Your 3-Year-Old

Physical Health and Growth

Your child is growing into a taller, bigger, stronger body that can do more new things every day. While it may seem unbelievable that your former baby can now run up the stairs and dress himself, he’s loving his newfound confidence and testing his independence. As he learns to do more himself, you have a great opportunity to show him how to do them right.

Will he request apple slices over cookies, or ask you to wash his stinky feet? Maybe, maybe not. But if you make good choices a habit, those habits really will stick with him. At best, he’ll ask for the apples, and show off his post-playground toes. At least, he’ll expect the apples, and understand why we don’t go to bed dirty!

As you notice how far his body awareness has come, take a moment to check out more information on your child’s development, including the ways you can help him establish the habits that will keep him healthy and strong. Show him, with love, the best ways to take care of himself.

Multilingual Learning — Many Paths to Language Skills

I Can Solve Problems.

Your child to this point has likely lashed out at someone by hitting or taking a more physical approach. At this age, your child should be able to use words instead of actions and be able to take control on her own of solving a conflict.

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Teachers should demonstrate and encourage healthy behaviors like hand washing, eating healthy foods and getting exercise? Look for visual reminders -- pictures, charts, and signs -- about hand-washing at the sinks children use, too.

I Can Make Good Choices About My Body.

Your guidance is paying off, and your child is making connections between choices and outcomes. She realizes that certain signs of illness (like a runny nose) are treated certain ways (with tissues). She may even request treatment (“Mommy, I need to blow my nose!”). She’s also beginning to learn which foods are good for her body.

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

You should hear your child’s teacher talking about things he and his friends can do to stay healthy, such as washing their hands, eating healthy foods, and getting lots of exercise. Your child should also be learning about safe play—for example, not climbing back up the slide while his friends are sliding down.

I Know How To Be Strong.

Your kid used to focus primarily on his own body, but now he’s becoming more aware of the differences and similarities between his body and others—even yours. He may say he’s “strong enough” to do something he couldn’t do before, and insist that you watch him prove it! He also understands that playing outside is good for him.

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

You should see your kid doing full-body exercises and activities. Outdoors, this could mean running, playing tag, and riding bikes. Indoors, it could mean skipping and jumping—even racing each other down the hallway on a rainy day!

I Can Do It By Myself.

So many things you used to do for him, he can now do for himself. He may even want to help you—try asking him to set out forks for dinner, or help you pull weeds out of the garden. He’ll take a lot of pride in the jobs he can do, so make sure to thank him!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

You should see your child fine-tuning his physical coordination with activities like catching and throwing a ball, standing on one leg, and walking on a balance beam. You should also see him blowing bubbles and using a straw to build oral motor skills.

All children learn and grow at their own pace and in their own way. For more information about the skills and milestones for your child's age check out our developmental milestones resource page. If you continue to have concerns or questions please give us a call at 1-800-299-1627.