Your Three Year Old

Developmental Milestones

How your three-year old plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age.

What’s unique to your three year old?  What is typical of a three year old?

Developmental Milestones Three years

Social and Emotional Milestones 

  • Copies adults and friends
  • Shows affection for friends without prompting
  • Takes turns in games 
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  • Shows concern for crying friend
  • Understands the idea of “mine” and “his” or “hers” 
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  • Shows a wide range of emotions
  • Separates easily from mom and dad
  • May get upset with major changes in routine
  • Dresses and undresses self

Communication Milestones 


  • Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps 
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  • Can name most familiar things 
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  • Understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under” 
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  • Says first name, age, and sex
  • Names a friend 
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  • Says words like “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats) 
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  • Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time 
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  • Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences

Physical Milestones 

Gross motor/Fine motor

  • Climbs well 
  • Runs easily 
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  • Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)
  • Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step 

Cognitive Milestones

Learning, thinking, problem-solving

  • Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
  • Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces
  • Understands what “two” means 
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  • Copies a circle with pencil or crayon
  • Turns book pages one at a time
  • Builds towers of more than 6 blocks
  • Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle 

  • 24-30 months  is an exciting time as older toddlers begin using their growing language skills to tell you what they are thinking and feeling.
  • At 30-36 months, older toddlers are full of personality and energy. They want to know the reason for everything. You will probably hear your child ask “Why?” a lot!

Birth – 3 months          3 – 6 months           6-9 months           9-12 months          18 months           2 years          3 years  



FAMILY FUN