3-4 years

Child from 3 to 4 years

A child of 3-4 years likes doing things with his or her hands but does them awkwardly. Every kid has their unique personalities and the things they enjoy.  It is important to support them in their interests. Parents need to provide them a pattern of daily living that gives them a safe basis from which to explore.

They like to talk and learn new words, and children at that age have more language skills. Although they have a short attention span, he/she is very curious and active. Enjoys in play-role games. She likes fingerplays, stories, and musical activities. Is unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. Enjoys playing alone and it doesn’t engage in much cooperative play with others. She/he likes to have friends around but is self-centered. They are interested in where babies come from and may experiment by looking at other children’s bodies.

They are likely to laugh at funny situations, their sense of humor is developing. He or she has difficulty sharing their toys. Prefers to be close to family, because they provide security. A child of 3-4 years needs approval, love, and praise from parents, brother, sister… Is sensitive to others’ feelings and he/she cries easily. Has intense, short-lived emotions. At that age, they are learning to understand the feelings and needs of others. Their behavior shows that they can feel empathy for others and can share their toys and take turns, at least some of the time.

Physical development (large and fine motor skills)


Typical physical development:

  •  He learned to ride a tricycle.
  •  While running he can kick the ball.
  •  Can walk leg to foot in a straight line with open arms.
  •  Can handle beads/macaroni.
  •  Can handle scissors and cut lines.
  •  He tries to draw a man, head and limbs


Encourage children’s development:

  • You should motivate your child to freely choose activities that he can perform independently (up to five minutes): simple puzzles, blocks, play-doh, coloring, toys; let him clean up his things after each activity.
  • With a child you can draw lines and shapes, for example, a simple human figure
  • Apply activities that require hand-to-hand coordination – they are important for the overall development of the child.


Speech development/communication


Typical physical development:

  •  The child speaks in sentences, the speech is intelligible.
  •  He says, he knows a few songs for the kids.
  •  He knows some friends’ names.
  •  He knows that he names most of the items in his daily environment.
  •  He knows he says his name, surnames, how old is he, who is half.
  •  Understands words like “on”, “under”, “in”.
  •  About the third year, due to the expansion of speech-language development, it happens that the child stutters; it will disappear if the environment properly treats the child.


Encourage children’s development:

  •  Tell your child stories; encourage him to take part in recounting, guessing the outcome of the story, maybe even figure out a part of it.
  •  Recite and sing songs for your children.
  •  Read with your child daily, name the objects in the pictures, ask simple questions and encourage imitation of speech, sentences.
  •  Listen to what he says, not how he speaks; speak more slowly and without major verbal demands.
  •  Avoid situations where the child needs to speak in front of the group and he or she does not feel comfortable.


Boys are reading a book
Boys are reading a book

Cognitive development


Typical physical development:

  •  Imitates adults and other children.
  •  He knows he recognizes several colors.
  •  Understands the relationship between part and whole.
  •  He cites opposites when you ask him, “What’s the opposite of_____?” (hot-cold, fond of love, small-big, day-night, wet-dry, etc.).
  •  She understands the concepts of my, your, her, his.
  •  Follows complex verbal requests (two to three consecutive requests).
  •  Counts up to four mechanically.

Encourage children’s development:

  •  Ask to describe objects and actions in the surrounding area.
  •  Introduce your child to the concept of time: today, yesterday, tomorrow, morning, evening…
  •  Play the opposite game: “The baby is small and you are ____”, “The elephant is big and the butterfly is_____”; or: “What is the opposite of day/night or sweet/salty?”.
  •  For the child to exercise memory, let them follow more complex instructions (eg: “Go to your room and bring your hat and scarf!”).
  •  Play matching/memory matching games.
  •  Play counting, assembling and disassembling (puzzle, dice, toys…), stringing (pinches, clickers, matches, grains), constructing different shapes.

Socio-emotional development


Typical physical development:

  •  Easily separated from parents.
  •  It begins to accept simple game rules.
  •  He wants to play with another kid – start a cooperative game.
  •  He insists on doing things on his own.

Encourage children’s development:

  •  Organize your child’s play in a group, get him or her to play with another child.
  • Talk about emotions.
  •  Encourage your child to name, recognize emotions in picture books and real life.
  •  Set clear rules and restrictions and be consistent in their application.
  •  Compliments positively influence the image a child creates of himself/herself; when criticized, it must be exclusively about the behavior, not the child’s personality.


Self-help / self-care


Typical physical development:

  • Dresses and strips independently.
  •  He buttoned a big button.
  •  Uses a spoon, fork, and napkin when eating.
  •  Washing and wiping his hands on his own.
  •  In words, he communicates the need to go to the toilet.
  •  Knows to screw/unscrew plug/lid on objects.


Encourage children’s development:

  •  Encourage your child to brush and brush their hands independently, to brush their teeth, to use cutlery.
  •  Teach your child to pick up his toys, in the middle of the corner, in the room.




The importance of play, Dr David Whitebread

Play and Child Development, JOE L. FROST, SUE C. WORTHAM, STUART REIFEL

Learning through play, UNICEF-Lego Foundation University of Nebraska, Lincoln