Three-year-old children

This is only an introduction, a basic guide to the characteristics of children between two and five years old. By no means all children are as described in this profile. Some take more or less time to acquire and master certain attitudes and behaviour. Please, let’s remember this as we read, so we can accept and help in the personal and unique development of every child.

* Begin to have greater autonomy and dare to do more things on their own. Still doubt their autonomy and need the support of parents or other known adults.

* Still have an egocentric perspective and continue to be the centre of all interests and desires. Gradually, this posture will begin to open up and they will be able recognise others and have a richer exchange with them.

* Language is still developing. They generally talk without caring too much what the other child has to say, so speech seems more like a monologue. They have difficulties expressing experiences or emotions in words and this can lead to frustration and emotional outbursts. At these times they very much need the safety and trust an adult can transmit. It is vital that the adult lets them talk at this time, respecting their feelings while providing the framework necessary to the conversation. They will carry on learning and as they approach four they will be able to manage these situations better and have a better physical response.

* These characteristics also appear in games and in exchanges with other children, in learning to share and to wait for their turn. They tend to play alone or in parallel (they play side by side just for the pleasure of company but not necessarily sharing in the actual game). Symbolic games are developing. They talk while playing without really caring if they are being heard or not. They will gradually begin to open up their games and be able to share more with others, starting with small groups of two or three. (Things to take into account: when a child is in the Kindergarten period they enjoy playing with parents or older children very much. This is essential for the development of their self-esteem and the formation of a solid emotional bond. Unjustified interruption of their playtime is not good and can lead to frustration and aggressiveness).

* The parental figure is very important at this stage, representing authority and the doorway to society.

* Do not always distinguish real from imaginary; may have imaginary friends.

* Enjoy doing small errands, but too many will have a negative effect.

* May be afraid of darkness, animals and the unknown.

* Go to the bathroom alone but need help with their clothes. They feed themselves and only rarely need help to finish a meal. It is important to encourage greater autonomy in these areas, always aware of each child’s rhythms and timetables.

* Have no awareness of danger. Do not know or understand that they can hurt someone and often don’t measure their strength.

We recommend stimulating creativity, free play and avoiding extensive periods in front of the television or video games. If the children have access to games on Internet, make sure that they are age appropriate and always be alert to the pages that can be opened or that may appear onscreen, since they may be harmful to the child. It is advisable to have the computer in a well-used area of the house to ensure greater control.