Social development milestones for your 3-year-old

Watch and marvel at your toddler’s enormous social growth and progression through five milestones! Read on to know more.

By Ananya Subramanian

Social development milestones for your 3-year-old

As your toddler turns three years old, her social development would show a dramatic improvement. Her emotional, communicative and cognitive skills develop at the same pace as her social skills. To keep track of her social development, you can focus on the following milestones:

  1. Increase in curiosity: Like any other growing child, your three-year-old too will suddenly begin developing an interest in all things new. He will not hesitate to go to new places or try to do new things, as his curiosity makes him overcome any fear he may feel. However, his curiosity and eagerness might also land him in trouble, so teach him what is okay and what is not.
  2. Growth in imagination: You will find your toddler becoming increasingly imaginative. She will become more creative and consequently have more fun with her friends and peers. Dress-up and ‘pretend play’ will occupy most of her playtime and she will be happy to play with children who share her imagination. But this increase in imagination might also give rise to unrealistic fears such as ‘monsters lurking under the bed’. So, you will have to come up with ways to make her differentiate imagination from reality.
  3. Build-up of associative play: Unlike a two-year-old, your three-year-old toddler will be more affable. He will develop better social skills and begin to make friends. Where he was extremely selfish and self-centred earlier, he will slowly begin sharing his possessions with friends and begin more associated play.
  4. Surge of emotions: With increase in her social skills and awareness, your three year old will also become more emotive. She might convey her displeasure by throwing a huge tantrum. At this age, your toddler will also begin to understand what respect means. She will begin respecting you and others if you teach her how to do so. On the downside, there will be rapid mood shifts –she will be assertive one minute and shy the next. Such rapid mood changes might affect her social development. So, you will need to ensure that her emotions are channelised in the right way.
  5. Display of empathy: He will respond with love and warmth, and understand your feelings and emotions. He will show affection towards his friends and be empathetic towards them.

However, it is important to realise that your child’s social development may differ from those of her peers. She might not be able to do a few things her friends do, but that is not something to panic over unless there is a considerable lack of development of social skills. All you need to do is to keep instilling good social values and encouraging her to make more friends.


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