Content Map Terms

Physical Development: 3-4 years




No longer a toddler, your preschooler is less top heavy and can generally get around faster and with more confidence. She’ll also be holding crayons with her fingers instead of her fists, can make balls and ropes out of clay, and can undress without help.

Physical skill development

From 3-4 years, your child will show more control and balance when he walks, climbs, jumps, and runs. He’ll be able to jump off low steps or objects, and can climb stairs with alternating feet, using the hand rail for balance. He’ll be able to walk in a line, move quickly around obstacles, run at an even pace, and turn and stop well. Your child will also be able to walk without watching his feet, and can walk backwards. Although your child is getting better at jumping, he might have trouble landing on both feet at the same time.

Your child will be better at balancing, allowing her to ride a tricycle or bicycle with training wheels. She’ll also be able to use her legs to pump a swing. When balancing, she’ll be exploring the use of different body parts as bases of support – for example, she might balance on two elbows and one knee.
At this age, she’ll be improving at ball play, coordinating her movements to throw, catch, kick and bounce balls. She’ll be able to catch a large ball with two hands and her body, and can kick a stationary ball so it travels about 2 metres forward. She’ll also be able to run forward to kick a stationary ball.

His hand-eye coordination is improving, so he’ll be getting better at building with blocks, putting together simple puzzles, stringing big beads, drawing shapes, putting large pegs in holes, pouring liquids (with some spills) and spreading soft butter with a dull knife.

Your child can hold crayons with her fingers instead of her fist, and will be able to manipulate play dough into ball or rope shapes.

While your child can now undress on his own, he’ll still need your help getting dressed, especially with buttons, snaps and zippers.

Your child will start to show a preference for being right-handed or left-handed, but she might still alternate between them.

Health status and practices

At this age, your child can wash his hands, and use the toilet with growing independence. It’s recommended that parents continue to help with teeth brushing at this stage, though, in order to establish good dental care habits. Your child may also be more willing to try new foods.

Your child will be building his awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules, and respond to potentially harmful objects and activities in appropriate ways. You may hear her correct other people based on her new knowledge, such as, "Don’t throw sand!"

Tip: Children grow and develop at different rates. The information above is offered as a guide only. Don’t expect your child’s physical development to fit in with all the areas listed. If you’re concerned about your child’s physical development, it’s best to speak with your health care provider.

© Raising Children Network Limited, reproduced with permission.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Growth and Development, Ages 2 to 5 Years 
HealthLink BC: Health and Safety, Ages 2 to 5 Years 




Last Updated: November 30, 2014