Preschool Life: 3-year-olds

What are 3-year-olds like?

  • Are eager to please
  • Are full of energy and enthusiasm
  • Understand words better; you can explain things to them
  • Still dawdle and resent being hurried
  • Love to laugh and want you to laugh with them
  • Also cry and hit out to stand up for own rights
  • They are just beginning to argue with words
  • Are developing independence, will say, “I can do it myself!”
  • Find undressing easy; dressing is harder
  • Enjoy helping us; this makes them feel important
  • Loves companionship and making friends; may even have a best friend
  • Families are still their main interest
  • Are learning to take turns and to share
  • Are curious, they ask why, when, what?
  • Test, touch, watch – and learn
  • Love being part of a group

I Just Want to Have Friends

Making friends is so important for 3-year-olds; they are learning how to enter groups which is challenging for a 3-year-old, as they move away from parallel play to cooperative play. 3-year-olds love helping with house work or cooking in the kitchen: pouring and stirring. Their imaginations begin to grow, while playing house and mimicking their Mommy or Daddy. They see the gender differences. Gender is beginning to pose questions in their head.  At around 3 ½ there appears to be more disequilibrium as they begin to strengthen their will.  We see more power being exerted as they establish “self” in the universe. Parenting strategies that were successful are no longer effective…”What happened to my Sweet Child?”

What can three-year-olds do?

  • Walk, run, jump, gallop
  • Can use tricycles
  • Are still “scribbling” but more control is evident
  • Know color differences but do not know their name yet
  • Sing – and sometimes on pitch
  • Can catch balls (about one time out of three)
  • Speak in sentences
  • Help put away toys – If adults help too

What Works for 3-year-olds?

When your 3-year-old experiences disequilibrium, it is our job to shepherd them through these rough patches of growth and development. We often see the struggles with their mother, who has been the main focal point as the child develops relationships. When a child is experiencing this period of disequilibrium, the other family member or even baby sitters can be more effective. The child sees the mother as the omnipotent love object, yet they know they need to separate from Mommy. This can be a time of emotional explosiveness between the child and Mommy.  3-year-olds need space to grow and nurture new relationships – They are super social beings!

Post by Steve Zwolak