Help them learn how to self-regulate

780 weeks remaining…

The struggle for independence continues in this phase. To foster independence within your child, let them make their own choices and allow them to experience the results of those choices. (e.g. selecting and putting on their clothes, what to do for fun, what to eat for dinner, etc.)

In this stage of wonder, the questioning really starts to ramp up. Three-year-olds want to learn about the world around them and have lots of questions. When they don’t have a specific question, they’ll curiously wonder (repeatedly), “why?”, which can be exhausting.

In this phase, anything and everything is possible. There is no distinction between imagination and reality. Fear might set in when scary concepts seem real and near. At the same time, endless possibilities of amazing futures seem within grasp. Your 3-year-old is processing a lot of information. You get the opportunity to shape and mold the mind that is maturing and growing at an incredible rate of speed.

A crucial skill your child will continue to develop in this phase is self-regulation (the ability to recognize emotions and express them in a healthy manner). Self-regulation is a learned skill, not a natural ability. Kids observe and replicate what they see the grown-ups around them doing. They won’t always get it right, which produces really big feelings that overwhelm your child. They need your patience and consistency in teaching them.

How Your Child Is Developing

  • Physically: They walk up stairs, put on their shoes, and cut with scissors.
  • Verbally: They are easier to understand but may struggle with some sounds (this is developmentally appropriate). They can answer "what/where/when" questions.
  • Mentally: They live in the present; they have limited memory of past events. They learn by putting things into simple categories (e.g. colors, shapes, animals, etc.) and are concrete thinkers.
  • Emotionally: They may begin to scream, throw tantrums, and show aggression (as a method of communication). They enjoy physical humor and simple jokes. They can tell you what makes them happy or sad and begin to form empathy (showing concern for others who are hurt).
  • Socially: Their highest form of learning is imaginative play alongside an adult. They feel the need for independence.

The Primary Question Your Child Is Asking In This Phase

"Is your love unconditional?"

Your 3-year-old needs to know you love them even when they make bad choices.

Your Best Next Step During This Phase

Teach and practice self-regulation strategies.