Your 3-year-old can be very engaging. Social, language, and motor skills are developing rapidly during this time. Your child will display curiosity of the world. The question "Why?" will be asked over and over again.

Three-year-olds gain a greater sense of self. Your child will identify gender differences and imitate his or her adult male and female role models. During play activity, your child will now interact more with his or her peers. Vocabulary increases to several hundred words. Three- to four-word sentences are used regularly. Although articulation is not perfect, your child will be understood by others about 75% of the time.

Motor skills demonstrate improving coordination. Your child might enjoy cutting with scissors, stacking multiple objects, and drawing circles. A greater sense of physical independence is gained when your child is able to go up and down stairs using alternating feet.

Praise your child when he or she learns a new task.

Safety first

  • Poison-proof your home, paying special attention to cabinets at child level. In the event your child ingests a potentially harmful substance, keep the container and call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1200. A representative will tell you what to do.
  • Hot tap water should be less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Smoke detectors should be located on each level of your home and outside of each bedroom. Test smoke detectors once a month.
  • Keep firearms unloaded and locked in a cabinet if you must have them in the home.
  • Secure electrical cords and cover outlets.
  • Practice fire drills in the home.
  • Your child should always ride in a car seat until he or she weighs 40 pounds and is at least 4 years old. The car seat should be placed in the back seat of the car.
  • When your child is ready to learn to ride a bike, buy him or her a helmet.
  • Discuss stranger safety.
  • Your child should never swim without supervision. All pools and water areas should be inaccessible to your child.
  • Until your child can be taught to cross the street independently, he or she should always be accompanied by an adult.
  • Remove doors from old appliances and warn children never to hide in appliances.
  • When cooking, turn pot handles away from the front of the stove.
  • Teach your child his or her name, address, and telephone number (with area code). You might also want teach your child to dial "911" and "0" for the operator.
  • By this time, your child should also know your first name as well as your spouse's.
  • Teach your child to stay close to you in public places.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/17/2012.


  • SafeKids Safety Basics: Little Kids (1-4 years) (
  • Keep Kids Safe and Healthy This Summer (

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