Nurturing Your Child’s Developmental Milestones: Ages 3 to 4

“Why is the sky blue?” 
“Why is that man walking like that?” 
“Why does grandma have no teeth?” 

…and the questions pile on. If this sounds familiar, then you are probably a parent or a guardian of a toddler in the wonder years. Navigating the “whys” of the world is a natural inclination for children between the ages of three and four, and fairly challenging time for caregivers. In this article, we will explain to you your child’s growth in gaining new knowledge. We will also help you prepare yourself to support their curiosity and channel their inquisitiveness towards desiring to understand the world better. Here are some of the areas you may observe changes in your child’s development: 

  1. Physical Development: Growth and improvement in gross and fine motor skills.
  2. Cognitive Development: Development of speaking and early problem-solving skills. 
  3. Social and Emotional Development: Displaying ability to identify oneself, empathizing and sharing with others. 

Physical Milestone Development

Did You Know? 

Drawing and coloring are fine motor skills that prepare your child for writing? 

Scribbling, tracing lines and using small objects helps them strengthen their hand muscles and hand eye coordination, encouraging development of future writing skills and fine motor development.  

Between the ages of three and four, your child will begin to master both gross and fine motor skills as well as improve coordination. For example, you may observe your child’s inclination towards creative activities such as drawing and coloring – with a few crayons, markers, and papers, you can help your child unleash their imagination and explore their world through color! Here are a few physical development milestones for you to pay close attention to:


Gross Motor Skills

Developmental Markers:

  • Enhanced running, jumping, hopping, and climbing abilities.  
  • Able to pedal a tricycle and balance on one foot for a few seconds.  
  • Displays improved coordination and balance. 

Fine Motor Skills

Developmental Markers:

  • Demonstrates improved hand-eye coordination.  
  • Able to draw simple shapes and use scissors to cut along lines. 
  • Begins to write or trace letters and numbers. 

Here’s a fun fact to chew on! Children between the ages of three to four are more likely to be able to catch a large ball with both hands. This is your sign to start engaging in catching and throwing games which will help them develop their gross motor skills. 

Cognitive Milestone Development

Did You Know? 

Children at this age have an amazing capacity for learning languages! 

With a highly receptive brain towards language receptions, they will easily pick up new words and phrases. Try introducing them to different languages through books, songs and language-based activities! 

Between the ages of three and four, toddlers begin to experience rapid development of cognitive abilities, displaying more independent thinking and signs of curiosity. Children at this age are highly imaginative – they create elaborate scenarios during pretend play which promotes development of cognitive and social skills. Here are a few milestones to keep an eye out on: 


Language Development

Developmental Markers:

  • Increased vocabulary volume to around 1,000 words. 
  • Increased sentence complexity, toddlers are able to hold longer conversations. 
  • Engages in pretend play and storytelling.


Developmental Markers:

  • Begin understanding basic concepts such as size, shape, and color. 
  • Able to sort objects based on attributes. 
  • Begin solving simple puzzles and completing basic tasks on their own. 

Here’s a fun fact! Children at this age begin to develop an understanding of cause and effect, which is why you may find them taking things apart and trying to put them back. If you see scattered parts of a toy around the house, hold that anger! They are just in their learning process.

Social and Emotional Development

Did You Know? 

Four-year-olds have a heightened sense of ‘fairness’! 

…and this helps them with moral reasoning and developing empathy. They begin to understand equality and may vocalize their displeasure is something seems unfair – probably when you will start hearing “Mummy, that’s not fair!” a lot! 

Between ages three and four, children experience rapid progress in their social and emotional development. They often display a great desire to assist others, such as helping you sweep the house or carry objects – a great way to nurture this is to delegate age-appropriate tasks for them to complete, helping them develop a sense of responsibility and empathy. Here are some other notable milestones to keep track of: 


Developmental Markers:

  • Start using personal pronouns such as “I” and “me”. 
  • Demonstrates pride in personal achievements and seeks independence.

Empathy and Sharing

Developmental Markers:

  • Begins to understand and express emotions. 
  • Displays empathy and offers comfort to others. 
  • Engages in simple cooperative play. 

Key Insights and Parenting Tips for Milestone Development

Did You Know? 

Imaginative play is more than just fun – it’s a vital component of cognitive development! 

Whether they’re a pirate today, or a caveman tomorrow, your child’s imaginative play world helps them makes sense of their environment, develop their creativity, problem-solving skills, and social skills. What’s more – it helps them develop a sense of empathy by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes.

Apart from keeping an eye on your child’s development progress, here are a few points to bear in mind as you monitor and nurture your child’s growth: 

1. Development is interconnected

Prioritize activities which promote holistic development, targeting multiple areas of development at a time. E.g. reading improves language development and social interaction at the same time.  

Engage in physical play which supports both the physical and cognitive development, such as outdoor activities or playing with building blocks.  

Nurture your child’s emotional development through active listening, open communication and validating their feelings.  

2. Play is essential for learning

Invest in a variety of age-appropriate toys and items that stimulate imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills. 

Participate in playing with your child to guide their learning and social skills development.  

Make time for both structured and unstructured playtime to address different areas of development. 

3. Your child’s environment matters 

Provide a safe and stimulating environment at home using child-friendly furniture, childproofing objects and areas, and providing age-appropriate toys.  

Build a daily routine that prioritizes healthy habits such as regular mealtimes, consistent sleep schedules and designated playtime. 

Managing Developmental Delays

Did You Know? 

Four-year-olds often engage in parallel play! 

Parallel play is when children play alongside each other without directly interacting. While there may not be a lot of conversation or socializing, this manner of playing is a crucial step to developing social skills. It makes room for them to observe and learn from each other before they are comfortable to engage in more interactive play. 

Every child is unique. It is important to bear in mind that comparing your child’s development to other children or even the child’s own sibling is not advisable in making an assessment. However, if you observe significant delays or have concerns about your child’s development, here are some steps you can take: 

1.  Consult a medical professional.

Schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or a child psychologist or psychiatrist, for a proper evaluation and guidance. Here’s a list of medical professionals you can refer to. 

Call +60106609459 if you need to seek advice from early childhood specialists, such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, or psychologists. 

2. Obtain a developmental assessment.

Request for a comprehensive developmental assessment by a child specialist if recommended. For your own home observation, use these helpful checklists:

Enroll your child for an early intervention program, which include therapies and curated learning sessions, specifically designed to assist children with developmental delay. Seek out a nearby institution or obtain a recommendation from your child specialist 

Joyous Education offers early intervention programs tailored to your child’s needs. Click here to find out more! 

4. Create a supportive environment.

Continue providing your child with an environment that promotes their developmental growth, through interactive play time, reading together, exploring activities as well as opportunities for social engagement and conversations to build their language skills. 

5. Connect with support networks.

You will need support to journey with your child effectively. Reach out to support networks such as parent groups or online communities who are facing similar circumstances. The sharing of experiences, resources and advice will be useful support for you throughout this journey. 

Children are a wonder and navigating life with them is both a mystery and a joy. With Joyous Education, you can rest assured that are here to assist and equip you with the necessary tools and support to give their children the best steppingstone to a fulfilling and healthy life. 

Have any questions for us? Speak to Joyous’ experts today for personalized professional advice.  

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