43 Things Kids Should Know & Do by Age Three



It’s natural for proud parents to keep a tab on all the amazing milestones their baby hits. But parental pride aside, it’s important for you to have an idea about what your child should know and be able to do, as they reach certain ages. And if you’ve been asking yourself the question, “What should my child know by age 3?” we’ve got you covered with our list. 

But as you read through, please keep in mind that these milestones are not set in stone. Each child develops at his or her own pace. 

  • What should my child know by age 3? Here are 43 things


    For ease of reading, we’ve divided this list of “What should my child know by age 3” into categories, based on the different areas of development. We’ll also highlight red flags at the end of the list, so you know when to see a doctor. 

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  • What should my child know by age 3? Physical development

    1. Walks up and down stairs using alternating feet 

    2. Rides a tricycle

    3. Walks in a straight line 

    4. Can walk on tippy toes 

    5. Runs a short distance without falling 

    6. Easily climbs up low furniture

    7. Walks forwards and backwards easily

    8. Can kick and throw a ball well

    9. Bends over without falling 

    10. Can help put on and take off clothes

    11. Hops and stands on one foot for up to five seconds without falling

    12. Can hold cutlery and feed himself (but might still create a mess!) 

  • What should my child know by age 3? Language skills


    13. Says his or her name and age

    14. Answers simple questions

    15. Tells little stories 

    16. Knows 250 to 500 words

    17. Talks quite clearly, although they may not be fully comprehensible until age 4

    18. Uses five to six words in a sentence

    19. Asks simple questions

  • What should my child know by age 3? Cognitive skills


    20. Completes simple puzzles 

    21. Remembers what happened the day before 

    22. Counts to five 

    23. Can match objects 

    24. Identifies basic shapes

    25. Pays attention for up to five minutes

    26. Follows simple instructions

    27. Correctly names familiar colors

    28. Understands time of day (morning, night) 

    29. Understands the idea of “same” and “different”

    30. Starts to engage in pretend play 

  • What should my child know by age 3? Hand and finger skills 


    31. Can easily turn a page of a book

    32. Handles and picks up smaller objects with ease

    33. Can use age-appropriate scissors

    34. Writes a few capital letters

    35. Can copy circles and squares (not perfectly) 

    36. Builds a tower with four or more blocks 

  • What should my child know by age 3? Emotional and social skills 

    37. Imitates you or other family members

    38. Throws fewer tantrums

    39. Better understands the concept of sharing

    40. Shows affection to friends and family

    41. Understands the concepts of “mine,” “his,” and “hers”

    42. Displays a wide range of emotions, such as being happy, sad, or bored

    43. Has an active imagination

  • Red flags to watch out for

    Moms and dads, you know your child best. If you feel something is not quite right, trust your gut instinct and check in with your child’s pediatrician. 

    Additionally, you can watch out for these red flags when it comes to your 3-year-old’s development. 

    - Cannot stack blocks or hold small objects 

    - Inability to hold or throw a ball, or ride a tricycle 

    - Uses “me” and “you” inappropriately, and cannot use more than three words in a sentence

    - Drools most of the time and has trouble speaking 

    - Falls down frequently 

    - Has extreme separation anxiety still 

    - Does not make eye contact 

    - Refuses to interact or play (even side-by-side play) with other children

    - Doesn’t understand simple commands, e.g. “Please bring the ball here.” 

    - Loses skills he or she had previously

    This article was republished with permission from theAsianParent.

    theAsianparent is a publication under Tickled Media Pte Ltd. Started in September 2009, it is the largest parenting website in Southeast Asia, targeted at urban parents and parents-to-be who live in Asia or are of Asian heritage. theAsianparent speaks to every stage and priority of an Asian mom’s journey – from pre-conception to pregnancy, to breastfeeding, and even how to raise smart, strong and kind children.