Achievement Unlocked

There’s so much to celebrate when your little one turns three. DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON highlights the 10 milestones you should look out for at this age.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Now that your child is three and the toddler years are behind him, here are some of the important milestones he will achieve as a young preschooler. Celebrate them, but don’t get too fussed if you don’t see him progressing as fast as you wish. Every child is different.

He can build a tower Place a small pile of wooden blocks in front of your little one and ask him to build a tower, one on top of the other.

If he concentrates hard, he is probably able to balance eight or nine blocks this way before his mini tower eventually topples over. He enjoys practising this until he gets it right.

His sentences get longer You’ll find that he no longer uses the minimum amount of words to convey meaning, but instead uses four or five words combined together.

He naturally extends the length of sentences he uses, as long as you provide a good model for him to copy. Your child’s language structures begin to resemble your own.

He can wield a pair of scissors He can hold small objects with a steady hand and move them quite precisely without dropping them from his grasp. Child-sized scissors are more manageable for him now, partly because his fingers are bigger, and also because his grip has developed. He can cut through a large piece of thick paper.

He can pedal His legs are stronger and he can coordinate his feet movements more effectively in order to propel a pedal toy slowly along the ground. He’ll happily sit on a tricycle and turn the pedals with his feet, moving himself and the toy a few metres forward. You may need to remind him to keep the front wheel pointing forwards, however.

He’s better at handling cutlery Your kid’s behaviour at mealtimes has vastly improved, and he wants to be independent at the table, just like the others in his family. With your encouragement, he is able to use child-sized cutlery properly – probably just a fork and spoon at this age – and to sit at the table throughout the whole meal until he is finished.

He uses adjectives to describe everyday objects or people in his life At this stage, though, he only uses two or three regularly – such as “big”, “little”, “happy” and “sad” – but this steadily increases. Explain that using describing words makes his talking more interesting and helps people listen to him.

His drawing will improve His thinking skills have increased, so he is now better able to portray his perceptions of the world on paper.

If you ask him to draw a picture of you, the finished product will be recognisable as a person. However, you’ll notice the head is extremely large, with no body attached to it, and the legs stick out from underneath. He may include the eyes.

His memory has improved He can hold small amounts of new information for a few seconds and then report them accurately back to you. Tell your three-year-old two single numbers, with a one-second gap between each number, and then immediately ask him to say these numbers back to you. Chances are, he’ll remember both digits accurately.

He’s honing his balance skills Not only can he stand on his tiptoes for several seconds without putting his heels on the ground, he can also walk forward on his tiptoes.

Your child can probably take six or seven paces likes before stopping for a short break. His balance is good, and he is more confidence and stable when jumping up and down. He tries harder and achieves more.

He’s more socially confident Your preschooler now finds it easier to make new friends, especially if you reassure him that the children in playgroup or nursery will like him and that he will have good fun there. Let him see how pleased you are when he chats about his friendships. Ask lots of questions concerning his pals so that he can see you are interested. 

Your three-year-old can now hold small amounts of new information for a few seconds and then report them accurately back to you.