What are the developmental milestones of kids from 3 to 4 years old?


Children at this age are much more aware of, and confident about their day-to-day activities. They enjoy structure and may be interested in going to preschool. Although they are learning how to play well with other children, they need guidance with taking turns and sharing. They can follow rules and are less likely than younger children to act on impulses. This is also a time for immense growth in language skills: Most 3-year-olds have over 700 words in their vocabulary!

Communication and language skills include:

  • Correctly names some colors
  • Counts objects
  • Uses many sentences that have 4 or more words
  • Tells simple stories
  • Whispers
  • Begins to master some basic rules of grammar, but errors exist
  • Uses plurals and personal pronouns “I,” “you,” and “me”
  • Understands position words such as “in,” “out,” “behind,” and “in front of”
  • Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words.
  • Asks many “what,” “where,” and “who” questions
  • Speaks clearly enough to be understood by people outside the family

Cognitive and intellectual skills include:

  • Classifies objects by purpose, for example, “to play with,” or “to wear”
  • Recognizes and labels different shapes and matches simple geometric forms
  • Shows interest in a wider variety of tasks, activities, and experiences.
  • Continues working to complete a task even if it is moderately difficult
  • Approaches problems from a single point of view
  • Engages in fantasy play
  • Understands concept of opposites
  • Understands time intervals better, such as today, tomorrow, and yesterday
  • Traces a square, copies a circle, and imitates horizontal strokes
  • Puts on own shoes, but not necessarily on the proper foot

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

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Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...

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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.