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Childhood milestones age 3

At 3, your child is continuing to develop physically and make huge progress in his or her ability to speak, play, learn and interact with others. Your child will develop by experiencing the world around him or her through exploration, and he or she will develop an increasing self-awareness.

This guide gives some idea of what to expect by the time your child reaches his or her third birthday, but it's important to remember that children don't develop according to a fixed timetable. The speed at which children mature can be highly variable and your child may reach some stages earlier or later than others of the same age without there being reasons to be concerned.

Age 3: Physical development

By the time your child reaches the age of 3, he or she should be quite steady on their feet and able to run easily. He or she should be able to stand on tiptoe while walking and turn while running and pulling toys. Your child should now be able to walk up or down the stairs with one foot on each step and should also be climbing well. At this age expect your child to be able to pedal a tricycle.

Age 3: Cognitive and language skills

This category covers a child's ability to learn and think and involves problem-solving. Your child should be able to play make-believe games with toys, animals and people. Expect your child to be able to name most familiar objects and understand words such as "in", "on" and "under". He or she should understand the concept of what "two" means. By now your child may be able to say his or her first name, age and sex, name a friend, and use words such as "I", "me" and "you". He or she should be asking "who", "what" and "where" questions. Your child should be able to talk well enough for strangers to mostly understand and be able to say three and four word sentences. By the age of 3, your child may be able to speak 250 to 500 words or more.

Your child should be able to work the buttons, levers and moving parts on toys, turn a door handle, do a puzzle with three or four pieces, and screw and unscrew a lid on a bottle. Your child's motor skills should be developed enough to cut with child-friendly scissors and to use a fork and spoon. He or she should be able to build a tower using more than six blocks, copy a circle with a pencil or crayon and turn book pages one at a time. Your child should be able to dress and undress him or herself.

Age 3: Social and emotional growth

Your child should be copying adults and friends, which helps your child to learn. Expect your child to show a range of emotions, showing affection for friends without prompting and displaying concern if a friend is crying. Your child should take turns in games and understand the idea of "mine" or "his" or "hers". Your child should be able to spend time away from his parents, but he or she may get upset if there are major changes in routine.

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