Developmental Milestones of 3-4 Year Olds

What a wonderful age! I absolutely loved this age with my children.



We have reached a phase that is characterised by children wanting to try new tasks for themselves. 3 – 4 year olds will do new tasks together, especially on the first attempt. Try to model how to persist at an activity. They may be impatient or easily frustrated but helping them concentrate by providing tips and clues on how to accomplish a task will boost their self confidence.

  • Solve puzzles, build blocks.
  • Do simple food preparation in the kitchen.
  • Draw and color together to help them understand that activities can be fun even if you make mistakes or do not get them right the first time.
  • Expose your child to literature and try to encourage them to read some words or parts of the story to help them develop a love for reading.

What 3-4 Year Olds Can Do

Your 3-4 year will start to develop fine and gross motor skills for school such as writing, coloring, simple cutting, and folding.  This is an important stage since most experience new social situations at this age (such as pre – kinder and kindergarten) and have to deal with a completely new environment.  Try to be sensitive about their needs at this time and how it is affecting them.  They may be anxious about the challenges of having to make new friends, following a schedule and cooperating within a group.

They also start to form number and letter concepts which is the building block for higher math, reading and literacy in the years to follow.  This is an excellent time to introduce numbers and letters at every occasion.  Try spotting letters and counting objects when the occasion presents itself in ordinary situations like in the grocery store, during mealtimes or in the car.

Likes & Dislikes of 3-4 Year Olds

Your 3-4 year old likes to form friendships primarily through talking with his peers. Encourage your child as often as possible to say what is on his mind, at the same time making sure he knows how to listen.  This will help him make quick friends. Continuing to model and teach social skills becomes increasingly important at this stage.

  • Has favorite people or cartoon characters.
  • Likes reading longer stories and participates in them.
  • Likes to learn new things and does this by asking questions especially, factual ones.
  • Enjoys caring for living things like small pets (hamster, bunny, fish)  or plants.
  • Loves finger painting, drawing.

Speech & Language Development of 3-4 Year Olds

Your 3-4 year old is more animated and diverse in his choice of words and enjoys talking – a lot!  He combines gestures, facial expressions and descriptions to his sentences which is a good way for you to cultivate a closer bond.

  • Likes discussing characters in a story.
  • Likes asking factual questions “why”.
  • Can explain what he did.
  • Can recollect and articulate what happened the day before which is an important tool for developing memory and language.
  • Can count, read three letter words, narrate a story.
  • Learns to use adjectives and adverbs correctly.

Cognitive Development of 3-4 Year Olds

Your 3-4 year old can understand rules of behavior at this time although you may still have disciplinary conflicts.  Always make sure that your child understands the reason behind rules which is more important than following the rules mechanically.  Also, try to be mindful about modeling good behavior, especially when it comes to challenging tasks.  Remember they are copying you closely, including the way you respond to challenging and trying tasks.

  • Can follow rituals or schedules such as bath time, story time, play time, clean up time.
  • Can sort objects by different classifications, such as color, size, shape, etc.
  • Can already understand the need to follow protocol and etiquette in certain situations.
  • Can count and say the alphabet.
  • Introduce basic operations once he learns to count such as addition or “putting things together”.
  • Prod critical thinking skills this early by asking questions and predict outcomes, especially in stories.

Physical Development of 3-4 Year Olds

Your 3-4 year old takes pride in ‘doing things by himself’ successfully.  Allow him to practice fine motor skills (for example buttoning, tying and coordinating) by grooming and dressing himself.

  • Likes to jump over small hurdles.
  • Would like to walk rather than sit in the pram or buggy.
  • Likes to be tickled and chased.
  • Can learn to pack away.
  • Likes movement games, or mimicking movement especially of an adult.
  • Likes learning the limits of what they have learned to do, marching, balancing (on one leg), bending, skipping, hopping, etc.
  • Starts to favor one hand to write or draw.

Social & Emotional Development of 3-4 Year Olds

Starts to develop their sense of right and wrong, and knows that it is wrong to lie.  Also knows the difference between a truth or lie. For parents, it is important to deal with the lies immediately and explain the consequences to your child.  Be mindful not to be severe about it.

  • May start to learn about sharing.
  • May still be clingy especially when left in someone else’s care.
  • Learns to observe and be sensitive to other people’s feelings.
  • Can learn to keep himself clean.