Are 3-year-olds toddlers?

Yes! Your 3 year old should be considered a toddler. Children from the age of 1 to 3 years are considered to be toddlers. The word ‘toddler’ is derived from ‘to toddle’. That is why children around the age of 1 to 3 years old who toddle around or walk unsteady are called toddlers. Children who are older than 3 or is around 4 years old are usually referred to as preschoolers. They no longer toddle and seem to be almost ready to go to school.

Even though this is a general idea about children’s age division, in reality categorizing young children is not that simple or easy. Some children are more advanced than others and pick up things faster. This in no way means that one type of child is “better” than the other. All children are different, unique, and special in their own right. They all have their own barriers to overcome and learning is something that should come naturally to them.

3-year-old children learn and grow rapidly. Most children around this age undergo social, emotional, and cognitive development. Sometimes, a 3-year-old or a 21/2-year-old may develop and learn faster and might be on the same level as a 4-year-old child. On the other hand, a 4-year-old child may still toddle a little and have the behavior pattern of a 3-year-old.

Every child has their own pace of learning and understanding things. It is not wise to put them in a formulated age group and expect them to behave accordingly. These age divisions are meant to give you a rough idea of what your child should be doing with respect to their age. But it does not always work and that is completely fine.

The kind of development that you usually find in a toddler:

Around the age of 3, every child behaves like a sponge. They absorb everything they see and learn around them.

Emotional and Social Development

During this time, your child will be able to exhibit different emotions. They will be able to show their dislike for certain activities, things, and people. They might even be able to throw tantrums when things do not go their way. At this age, they should also be able to socialize with other children and play in a group. Some children, at this age, show problem-solving ability when put in a group.

This is the age when children start pretending and imagining detailed fantasies in their heads. This is completely normal and should be moderately indulged in. Children’s imagination sometimes gives rise to fear of ghosts and monsters.

Cognitive Development

This is also the age when children start developing a basic understanding of the world around them. That is why; 3-year-olds are very inquisitive in nature. They are full of questions and will want to know everything from “Why does it rain?”, “Why is the tree green?” to “Why can the birds fly?”, “Why doesn’t our dog talk?” These questions may seem a little too much but it is only natural. Parents should make it seem like they take their children’s questions seriously and make an effort to give them an answer that they can understand.

This is also the age when they start remembering and recognizing the family members with their names. They should form a basic understanding of time, such as morning, afternoon, and evening. They should also be able to name colors and some common objects around them. They should also be able to understand simple instructions and follow them.

Speech Development

Children usually start learning to read and write at the age of 3. They may have a vocabulary of 250 to 300 words. This is just a roughly estimated number and the vocabularies of toddlers vary from child to child. They should be able to express certain basic things about their needs with their words. These are their formative years and eventually, they develop proper communication skills.   

When to consider consulting a doctor

Every child learns at their own pace. Some may develop the above-mentioned skills quite easily while others may need a few more years. That is certainly not something to worry about. However, if you find your 3-year child not exhibiting the following tendencies, you may consider consulting a doctor.

Unclear speech – Your child should not have trouble pronouncing simple, monosyllable, or disyllable words by the time they are 3. If they do have trouble, or their speech sounds unclear or is accompanied by frequent drooling, seeking a doctor’s opinion might be a good idea.             

Inability to understand simple instructions – If your 3-year-old has trouble understanding simple two or three-step instructions or cannot follow them, then you should ask your pediatrician about it.

No play pretend or playing with toys – Children around the age of 3 usually develop fantasy characters and play pretends quite intensely. If your child does not indulge in any kind of imaginative, pretend game or does not play with toys, it might be indicative of something more serious. If this behavior continues for a long period of time, you should take it up with your child’s doctor.

Does not make eye contact – If your child refuses to make eye contact with anyone they talk to, there might be a number of reasons behind it. It is best to take it up with your child’s doctor.

Difficulty to take the stairs – If your child has difficulty in taking the stairs or just walking, you should talk to your child’s doctor about it.

Losing skills they had before– if your child starts losing skills that they once had, it might be slightly worrying. You should definitely consult your doctor about it. These are all the things that you need to keep in mind while parenting a toddler. In the end remember, every child is special and not everyone will follow the same behavior pattern.

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