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Gwinnett County Public Schools

Important Milestones: Your Child at Three Years

Important Milestones: Your Child at Three Years


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

Check the milestones your child has reached by his or her 3rd birthday. Take this with you and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.

What most children do at this age:

Social and Emotional

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

Language/Communication

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

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Finds things even when hidden under two or three covers
  • Begins to sort shapes and colors
  • Completes sentences and rhymes in familiar books
  • Plays simple make-believe games
  • Builds towers of 4 or more blocks
  • Might use one hand more than the other
  • Follows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.”
  • Names items in a picture book such as a cat, bird, or dog

Movement/Physical Development

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

Act early by talking to your child’s doctor if your child:

  • Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs
  • Drools or has very unclear speech
  • Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle)
  • Doesn’t speak in sentences
  • Doesn’t understand simple instructions
  • Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe
  • Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys
  • Doesn’t make eye contact
  • Loses skills he once had
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