expression of feelings

Developmental milestones help you understand what’s typical in a child’s development. To learn more about these milestones and how to encourage a child’s progress at different ages, visit helpmegrowmn.org.

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