Child Development at 3 Years

Posture & Large Movements

  • Walks alone upstairs with alternating feet and downstairs with two feet to step.
  • Usually jumps from bottom step.
  • Climbs nursery apparatus with agility.
  • Can turn round obstacles and corners while running and also while pushing and pulling large toys.
  • Rides tricycle and can turn wide corners on it.
  • Can walk on tiptoe.
  • Stands momentarily on one foot when shown.
  • Sits with feet crossed at ankles.

Vision & Fine Movements

  • Picks up pins, threads, etc., with each eye covered separately.
  • Builds tower of nine cubes, also (31/2 ) bridge of three from model.
  • Can close fist and wiggle thumb in imitation.
  • R and L.
  • Copies circle (also V, H, T). Imitates cross.
  • Draws man with head and usually indication of features or one other part.
  • Matches two or three primary colours (usually red and yellow correct, but may confuse blue and green).
  • Paints ‘pictures’ with large brush on easel.
  • Cuts with scissors.
  • Recognises special miniature toys at 10 feet. Performs single-letter vision test at 10 feet. Five letters.

Hearing & Speech

  • Large intelligible vocabulary but speech still shows many infantile phonetic substitutions.
  • Gives full name and sex, and (sometimes) age.
  • Uses plurals and pronouns.
  • Still talks to himself in long monologues mostly concerned with the immediate present, including make-believe activities.
  • Carries on simple conversations, and verbalises past experiences.
  • Asks many questions beginning ‘What?’, ‘Where?’, ‘Who?’.
  • Listens eagerly to stories and demands favourites over and over again.
  • Knows several nursery rhymes.
  • 7 toy test, 4 animals picture test. 1st or 2nd cube test, 6 ‘high frequency’ word pictures.

Social Behaviour & Play

  • Eats with fork and spoon.
  • Washes hands, but needs supervision in drying.
  • Can pull pants and knickers down and up, but needs help with buttons. Dry through night. General behaviour more amenable.
  • Affectionate and confiding.
  • Likes to help with adult’s activities in house and garden.
  • Makes effort to keep his surroundings tidy.
  • Vividly realised make-believe play including invented people and objects.
  • Enjoys floor play with bricks, boxes, toy trains and cars, alone or with siblings.
  • Joins in play with other children in and outdoors.
  • Understands sharing playthings, sweets, etc.
  • Shows affection for younger siblings.
  • Shows some appreciation of past and present.

Source: Reports on Public Health and Medical Subjects No 102. HMSO 1960, revised 1975.