What skills should a 3-year-old child be able to do?
Charles I. Schwartz, MD

A three year old should have clear speech in which 75 to 80 percent of their speech is understandable. They will talk in complete sentences of 3-5 words. Some three year-olds will stumble over words sometimes but this is usually not a sign of stuttering. They will listen attentively to short stories and books. They will ask many who, what, where, and why questions. They can draw a circle and square. They can identify simple primary colors.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Here are the skills, traits, or habits a child will typically have developed by age three:

Social and Emotional
  • Imitates playmates and adults
  • Can take turns in games
  • Expresses affection and wide range of emotions
  • Can separate from parents (fairly) easily
Learning and Language
  • Matches object in hand to picture
  • Completes puzzles of a few pieces
  • Understands most sentences
  • Follows commands
  • Recognizes common objects
  • Uses three- to four-word sentences
  • Can say name and age and uses pronouns

Gross Motor

  • Climbs well
  • Walks up and down stairs
  • Kicks ball
  • Runs easily
  • Pedals tricycle

Fine Motor

  • Can draw lines and circular shapes with pencil
  • Turns pages in book one at a time
  • Builds tower of more than a few blocks
YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

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YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

There’s little doubt that parenting can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you’ll ever have. But it can be plenty tough, too: Around the clock, you’re working to keep your...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.