Typical three-year-olds separate more easily from parents if they believe their caregiver has an agreement with their parent(s) to take care of them and support them when they need help.
At this age, a child’s growing understanding of the concept of ownership makes it easier to share possessions, but only if they know their property will be returned and the other child is not imposing on their ownership.
They’re starting to play cooperatively with other children. However, since the pre-frontal lobes in their brains are still immature, their working memory allows them to keep only one or two things in mind at a time. This is also why they speak in short sentences. A three-year-old still struggles to inhibit impulsive behaviour. They have trouble adapting to sudden changes, such as when they’re playing pretend with other children and somebody does something unexpected.
Tip: Playgroup confidence
If needed, you can help your three-year-old to feel happier at playgroup:
- Ask the teacher to take care of your child and wait for their affirming response in your child’s presence.
- Take pictures of your child with their teacher and in different areas of the school environment such as the sand pit, bathroom, swings and block corner. Your child can show these photo’s to friends and family and talk about what happens in these areas.
- Invite a child from the class over for a playdate. This will help your child will feel confident that they will be invited to join in when the rest of the kids are playing at school.