Now we are 3: Here’s what to look forward to

Toddler smiling with flour on their face

Three years old is a big deal. It comes with new social-emotional and logic skills, language, independence, curiosity, and an evolving sense of right and wrong. It can also come with a fair amount of frustration—for both your child and you—as they confront the obstacles standing between them and what they want to do. Despite this, three years old is dynamic and inspiring ❤️

Three-year-olds are stepping out into the world, learning to become themselves as their experiences get deeper and wider. Whatever they’re receiving in the form of language, ideas, and feeling, they’re giving back in equal measure. This span of time between the ages of three and four is referred to as “the magic years” for a reason.

Here are a few of the new changes on the horizon for your 3-year-old:

Imaginative play

Your three-year-old’s imagination is evolving as they head into this new age. When they were two, they acted out scenes from their own lives, often familiar routines like washing the dishes or putting a baby down for a nap. This kind of pretend play helped your child begin to make sense of the world. 

When your child turns three, you may see more complex versions of pretend play. Your child may role-play characters from real life (including you 😉) and create more complex scenes to act out. They may start using objects that are unrelated to what they’re pretending they are, like a stick for a phone. Later this year, your child may begin to act out scenes based on what they’ve seen or heard about but haven’t personally experienced—imaginary play becomes more common as they approach age 4.

Start collecting clothes that can be used as costumes and everyday household items that can be used as props. To best support imaginative play, read to your three-year-old: stories are an important source of inspiration.

Taking new chances

Your child may want to take more physical risks now, and while there may be times when you want to limit all that activity, try to stand back and let them try what they want to try. No matter where your child’s gross motor skills are at the moment, they will probably try to test their bodies in new ways, some of which will work out better than others 🙃 


There’s little that’s more contagious than a small child’s enthusiasm. Offer your child opportunities for new experiences and introduce them to new language, foods, people, and stories. This will not only fill their well, but also give them the chance to start figuring out what they are passionate about—and three-year-olds are definitely passionate!

Temper tantrums that test your patience

Yes, temper tantrums may escalate this year and yes, you may need to practice deep breathing and the art of letting go to get through them. Try to remember that these emotional outbursts help your child work through that inner battle between their desire and their ability. Temper tantrums also teach your child how to identify and name emotions, which is key to eventually finding better ways to express them. 

Growing your relationship

Take advantage of your child’s curiosity and developing skills to create new rituals together. Partner in cooking projects, teach your child to garden, build obstacle courses, work on a puzzle (30 pieces is a good place to start), and create treasure hunts together. 

Reading to your three-year-old is more important than ever. This year their literacy skills will grow in big ways. They will begin to recognize favorite books, know how to hold them the right way and turn pages, and even recognize some words inside them. They may be able to predict what will happen in a story and their attention span will grow which will allow them to listen to longer and more complex texts. Even if your growing three-year-old isn’t willing to snuggle in your lap as often as they used to, reading a book together is still one of the best ways to connect and express love 💗 See our favorite toys for 3-year olds.


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Posted in: 3-year-old, 34 - 36 Months, Social Emotional, Independence, Imaginative Play, Child Development

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