Child development: your 3-4 year old

Emotions and behaviour

Making friends and developing social skills

You might notice that your child starts to have ‘real’ friendships for the first time at this age. At around 3-4 years old, children begin playing cooperatively with one another (as opposed to playing alone, or just alongside others).

Your pre-school child still needs lots of support from you to ‘play nicely’ though, and you may feel like a peacekeeping force at times! 


Although we think of tantrums as part of the ‘terrible twos’, 3 and 4 are still prime tantrum territory! They’re a perfectly normal part of life as your children tries to assert control over their own life, and will gradually subside as their communication skills and understanding develop.

Learning to share

When children are very small, they naturally believe that life is all about them, and they’re the centre of the universe. It takes time for them to ‘get’ that give and take is the order of the day, and learning to share is a huge milestone for many children in this age group.


At this age, children’s vocabulary and their understanding of what you’re talking about is growing all the time, and they’re starting to have fun with language. You can use the stories in the CBeebies Storytime App as a jumping off point to make up your own tales together.

Physical development

Staying active

Children learn more physical skills in their first five years that they will at any other time in their lives, and there are lots of things you can do to help their development.

Developing vital skills

Find out how you can use shows like Tree Fu Tom to help your child develop the essential movement skills they’ll need for doing things like dressing themselves. Try cooking or baking with your pre-schooler to help build up their fine motor skills.

Getting ready for school

Once your child starts school, they’ll be learning to read, write and do maths for themselves, but there’s a lot you can do now to give them a head start when they get there:


Find out how enjoying books and stories together at home can help to prepare your child for learning to read.


It’s never too early to introduce your child to simple maths. Our parents' guide to early years numeracy is filled with fun ideas to build maths into your child’s everyday life.

All Time for School
Are you ready to try CBBC?