The Intellectual Abilities of a Three-Year-Old Child: Normal Development

The Intellectual Abilities of a Three-Year-Old Child: Normal Development
Page content

How Smart Is Your Child?

Young children develop with great speed. Sometimes, it seems that they learn something new every day. Other children are slower in

their development, and that might cause parents to wonder if they are still normal. The question is: What should a three year old child be able to do intellectually?

Speech Development

Children aged three should be able to speak in more or less grammatically correct sentences with verbs. Now is the time that they begin to use singular and plural nouns correctly. They start to use simple conjunctions and prepositions such as on, under or in as well. Their vocabulary should include about 900 to 1,000 words. Three year olds should be able to relate experiences in simple words and sentences so that an adult can follow their reasoning. They understand most simple questions about topics they are used to but they are not yet able to answer all of these questions. Even though they might not yet be able to name all major parts of a body, they should be able to indicate them (e. g. nose, mouth, hand, foot).

Logical Thinking

At the age of approximately three years, children enter the phase of questions. They are curious and strive to understand the world around them. Many parents are now overwhelmed by a sheer flood of why-questions. Children start with questions about the names of certain things but will soon question everything around them.

They can also solve problems like how to get their favorite toy which is on the table (and out of reach), and they can think abstractly about objects which are not present.

Awareness of Self and Property

Three year old children should be aware of themselves and of property, i. e. what belongs to them (e. g. toys) and what belongs to others. At this age, children have grasped the concept of ‘I’ and see themselves as persons. They use I and me as well as my and mine in speech.

Emotional and Social Development

Scientists assume that children at the age of three don’t ask so many questions only out of curiosity but that they like to communicate with the people around them.

Furthermore, children should have developed a natural sense of trust and a strong will. They should know the meaning of no, for example. Tantrums and stubbornness belong to this phase, too. They start discussions about things which have been taken for granted before, e. g. which clothes the child wants to wear.

They Are Greeting the World

At the age of three, children are able to interact with their surroundings through means of communication which open up new ways of learning. They are able to understand simple reasoning and to reason themselves. With the awareness of self and property, they have made an important step in their development.


Child Development Institute: Parenting and Childhood Development Tips, Ages 2-5.