When kids turn 3, they are a lot more aware of themselves and things around them. They know the difference between various feelings; they can utter words, walk a few steps, and perhaps have ‘demands’ when eating. With such circumstances involving growing children, parenting can become a roller coaster ride.
Although witnessing your child grow is an overwhelming feeling, it brings in many more responsibilities as the child grows. They are tiny tots who experience changes – both physical and emotional. They can be highly patient at times and sometimes cranky. You need to adjust because this is a phase, their phase.
It is often said that terrible 2s, trusting 3s and pleasing 4s, but never fall for those because raising a three-year-old can be more complicated than raising a newborn or a two-year-old. Piaget’s theory on The stages of Cognitive Development explains the reason behind this.
Once a child has crossed two years, significant developmental changes take place in him. It is known as the preoperational stage of cognitive development that lasts till around seven years of age. However, the beginning of this phase (i.e., three years of age) is the most difficult for parents. This article discusses the practical parenting tips for three years old child spread across health, hygiene, nutrition, and social behaviour.
As parents, you will have to accept dealing with the following changes in your child:
- Although children begin having an understanding of things, they do not understand alternate perspectives. As a parent, you can find this behaviour disrespectful and disobedient, but your child has no-fault. Such a phase is called egocentrism.
- Children interpret things symbolically. They may represent spaghetti with pens, and that is hard to decode. Do not get irritated. You will soon learn all the codes that your child will gradually teach you.
- They begin picking up words from what they listen to. So if your child uttered a beep word, instead of getting mad at her, remember that your environment may not be child friendly. Monitor what you watch and how you interact with your people. Children are keen observers and quickly pick up on everything that they hear.
Seven tips for dealing with these developmental and characteristic changes
- Categorize the behaviour of your child:
Instead of just getting mad and yelling, try out labelling your three-year-old child’s behaviour as ‘good,’ ‘not good,’ ‘kind,’ ‘not kind,’ ‘obedient’, ‘not obedient’, and so on. Focus on the words. They are not antonyms but negations. You will be surprised to watch your three-year-old pick those words up from you and label their behaviour.
- Give them the attention they ask for:
Often when you are busy with household chores or office work, your three-year-old comes to you, trying to distract you from what you are doing. S/he may pull your clothes or hair, may try to curl onto your lap or may sit there and stare at you. You here must stop whatever you are doing and gaze at your child, pay attention to him/her and rub over his/her hair for a while. Talk to your child. Plant kisses, tickle her/him. Do this in regulations, once in every while.
- Love them:
It is natural to lose your shit when everything fails. Parenting can make you do this more often. But remember that your parenting methods will largely influence the lifestyle of your kid. So you have to be wise. When your child fails at accomplishing something, ease the tension by talking to them gently about their deeds—using harsh verbal discipline impacts your child’s behaviour in their adolescent years. They can take up fighting, stealing, lying and abusing their peers and everyone else at their schools, universities or social gatherings.
- Avoid threats:
Parents often resort to punishments along the lines of “Finish your homework quickly, else I will not let you play in the park.” Such sentences may help you get your work done immediately, but they cause long-term impacts and make them less cooperative.
- Adapting to acclimatization:
When your children do not get what they ask for, they begin throwing tantrums or show unruly behaviour. You have to acclimate. You have to adapt to their behaviour consisting of frequent demands. If you see them throwing tantrums, the best way to deal with it instead of yelling back at them is to put yourself in their shoes and understand what caused that behaviour. You will be relieved to notice that the causes behind such tantrums are often minimal. When a child’s emotional requirements are met, they happen to form strong bonds with you. This is also called attachment parenting.
- Learn to appreciate the effort:
When your kids are entitled to performing a task, they may accomplish it or fail. In both cases, you must appreciate them for their efforts rather than the outcome. Of course, you must correct them, but gently. Praise them for their effort and gently teach them how they can do better.
- Channel all the anger through creativity:
When your children are behaving aggressively, they can often be calmed down through physical activities. Just take them to the park for a stroll or play their favourite board games with them. You will be surprised to see that they will calm down.
Understanding your child’s physical development
Once you are good with understanding and fulfilling your child’s emotional needs, approaching, monitoring and fulfilling the physical demands becomes a lot easier. One key point here is to understand that all children develop at different rates. But more or less, they reach certain milestones at the same age.
Here are a few pointers that will help you keep your child’s physical development in check:
What is your child capable of doing?
Three-year-olds progress is slower than a newborn or even a two-year-old kid. However, they develop exceptional abilities, and most of these are stepping stone towards the physical agility that develops sooner. Here are some activities that you may observe your little one doing:
- Riding a tricycle quite easily.
- Feeding themselves.
- Having the ability to colour objects within the boundary.
- Having the ability to recall alphabets and numbers.
- Dressing and undressing as long as there are no buttons and laces involved.
- Following a proper bowel schedule.
- Being able to run a few meters efficiently.
- Being able to walk without support.
- Being able to climb up and down the stairs.
- Have concentrating abilities that can last for about 5-8 minutes.
- Have all the baby teeth lined up and visible.
Here are two activities that will help your child enjoyably develop physical agility:
- Object collection: Pick up some of your child’s favourite objects, including stuffed teddy bears, candies, toys and stationery. Now place each of these objects on your staircase (or any staircase nearby!) and ask your child to collect them. Your child will find the activity enjoyable because it involves all the favourite stuff. When you do this often, you will successfully enhance their ability to climb up and down the stairs.
Takeaways: Muscle strengthening, hand and eye coordination and agility development.
- Just Dance! It is the most straightforward activity that you can carry out within your premises. Play your child’s favourite rhyme or any peppy song and start dancing. Your child will follow pursuit. Dancing is an excellent form of cardio workout. You can do this as many as two times each day.
Takeaways: Complete body movement.
How much can your child speak?
At three year of age, children can speak pretty clearly for you to understand. Albert Bandura, in his Social Learning Theory, proposed that children learn languages based on observation. Just like children learn to dress and undress themselves, they learn languages. Initially, they develop words within their mind and based on repeated hearing encounters with the word; they finally speak it out. When they feel that the word is exactly how their mother or father pronounces it, they reinforce it.
Every child develops language skills based on his or her own pace. Once acquired, here are a few pointers that you must look into:
- You understand the words that your child utters.
- Your child can remember, recall and recite poetries and rhymes.
- Your child can understand and use the golden words, including ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ when required.
- Your child can distinguish between various colours and shapes.
- Your child refers to self by using his or her actual name.
Here are a few games that will help you build the communication skills of your three-year-old child:
- Name the object:
Point towards random objects inside your home and ask your child to name them. To increase the complexity, you can also ask your child to name the object’s colour and shape. Repeat this by pointing towards 7-10 random objects. Your child will learn the names of new objects and also learn to distinguish the colours and shapes.
Takeaways: Language skills, ability to recognize & identify colours and shapes, memory recall.
- Alpha dots:
In this activity, you will have to draw dotted outlines of numbers and alphabets on a sheet of paper. Ask your child to connect the dots and identify the numbers and alphabets. To make it more interesting, you can ask them to name an object from the same alphabet. For example, if the letter they connected the dots of turns out to be ‘A’, they can recite ‘A for Apple’ and so on.
Takeaways: Recalling alphabets and numbers.
- Conversation building:
For this activity, you will need to buy a pair of toy telephones. Give one of the telephones to your child and have one for yourself. Now pretend as though you are calling your child and begin striking conversations. You may teach your child the basic etiquettes such as answering the phone with ‘Hello’ and ‘How are you?’
Takeaways: Learning to converse and greet.
To what extent can your child interact socially?
Although three-year-old children can make friends, they find difficulty in sharing their toys and playing games by taking turns. Although this is a common trait, some children may adapt to the concept of sharing.
Here are some milestones for social interaction by a three-year-old.
- Your child begins to engage in group activities at preschool and enjoys them.
- Your child begins addressing his or her friends by their names.
- You will observe decreased tantrums.
- Your child may slowly begin adapting to the concept of sharing and taking turns in participation.
- Your child begins accepting and displaying feelings such as liking a friend (that is socially acceptable.)
- Here are two activities that will help you develop the social skills of your three years old:
- Play a board game:You can pick up any board game or even puzzles for this matter. A board game is a superior choice because it teaches your child to wait for his/her turn. You can play a board game every alternate day or once in three days. Your child will have a great time.Takeaways: Learning to be patient and wait for turns.
- Group games:Encourage your child to participate in group activities such as musical chairs that involve a particular set of rules that the child must abide by. The point is to let your child take part in games that involve waiting for their turn.Takeaways: Learning to follow commands, learning the art of patience
Nutrition Tips for your three-year-old
At three years of age, children begin eating just like you and the rest of the family. It is a good time for them to have food with the rest of the family. You can teach table manners and etiquettes to your child. As far as the food is concerned, children eat pretty much the same as adults with some exceptions. Their diet can consist of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole-grain foods. Make sure to regulate the amount of salt and sugar intake. You can increase the quantities of healthy fat by adding nut butter and salmon to their diet. If your child doesn’t breastfeed anymore, add pasteurized cow milk to the diet.
Here are the average nutritional requirements of a three-year-old:
Most of the three-year-old kids require approximately 1350 calories per day. You must include grains (4-5 ounces per day), fruits (1 ½ cups of frozen or dry fruits per day), vegetables (1 ½ cups of chewable or cooked vegetables per day), milk (2 ½ cups per day) and lastly, proteins (about 3 ounces per day.)
Hygiene Habits Habits cannot be developed overnight. Hence, they must be taught to kids right from the very beginning. One of the significant components of parenting tips for three years old is teaching these hygiene habits to your kids. These habits will help them develop a sense of cleanliness as they attain puberty. Here are a few habits that you must teach them:
- Regularly washing hands.
- Washing their hands and feet after returning home.
- Brushing their teeth twice a day.
- Flossing their mouth after every meal.
As a parent, you must ensure that your kids wear neat and clean clothes. Make sure they wear clean underwears each day. When you drop them at school, make sure they are well-combed, wear polished shoes and ironed uniform.
Often, first-time parents feel incredibly anxious and have FOMO. It is common. Some parents may have to juggle between work and parenting, while some have to raise them as single parent.
If you feel you cannot handle your child, ask for help from a trusted relative or experts. If time permits, read books and articles on the internet, and you will know that you are not alone.
Remember, positive parenting requires consistent efforts. You, as a parent, must know your child inside out. Several programs help develop effective parenting tips for 3 years old. Lookup for them. Remember, these are the whole years that determine how your child will behave and what habits s/he will adapt to upon growing up.