Congratulations! You have survived the “terrible twos!” You may be tired at this point but now you move in to the years many call the “magic years.” On one hand, it seems your child magically can now seems to listen to you while on the other hand his imagination is running magically wild! Don’t be alarmed if your little one starts to have fears of darkness, monsters and all things imaginary.
Your Child’s Diet: Your child should now be eating what the rest of the family does. Introduce a wide variety of foods but don’t fret if it seems your child only wants to eat one thing day in and day out. Offer three meals per day with one or two nutritious snacks. Limit your milk and dairy offerings to no more than 24 ounces per day. Place an emphasis on the family dinner and begin to stress table manners.
Potty Training: Your child should be close to being potty trained. Some children may still have issues overnight. Use a pull up or nighttime diaper to help in this area.
Your Child’s Sleep: Your child may have knocked out the daytime nap altogether at this point and are sleeping less at night. Generally, he averages about 10-11 hours at night. If your child is having night fears, make sure the bedtime routine is strictly adhered to and allow a nightlight if necessary.
Your Child’s Motor Skills: Running, jumping and climbing are the most loved activities of a three-year- old. He is also now walking up and down stairs quite well, one foot per step, and can bend without falling. Others skills are dressing and undressing, using age appropriate scissors, turning rotating handles, throwing and catching a ball, drawing, finger painting, copying squares and circles and writing some capital letters.
Your Child’s Cognitive and Social Skills: Your child now has a vocabulary of up to 1,000 words! Other feats include imitating friends and parents, pretending and fantasizing, sorting by shape and color, showing affection to family and friends, understanding the concept of same and different, remembering parts of stories, understanding the concept of time i.e., night and morning, counting and understanding the concept of counting and showing a wider range of emotions. He also may be having fewer tantrums when dropped off at daycare, preschool or a play date.
Safety and your child:
- Make sure your child is in a forward-facing car seat with harness straps until he reaches 65-80 pounds and can move to a booster seat.
- Strap your child into his high chair.
- If using handed down equipment, make sure it has not been recalled.
- Keep toys with parts smaller than 1¼ inch in diameter out of reach.
- Begin teaching stranger awareness.
- Teach pedestrian and playground safety.
- Always use sunscreen.
- Teach your child wariness of other people’s pets. Do not allow him to just walk up and reach for a dog or cat that is unfamiliar.
Parenting at this age can be a true lesson in patience. Be firm and consistent with rules. Timeouts are appropriate for this age. Remove him from action for one minute for each year of age. Keep TV watching limited to no more than two hours per day. Keep reading to your child and let him use that wonderful imagination to think up stories to entertain the whole family!