These skills tend to be quite variable. But at this age the typical child:
- Kicks a ball, stands briefly on one foot and jumps in place.
- Opens doors.
- Pedals a tricycle.
- Builds a tower of nine small blocks or imitates a bridge made of three blocks.
- Alternates feet when climbing steps.
- Demonstrates speech which is mostly understood, even by people who don't see him or her often.
- Knows name, age and sex.
- Understands "cold," "tired, "hungry" and may understand "on" and "under."
- Knows "bigger" and "smaller."
- Can explain the use of a ball, scissors, key and pencil.
- Copies a circle.
- Describes actions in pictures.
- Puts on some clothing and shoes.
- Feeds self.
Injury prevention is proactive. Consider the following:
- Children should be secured in an approved child car seat; car seats should not be placed in the front passenger-side seat where there is an air bag.
- Continue to guard or gate openings to stairways.
- Store knives and firearms appropriately and out of reach.
- Teach the danger of following a pet or ball into the street but still supervise closely.
- Advise care around strange pets.
- Discuss water safety; knowing how to "swim" does not make a child "water-safe."
- Talk to your child about not following strangers and what are inappropriate touches.
These activities provide good examples for modeling important skills and encourage your child to grow in a healthy and happy way:
- Provide opportunities for children to discuss the day's events.
- Allow your child to explore, show initiative and communicate.
- Provide for special time alone, especially if there are siblings.
- Promote out-of-home experiences: preschool and play groups.
- Your child should be forming the concepts of sharing and taking turns.
- Your child may be growing out of naps; bedtime rituals are still important.
- Encourage active play with objects as well as pretend play.
- Many children may have problems with stuttering at this age; give them time to express themselves.
- Children may become more irritable when over tired and may need help calming down.
- Children may be curious about birth and the differences between the sexes; be honest and give age-appropriate responses.
- Children may not be able to tell when you are "kidding;" limit teasing.
- Show affection.
Good nutrition is essential to a growing body. Tips include:
- Serve balanced meals; avoid junk food and junk drinks.
- Continue fluoride supplementation if necessary.
- Children may continue to be "picky" eaters; serve healthy foods in small portions and allow them to choose.
Childhood behavior may go from one extreme to another. This age is no exception:
- Explain the consequences of unacceptable behavior to the child.
- Encourage self-discipline.
- Promote positive sibling relationships.
- Encourage independence by allowing some decision-making.
- Use "no" sparingly.
- Be consistent; set limits.
- Be realistic in demands.
- Do not talk down to your child and respect confidences.
Health maintenance is essential to a child's well-being.
- Schedule a dental appointment if you have not done so yet.
- By this age, about 85% of children are toilet-trained but this is highly variable.
- Teach good hygiene: brushing teeth, washing hands, limiting the spread of germs.
The following items may be useful:
- Ames, Louise. Your Three Year Old. Dell, 1980.
- Brace, Edward. Every Parent's Guide to Childhood Illnesses
- Brazelton, T. Berry. Doctor and Child. Dell, 1978.
- Brook, Joae. No More Diapers (Doubleday)
- Chess, Stella. Your Child is a Person; A Psychological Approach to Parenthood Without Guilt. Viking, 1965.
- Cole, Joanna. Toilet Teaching
- Kaye, Evelyn. The Family Guide to Children's Television: What to Watch, What to Miss, What to Change, and How to do it. Pantheon, 1974.
- Nelson, Jane. Positive Discipline
- Segal, Marilyn M. Your Child At Play. Three to Five Years. New Market Press, NY, c 1986