Select Language
NYS Parent Guide

36-48 Months: Growth and Development

You and Your Thriving Three-Year-Old

Nurturing Your Child

Nurturing Your Child

He is beginning to develop relationships with people outside your family: a favorite teacher, a neighbor or a friend. You may even wonder, at times, if he is “breaking away” from you. Not to worry. It is the powerful attachment between you that allows all his other relationships to grow.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Be There! He knows he can turn to you when he is unsure or upset. As he begins to form new relationships, stay present and available. He needs your trusting relationship in order to form others.
  • Create some “special time” for you and your little one. Whether it be breakfast, bedtime, bathtime or everyday travel time, make that time special for you and your little one where the underlying message is that your child is loved.
  • Help him become a “nurturer!” He is beginning to recognize and respond to other people’s feelings and needs. Share how important this is as you encourage and model respectful, caring behavior towards others.
    Some ways to encourage awareness of others:
    • Name the feelings your child might be experiencing: “I know you are angry that your little brother took your car.”
    • Explore with your child how another may be feeling: “How do you think your little brother felt when you grabbed that out of his hands?”
    • Explore with your child a better way to express his feelings: “What would have been a better way to ask for that back?” ….and let him try the better way.
    • Recognize his attempts to have positive interactions with others, especially when he thinks of the other’s needs first. “That was good thinking and caring to ask for the car, rather than grab it!”
    • Talk about the feelings of characters in stories and books. “Do you think he is happy or sad?” or “Why do you think he is crying?” “What do you think might make her happy?” “Remember when Ellie brought you a cupcake? How did you feel?” “Can you show me happy?”
  • Encourage his growing sense of humor. Have you noticed that your little one is laughing more at funny actions, words and sights? He will also try to make you laugh. Share the joy and laughter of this age together.
  • Invite him to contribute to the family by doing simple tasks. He is beginning to see himself as part of a family and is figuring out his role. Invite him to do “real” tasks: “Will you put these napkins on the table? Will you please throw that banana peel in the garbage? Can you put your truck away on the shelf so no one trips on it?” These simple requests will help your child to experience success and feel valued as a family member.
additional resources My E-Journal